Sunday, November 28, 2010

So You Want to Write a Novel

I can't believe I didn't write this myself.

"How many editors do you think Random House will assign to my novel?"
"Minus 13."

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wait

Hello Rejecter,

On average how long does it take for a publishing house to determine a book is to be published or rejected? I have one out to a publisher over a year and no response. I sent a follow up with an additional submission two months ago and still haven’t heard back. Any idea of an average time frame allotted?

Let me give a more complete answer than just answering your question about publishers.

(1) Unsolicited manuscript to publisher - This is a long wait. Sometimes a year or more at the worst places. Publishers will post times on their website and then not keep to them, and may not respond at all. Check with the publisher - you can even call and ask how long the response time is, but don't bother them by pitching your novel on the phone.

(2) Unsolicited query to agent - If you're going to hear back at all, the time is 1-2 weeks, maybe 3 if it's by mail. Sometime it can be instantaneous with an e-query, if the agent's assistant is just sitting in front of the computer when it comes in. I only am in the office about once a week (thanks, economy!) so most of the queries get done whatever day I'm in, so some people get instant replies and some people have to wait a few days for e-queries.

(3) Unsolicited manuscript to an agent - Don't do this.

(4) Agent sends the manuscript to a publisher - One to two months. A good agent will pitch the book to a bunch of editors they know, see who's interested, then send the book in and give a "closing date." Then, knowing the industry, they'll bug the editor politely a bunch of times until the closing date, then continuing bugging and the replies will float in over the next few weeks. You're not involved in this part of the process, though a good agent will keep you posted.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Audio Books Follow-up

Why do publisher buy audio rights if they find it too expensive to actually have one produced? Wouldn't it be better to not buy the rights and leave it to someone who actually wants to create it, so they can also drive more people to buy the paper version?

At the contract stage, the publisher might have a decent idea of how much they're going to put into the book (money and time-wise) and how it's going to do, but also they're secretly hoping they're wrong, and the book might become wildly successful - in which case, they're going to want those seemingly-irrelevant rights because they'll be worth a lot of money. This is why it's the publisher's job to hold on to as many rights as possible, and the agent's job to argue the same on your behalf.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Audio Books and Audio Rights

Dear Rejecter,

I found your blog via Nathan Bransford's and Eric of Pimp My Novel fame.

As a yet un-published writer and an entrepeneur considering a small press venture, I found your blogs on money and royalties extremely useful.

Something I did not see addressed, however, was audio books. I have several friends who cannot or have difficulty reading - I myself prefer to listen to a book in the car on a long drive. Unfortunately, not every book published becomes an audio book so I have to assume that there exists audio book making companies and the rights to do produce these are sold separately.

Is this correct or am I making things up? Any information you could share about audio books 'from the inside' would be very much appreciated. I am just beginning my own research now, but your insight would be invaluable.

When a book and a CD player love each other very much...

Seriously, this is how audio books happen: When you sell a book to a publisher, they will specify what rights they're buying, and the overwhelming majority of the time that will include audio rights, followed by a royalty percentage that's generally higher than royalties on book format. I'm sure they exist, but I've never seen a contract that didn't include audio rights.

This means it's the publisher's responsibility to find a company that will produce the audio book, if they feel that it would be worth their investment - and for most mid-list authors, it won't be. For those that it will be, major publishers generally have an in-house production group responsible for it, while others might hire out. Someone will be in charge of setting it all up, especially if a celebrity needs to be hired to read it.

The author actually can't make the audio book themselves because they've sold off the right to do it to the publishing company, so if the publishing company decides, "Hey, not worth it," then they're probably right, and also no audio book for that particular book. If the small press didn't buy audio rights (which is weird, but OK), the author can hire a company to do it and distribute it, but it will be wicked expensive.

When the Kindle first came out, it had a text-to-speech option, which was quickly disabled because it violated the copyright on audio rights held by publishers (Amazon was doing it without permission). Or maybe it was another e-Reader, but I'm pretty sure it was the Kindle.

EDIT: The above paragraph is disputed in comments. Other people are probably right.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We're On To You

(Not posting much recently has been largely due to the Jewish holidays. Longtime readers probably guessed that)

In your query letter, if you describe a novel with an obvious sci-fi premise, and then write, "But it's not science fiction!" you either don't know what science fiction is or you are deluded into thinking we're really, really dumb.

And having "Book 1" in the title of your book - not the subtitle but the actual title - is pretty much an instant reject. Or, I've never seen a case where I didn't finish the query and immediately reject it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Follow-Up on Writers Earning Money

I didn't think to include this in the last post, which is OK because it's needlessly complicated, but another way writers make money - sometimes, how they make most of their money - is in foreign rights.

Remember that when a publisher buys your book, they don't buy the physical book. They buy the right to copy the material in the book and then resell it. Different companies will ask for different rights, and it's a good agent's job to negotiate what rights you give away in the initial offering and what rights you hold on to.

For example, a publisher will ask for world rights. These are, obviously, the rights to publish anywhere in the world in any language. The publisher has total control over your book. Agents don't like to give this away, or not unless the publisher actually has the ability to publish the book all over the world and is willing to pay a lot of money.

The stage below that is generally considered to be English-language rights. This means everything but translations, so you can still sell to foreign companies that intend to produce your book in another language. It's still a major rights grab, though.

What an American agent would probably prefer you to sell is North America & UK rights. In other words, the English-speaking and easily-shippable world (Australia and India, two big English markets, are far away). So they get the US, Mexico, Canada, and the UK, and possibly Ireland depending on some fine-tuning of the language.

Why would you want to keep as many rights as you can? Because if you have a good agent,t hat agent will have contacts with foreign agents around the globe. If the book even moderately successful, the agent will then take the books to the other agents and say, "Shop this in your country." Hopefully, the foreign agent will succeed in selling it to a local press, and there will be another contract for you with another advance (meaning $$$). Then rinse, repeat.

It is common practice in the publishing industry for agents to take a higher commission on foreign rights sold, say 25% instead of 15%, because they did more work and the foreign agent also has to get their cut. My boss, who does a lot of work in foreign rights, has probably 30 agencies she works with. I'm just guessing about that based on the amount of addresses I've had to write out on customs forms, some of which had characters I've otherwise never had to write (Thai is really hard). Some she hasn't spoken to in years, some she's in constant contact with, but they're all there, and if my boss is lucky she will sell the book an additional 5 times after the initial sale to a US publisher. And that means more money for her - and a lot more money for you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

How Much Does a Writer Make?

