Saturday 30 May 2009

Any Questions?

If you're trying to find out something specific about publishing, you don't have to plough through all of my posts to find out if I've already answered your question: you can search this blog by using the little search box right at the top of this page; and you can explore related posts by clicking on the subjects listed under the Labels heading over on the right hand side of this page.

If you have searched, and have played with the labels, and you still haven't found what you're looking for, then please ask your publishing-related questions in the comments to this post. I'll do my best to point you in the right direction, or to write a new post especially for you, or to find someone who has more authority than I do to answer your question. It might take me a little time to sort that out, but I will do it. Eventually.


Nicola Morgan said...

Jane, I am a) gobsmacked at my dimness and b) indebted to you for pointing out what I should already have known: that there's a SEARCH box at the top of the blog. I thought, "Woah, how cool is that? Can I have one?" so I went to look at my blog and lo and behold ....Duh. Thank you v much, o wise one. (But at least I could tell you about Twitter.)

Actually, i'm planning to re-organise all my labels, to make them fewer and easier, but that's not a job for a gorgeous sunny day.

Maggie Dana said...

Have you participated in Twitter's #litchat? It's on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9-10 pm GMT. Different topic each week, and yesterday I had enormous fun making new friends while discussing ex-pat authors hosted by an American author living in Turkey who's written a book called Ex-Pat Harem (or something like that).

Next week's topic is 'Beach Reads' which is right up my book's alley. I'll be in the UK as of June 1, and if I can figure out my friend's PC (I'm a Mac person) I'll see about getting online to join in.

I use TweetChat for #rooms. See you there?


none said...

Eh, Blogger's search is much better than lj's...if you want to search lj you have to rely on Google.

Barb said...

I read a lot about query letters and about covering letters accompanied by a synopsis. Is it as simple as the first is used in the US, and the second in the UK?

Nicola Morgan said...

(Maggie - shh, I don't want jane to know that actually I am not a Twitter expert. Will check it out. Thanks!)

Maggie Dana said...

(Okay, Nicola. I won't tell ....)

Derek said...

The tweed-jacketed literary agent arrives in his office. He has no appointments for the day; the only item to be dealt with is a single manuscript that has arrived in the morning's mail.

Sitting down to read, he lights up his pipe and begins to puff away. Soon he is smiling. The manuscript is really rather good.

At 11:30 he calls the head of a major publishing house. The publisher also has few responsibilities and turns out to be free for lunch.

They meet, and over dessert (accompanied by a quite palatable Sauternes) the agent raises the subject of the promising newcomer. He has the manuscript with him. After skimming a few pages, the publisher is equally enthusiastic. The next day, the new author is signed for a generous advance.

That, at least, is one fantasy of how agents work.

Having participated in Nathan Bransford's (Curtis Brown) "Agent for a Day," I am now an expert (!) on this subject, and can tell you that the reality is not like that.

We Agents for a Day had 50 queries coming at us. Nathan said that was a light day. While we were evaluating 50 recycled queries, he was dealing with 76 real ones. That's on top of, and not instead of, all the his other responsibilities.

After the first 5 or 10 queries of the day, my mind became a blur. I could no longer analyze the queries for quality of writing, originality, and commercial appeal. The only way I could possibly handle the barrage of pitches was to check in with my gut feelings. I began to assess each query by asking myself only a single question: Was I excited by what I read?

I don't know if that's the way real agents do it. But if any of you who have worked as agents or editors would like to tell me, then I'm all ears.

Jane Smith said...

Today's rosette goes to Derek, for a comment that should really have been a post here, all on its own. Thank you!

Oh, and if anyone catches Nicola and Maggie whispering together in the corner could they please let me know? They're up to something and without my head prefect around I can't work out what it is.

none said...

I just had a horrible flashback thanks to Derek!

catdownunder said...

Sounds a bit like my real life job. My paws need to go in forty directions at once. My tail needs to wrap around another twenty projects. My ears need to twitch into ten conversations and my eyes need to see eighty communications -mostly in the dark. Sometimes my fur goes up along the ridge of my back....

none said...

Here, catdownunder, have some nipcat.

Unknown said...

Hiya Jane,
Col B from Talkback here.
Can I pick your brains, please?
Preferably by email. All will be revealed. Won't take long.
Great blog BTW!

R.R.Jones said...

Dear Jane, not long ago you gave me, (last December actually) you suggested that I send my work to Snowbooks, which I did.
Recently I was asked to write a passage about my experiences in trying to break into the publishing world.
As you have given me a lot of very good advice over the last year or so, I would like to point to your blog as being one of the better ones around.
However, I don't want to do this without your consent, obviously.
Would it be OK to name you as being one of the people who have guided me to where I am now, (actually, I'm nowhere at the moment, I still haven't heard from Snowbooks yet after nearly 11 months. Is that good?)
If you want, if you send me an email address I could send you a copy of what I'm planning to send in?
Thanks a lot for your time.
Reg :-)

Jane Smith said...

Col Bury and RR, I'd love to hear from you both via email and you can both reach me at "HPRW at tesco dot net". I'll respond as quickly as I can but have to warn you that I'm still updating my computer, so things might be a little patchy for a while. I hope that's OK.

Mandy Muse said...

One of the few exceptions to the rule, perhaps?

What I think makes this concept work is:

1) He's not trying to substitute self-publishing for traditional publishing. He doesn't think he's the next Celestine Prophecy. He's using the ability to print a limited run as part of the point; it's fundamentally a different product than a regular-publishing book. Like getting a concert bootleg of the Dave Matthews band - you buy it for a different reason than buying the tracks perfectly recorded off iTunes. It is a souvenir of an experience and particular to the experience rather than a store purchase that happens to be made in a different location.

2) He's had experience being edited, and knows what to look for. He hired a professional cover artist. The book looks professional.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!