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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, March 14, 2008

Question and Answer Day

This is the day we answer readers' questions about writing. Who has a question? Don't be shy!



At 11:32 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Yes!! Don't forget that $20 gift certificate giveaway!

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Okay, I have a question. If you were going to send a proposal out today for a finished manuscript targeted for Harlequin Superromance, would you follow the eharlequin rules to a tee and send to Wanda Ottewell in Canada (query and synopsis) or does anybody have any secret tips...sort of like a secret handshake. :) Hey, just thought I'd get the question thing rolling...and although I've already sent one query and synop to Wanda a month ago I'm almost ready to send another...(no response from the first as of yet)

Also, do any of you send sample pages to editors and agents even when they're tip sheets only ask for query? I do both and I was just curious about the rest of you...

And YES, ask those questions and get more chances to win the $20 gift card!!!

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

oops! I used "they're" instead of "their" I hate that! :)

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Not surprisingly, I'm a rule follower. I'm much more comfortable following the guidelines. That said, I would tell the editor that she also had another query and synopsis from me on her desk.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Good idea, Maureen. Thanks!

Maureen, my daughter is named Morgan and her friends call her Mo. Do your friends and family call you Mo?

Boy, I have lots of questions today, don't I? :)

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I'd follow the rules unless I heard otherwise. And I like Mo's suggestion to let Wanda know that she has another submission from you.

Hey, I'll ask my friend Darlene Gardner if she has any advice to Superromance submitters.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Tiffany Kenzie said...

Not so much a Q on writing, but submitting. When is it time to throw in the towel on a manuscript? after say, 50 rejects, 100 rejects. Any ration for agents vs. publishing houses?

I was just curious.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Theresa--unless an agent or editor's submission policies specifically stated "query letter ONLY," I always sent in the first 4-5 pages of my manuscript, too. I got a lot more requests that way. (Esri sometimes asks who it was that gave her that tip; I was the one. I got the advice from Jennifer Enderlin at St. Martin's Press.)

The thing is, it's the writing--the voice--that will sell. It's hard to convey voice in a query or synopsis. Not impossible, but hard.

Good luck with the Supers submissions :-)!

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Tiffany--tough question. If you've been querying agents only, then I guess you can keep querying until your list is exhausted. But if you've been querying editors, that could be a problem. Many agents will be hesitant to take on a project that's already been rejected by all the publishing houses.

Rather than counting rejections, I hope you're working on the next project, and the next :-). It's sometimes surprising how quickly previously rejected material becomes acceptable once a sale is made ;-).

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Terry, thanks, and I don't know if you saw one of my previous comments (weeks ago) but I promised myself that I would read more books in 2008 and I'm almost finished with Maybe, Baby. I LOVE that first kiss scene with Nora and Burke, when he sweeps everything off the table. Wowzer! Great scene.

I'm going to read one of your books next, Diane!!

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Dianna Love Snell said...

Hi all -

Tiffany said...When is it time to throw in the towel on a manuscript? after say, 50 rejects, 100 rejects.

IMO - Rather than go by number of rejections, judge the "move on" point by the number of similar rejections you're getting back. When a rejection has no feedback (just a "good luck placing this" letter), then "that" editor didn't think the manuscript was close enough to make suggestions or ask for revisions. If you get a lot of this type of rejections - chances are the book has some major plot or character issues so if you decide to continue with this manuscript you need to work on it with someone whose opinion you trust. If you're getting comments that give you insight into the problems and the rejections are similar - then fix it and keep submitting.

But in the meantime, once that manuscript is finished and ready to submit, you should be working on another one. The more you write, the better you'll get "if" you are learning as you write. Then you won't need any barometer for how many rejections it takes to toss a book under the bed. The more you write, the more you'll start to realize when a prior story has too many problems to fix or not, because you hit a learning curve, just as we do in anything we learn.


At 4:17 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Terry: So that was you! It was great advice.