I have read through several years of your back posts and I have a quick question for you as an assistant agent with inside knowledge and also for you as a published author in your own right.

You mentioned in a couple of your posts that it is common to see advances for new authors in the 5000-7000 range but I can't find any information about royalties. You do mention in an almost off handed way that each time you sell a book you receive about $1.12. What sort of annual income is typical for a author that publishes one book every other year. I think I could write a book a year if not more but I know the editing and everything else can drag out the process. I have no idea what typical sales for a book are. I understand that it is completely dependent on how well the book is received, I'm just looking for averages here.

Making money is complicated. Let me explain as best I can.

(1) Advance. This is an advance on future royalties. It is usually lower than it should be. It used to be new authors would make at least $5000-$7000, now it could be lower than that. Publishers don't like to spend. Repeat authors in the same company will make more and more on each advance. Ten years ago, if you were an established fiction author, you would be making around 30K a book in advances, so if you produced a book a year, you were doing well. These numbers are generally not maintained for mid-list or anyone below mid-list.

Non-fiction is an entirely different story. There is a huge range in advances. Most I've seen are above $20K.

(2) Royalties. The royalty rate for fiction is, at bottom level, 7.5% off LIST price, meaning the price they print on the back of the book, regardless of what the store sells it for. 7.5% is considered the bottom; more reputable places will give 8 or 10%. Then there's something called "escalation" where if your book has sold a certain number of copies (say, 20,000) the royalty rate will rise because at that point the publishers have earned back all the money they spent on producing the book and are willing to give you a little more. A nice escalation is to 20%, or in the case of a ton of books, 30%. Escalation rates vary hugely from company to company and also based on expectations of how much the book will sell.

From what I've seen, e-book sales have their own rate (which should be higher, like 20%, but publishers are working to keep that down), or they're a higher rate off NET prices, which is a percentage of what the book is actually sold for and what the publisher gets back from the bookstore. Net royalties are usually in the 20-30% range, but I've seen them higher. We expect e-Books to move up and down in terms of royalties as publishers and e-Book sellers figure out what the hell is going on.

(3) Payment of advance. Payment of advance occurs before the book sells any copies, though sometimes it's split up so the publisher can hold on to their money longer (publishers have a lot of tricks to do this). For a smaller press with a small advance, full payment can be upon signing, meaning a month after you sign the contract and it goes back to the publisher and it goes through accounting, then to your agent, then gets back to you. Some publishers split it to two dates: (1) Signing of the contract and (2) delivery of the completed manuscript to the publisher. Additionally, it can be split up as (1) signing, (2) delivery, and (3) publishing date. If you get a $500,000 advance, your publisher is going to pretty eager to split up payments, because it could be a year to a year and a half between signing the contract and publishing the book.

(4) Payment of royalties. After you earn out your advance, you will see royalties based on how well your book is doing. If the advance is high, you may not see royalties for years and years and years or never see them at all. The publisher is still required to tell you what you've been selling (a royalty statement) during one of its pay periods. It used to be quarterly, but now some publishers have moved to fall and spring, meaning I'm paid my royalties in November and April. If the number is below a certain amount (say, $50), the publisher may hold onto it until it earns that amount. Publishers don't like writing $4.00 checks. If it's within the first 6 months of publication, the publisher may stipulate that they can hold back 50% of your earnings against returns of the books by stores, which will then subtract from your future earnings, and if there are no returns, they will release your earnings the following year. The following year, they can then take the amount they owed you the previous year that they held against returns and split THAT in half, and hold that half against more returns. In other words, if your book does well, publishers will perpetually owe you money because they will find ways not to pay you.

The only advice I can say when planning a writing career is: don't. I make most of my money from books, but I'm never sure when the next book will sell, the next contract will be signed, and for how much. I don't know my royalty earnings until I earn them. It's like having a job where sometimes you earn lots of money and sometimes you earn none, but most of the time you're lucky to earn just enough to say, "There's no reason to get a real job. I'm building my career." Or that's what I tell my parents.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Inside Agenting

One reason it's a good idea to belong to the AAR if you're an agent, aside from it being the ultimate stamp of legitimacy, is you get to go to AAR meetings. They're hit-or-miss, but there's usually drinks.

The last couple have been either about e-Books or social media outlets for authors like Facebook, Foursquare, etc. They basically boil down to this:

Social Media Presenter: This program is totally awesome and unless your author is a complete shut-in, incapable of communicating with the outside world, they have to have it YESTERDAY. Let's look at some totally cool statistics about user traffic!

Agent: ... How does this translate into sales?

Social Media Presenter: Funny you should ask that! I have no idea! But if your author doesn't do it it's definitely lost sales, right? So they should do it. They should spend way too much time on it, if anything. By the way, as an employee of this company or someone who's hired by authors to do this sort of thing for them, I have no stake whatsover in what I'm talking about!

Man, I have so many authors as friends on my author account on Facebook. They all make irrelevant posts and I tune them out. That's why I rarely post; I don't want to be tuned out. I don't really want to know about their cats or that they like the group "Reading" or that they just got out of a mental institution, which might be why they post "I AM THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST THE SAVIOR" roughly once every ten minutes, in caps, and sometimes with a long exposition. Dude, I am starting to not believe you are a legitimately published poet who has won many awards.

Authors: If you make a page specifically for your writing and author information, please stop posting meaningless crap I will instinctively tune out. Post about, I don't know, your writing. I must have some interest in it - I friended you. That or we're both on Farmville.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

MA Degree Questions

Dear Rejecter,
I have been writing novels since I was about seven. I literally think about it all the time. However, try as I might I have never been able to get beyond the 40,000 word mark before losing the plot and momentum of my story and deciding to start something else entirely. I'm a journalist on a big women's glossy in the UK so it's not getting the words down on paper that's the problem, it's rather getting my plot from A to B that stumps me.

I'm currently looking into doing a part time MA in creative writing in the hope that following a structured course might help me complete a first draft, but it's a lot of money - over £6,000 for two years of study. The course I have in mind gives you the opportunity to showcase your work with literary agents towards the end of the two years. Which sounds great, but I'm unsure as to how much value the course itself would be.

My first question is aimed at you as a published author yourself, the last two as an assistant to a Literary Agent:
a) Do you believe there is any value in doing a qualification such as an MA in Creative Writing if you can already write but are struggling with plot?
b) In your experience, how many published authors have completed these kinds of courses?
c) How valuable would the contact with literary agents through the course be? Ie would they take you more seriously/ more likely to consider your novel?

