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Author Chat! > Chat with Author and Agent Lucienne Diver

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message 1: by J.J. (new)

J.J. DiBenedetto | 651 comments Friday, January 10th, from 1:30 to 3:30 PM (Eastern US time), Lucienne Diver, author and agent, will be here to chat with us! So start posting your questions to her, and be sure to visit Friday afternoon...


message 2: by Lenore (new)

Lenore Sagaskie | 88 comments Thanks Lucienne for taking the time to answer our questions. My question is: What, from your experience is the best way for an indy writer to 'get out there' in a positive way? And, what avenues should be avoided, specifically those things that make agents *face palm*. I would like to approach an agent, but fear the foot in mouth process. I have been turned down by agents years ago for 'not being out there' (little paid jobs in my field) but have a hard time getting gigs without having an agent. Those gigs I did/do get generally aren't on "recognizable" or approved lists. Is it just me or is this industry slightly cray cray?


message 3: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Land (stuartland) | 2 comments Hi Lucienne, and HNY! Since you're an author and an agent, you are most likely more attuned to the needs of a author, emotionally, than those agents who aren't. Has this helped you as an agent, and in your own quest for acceptance in this whacky marketplace? I see you write vampire books (I have two of my own), but what are you looking for, specifically, as an agent for the agency you work for? Thanks for paying it forward by offering your advice.

Warmly,

Stuart Land


message 4: by V.S. (new)

V.S. Holmes (vs_holmes) | 15 comments Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to read and answer all our questions. I'm in the process of querying agents for the first in my high fantasy series. Is it considered bad form to liken your book to one that was represented by that agent or agency? Also, if you feel your work is similar to another authors, should you query their agent?

Again, thank you!

-Sara Holmes Voorhis


message 5: by Merriam (new)

Merriam Sarcia Similar to Sara V's question - I've seen it recommended that your query should mention "I'm sending this to you bc you rep such and such a book, so might be interested in this genre..." etc. Is it considered bad form to mention the book they rep, if you have not read the book and are merely going by the book description? Thanks for your time. (Love YA Rebels, btw)


message 6: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 1 comments Hi. Thanks for taking my question. I've been contemplating entering some short story contests in hopes of earning some awards. Would this increase my chances of getting an agent if I query with awards credentials? Don't want to take time away from writing novels if award chasing has little value.


message 7: by Donald (new)

Donald | 1 comments Thank you for this opportunity Lucienne. My question is simple: what are some good factors to consider in deciding what genre is best suited for a writer? I mean, how did you chose YA/UF?
Also, parnormal romance: here to stay or a dying breed?

(While I like YA Rebels, but I like MW best. Hope you post more there.) Hope to see you at CC.


message 8: by Bradley (new)

Bradley Poage | 13 comments Hi Lucienne, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions.

I've often queried Agents/Agencies but the projects I propose never seem to be in line with what agencies refer to as "readers’ tastes and trends". Is there a source that updates what is currently trending?

Thanks


message 9: by Jason (new)

Jason Parent Hi Ms. Diver. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I share some of the questions presented above.


message 10: by K (new)

K (kaykay798) Hello Ms. Diver,

As a new author, my goal is not finding an agent fast, but finding an agent that will last. In the querying stage, is there a certain aspect you look for in a letter that distinguishes your perspective from an interesting-sounding manuscript to a manuscript you must absolutely request pages from? Will an author's lack of credentials, and even more so, lack of degrees, draw a line between two fresh manuscripts? Thank you for your time reviewing my question, and I wish you much luck in finding your next big project this New Year!

Regards,

Kay Mitchell


message 11: by Mart (new)

Mart Ramirez Hi Lucienne!

When starting a new project do you check in with your agent with a hook line and/or first page, sypnosis etc? Or do you jump right on in and hope for the best?

Looking frwd to reading all your answers to our questions. Thanks for taking the time.

All best,
Mart


message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael Anderson (mwanderson) | 7 comments Lucienne,

I wish I could join real-time. Hopefully there will be a transcript. My question is simply: why does it still pay off to have an agent given the change in the industry and all the disruptive technology available? Can you please explain the value provided by agents such as some of the benefits they provide and what problems they can help authors avoid?

