Thursday, October 13, 2016

9 reasons I did not request more pages


1. You are confused about the distinction between fiction and non-fiction.   
This is an absolute deal-breaker for me. You can write one or the other. Memoir is non-fiction, as a general rule, even if you're taking poetic license on some elements.  

How you will avoid this: do not use the word memoir AND novel to describe your work. Do not use the words non-fiction AND novel to describe your work.  If you are unclear about what you are writing you should not be querying.

2. A non-fiction proposal that is too broad to be reasonably addressed in a book length work. "Peace in the Middle East" is an example. "Ending Violence" would be another. "Why Barbara Poelle Loves Vodka" would be on that list.

How you will avoid that: Be able to answer the question "what problem does your book address."  The problem isn't war in the middle east, it's the things that lead to war. You need to address the things that lead to war. 

3. Querying for a second, third, or fourth novel in a series that was published by someone other than who you want to publish with now.

How you will avoid this: moving a series mid way through is VERY hard. The only reason a publisher will be interested in picking that series up is if you've sold REALLY well.  If I run Bookscan numbers on your title and come up with anything less than 10,000, it's probably a non-starter.

4. Querying for a book with what I think is a ridiculous premise

How you will avoid this: you can't and should not. The worst thing that will happen is I send you a rejection letter. Other agents can and will love your work. If you don't believe this, you should know that when my colleagues and I have an after-hours Read the Queries party there's always at least one query that half the room loves and the other half doesn't get at all.

5. Telling me in detail about why another agent didn't pick up the book.

How you will avoid this: Don't ever mention what anyone else thinks or did in a query. Even if you think it increases your chances with me. It Does Not.  I'm not likely to think a book a top-notch agent couldn't sell is something I'll run the table with.  Let me fall in love with your story, not your querying history.

6. A query that I literally did not understand. (All the words were in English, I double-checked)

How you will avoid this: Have someone beta-read your query, and not someone who depends on you for their livelihood or their home. In other words, objective beta readers. If they can't answer the question "who is the hero" in ten seconds, you have a problem. If they can't repeat the precipitating incident or what's at stake in the novel in 30 seconds you have another problem.

7. A query about a book that has a political agenda.

How you will avoid this: story first. Any point you want to make should come from the story being told. And please, leave your intended message OUT of the query. I reject these books without even reading the pages, cause I've NEVER actually liked any book I've read that had an overt message.

8. Word count is too short.
How you will avoid this: know the word count requirements for novels. Anything under 80K gets the fish eye from me. Anything under 50K gets an auto-reject.

9. The query talks about the theme of the book

How you will avoid this: don't do it. Tell me about the story. Tell me what matters. Tell me what happens that wasn't supposed to and how the characters are dealing with this challenge. Do NOT tell me about the theme. (See also #7)


Theresa said...

These quick critiques are always so helpful.

Great news about Bob Dylan this morning!

nightsmusic said...

I love these. They're so common sense and so overlooked. But this comment:

cause I've NEVER actually liked any book I've read that had an overt message

would be ME as well. I wouldn't read past the indication. I read for fun, enjoyment, education, NOT for overt messages that half the time are unsubstantiated anyway.

Scott G said...

I was devastated when I found out I wasn't supposed to write a "fiction novel," and now I find out I can't write a "non-fiction novel" either? What the heck am I supposed to write?

MA Hudson said...

Scott - Haha. Maybe a really, really novel non-fiction?

Lisa Bodenheim said...

An after-hours Read the Queries party? That sounds fascinating, fun, and educational.

Thank you for sharing these. Helpful to see all the do nots.

Sam Hawke said...

Scott G - I think you're still allowed a fictitious novel. This saves time as it doesn't necessitate actually writing anything except the query. Very efficient.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

1. It’s a fiction novel and non-fiction memoir all is one.
2. Will you? Hell no.
3. Fore…….hole in one.
4. A wizard kid is pretty far-fetched.
5. It was slippery.
6. I’ll take a hero and a stake (sp) in 30 seconds.
7. Ring ring.
Is your refrigerator running?
Vote for it.
8. What’s “K” mean?
9. My favorite theme, music from Truman Show.
10. If there was a 10 you'd be the 10.

Colin Smith said...
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Colin Smith said...

Yay! Love these lists, Janet, even though, along with 99% of the people who have studied your blog for any amount of time, none of these surprise me. It is interesting to think you really get queries where people have done some of these things. And it's encouraging to see where you say we "can't and should not" avoid doing something. One agent's ridiculous premise is another agent's dream novel, after all.