Things may be different in the UK, but here are my answers for the US:

a) You get what you put into any creative writing course. Meaning, if you write a lot you'll probably get better. You could also do that without the course, but some people need structure and some people are convinced they need feedback. I got little to no useful feedback in my MFA prgram.

b) Very few. Very to none, really. Unless they went on to teach. Then they needed the degree to do that, but preferably an MFA over an MA.

c) Little to no value.

Also, $11000 (by my guesstimate of the exchange rate) for a two-year degree is insanely cheap by most American standards, unless you are earning a degree online, they are significantly more affordable.

Note: I should clarify that if taking a course makes you go from a bad writer to an insanely good writer, it has tremendous value. I've never seen that happen, but that doesn't mean it hasn't.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Hello Rejecter,

I just came across your blog today and found your honesty refreshing.

Speaking of honesty, I'm trying to decipher some agent rejection letters. They say many positive things about the story and writing followed by:

Agent 1: "After long consideration, though, I have to say I am just not enthusiastic enough to offer representation."
Agent 2: "I'm afraid, however, that I simply didn't fall in love with the work as I would have to, to take on a new project. "
Agent 3: "Unfortunately, however, I am being extremely careful about taking on new projects, and while I admired this a lot, I fear I didn't feel as enthusiastically about the manuscript as I need to in such a challenging marketplace.

Author friends tell me I should continue to contact agents but I'm wondering if the above replies are code for: "Give up now, you'll never get this book published."


Flattered but Confused

Unless the agent mentions specifics about your novel, there is no reason to believe it's anything but a form letter. If you get a reply letter that looks like it might have been photocopied 100 times, it's definitely a form letter.

Rejections are really frustrating. I get them now, but mostly from publishing companies, and sometimes they are personalized (depending on how well the agent knows the editor) and sometimes they are not.

A form letter means the following things:
(1) Your book is bad.
(2) Your book is good, but not really good enough.
(3) You submitted the book to an agency that doesn't handle that genre.
(4) Your book is too long or too short.
(5) Your book is thinly disguised Twilight fanfic. Hell, some people don't disguise it at all. They understand nothing of copyrights and we don't amazingly compelled to try to explain it to them.
(6) The agent you queried is not taking new clients.

For the most part, you're not going to know what it is (unless it's that Twilight fanfic thing). So send to every possible agent, and if they all reject you, take it as a sign that it's time to write a different book.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sky Is Falling (No It Isn't)

No doubt you're hearing about this from all quarters.

Does that bring on any changes to your thoughts about ebooks? I'm sure hard covers haven't been a big seller for a long time now. This must be some kind of sign of sea change tho :)

Have you read a novel on an iphone yet? (I quite enjoy reading in bed w/iphone - great after my wife is asleep. Easy to hold, and no light required :)

I'm wondering if Agents will become Reviewers - if writers all become self publishers, Agents might be better at playing curator. And Amazon just rakes in the bucks.

(tho' they've recently become more generous if I hear that right - reduced their cut to 30%)

I'll answer your questions in order.

(1) Taking into account that Amazon is an internet (technology-based) bookstore with the largest share in the e-Book market, it's still slightly surprising. Not that surprising, though. Remember to take into account that most people who bothered to buy an expensive Kindle did so because they read a lot - more than the average person, and almost everyone with a Kindle I've spoken to has said the amount of books they buy has gone up considerably since buying the Kindle because it's so easy and cheap to buy. So that's skewing the statistics a little. But yeah, e-Books is a market growing by leaps and bounds while books ... are pretty much still books.

(2) I don't have an iPhone. I'm a writer. I'm poor. I have a much cheaper phone with a much smaller screen and I only read my email on it, and I totally hate reading my email on it. I also have a Sony e-Reader that I never use because I find the screen irritating.

(3) E-Book selling really well to everyone self-publishing is a huge leap. Huge. I'm going to guess that most e-Books sold are still published by traditional companies, even if they're small companies. Yes, a lot more people are self-publishing, but it's not necessarily good. Traditional publishing works hard to only publish good books, and if they're not good, to at least edit them well. With very, very few exceptions, almost all of the self-published books we receive as submissions at work or I buy online are terrible in some fashion. It's actually getting frustrating with Amazon, which makes it so easy to not only self-publish but also to hide that you're self-publishing, because I'm running into more and more books that have poor layouts and copy-editing and then I look the company up, find out it's owned by the author, and say, "Oh, it was self-published. That explains it."

(4) Amazon is probably trying to keep competitive with the other places to buy e-Books.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

If You Have An Offer...

I'm in process of sending queries out both to agents and publishers (the few that still take unrepresented queries).

Let's say there is an offer on the table from a publisher, but I want an agent to handle it. I would imagine there would be some urgency about getting a deal sealed (of course, I have no idea, this is just how I dream it). I have heard that an author with a deal already in the works has a much better chance of getting an agent's attention. If that were to happen, would I still go through the regular query process? Just change my hook to "I have an offer from Insertnamehere publishing house"? Even so, would it be so sure of a thing (of course, provided that the agent represented similar work -- I do do my homework and don't just spam queries)?

If you answer this question, great. If you don't, it's all good. It's sort of a random question and really, just me procrastinating from editing for a contest.

I got my agent this way. I had partials and fulls out when I got the offer from the publisher. Two situations here:

(1) If you don't have anything currently sitting at an agency, including a query, query them by email or mail but put that offer information at the top. Include your phone number and email.

(2) If you have things at agencies, even queries, email or call (seriously, call) the agencies and tell them, "Hey, you're looking at something. There's an offer on the table. Here's my number." Then wait for the calls. Most of them will not have read your query/partial/full and beg for 24-48 hours to read it before getting back to you. Enjoy the attention while you can, because it's rare in publishing.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

For Your Information, Again

If you've self-published several terrible books in what's probably a mystery/adventure/YA series, complete with your self-drawn cover, it's really only necessary to send one unsolicited book with your query, not all 3 plus some soundtracks you've composed. Be assured that if our socks were knocked off by the first poorly-edited book with its hilariously bad cover art, we would request the rest. Until then, save on postage.

I'm always in favor of people saving on postage, and yet ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Money for Reviews

Dear Rejecter,

Having recently completed my YA novel and believing it to be original, inventive, yadda yadda, I'll be sending my query letters out to potential agents soon. My question to you is: We Book's Page to Fame, good idea or not?