Thanks,
Michael


message 13: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Hey, all! I look forward to joining you this afternoon. I've posted a quick bio below, and if you want to check me out in advance, there are links as well. Ta!

Lucienne Diver joined The Knight Agency in 2008, after spending fifteen years with Spectrum Literary Agency in New York. Over the course of her dynamic career she has sold over seven hundred titles to every major publisher, and has built a client list of more than forty authors spanning the commercial fiction genres, primarily in the areas of fantasy, science fiction, romance, mystery, and young adult fiction. Her authors have been honored with the RITA, National Readers' Choice, Golden Heart, Romantic Times and Colorado Book Awards, and have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Clients include such bestsellers as Rachel Caine, Chloe Neill, Faith Hunter, Rob Thurman, Susan Krinard, Kalayna Price and many others.

She’s also an author in her own right with her Vamped young adult series for Flux Books (VAMPED, REVAMPED, FANGTASTIC and FANGTABULOUS) and the Latter-Day Olympians urban fantasy series for Samhain (BAD BLOOD, CRAZY IN THE BLOOD and RISE OF THE BLOOD), which Long and Short Reviews calls, “delightful Urban Fantasy, a clever mix of Janet Evanovich and Rick Riordan.” In addition, she’s written short stories and essays that have appeared in the Strip-Mauled and Fangs for the Mammaries anthologies edited by Esther Friesner (Baen Books), in Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen) and the anthology Kicking It edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price (Roc Books). Further information is available on The Knight Agency website www.knightagency.net, her author site www.luciennediver.com or blog http://luciennediver.wordpress.com.


message 14: by Michael (new)

Michael Poeltl (mikepoeltl) Lucienne,

Is it possible to write yourself out of a genre? How can authors know for sure what their genre is if it becomes clouded with say, multiple genre's?

Thx,


message 15: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 169 comments @Michael Good question! I'd love to hear Lucienne's input on that. :)


message 16: by Laura (new)

Laura Palmer | 4 comments Lucienne,

High/epic fantasy novels are known for their length with hundreds of pages and high wordcounts. However, the standard advice to fantasy authors is to write at 100-120K, which is less than 500 pages. In contrast, Rothfuss's debut Name of the Wind was 260,000 words. What are your feelings on wordcounts for fantasy? Is there a magic number where you automatically reject a fantasy ms? Thanks for your thoughts.


message 17: by J.J. (new)

J.J. DiBenedetto | 651 comments Lucienne will be here at 1:30 PM - about 35 minutes from now - so keep those questions coming!


message 18: by Jevon (new)

Jevon Knights (jevonknights) | 8 comments Lucienne,

When querying an agent, writers are always advised to check the submission guidelines. Do you have any query peeves that may not have been mentioned in the average submission guidelines page? What are some of the things you will automatically reject in a query letter?


message 19: by Lucienne (last edited Jan 10, 2014 10:47AM) (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Lenore wrote: "Thanks Lucienne for taking the time to answer our questions. My question is: What, from your experience is the best way for an indy writer to 'get out there' in a positive way? And, what avenues should be avoided, specifically those things that make agents *face palm*. I would like to approach an agent, but fear the foot in mouth process. I have been turned down by agents years ago for 'not being out there' (little paid jobs in my field) but have a hard time getting gigs without having an agent. Those gigs I did/do get generally aren't on "recognizable" or approved lists. Is it just me or is this industry slightly cray cray? "

Dear Lenore,

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘get out there’ in a positive way. If you mean with your independent publications, success there can get you noticed. Great reviews as well. It’s important to note, though, that publishers are discovering from moving self-published authors over into traditional publishing, that sales of thousands of copies at $2.99 or $3.99 don’t necessarily translate to the same number of sales at hardcover, trade or mass market prices. Really impressive sales and bestseller hits still stand out, but the biggest way to rise above is for the material itself to be amazing.