Tiffany: If you have a unique voice or style (and as I recall, you do), then it can take a while, and I think you might do better submitting to agents rather than editors. They seem a little more open to me, and once an agent takes you on, that stamp of approval means something to an editor. Also, as someone else said, once your MS makes the rounds of publishers, it's old news, whereas you can send to every agent on the planet and not have that problem.

I can't answer when to give up on a particular manuscript. When you're sick of it, maybe.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

Tiffany, your question resonated with me.

My Samhain book Hot Shot has been AROUND, lemme tell you. I think it started with Intimate Moments, was rejected, rerequested, revised, rejected, revised, RErequested, hit all the contests I could think of, finalling a few times and getting interest, hit all the agents I could think of before I found one, thanks to Diane. Then it was revised and revised and revised. It hit all the main NY houses, rejected, I broke off with my agent (on good terms), sent it out on my own, was rejected, until I landed at Samhain - 7 years after I started the book. (I wrote other stuff in between, but still.)

So my answer is, if you're getting good feedback along the way, DON'T give up.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

Though I will add, I have about half a dozen mss than I will never let ANYONE read. I did give up on those ;)

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said... you ladies always start with agent queries? And would someone mind going over the "multiple submission" phrase, because I don't think I understand it. Agents don't really expect you to query one at a time, wait several months for a rejection, and then move to the next, do they?
Or maybe they do.

Or is the multiple submission issue more of an editor concern?

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Yeah, it posted! Blogger has been giving me fits this week :)

At 5:37 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

I submit to more than one agent at a time, but if I'm doing that, I hold back that manuscript from publishers. After all, it defeats the purpose of getting an agent if she doesn't have anyplace else to send it, right?

I will admit to multiple-submitting Hot Shot this last time, because I was just so dang tired of sitting on it, ya know?

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

You can definitely submit to multiple agents at a time. It's good not to send out huge amounts at a time, though, just so if you get no feedback at all, you can tweak your query and try more people. This business requires SO MUCH PATIENCE.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Darlene Gardner said...

Hi, Theresa. Diane told me somebody on the blog had asked a question about Superromance. That's my line! (I sound like a contestant on an old television show, and now I'm really showing my age!) I'd follow the eharlequin guidelines and send the query and synopsis to Wanda. However, if you think the first scene of your book is really good, it wouldn't hurt to send it. Especially if it's a short scene. I've heard so many editors say they can't tell whether the writing is good until they read it.

The other tip is to send to a junior editor. But then the manuscript has to be approved by the junior AND the senior. So it probably only makes sense to do that if you have a personal relationship with a junior editor or if you've heard the editor is looking for submissions. I don't think that's the case in the current Superromance world.

Good luck!

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Thanks, Darlene, that's very helpful info! Thanks.

And you aren't old at all because I remember watching the show you speak of. What's My Line! :)

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Patience, huh? You mean that thing I preach to my own girls? :)

Thanks, ladies.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Tiffany Kenzie said...

Thanks for all the response! Wow. I've only hit about 30 rejects for book one. I'm not so worried. My second book is done. My third mostly done, but a different category (para-erotic and contemporary) and I have a short shopped out right now.

I enter a lot of contests where readers either get me or they don't--so this is what is happening with agents--only they don't get me.

What a game this is! lol. I enjoy it. But I wonder if I'll ever find an agent. I am a unique voice, but no so unique that stuff doesn't already exist in my genre--shame I've hit a block finding those authors agents. And then I hear agents say-- it might not sell as well as you think... is a load of crock because I can name many NYT sellers in the same category as me.

And I've only gotten form rejections. My stuff ain't that bad. I've got lots of beta readers. I know what houses I would be good with, so I wonder if it would just be better to submit to the ones that take unsolicited.

Thanks... and I love this sight, I don't comment often but I follow... great stuff here for writers.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Not so much a Q on writing, but submitting. When is it time to throw in the towel on a manuscript? after say, 50 rejects, 100 rejects. Any ration for agents vs. publishing houses?