I just finished another short story. Does that count as a fiction non-novel? :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

These are my favorite types of post at the moment although I am still a way off from querying my WIP. But I will be querying it and New Leaf will be subjected to it so they can laugh heartily at the query over a good Scotch after work. Perhaps, I will send the Scotch with the query just for efficiency’s sake.

I am recovering from bout of the Martian Death Flu so I apologize for the rambling you are about to endure. I am still barely coherent.

OT – regarding Bob Dylan – my high school English teacher owes me an apology. A gazillion years ago, when I was young and seldom bothered by apocalyptic plagues, I wrote an essay for American literature putting up Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen as rising, great American poets. The songs (poems) I cited were Dylan’s Tangled Up In Blue and Springsteen’s Thunder Road.

My argument was the kids of that time and the decades surrounding it (the 80s) were not going to pick up dusty old text book anthologies for their inspiration. I argued that songs of this nature had a profound influence on the American young, maybe even more so than W.H. Auden (he was not my favorite but my teacher worshipped him like a god so I was perhaps foolish in my assertion).

I was berated out loud in the middle of class for my bold thesis. And my essay received a B. I never got Bs. My perfect average was destroyed (the horror of it all). I was so freaking mad. It was worse than a NORMAN to me. I worked so hard on the essay, did so much research on how these men wrote, and the experience they were able to relate so vividly in their lyrics.

I had a total obsession with great song writers, still do. My teacher called both Springsteen and Dylan “pop” culture icons that would be forgotten in the new century. I do believe we are in the new century. Does everyone still know who those two men are?

Last week, our own John Frain published a blog on his favorite 9 Bruce Springsteen songs. Thunder Road was on the list. It happened my daughter came to have dinner with me that night, and I played Thunder Road for her, and I related to her the story about my English teacher. My daughter has recently become totally fascinated by the beatnik poets and Bob Dylan. She remarked that Springsteen had something of that in him. And I was like, exactly!

Today, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Vindication. Unfortunately, my English teacher passed away a decade ago so I will have to wait on that apology.

And one last OT – Amazon alerted me that I will have Donna’s book on Oct. 25th. I am so excited.

Now I am going to slink back into madness and lurk. Maybe even silently. Cheers.

Lennon Faris said...
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Colin Smith said...

Elise: I got my DIXIE release-day delivery notice too. That justifies having Amazon Prime for this year... ;)

Lennon Faris said...

Thanks for the list! I love reading these.

Embarrassing note, I didn't know what the 'fish eye' was and so had to google it. Don't urban dictionary that phrase anyone, gah.

2Ns - lol. Not sure if #9 was a joke or not but I LOVE the music from the Truman Show.

EM- I also got the Amazon notice for DIXIE. Hooray!

Mister Furkles said...

#8 ...Anything under 80K...

Janet, did you mean "over"?

w.r.t #7: I am much smarter and more knowledgeable about politics than any novelist. Well, maybe not. But when I want to be informed, I read non-fiction.

In fact, even if I'm less knowledgeable, it's an insult to be lectured in the guise of a novel.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

It's nice to read a list like this and think,"Well, I don't think I did (or didn't do) any of that!"

Though I guess one could get pretty meta and say "some of the things on this list are why Barbara Poelle likes vodka so much", n'est-ce pas?

EM: Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" is my absolute favorite, though really, the entire Born to Run album is the purest distillation of my New Jersey heart one could find. Or maybe his first three albums in general....

Colin Smith said...

Mister Furkles: I'm fairly certain Janet meant under 80k for a novel. Given what she usually reps (Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Literary Fiction, and Western--all adult, not YA), a word count of 80K+ words would be normal. Less than that would not.

Donnaeve said...

Fish eye is on a different level than Stink Eye - yes?

I love that new cat commercial - where the family enters the house and assumes the Stink/Stank Face. Hilarious.

Yes, I too, love these lists! I can always finagle a way to be aware of what NOT to do with writing in general. It is interesting with all the information on Query Shark how some of these happen. You can lead a horse to water...

Yes, DIXIE is about to about that y'all? She's almost here! I'm receiving notices from folks about their deliveries and I can't hardly believe it's less than two weeks away. Most are getting delivery dates of Oct 31 - Nov 4th.

I received a very nice note from our own Rosanna M who won a copy - my first FAN mail. LOL!

Dena Looks like you asked about the audio CD the other day - it's supposed to be out Nov 15th. I'm curious about the narrator used, Amy Melissa Bentley. As long as she has a southern accent - we're good. ;)

Jenny Chou said...