If you mean garnering other opportunities like anthologies and invitations to submit to larger houses, networking with other authors and with agents and editors on-line and at conventions is a great thing. Following houses and agents on twitter can be very productive to find out when they’re having open submission calls or special contests or starting new lines for which they’ll be looking for inventory. Connecting with other authors means that you can support each other and bring each other in on opportunities that arise like continuities and anthologies.

-Lucienne


message 20: by Lucienne (last edited Jan 10, 2014 10:47AM) (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Kennedy wrote: "I've been looking forward to an avenue like this.
Thanks for the opportunity.
Because of the extreme difficulty in securing the services of an agent for traditional publishing, majority of authors are going 'the Indie way'.
What's your take on that? If literary agents are so useful in the industry, why is so hard to reach out to them?"


Dear Kennedy,

I don’t know that it’s hard to reach out to agents. We all have our websites with submission guidelines posted that specify how to approach us. Impressing us, though, I have to admit that it is difficult, though not nearly impossible. (I did a shout out to new voices on my blog just recently - http://luciennediver.wordpress.com/20... - and there are fabulous debuts happening all the time.) The trick is that we need to find something that really excites us, enough so that if the going gets tough, we’ll still believe in and push the project and the author. I’ve represented books that have sold in a week (or even over night) and books that it’s taken me years to sell, but that I’ve loved so much I’ve kept the faith. I’m not the only agent who operates this way.

Sometimes ‘the Indie way’ can be a good path, particularly if what you’re writing is too niche to interest a major publisher. But sometimes rejections should just convince you that the timing isn’t right or that your novel isn’t truly ready. You don’t want to put something out before it’s really ready, because you’ll prime the market to expect that level of work from you (along with whatever level of sales it brings in).

-Lucienne


message 21: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Litke (jenzgoodreads) Lucienne,

Some agents prefer that a query have the introduction part first (as you say in your guidelines), and some say you should dive straight in with the hook (as Janet Reid prefers). But a lot of agents don't specify a preference.

I've tried to tell myself that this is such a picky detail that I shouldn't worry about it. Except Janet's QueryShark site makes it seem VERY important. Do you think most agents feel strongly about this? Or should I just not worry if they don't state a preference?


message 22: by Lucienne (last edited Jan 10, 2014 10:48AM) (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Stuart wrote: "Hi Lucienne, and HNY! Since you're an author and an agent, you are most likely more attuned to the needs of a author, emotionally, than those agents who aren't. Has this helped you as an agent, and in your own quest for acceptance in this whacky marketplace? I see you write vampire books (I have two of my own), but what are you looking for, specifically, as an agent for the agency you work for? Thanks for paying it forward by offering your advice."

Hey, Stuart,

Thank you, I do think being an author as well as an agent helps me relate to my clients. It also aids me in critiquing their work, so that I can better pinpoint problems and offer suggestions for fixes. Often I’m more directly in touch with bloggers and book critics as well, so hear about promotional opportunities that I can pass along to my authors.

Actually, though, from an authorial standpoint, it’s very difficult to be both. I have to be very concerned with people’s perceptions about how appropriate it is to promote my work and in what way. I’m pretty certain I’d promote my books a lot more if I weren’t concerned that people would perceive it as taking away from my agenting (which I love and would never give up). I always walk a very fine line of being all things to all people.

As to what I’m looking for: the agency as a whole represents romance, non-fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, suspense, young adult and some middle-grade fiction. You can check here for our bios to see who’s right for what types of projects: http://knightagency.net/about-us/. For myself, I already represent over forty authors, so I’m not as hungry as some of the other agents, but I’m always looking for work that blows me away (examples of recent debuts: Ramez Naam’s sf thriller NEXUS and J. Kathleen Cheney’s fantasy THE GOLDEN CITY). Right now, I have to say, I’m particularly looking for young adult thrillers and I’d love to find a great middle-grade series.
-Lucienne


message 23: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Sara wrote: "Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to read and answer all our questions. I'm in the process of querying agents for the first in my high fantasy series. Is it considered bad form to liken your bo..."