Eek I have so many things to say about this!
1. I think that you should start with agents (unless you are targeting Harlequin, then maybe not). But have a select list of agents who you really know are competent ones. Not just any agent will do. A bad agent is worse than no agent at all.
2. After you've gone thru that list, then start with editors. I'd suggest not stopping until you've exhausted that list.
My first book sold after I exhausted both my agent and editor lists--and the rejections all said the same thing, but I entered the Golden Heart and won and sold to Mills & Boon, the judging editor. (I hadn't had M&B on my submission list.)

And then if the book doesn't sell and you still believe in it, save it. When you do sell, you may find that your backlist is suddenly worth a second look.

But do keep writing while your ms is making those rounds.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Taking notes again. Lots of good info, ladies. Thank you! Right now I am going the contest route. For the most part because I am a BIG FAT CHICKEN! Okay, I AM still revising Lost in Love, but I have a BFF who is saying "query, submit, do something!" How do you get the courage to actually do that? How do you know when you're ready? When the book is ready? How ready should it be before you query?

Yeah, right. PATIENCE! My brother has a lovely poster of a vulture gazing out over the desert. Underneath the vulture it says "Patience, hell! I'm going to kill something!"

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

How do you get the courage to actually do that? How do you know when you're ready? When the book is ready? How ready should it be before you query?

O Doggie One, you never really know. At some point you have to just say, what the h311, and do it. I would just caution you to not put too much faith in contest feedback. If they sing praises, then okay, but only take negative feedback to heart if it makes sense to you.

What harm is there in submitting? The worst they can do is say no. You can still revise and resubmit if you decide later to make improvements

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Doglady, I agree with Diane. Contests are fun and they keep me motivated to keep going, but I remember an author telling me once that she never finaled in contests and so she started sending to editors instead and she sold! I believe that was Teri Brisbin years ago who told me that.

At 12:54 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Theresa--thank you so much for the comment about that kiss scene in MAYBE, BABY. That was sure fun to write ;-). I knew from the moment Burke first appeared in MAKE-BELIEVE COWBOY that I was going to have to mess him up, big time :-).

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, gillian--I don't know if anyone answered your "multiple submission" question concerning editors.

Yes, you should definitely submit to more than one agent at a time, as several people here suggested. But when it comes to submitting to editors, that's where the "multiple submissions" phrase comes in, I think. Publishing houses don't want you submitting to more than one editor at a time--a "multiple" submission. And many don't want you to submit again after that one shot unless you've done extensive revisions.

The same goes for larger agencies (with more than one agent)--don't make a multiple submission with the same manuscript.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Thank you so much , Terry. I think that does clarify my confusion.

I'm compiling a list of agents and trying to become really familiar with their likes. I'm looking at the front of books to see who's mentioned in dedications, I'm reading the agent's websites, of course. Any other good ways to compile an intelligent list? :)

At 8:48 AM, Blogger doglady said...

I like the sound of your list, Gillian. Sounds like a great way to pick an agent/editor! Thanks, ladies for all of this great information! You are all conducting a masterclass in going from AYUP to the big leagues!

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Gillian: You can subscribe to Publisher's Lunch free email service and get some info, or you can subscribe to Publishers Marketplace for a couple months ($25/month) and get serious info on agents. Just make sure that when you unsubscribe, they send you a confirming email (the voice of experience).

Also, whenever you go to conferences, ask people what their agents and editors like. As long as you're not asking for a personal introduction or a read, people are usually happy to spread this info because it just cuts down on inappropriate submissions. Newbie published authors might not know a bunch about our own agents and eds, but we know some, and experienced authors will know a lot more.

And work the Google on agents and editors. Sometimes they write articles, and that tells you a lot about their tastes. And if they have a bio in a recent or upcoming conference, that will often say what they're looking for right then. And of course, there's RWA's listings and those big books o' agents and editors.

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Thanks, Esri! Actually I do get the free Publisher's lunch, but I don't think it offers much. Obviously the good info goes to those who pay. :)

At 9:11 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Sorry I didn't get to the question sooner. We had a lot of ballet stuff going on--then the bad weather. . . So, yes, some of my friends over the years have called me Mo. Not my family.


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