The premise: for $9.95 a writer puts up the first page of their novel. It's then anonymously rated by other writers participating in the program. If the page is rated highly enough, it passes to the next level where the next few pages are put up and rated, and so on. At each level, the novel page or pages will be rated by at least one literary agent, and, if the novel "wins," the writer will receive exposure, potential offers of representation and whatever other good things may follow.

Good idea or not?

In general, I am against authors spending money. Aside from that whole "money flows to the author" principle, we live in an age where pretty much everything that a potential author could possibly want is online and free. Sure, if you want to develop your craft, it might not be a bad idea to take a course or buy a book on craft that's well-reviewed, and a grammar book wouldn't hurt, but really, save your money. Even if you get published, the money won't be rolling in anyway. $9.95 will probably cover all of the stamps for your queries and SASEs and partials if the agencies don't accept email queries, but especially when you send a requested manuscript.

As to the program itself, I've never heard of it, so that may say something about the exposure you'll be getting. Agents don't regularly kill time on the web looking at the work of unpublished authors. As for feedback, is it from other unpublished authors? How good is that, anyway?

If anyone knows more about the program, post it in the comments.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Revising Your Word Count

What if you rejected for no other reason than a too-low 50k word count?(though -oops-the author-doesn't know for sure it was this, God forbid an agent give feedback) would a revised 70k get the auto-dump as well?

There's a short answer to this, but I felt it deserved some discussion anyway.

At my agency, 50K will make me suspicious but I will not immediately throw it out, even though maybe I should. It depends on the genre; my boss is a little looser about word count. I know of at least two other agencies that absolutely would throw out a 50K novel, so maybe it's not a great thing to be pitching.

On the other hand, padding your novel doesn't make it good. It probably makes it bad (or worse).

There was a case a few weeks ago where someone sent in a query saying she had revised her novel to our specifications and now would we please look at it? As best as we can figure, she had originally sent a query (a partial or full we would have remembered) that one of us rejected, but written "too short" on the side or as a PS. Some agencies do this sometimes, if the writer needs a leg up, but in this case it came to bite us in the tuchus, which it usually does. She assumed this wasn't the only problem with the novel and spent a ton of time revising it, then resent the query. Rejected again - it was still a bad novel idea. I guess our (I don't know if my boss or I did it) helpfulness was misleading, making her think she had a chance if she added 20K of blather, or simply lied about the word count and hoped we really, really loved the partial.

I really hope, as a person, that she hadn't pinned her hopes on us. As I writer, I know she probably did.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

For Your Information

My boss requested I make the following post:

If you send a query, don't send the same (or similar) one three months later. We will totally know you did it and just reject you again. My boss is sick of them.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Web Content

Hello Rejecter,

I just found your blog today and am hoping you can answer a question that I have been trying to find an answer to for a while. I've heard many writers mention recently that they have been asked by agents and publishers to have a blog and an established web presence before submitting for publication. I assume this is because you then have a pool of people who are already interested in your book.

My question is where does the line fall between developing a web presence and self publishing? Could having a blog and posting some of your work end up hurting a writer's chances of publishing their first book?

Harlan Ellison is very against this, but publishing today involves giving away a lot of things for free. He went on about this for five minutes or so in the documentary on him, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, but Harlan lives in a world of his own - specifically, the world of a well-published, extremely well-established and respected sci-fi writer who can demand money for things the rest of us give away for free.

Aside from Harlan's rant, I've never heard anything bad about publishing online first. I did it, and even kept the stuff up when it was published. I have heard a lot of great things about web presence, so that's something you should get behind. Web presence. Media presence. Facebook. Other words that sound important and justify blowing an afternoon on Facebook instead of getting work done. Hopefully my Farmville friends will start buying my books soon.

The only problem that comes along is when you sell the book to a publisher. The publisher then has the right, if they've bought digital rights, to ask you to take down you content. See, they own it. That's what you sold them - the right to copy and distribute your own work - and that's why they gave you money. Until the contract lapses, it has to stay down so that they can distribute it for a profit instead. My experience with publishers, though, is that they're not necessarily strict on enforcing this, depending on the publisher and the nature of the content. And the fact that some people plain old don't like to read books on computers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obligatory BEA Post

My feet are screaming even while I'm sitting down, so I must have spent the day at the BEA, picking up too many free books I'll never read and going back and forth between the same 5 stands trying to find the editor I wanted to talk with. This time, at least, I had enough water, or could have bummed some bottles off at least one of the two publishers whom I have books with.

In summary:

- No drummers this time. Yay!

- Free champagne, beer, and in one case, popcorn, comes out about 4 pm, and not a moment too soon at that. The best way to get it is the same way you get in anywhere - you just act like you belong there.

- The daily PW gigantor edition for the BEA had article on Sylvia Browne called "helped by angels." Apparently she's written that despite her angel spirit guides, she's been through three disastrous marriages where she was beaten, stolen from, and cheated on. Sylvia, first of all, WE ALL KNOW YOU'RE FAKING IT. Second, if you have deluded yourself into thinking a spirit guide is telling you what to do in life, you might consider the idea that he has given you some terrible advice over the years. I mean, if I was marrying a guy, and I had an angel spirit guide helping me out, I would at some point ask him, "Hey angel, should I marry this guy?" and if he said, "Yes, it's totally cool" and then the guy beat me and stole from me, I would question the integrity of my spirit guide's judgment.

- If you are a Jewish Press and I've never heard of you, you are probably run by crazy people and that's why legitimate Jewish booksellers won't stock you in their stores. Hell, you probably shouldn't even be at the BEA. The major Jewish publishers who aren't trying to branch out into other markets pretty much don't waste their time with the BEA. They don't need networking and social media. Either I'm going to buy their English edition of the Talmud Bavli with the Rashi script converted into normal block print or I'm not. No amount of press changes that.

- United Arab Emirates, you cannot buy my love with an outrageously fancy stand. Same thing to you, Saudi Arabia and the CCP Press. (To be fair, Xinhua's stand was not very extravagant).

- Scientology booth, I am not fooled by you. Hubbard was a terrible sci-fi author and you push his stuff as a front for the giant corporation we call a cult and you call a religion. Considering how many people regularly buy and read Hubbard's fiction (the numbers have to be dismal), you stole a ridiculous amount of floor space from publishers who needed it. Also, what was with the African-American guys in pirate costumes? Because there were like 3 of them and that's bucking the odds in colorblind casting.