Dear Sara,

It’s fine to liken your work to other authors, as long as you don’t call yourself the second coming of X, Y or Z. (It doesn’t sound =at all= like you would do this, but I mention it because I’ve seen it too many times before.) And yes, if you feel you would reach the same audience as a particular author, definitely query that author’s agent…unless you feel your work might be =too= similar, in which case you might want to try someone else.

-Lucienne


message 24: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Merriam wrote: "Similar to Sara V's question - I've seen it recommended that your query should mention "I'm sending this to you bc you rep such and such a book, so might be interested in this genre..." etc. Is it..."

Dear Merriam,

I don’t think it’s necessarily bad form to mention a book they rep if you haven’t read it, but if you read within your genre (and you should), is there another book that agent reps that you have read? Remember that you want to reference books in the same genre, but not necessarily anything too similar to yours. Also, there are lots of teaser chapters available, so if you’re concerned, you might want to search them out (they’re often on the author’s websites or in “Look Inside the Book” features) so that you can get a feel for the kind of thing that captures the agent’s interest.

-Lucienne


message 25: by Laura (new)

Laura Palmer | 4 comments (Maybe make sure you're hitting the reply at the bottom of the post, not the reply at the top? The reply at the top of a post near X Minutes Ago goes to the post before it. Just throwing it out there in case it helps. Thanks again for answering our questions.)


message 26: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Harty | 1 comments You are doing great, Lucienne!


message 27: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Dawn wrote: "Hi. Thanks for taking my question. I've been contemplating entering some short story contests in hopes of earning some awards. Would this increase my chances of getting an agent if I query with awa..."

Dear Dawn,

I don’t recommend writing short stories unless you’re a short story writer. Short story and novel writing are two very different skills, so there’s a definite learning curve there – worth learning, of course, but, as you say, time away from your central focus. Also, contests cost in terms of money and time to format and submit, etc. If you plan on a novel career, the very best thing you can do is write a kick-butt novel. Then a kick-butt synopsis and query letter. Then spend time on your agent research.

Of course, it’s not as if learning to write short stories will be a wasted effort. (No writing is ever wasted unless you let it lie fallow!) Once you’re a published novelist, it’s likely you’ll be invited into an anthology at some point, at which time it would be great to be confident in your story-writing ability!

-Lucienne


message 28: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Land (stuartland) | 2 comments Thank you, Lucienne, for your in depth answer. I will look over all the agents in your agency. I do have a young adult thriller, but it's a screenplay that is moving up the roster in several contests right now. Thanks again for helping all of us out.


message 29: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Donald wrote: "Thank you for this opportunity Lucienne. My question is simple: what are some good factors to consider in deciding what genre is best suited for a writer? I mean, how did you chose YA/UF?
Also, pa..."


Hey, Donald! I don’t think writers pick their genre so much as the genre picks them. They get highjacked by an idea that insists on being written, and that’s how they know where they belong. That said, though, if you’ve got a million ideas, not all of them in the same genre, writers groups and critique partners are a HUGE help in saying: “this is really firing me up to read more” or “anh”. Some people, for example, have a wonderful voice for historicals but not so much for contemporaries or vice versa.

Regarding paranormal romance and urban fantasy – they’re both difficult to break into right now because the markets are already crowded. However, neither is going away any time soon and trends always circle back around. I like both YA Rebels and MW – such completely different formats for vlog/blogging.


message 30: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Bradley wrote: "Hi Lucienne, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions.

I've often queried Agents/Agencies but the projects I propose never seem to be in line with what agencies refer to as "read..."


Dear Bradley,

No, I’m sorry to say there’s no resource for finding out what’s trending. The best way to keep on top of things is to look at what’s selling. Not what’s hitting the bookstores, which are books mostly bought well over a year ago, but at what’s selling now, which you can find by following Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly or some genre publications like Locus Magazine. Also, you can follow agents and editors on Twitter and read interviews and blog posts they’ve done. It’s a very good thing to know the market. However, it’s a dangerous thing to chase trends, since by the time you’re ready with a project that you’ve started because you thought the genre was hot, the market might have moved on. The best thing you can do is write what seriously calls to you. What has to be written. When there’s passion involved, it comes across in the pages and nothing calls to the reader like something that has first called to the author and gotten heart and soul involved.


message 31: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Pamela wrote: "You are doing great, Lucienne!"

