not as pretentious as the header image suggests, but just as awesome

Ask Daphne! Speed Round

An adorable pair of walking shoes for today’s SPEED ROUND! No delays, let’s just get right to it! Kathy wants to know:

How many times should you revise your novel before trying to get an agent?

Until it’s ready, Kathy. There’s no magic number, but if you’ve polished it, and shown it around to your writer’s group, and feel that each word you’ve chosen is the right one, then you’re ready to send it out.
She also asks:

If you find what you think is your “dream agency” should you only submit to them?

You can submit to them first, if you like, and allow them some time with it, but I’ve said it before, I’m not a huge fan of exclusives. Get your manuscript out there! You may think Agency A is the bee’s knees, but Agency C or D or Q may surprise you, and be an even better fit. You won’t know unless you try.
Sarah wonders:

Do you only accept submissions from residents of the US, and do the writers have to be a certain age?

Nope, Sarah. I’m open to all! kt literary client Lili Wilkinson is a happy resident of Australia, fer instance. As for age, you don’t have to be a certain age, so long as your writing is strong enough. I just haven’t yet seen a novel by a teenager that was on par with the submissions I’ve received from authors with a few more years of experience under their belt. But I’d love to be proven wrong.
Meanwhile, Gabby ponders:

I don’t know what to do. You see, I had an amazing idea for a novel but it seems just like everything else I’ve read. So the whole idea seems ridiculous, like I need to make up something that no one has read before.

Well, Gabby, there’s a school of thought that there are only five original stories out there, and every novel ever written is based on them, but that’s not really helpful to you, is it? Justine Larbalestier had some great advice on this topic during her “January is Writing Advice Month.” In terms of finding ideas of your own, she suggests, “take a plot from somewhere else: a fairy tale, a movie, a novel, manga, anime, anywhere at all really. But change it. Change it a lot.” That’s just the beginning of it. Read the whole thing, and see if that doesn’t help you come up with an original idea.
And another teen reader writes:

I want to write an autobiography, but I’m only 16 years old. Would it be wrong to write your life story when your life isn’t over?

Not wrong exactly, but what’s so great and important about your life that a memoir or autobiography at this stage is going to be worthy of being published? Maybe you’re a movie star (like Miley Cyrus) or a royal (like Prince William or Harry) — then I’m sure you have tales to tell, even if you’re just a teenager. You don’t have to be famous, either — if you’ve lived through an extraordinary event, you may have an important story to tell. But for most of us — and I think back to my own teen years — a memoir of me at 16 would have been pretty dull. It’s not that your life isn’t over yet, and therefore not worthy of being told, just that it may not be all that readable.
Thanks for the questions, guys! Please keep ’em coming by emailing me at

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