- Wow, there sure were a ton of content-less booths for various e-publishing companies, weren't there? I should be less surprised, really, but they were like, a whole SECTION. A section that was pretty empty. We need shiny books to attract us, even if we know they're not galleys and we can't take free copies.

- A bunch of people asked me what I did for a living. I thought the "EXHIBITION AUTHOR" tag on my badge would have given that away.

- If you are looking for an editor you've never met in real life in a gigantic corporation's booth, all of the name badges will inevitably be turned around so you can't scope out people's names from afar and have to interrupt their conversations to ask them. It's like, a thing.

- One of my publishers claimed they didn't have any copies of my book on display because the one copy was stolen (which happens), but I'm on to them. C'mon, it was two hours into the convention! On the other hand, if people were racing to steal a copy of my book off a stand and clearly put it ahead of any other thing they might have had to do on the first day the convention floor was open, I might not be in such a bad situation as an author.

- Man, a ton of people lined up for author signings with authors I'd never heard of. Some of that's got to be getting caught up in the moment or hoping for a good resale value, though to be fair I did not hear anyone say, "Make it out to eBay."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Update from the Rejector

I haven't been posting a lot, mostly due to a slow pace of questions, a lot of which I've answered just by replying via email, since the question was already asked at some point on the blog. I've still got a few in my inbox, including one mythical one I thought was awesome but read at some time where I couldn't respond, and then it disappeared. Seriously. I have no idea where it is, but it was so wonderfully smug.

I'll be offline for the next week (combination of Shavuot/camping), but back for the BEA, provided my publisher finally coughs up that author badge. I won't be live tweeting from it or anything, mostly because those posts would be along the lines of, "It's really hot and loud in here" and "Four dollars for a water!? Damn you, Javitz Center!" If those drummers come back, I may renew my vow to find acid and throw it in their faces, and then not do it, not entirely because of the non-availability of acid in the Javitz Center.

You can leave a comment, but it probably will not be approved until Sunday. Until then, enjoy!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Self-Publishing Credits

I teach a writing class at my local community college and got a question from a student -- would an agent consider representing someone based on a self-published novel? Should the student mention that what they're submitting has been self-published? My immediate answer to the student was no, but then they said that it's sold pretty well. Does that make a difference?

The unwritten "rule" (though some have written it) is that a self-published book should have earned at least 3000 copies on its own steam to be considered a "success." I don't know where the number came from, but I've heard it many, many times and read it on agents' websites. So no, if it's below that, don't count it as a publishing credit and don't mention it.

However, we're seeing more and more people who self-published their novel first, then were shocked to find out how little they sell and how costly the process is (usually for the readers, because the books are a little more pricey than mass-produced books), decide they want to get published traditionally. If you're pitching a manuscript to us, and for some reason you want to send it book form ("I had it printed by Authorhouse), we're not going to be doing a lot of complaining. It's one of those things that doesn't help and doesn't hurt.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trade Shows

First, I wanted to say that I love your blog. Thank you for all you do to help out everyone in the blogsphere. Second, I had a question about trade shows, namely BEA. If an agent goes to the show, is it appropriate for a writer to approach them and introduce themselves? Maybe talk to them about their novel? Or is this considered rude and annoying?

The answer is complicated.

There are trade shows where unpublished authors are allowed in - and trade shows where they are not, the BEA being one of those. Three years ago, when I attended my first BEA, this was not being well enforced. If you paid the money to register as a publishing company - whether that company existed or not - you could get a badge and access to the floor. Since it was an internet registration, you didn't have to show your credentials, be it a small town rag or Simon & Schuster. Agents, however, had their own tables in a segregated area to meet with clients so they wouldn't be bothered, and the guy at the door was pretty strict about who he let in (I had to argue to go in to speak with my boss because I was not registered as her assistant).

According to my boss, they're trying to crack down on that at the BEA because editors and agents are sick of dealing with unpublished authors pitching to them. It's not that they don't want new authors, it's that it's hard to say "No, go away, I seriously have a meeting with buyers right now" to someone looking desperate. The BEA is, primarily, a show for publishers, agents, and industry people to do business with one another, in a limited space and a limited time, especially if they have to man a booth for the next 6 hours, then be on a panel, then attend a wine-n-cheese, then spend $4.00 for a friggin' bottle of water (THANKS, Javitz Center), then stumble around from author event to keynote speaker in the haze of someone who has been awake way, way too long.

There's that motorcycle Zen guy who tells the story of pitching his book at a trade show and getting a million dollar deal (I'm sketchy on the specifics here) and that started the whole business, but really, please don't do it. If you happen to be at the trade show for trade show reasons and you happen to be talking to an editor whom you know is currently buying the type of book you are trying to sell, "Can I pitch my book to you?" is not a bad question to ask. In all fairness, that's how I got my first book deal, so I can't totally write it off. That said, don't crash the BEA and chat up every agent who happens to be in the bathroom line with you. That's tacky.

The 4 Questions

I have spent too many unhealthy hours reading blogs and websites filled with advice on queries for far too long. From what I have learned, everyone wants something different but they wont all tell you what it is that they want. So I have a few general questions. 1) If you have a website for your book or work is it appropriate to give them the address in the query?

Put it in, but there's almost no chance we'll look at it. Still, it doesn't hurt.

2) On some sites I read queries where it looks like the first half of the query is sucking up to the agent and has nothing about the book. If I am querying an agent they should know what I am after. Their approval. Is it necessary for me to try to tell them why I want to work with them and list all of the books they have published that I have read?

Throwing in a reference to a book the agent represents isn't considered bad. It shows you did research on the agent and are not just mass-querying. In some agencies it gives you points. Honestly, I see it so much I just ignore it and focus on the book that's being pitched, but again, it doesn't hurt your query, so you should do it.

3) Early on I was over excited and sent out a query to an agency I quite desperately wanted to work with. They rejected me because they didn't feel a connection, but said it was a great concept. This prompted me to reevaluate the query and the book which turned out for the best. Is it ever appropriate for me to resubmit to them? If so, how long must I wait?

A couple months, but don't expect anything. It will probably be rejected again. There was a reason the first time and it may have been unrelated to the format of the query letter. Like "Ugh, I've seen too much of this lately" or "I'm not taking on new clients now unless it's specific genre."