Thanks so much, Pamela!


message 32: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Jason wrote: "Hi Ms. Diver. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I share some of the questions presented above."

Dear Jason,
No problem at all! If you come up with any questions that I don’t answer for others, please fire away!
-Lucienne


message 33: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Kay wrote: "Hello Ms. Diver,

As a new author, my goal is not finding an agent fast, but finding an agent that will last. In the querying stage, is there a certain aspect you look for in a letter that distingu..."


Dear Kay,
This is a tough question! The only answer I can give is likely to be unsatisfying, but I look for a spark. If something in the author’s ideas and/or particularly their writing sparks something in me—a laugh, interest, an emotion, I will request it. Interesting-sounding but meh writing won’t get me fired up. Interesting-sounding where the writing sparkles will. Credentials don’t matter. I’ve taken on many first-time writers. They’ve been very successful for me. The important thing is that they be wonderful. And if I see two amazing manuscripts, I don’t decide between them (based on credentials or anything else), I request both. Or, if I’ve already read them, offer representation.


message 34: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Martha wrote: "Hi Lucienne!

When starting a new project do you check in with your agent with a hook line and/or first page, sypnosis etc? Or do you jump right on in and hope for the best?

Looking frwd to readi..."


Hey, Martha! Generally a tagline alone isn’t enough for an agent to judge the salability of something, because so much is in the execution. Often my clients will pitch me an idea at the concept stage and the best I can tell them is that it sounds promising or doesn’t (which can be helpful right there), but in order to really judge, I need a summary and a sense of the style, so pages are always helpful. Most often, my authors will come to me and say I have the following 2 or 3 or 5 ideas; which do you think I should focus on. The more I have to evaluate, the better I am to judge, but I find this a good way to work.


message 35: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Michael wrote: "Lucienne,

I wish I could join real-time. Hopefully there will be a transcript. My question is simply: why does it still pay off to have an agent given the change in the industry and all the disrup..."


Dear Michael,

This is an easy one, since I’ve recently done talks and a blog post on this very subject, reproduced here (from Magical Words http://www.magicalwords.net/lucienne-...).

I was asked to do a talk this past weekend on the role of agents in the modern publishing world, and it seemed like a great blog post topic as well, so I figured that since my notes were already prepared…

In many, many ways, an agent’s role hasn’t changed at all from when I first entered the business over twenty years ago. We’re still authors’ advocates—first, last and always. We’re still business managers and advisors, negotiators and networkers. But to be specific, here are some of the things we do and some of the ways in which are roles have changed and expanded.

Agents still read submissions and fall in love with books we want to champion. We still read synopses, partials and fulls for our authors, providing feedback and critique, sometimes through multiple iterations of the material, whether we’re preparing these works for submission or publication. We guide careers and discuss options with our authors even before work goes out on submission to anticipate where a book would fare best—a traditional house with an advance against royalty structure? A small or specialty press? In digital first or self-publishing? We weigh the pros and cons, not only monetarily, but in terms of distribution, freedom, planned publication timelines and intervals between books. There are more options and more points to consider now than ever before, which means that it’s increasingly important to have someone who’s up-to-date on all the aspects of publishing to advise and brainstorm. This is especially true for hybrid authors, a relatively new term for those who are both self and traditionally published. In this case, just as with any author writing in multiple genres or series for different houses, it’s important to have a business representative to keep on top of things like publication dates, non-compete clauses, option clauses, etc. so that no problems arise and no one’s publication or promotional efforts get short shrift. But more than making sure that no one gets in anyone else’s way, we want to make certain that all aspects of a writer’s career nurture each other, so that special pricing and promotions, for example, will lead to greater name recognition and sales for an author across the board. Short fiction, like stories and novellas, particularly strategically released, can also help drive readers toward a series. An author might do this on his or her own or through the publisher’s digital imprint (or even as part of an anthology*), in which case back ads, teaser chapters and buy links can be added.