4) I have no credentials that relate to my writing. I don't feel I should have to tell them anything about my self if my writing conveys that I am the best person to write this story. It takes up more of their time and they don't care who I am, I don't mind that. I'm arrogant but not egotistical. However most agents websites say "tell us about your self" in their criteria. Do I have to if they request it?

When they say "tell us about yourself" it means "tell us what writing credentials you have, and if you've written non-fiction, what credentials you have to write this specific book." You don't need to put in any other biographical information. By the way, I can't stress that last part enough. If you have written non-fiction (other than memoir), you should have some credentials proving why you're qualified to write a book about your subject. You know, degrees you might have, research you might have done. That sort of thing. We don't see enough of that in non-fiction proposals.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trilogies. Or, Potential Ones.

My boss is NOT one of the many people who planned to go to the London Book Fair and has lost out on their deposit. Of the international fairs, she usually does one or the other - Frankfurt or London - and it was Frankfurt, which is in the Fall. It did create a panic in the industry last week when the volcano-related news came out, but the London Book Fair is going forward anyway, as most people in Europe can take buses or trains to get there.

Hi Rejecter. (I'd rather spell that with an Or, sort of like a Terminator!). This question may suck, but I'm asking it anyway: It seems like nearly every fantasy or scifi book that comes out now is part of a trilogy (or longer in some cases). Is this because publishers mostly want trilogies, or is it because the writers can't get Lord of the Rings out of their minds and think everything needs to be a trilogy? If I have a novel I want to pitch, should I be telling publishers "This is Book 1 of a Trilogy", in the hopes of more interest?

I don't have a straight answer for you here. Publishers in certain genres, specifically fantasy books and mysteries, do like multi-book series of an often unspecified number at the time of the buying of the first book. That said, they don't love them from new, untested authors.

As for agents, I don't think it would hurt your query, but I don't think it would help, either, unless your book has a stupid fantasy name like "Book 1 - The Prophey" because if you don't mention there's more books we'll just be wondering. The thought, when publishers buy a book, is often "Will this book succeed?" way before it's "How many of these can the author pump out and how fast can they do it? Because George R.R. Martin is screwing us over. I mean yes, we're still making tons of money off it, but we're really wondering if he's going to finish the series before he dies or some relative will have to pick it up and it will be lame."

Keep your focus on the first book. Getting one book published is really, really hard; many of my readers would be more than happy to tell you that. This is the book you want the agent to love and the publisher to buy.

I don't know whether other people who handle more fantasy hold the "unpublished author with a trilogy" against the author in the query or not. I just see it so often I ignore it, whereas if it was in a non-trilogy-friendly genre I would definitely hold it against the author (like, say, memoir). So, leave it out unless you can't, in which case just give it a line.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Responses to the Previous Post

Where has the Rejector been? The answer, you clueless goyim, is Passover. It's not a place so much as a concept of a holiday that eats up space and time for way longer than it should.

Comment from a previous post:
Rejecter, I was surprised by your answer.

Including quotes, praise, etc. from professors -- even famous ones -- in a query strikes me as incredibly amateurish and unprofessional. I know lit mag staff laugh at this. And it's something that always shows up in letters from MFA students.

Now, Rejecter is the expert here. I'm not an agent, and since Rejecter reads queries and she thinks it's okay, then obviously she wouldn't have a problem with it if your query crossed her desk. But I have a really really really hard time believing that the majority of agents or publishing professionals who see this in your query will take it seriously.

Plus, I worry what your professors are thinking telling you they are so confident this will be published when it's a 40,000 somewhat quirky or experimental novella. I even question whether they could truly understand the publishing world if they are telling you they expect to see it on the shelves. Unless they are talking about small, independent university presses (in which case you probably wouldn't be seeking an agent right away anyway), they are insane or, at best, misguided. Publishing companies are barely buying many literary novels these days, never mind experimental stuff from unknowns, and especially not 40,000 word novellas. I'm not saying give up or don't try -- just that it's ludicrous that your famous professors don't understand that this is not something that a New York house is going to buy right now.

I am not trying to be harsh. I'm just a little worried for the person who asked this question because I fear these professors have gotten his/her hopes up for absolutely no reason.

I got praise - not a lot, because I kept on submitting genre fiction - in my MFA program and I kind of ignored it. Then when I became successful in publishing, my professors actually remembered me and said, "Of course I remembered you! I meant what I said, you know. About having promise." And I thought they just said that because what else are MFA professors supposed to say? They're not going to get tenure if they be honest and tell half the class to give up and go to refrigeration school.

Anyway, I was a little easygoing on the "put in quotes" thing, but my first boss (who kind of mentored me on the art of query letters) and my current boss both put some stock in having quotes of praise. It depends on the sources, of course - your aunt who is an English teacher is not a good source - but I don't necessarily laugh at a professor's praise. I do laugh when the query letter contains a copy of a rejection letter from a publishing company the author previously submitted to with the form response lines of praise highlighted. That's always funny.

And yes, 40K is too short. If something drops below 70K there had better be a good reason for it.

Hi rejecter,

Great blog! I was wondering though, what is the minimum word count for a collection of short stories?

p.s. If these professors are actually famous, then their praise might be worth something if they convince THEIR agents to read your stuff and sign you. This is the most promising angle and is completely different than you writing down their praise in a query letter sent cold to other agents. Even if your professor's agent did sign you, I have to wonder what they expect to do with a 40,000 word novella?

I don't know the minimum word count for a collection of short stories. I'm guessing it can be less than 80K, because a lot of the short story collections I've seen and read have been pretty slim. That said, unless you've had the majority of your short stories published in major magazines/journals, you shouldn't be submitting a short story collection. They don't sell well and we don't like them. Not for a first-time author.

To answer your second sort-of question there, famous writer-professors don't necessarily have agents, or maybe have agents who don't accept new clients, or maybe have agents who are not interested in the professor's students getting recommendations for them all the time. I have an agent and I've almost never said to a friend with a novel "send it to my agent and tell her I'm recommending you." It's not because I don't like my friends. It's because I don't want to bother my agent with my friend's bad novels that I know she's going to reject. That's just mean.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Novels, MFA Programs, and Other Troublesome Things

I have been working with two famous and critically respected authors in my MFA program who have been more than enthusiastic about my quirky literary manuscript. One of them said that "it was simply amazing and I need to find an agent immediately and get this thing published!" The other teacher says he has no doubt that this will be on the shelf. Should I mention this in my query letter? I must say that I am not confident about the this book being marketable as it is basically a novella at 40,000 words, although my teacher calls it a novel and it is a bit unusual with regards to language and form. I wrote it because it was what I needed to write and when I began I wasn't thinking about publication although now I am very excited about the prospect! Should I send it out as is or try to make it longer or a bit more traditional?