Agents still submit. We refine our pitches, we keep up with the editors through meetings, e-mail, conventions, trade magazines. We know what they like based on what they’ve bought in the past and the things they’ve pinpointed as problematic in recent rejections. We know their taste. We keep on top of imprints as well as editors—what they’ve come out with, what they’re most successful at marketing. And because of regular dealings with the publishers, we also know the quirks of their contracts. No contract is universally loved. It’s a negotiation and ultimately a compromise, sometimes even when you’re a #1 New York Times bestselling author, so that generally in the end everyone’s happy enough for the deal to go but no one’s gotten EVERYTHING they want. Some publishers won’t separate account without thumbscrews being applied. Some want more rights or take longer to publish or offer lower royalties or…. These are the kind of things your agent will know. There are a ton of other variables as well, including the energy and innovation of publicity departments, the strength of their distribution, the aggression of their subrights departments…. The list is practically endless. And we don’t just know departments. We know people.

All this and I haven’t even gotten into the part where agents play bad cop. We chase checks and contracts, bring up issues that arise over royalties and statements, underwhelming covers, situations where the authors want their rights back to books that are no longer selling in sufficient quantities to be considered “in print” and yet the publisher wants to hold on to them.

Agents are huge networkers, not just with the publishing people, as you’ve gathered from what’s come before, but with other agents, particularly for film and foreign rights. We maintain a global network of subagents who specialize in various fields and territories, who represent our lists within their specializations. We go to international book fairs, either in person or by proxy via our subagents, and prepare rights lists, highlights sheets and mailings. We keep our film agents, subagents and the foreign editors who work with our people updated on great quotes and reviews, award nominations, wins and sales numbers. We also keep the money flowing by making sure that all foreign tax forms are processed so that the authors can get the exemptions they’re due.

Promotion has become an increasingly important part of an agent’s job, and many larger agencies, ours included, now have publicity or marketing specialists who do various things for the authors, like help develop special giveaways and promotions, organize chats, arrange newsletter articles and bump up the signal on social media. Because self and small press publishing has exploded, there are so many books out there. Some, let’s face it, with little or no editing. There’s a lot of signal to noise, so it’s becoming vital for your signal to stand out and rise above the general buzz of what’s available versus what’s sought after. The buzz word I’ve heard for this is “social cred.” In brief: a self-proclaimed “buy my book” falls on deaf ears, but well-known or respected authors, agents, reviewers, etc. saying “you’ve got to get this” makes all the difference.

And finally, many agencies have started their own digital lines to give authors who don’t have the time or inclination to do everything, but want the freedom of self-publishing and playing with pricing and possibilities. (See my article “It Takes a Village” on what all goes into publishing a book.) In those cases, the agent is offering editorial feedback, as we do, and also advising on various aspects of publishing. In the case of our line, which is only for our authors, we also cover the cost of formatting, cover design, digitizing, etc. and take commission based on sales. These digital lines do what a publisher would do in terms of getting out review copies, placing ads, and generally promoting and distributing the work.

This is running a bit long, so let me wrap things up. If there’s one big take-away here, it’s that agents are just as vital, if not more so, in this changing publishing landscape. While our jobs have expanded in recent years, the core of what we do has not changed: we work for our authors to further their careers.


message 36: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi Romans (BobbiR) | 6 comments Hi Lucienne!

I'd actually thought to simply do a drive by hello (we met at Silken Sands 2012- I was Pippi Longstocking for the costume event) but do have a question please.

Would an agent even be interested in a series in the middle? Meaning, two of an intended five were already sold and published?

Thanks for stopping into Goodreads today.

Have a great 2014!

Bobbi


message 37: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Michael wrote: "Lucienne,

Is it possible to write yourself out of a genre? How can authors know for sure what their genre is if it becomes clouded with say, multiple genre's?

Thx,"


Dear Michael,

Yes, it is possible to have so much going on that your novel doesn’t really fit anywhere or satisfy readers of a particular genre. Many readers are purists – they don’t want fantasy in their mystery any more than they want peanut butter in their chocolate. Genre boundaries have broken down quite a bit in recent years, but trends come and go. Several years ago you couldn’t give away urban fantasy and you could =not= have a mystery with a fantasy element (or at least, there were very few and those difficult to sell to publishers or readers) because it was considered a cheat. There’s a lot more cross-genre material out there on the market these days and doing well. However, you always have to be aware of your core audience. Is this at heart a mystery? If so, it has to follow a mystery construction with a crime pretty upfront, clues, suspects, all of that. Is it primarily a sf or fantasy novel? If so, there should be larger stakes than a few lives in the balance…something paradigm shifting or world ending. Is it a romance? If so, the main characters cannot be apart for an appreciable part of the book and what discoveries they make should primarily be made together. Readers will have certain expectations depending on where the book is shelved (if print) or the metadata and categories listed in digital. Whatever you write, unless it’s strictly for your own satisfaction, you have to be aware of the readers and what it takes to satisfy them.


message 38: by Michael (new)

Michael Anderson (mwanderson) | 7 comments Lucienne,

Couldn't help but check in - thanks for the extremely long and thoughtful response to the new/same role of agents. I have had so much fun self-publishing (everything from webdesign to cover creation to editing to marketing) that I hadn't seriously considered approaching an agent for my novel. I may have to re-think that.

Thanks,

Michael


message 39: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Laura wrote: "(Maybe make sure you're hitting the reply at the bottom of the post, not the reply at the top? The reply at the top of a post near X Minutes Ago goes to the post before it. Just throwing it out the..."

Laura, thanks so much. Yes, this is exactly what I was doing at the beginning. I've got it covered now, but it took me a few responses!


message 40: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Laura wrote: "Lucienne,

High/epic fantasy novels are known for their length with hundreds of pages and high wordcounts. However, the standard advice to fantasy authors is to write at 100-120K, which is less tha..."


Dear Laura,

The longer a novel, the more expensive it is to print and thus the higher the cover price. Also, the bigger the spine and thus the more space it takes up on the shelf. For a newer writer, it’s important to keep the cost down so that people unfamiliar with your work will be willing to give it a try, which they might be more likely to do at, say a $24 hardcover than a $29 book for which they can get a bestseller who’s a known quantity. Also, if a bookstore has only a certain amount of space on the shelves, they might not want to give over a huge part of it to someone who’s a risk, and thus they might order fewer copies of a thicker book by a debut writer, so that’s a consideration as well. I did a whole blog a few years ago about this over at Magical Words if you’d like to check it out: http://www.magicalwords.net/lucienne-.... Even for established authors, publishers really like fantasy novels to come in between 100,000 and 135,000 words.

I won’t automatically reject novels longer than that, but much longer and I have to wonder how salable it will be and whether it’s lean and fast-paced enough for the market. That said, I would probably reject a 260,000 word novel from a new writer these days unless it could be divided into two parts or was just so utterly amazing that I couldn’t resist!


message 41: by Laura (new)

Laura Palmer | 4 comments Thanks, Lucienne. I had suspected as much regarding the economics. The link and its comments have been insightful. I am not looking forward to splitting my 225K fantasy novel up, but it is probably inevitable.


message 42: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Jevon wrote: "Lucienne,

When querying an agent, writers are always advised to check the submission guidelines. Do you have any query peeves that may not have been mentioned in the average submission guidelines ..."


Dear Jevon,
I did a post about query dos and don’ts some time ago. It’s dated now (still mentions hardcopy submissions), but if you’d like to check it out, it might be good for a laugh: http://varkat.livejournal.com/21728.html. The truth is that I’ve seen all of these things. Arrogance, bad writing, sending me genres I don’t represent, really clichéd or really out-there ideas…those are all grounds for rejection. I love outside the box and original ideas, don’t get me wrong. It’s the sock-monkey space opera spaghetti western murder mystery with octopodian romance that I’m talking about. That said, in a well-written query with original ideas and an intriguing narrative style, I can’t think of a single auto-reject. Does that help?