Addressing the issues one-by-one:

(1) You have two famous and critically-respected authors in your MFA program? Seriously? Are you in school in Iowa?

(2) OK, being serious, having an author's recommendation in your query letter as a sentence or two is almost never bad, provided that author was not self-published, because then it doesn't count. So yes, you should put that in your query letter. Specifically, you should put the good things they said about your manuscript in the query letter, not the fact that they said it should be published.

(3) 40K is a novella. You can send it out, but it will probably get knocked out of the running on that alone. On the other hand, you may get lucky. If you're prepared for a slew of rejections, you can give it a shot. Most published authors have rejections from other manuscripts under their belt before they get an acceptance.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Things I Thought Were Obvious File #127

Be nice to your agent.


My boss acknowledges that a lot of writers, particularly career ones, are inherently weirdos. She doesn't outright say it, but when writers are unreliable or obsessive or can't seem to grasp the world beyond their work, she's not surprised. I'm not surprised; I was a weirdo growing up and I'm a weirdo now. My publication record is just confirmation of my right to be one. That said, it's important to maintain a professional working relationship with the people around you, and in this case, your agent or potential agent.

There's been a few cases over the years I've known her where my boss has declined a potential client, or cut lose a former one, because of their behavior. Mostly the former, but there was even a case where a potential client came in with an offer from a publishing company with a huge advance attached to it. In other words, free money for my boss, whose job becomes to look over the contract and pretty much nothing else, and then receive a significant check for her work. Agents love these clients. That was actually how I got my agent; various agents were considering my work and at the same time I landed an offer from a company after I pitched to the editor at the BEA and I called around to the agents considering me, said I had an offer on the table, and waited for them to call me back. Within the first 24 hours, three did. Another begged for an additional 24 hours to read the manuscript, and a fourth was vacation and still asked about it when they got back 2 weeks later. One person did say "OK, I read it, I'm legitimately not interested" but otherwise I had my pick. It's a pretty awesome position to be in.

Back to my boss. She got this offer, which really a lot of money already on the table, and she was still debating it when I last spoke to her. The author, when she spoke to him, was pushy and demanded things of her like lowering her industry fees (which is not a negotiable topic), made comments critical of her other clients, and didn't get back to her when she emailed him basic questions that would be crucial to the agent/client relationship. It really came down to "Do I really want to work with this guy?" Knowing her, in the long run, the answer will probably be no.

So if you're working with your agent, or trying to get one, be polite. Promptly answer emails if you're available to do so. Don't ignore questions. In short, don't be a douche. We don't like working with them.

Friday, March 05, 2010

For Your Information

If you are, say, an unrepentant child molester serving out his latest jail sentence (this one just for owning a considerable stash of child pornography), and you're pitching a novel, it's best to leave out everything I just said in the query letter except the part about having a novel. Sure, once we get over our revulsion at your page-long, off-topic discussion of how history justifies your obsession with pre-teen boys, we'll find it amusing in an extremely dark way and laugh about it. But then we'll reject you.

I know, we shouldn't judge the author, just the novel, but there are exceptions. After all, if we took you on as a client, we would have to work with you, and if you're given to rants that make us uncomfortable, that's not a relationship we're interested in having.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Follow-up on Previous Post

I'm stuck on the fact that an agent may like the writing and story but pass because of the ending. Isn't that something that can be fixed easily with the writer?


If an agent likes an idea well enough to request a full but doesn't like the ending, wouldn't a request to rewrite be called for?

I feel like this is a question I should answer before more people ask it.

First of all, I slightly oversimplified in my answer. There was probably a massive problem with the ending. My boss, if she likes the manuscript a lot, will devote some time to asking for a rewrite (a major thing to ask of a non-client) and working on those edits (a major thing to do for a non-client) and has lost lots of (wo)man-hours on them. They have still not resulted in taking the client on, because either the writer didn't want to edit or simply couldn't edit, something I'll get to in a second. Some agents are really willing to work on potential manuscripts because they're fairly sure the manuscripts can be fixed and sold, and they're usually right. One of the current bestsellers on some list, I think it's Amazon, was a book that I remember working on for my former boss. It arrived as a really good idea for a book that was mostly done, but had some narrative problems, and 3 years ago I was asked to read it and give my advice. I then went to work for someone else, and though I had my doubts about it, obviously the book was fixed because now I've seen it reviewed across the web and shows up on bestseller lists. I also remember that my former boss really, really loved this book. She didn't just think it was a great manuscript; she had personal attachment to it. Agents don't feel that way about every manuscript. My current boss has two bestsellers on the list, both non-fiction, at the moment, though she's had others since I've been with her, but not things I've worked on for the most part, or saw when they when they arrived as a potential client.

Now, onto the the writers. My former professor once said, "Writing is easy. Editing is hard." It's probably the only thing ever said that I completely agreed with in my MFA program. For most writers, editing is hard. For me, it's particularly unbearable, and as a published author I dread it and fear it and still do a lot of it. First my agent asks for revisions, then the publisher does. Last week I submitted a book to my agent that I've been editing for a year now. It took me a month to write and a year to edit, and it's still not in the best shape it could be, but it may be in the best shape I'm capable of making it. I'm really attached to this project, and I want it to sell and succeed, but in my mind I always imagine a book that's much better than the one on the screen, and despite many rewrites I can't see to get there. I honestly don't know if she'll ask for another revision, which I'll do if she asks, or do some minor touch-ups and send it out and see if it sticks. At this point to her I'm a proven seller, and I've made her some money, so I'm worth the risk, but it still might not sell and won't look good for her or me if it doesn't. It's depressing for writers to not have their books sell, but it's also bad for agents, in terms of their crucial relationships with editors, to keep sending the editors things they won't like.

Endings aren't easily "fixable." For some writers, any revision is impossible. These are writers who either have such a name for themselves that anyone will publish them or they never get published because no one wants to work with them. For other writers, it's simply a matter of ability to craft a story properly, and they don't have it and may not be interested in the implication that they need to acquire it. Other people will never be great writers, and may succeed in one genre and fail in another, which is probably my slate in life, as I can't seem to get published in science fiction but have two other genres under my belt. Agents know all this, and it's hard for them to invest time in someone who, honestly, may or may not be able to produce the work that the agent will then try to sell, and may or may not succeed in doing and only for very little money.