When querying an agent, writers are always advised to check the submission guidelines. Do you have any query peeves that may not have been mentioned in the average submission guidelines ..."


message 43: by Tara (new)

Tara Gallina (tara_gallina) Hey pretty lady! Congrats on Amy's book getting nominated for the YA Books Central Choice Awards. She got my vote! It's so great to see you on Good Reads. You are some crazy busy lady! I'm convinced you have a clone or you don't sleep. Keep rocking the awesome novels. Hope to see you soon! Happy Friday!


message 44: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Jenz wrote: "Lucienne,

Some agents prefer that a query have the introduction part first (as you say in your guidelines), and some say you should dive straight in with the hook (as Janet Reid prefers). But a lo..."

Dear Jenz,

I think that if an agent had a strong preference it would be stated (though, of course, I can’t be sure I speak for everyone). Agents know that there’s all kinds of advice out there on how to write a query letter. The important thing is to intrigue the agent, not to jump through unspoken hoops, though what is stated should be followed to the best of an author’s ability.


message 45: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Bobbi wrote: "Hi Lucienne!

I'd actually thought to simply do a drive by hello (we met at Silken Sands 2012- I was Pippi Longstocking for the costume event) but do have a question please.

Would an agent even be..."

Hi, Bobbi! The answer to this one is: it depends. How have those two books performed? To what line were they sold? Is the publisher interested in continuing or is this a case of trying to take a series elsewhere (which while not impossible is =extremely= difficult unless the author is a NYT or USA Today bestseller)? If the answer is that the books have done well and that you now want an agent to take you to the next level, he or she would definitely be interested. If the answer is that the first two books haven’t done well, the agent would probably be more interested in something new and unrelated to that series.


message 46: by Bradley (new)

Bradley Poage | 13 comments Hi Lucienne,

What draws your attention to a work you might be interested in representing? Do you ever represent horror or thriller stories? What types of concepts make a good thriller in your eyes?


message 47: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Litke (jenzgoodreads) Lucienne,

Another genre question! I've been calling my novel contemporary fantasy. While the setting is modern, it doesn't follow some of the common elements urban fantasies often has (not being set in one specific city, it's 3rd rather than 1st person, multiple POVs). So just different enough that calling it contemporary rather than urban makes sense to me, and I use the term to highlight that it's related but not a standard UF.

My concern is that contemporary fantasy sounds vague or like I don't understand the genres. Do you think I might be turning off agents by labeling it that way? I've definitely seen the term used before, but it's not exactly common.


message 48: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Bradley wrote: "Hi Lucienne,

What draws your attention to a work you might be interested in representing? Do you ever represent horror or thriller stories? What types of concepts make a good thriller in your eyes?"


Dear Bradley,
Voice is really, really important in anything I represent. I love clever voices and layered novels where things are a lot more complex than they seem and nothing is clear cut or black and white. I don’t think people are entirely good or evil, so I don’t think characters should be either. Right thing for the wrong reasons, wrong thing for the right reasons…these are intriguing to me. Yes, I represent thrillers like Ramez Naam’s sf thrillers NEXUS and CRUX (which demonstrate a lot of this complexity I’m talking about) and Amy Christine Parker’s YA thriller GATED (which is psychologically wonderful). Concepts: that’s a tougher one. I want something I haven’t seen before, so it’s up to the author to come up with a storyline that fits that bill. As for bents, I really like things that are psychological or issues that are beyond complex so that you can have good or bad people on all sides. I’m not a huge fan of political thrillers, however, even though I’ve very much enjoyed Tom Clancy’s work.


message 49: by Lucienne (new)

Lucienne Diver | 32 comments Jenz wrote: "Lucienne,

Another genre question! I've been calling my novel contemporary fantasy. While the setting is modern, it doesn't follow some of the common elements urban fantasies often has (not being s..."


Actually, contemporary fantasy is a pretty common way of referring to urban fantasy. There aren't necessarily differences, though people often using for fantasy that isn't urban or, as you say, doesn't fit the classic definition, so you're fine with it.


message 50: by Bradley (new)

Bradley Poage | 13 comments That's great insight, thanks Lucienne.


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