Agents are accused of not nurturing writers, but a lot of agents are very up-front about not being the right person to do this. I was at a WorldCon where an agent gave a panel, and he said outright, "I will not hold your hand. I will not revise your work. I will try to sell work for my clients for the highest amount possible, and then I will make sure the publishing company does all that it can to promote the book. That's what I do. If you don't like it, find another agent."

New Novel, Old Agent

I chalked my first YA novel up to experience but only after I made it to the point that two (out of seven to whom I sent queries) agents asked for the complete manuscript. One of the agents never wrote me after requesting the complete manuscript--I just had to assume she/he was declining, based on no response.

My question: I am now getting ready to query a second YA novel. Can I start at some better place with these two agents--mention that they had expressed some interest in my first? Or do I just start from scratch on their agency web sites, since they didn't like the first enough to sign me? I am especially leery of the one who did not respond, although the correspondence up to the final interaction was cordial and even enthusiastic, and he/she is a reputable agent from a respected agency.

Sure, what the hey. If they liked your work the first time around, mention it but don't bank on it. It might help, it might hurt, but in the large scheme of things, there are so many agents out there that if your book is good, someone will pick it up. Probably.

As to people who get to fulls and don't like them, not responding is rude but sadly not uncommon. My boss requests a lot of fulls but very, very rarely accepts one, especially in fiction and usually, she says, because she really likes the writing or subject (the reason she got past the partial stage) but didn't like the ending. It's surprising hard to bring a book to a good ending. I know I was rejected for many years for "structural problems" and still have that issue with some of my work. So the agent might say, "Hey, this is a person whose writing I liked, but the last novel just didn't work. Maybe experience has gotten them somewhere."

Or they may not remember you at all. There's always that possibility.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Online Publishing

There are a lot of websites like and (run by HarperCollins) that allow you to submit and "publish" your creative work online. Does this count as publishing work?

Only if you get paid. In actual money.

(Some contests require that you only submit unpublished works). Also, do you retain copyright on the stories you submit?

If it is a legitimate, paying online source, they will ask to retain the copyright for a certain amount of time (usually a year or two), after which rights revert back to you. If you don't know their policy, ask.

Does publishing yourself online adversely affect your chances of being published legitimately?

No. But it might not do anything good, either.

Friday, February 05, 2010

An opinion on e-Readers

My boss said something interesting that I think bears repeating. She does not own an e-Reader (I do) and she really feels that publishing companies are shooting themselves in the foot in a variety of ways in getting in these huge, confusing fights with Amazon, Sony, and Google over eBook rights.

Until the technology vastly improves and the price drastically drops, she doesn't see e-Readers as a viable format and therefore a threat to publishing as we know it. Amazon claims to have sold 500,000 Kindles, a very impressive number until you realize there's 308,618,000 people in America, so if my math is correct (which it rarely is, so double-check), only one in every 617 people own one. The main reason, though, is the price tag. The huge purchase of an electronic reader serves as the gateway to eBooks, which then have to be paid for individually - as opposed to people simply buying the book they want. It becomes an entrance fee to books, which previously had none. Are only rich people going to be buying books? Because you have to have a decent income to afford one of these devices (I got mine for my birthday). Do we really want a culture where information is available primarily for the wealthy?

Putting out an e-Edition of the book also messes with sales projections, as a ton of people buy it the day it comes out, and then interest drops tremendously, it drops tremendously in rank, and it's hard for word-of-mouth to build on a book with a small opening. I can't plot out all of the economics here, but it's not a good buying trend.

I've felt for some considerable time that the answer to publishing is libraries. Publishing needs to put huge money into supporting and promoting libraries. You may think that's crazy, as libraries lend books out for free, but where do you think they get those books? Libraries serve as huge buyers for books, and in the case of many academic books are the bulk of sales. So really, if someone could get cracking on making libraries not seem like the most depressing places on earth, that would be great.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Foreign Authors, Local Agents

I'm in the process of finding a suitable agent for my completed novel (and hopefully my future career as a writer). I was wondering how important location is.

My predicament is that I am Norwegian living in Norway, but my novel is written in English (having lived overseas most of my life, this is my preferred language). Finding an agent in Norway is futile (writers go directly to publishers here and there is no real market for Engish books). To complicate matters further, I expect to relocate overseas again within a couple of years (location unknown). My question then is: should I seek representation in the UK (i.e. closer to me at the moment) or USA (where the storyline of this first novel is set)?

Also, is the fact that I am "overseas" a discouraging factor for literary agents when considering to take me on as an client?

No. To be fair, yes, there are a few who will say no on that basis, but I can't think of any agents I know off the top of my head. My boss certainly has a lot of overseas clients. The most important thing is to get across that you are fluent in English, as we get some people who aren't completely fluent and an occasional person who thought running their book through Babelfish would be fine. Then email the agents with your query letter and see what happens. Email agents in both the UK and US to widen your prospects, not because of the location of the novel setting.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cutting Down a Book

I'm back from what was a ridiculously prolonged illness, not helped by a lot of traveling. Also, I don't get a lot of emails asking questions, or not a lot of emails asking questions I haven't answered already in the blog, so that cuts down on the posts.

I wrote a YA/Paranormal novel, but am having an issue with it's length. I know the accepted length is around 80K-100K words for this genre, but the readers who have read mine say it reads well and should be left in tact. The novel is well over twice the accepted word count, though. Is it in my best interest to cut the book down before I seek an agent or leave it as is, seek an agent now, and work with an editor to scale it back?

So from your email I don't know exactly how long it is, but the general rule is that if you can find things to cut, you should be cutting them, and if you can't find anything to cut, then the novel really is that long and agents will have to deal or you'll have to write another novel. If your YA novel is 200,000 words as it sounds like it is, that's just too long for a first book. Go write another, shorter book while this one is on the shelf. When you're published you can get away with crazier stuff.

Disregard this if you're in India, because from what I've seen the Indian English-language fiction market makes for like, crazy-long novels. Or many books that are one novel because the binding was just getting too big. I remember being in the Delhi airport and deciding, sadly, not to plunk my money down on a historical novel because it was ten books long and I was fairly sure I couldn't obtain the other nine books outside of India. I have enough trouble getting stuff from the UK and Australia.