1. You are confused about the distinction between fiction and non-fiction.

This is the perfect opportunity to discuss the most compelling work of non-fiction I read this year. It is a book that reads like fiction, and in a wealthy country such as the US should BE fiction, but is not, in fact, fiction. The book is EVICTED: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.

It's the story of housing in the inner city. Of landlords who turn a profit by preying on the poorest of the poor, forcing them to pay high rent for dilapidated living conditions, and evicting them when they choose to pay the light bill rather than the rent. It's the story of why it's so hard to get ahead when you are one of our country's poorest citizens. How sometimes it isn't enough to pull yourself up and just get a job, because you will have to miss a day of work to spend it in eviction court trying to hold on to your housing and then your boss will fire you for missing work. It's also the story of children who switch schools 3-4 times as they move around to different apartments during the school year and can't study at night because Mom paid the rent instead of the light bill. It's the story of those same children's books and pencils thrown to the curb (literally) as their families are evicted from yet another home.

Reading this book will make you dream of a world where everyone has a comfortable place to come home to at night. Right now that world is nothing but fiction.

Craig F said...

1) Trump sent you a book proposal. I guess that means you have really hit the big time. Don't sit within arm's reach though.

2) But Barbara Poelle loves vodka because it gets cold and boring as Russia in Minnesota.

3)Enough said. Yes, you can still upgrade from being self published.

4) It still has to be all about the writing. Look at the current list of ridiculous movies we are offered.

5) Frustration can grab you and make you do weird shit.

6)I am working on that. I was hoping it would not take this long but a query sometimes takes a long time. See 5.

7) All stories have some sort of political agenda. The question is in what that agenda entails.

8)Easier to mow it than to grow it.

9) We ain't talking Disney here.

JulieWeathers said...

It's a great day for Donna with all the notices going out.

Lennon I think you meant Elise. I haven't ordered it, not that I don't support Donna fully and recommend her to anyone who will listen. It's just better for me not to dance with the demons too much. I'm always afraid they'll keep me at the ball.

I love these critiques.

I'm always surprised that people don't know even the broad categories of what they're writing, let alone the genre. Having said that, I guess I don't either. The last super agent who looked at FR said what I really have is a YA fantasy, not adult high fantasy.

4. Ridiculous is in the eye of the beholder and not every book is for every reader or every agent. You can't write with an eye to what might appeal to agents or readers. As Captain Aubrey would say, "Damn the maneuvers; go straight at them."

5. Yeah, I'm not discussing my old boyfriends with a prospective boyfriend. I'm going to let agents think they are my one and only.

6. Beta readers, good ones, are worth their weight in gold. There are a lot of times I think something is perfectly clear. I can see it in my fevered brain, why can't you? A beta reader will point out those times things don't make sense or could be better.

7. Nope, I don't want to know about your political agenda when I'm paying money to be entertained. It's like a singer stopping their concert to do a political rant and telling me I have to vote for this candidate or that one and I'm an idiot if I don't. Now, if they do a patriotic song, or recognize the military I don't have a problem, but leave the political campaigns out of concerts and out of books. It's the fastest way on earth to lose me.

8. Word count, I stab at thee.

Speaking of short word counts, Tor is accepting submissions for fantasy novellas set in non European based settings, Africa, Asia, Native America, etc.

9. Every agent on earth is safe from theme talk from me. Even the ones who want to know what the theme is. I wouldn't know theme if it stared me right in the eye. Obviously, someone has stolen my clue cloak.

I apparently lost my phone last night. I made the mistake of seeing Anton Chekhov's quote about moonlight again when I was looking for one for Butt in the Chair. “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Combine that with poor Captain Taggart's song and I want to do nothing but write. However, I suppose I should be responsible and go phone hunting.

Cheryl said...

EM, there was nothing I hated more in school--and that includes university--than a teacher who marked based not on the quality of the work but on their emotional reaction to it. It's always shocking when they can't tell the difference.

JulieWeathers said...

Agreed, Colin. Under 80,000 is fairly short.

Bethany Elizabeth said...
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Bethany Elizabeth said...

Just like everyone else has said - I also love these lists! Admittedly, some of it is that little bubble of pride in the back of my brain going I may do some weird stuff, but I wouldn't do that. Which, of course, means I need to kick that bubble's butt because I have made (and will continue to make) far worse mistakes.

I do have a question though - how much is 7 related to 4? I don't usually like books with an obvious political agenda, but I know some people who do. How much of this is 'just not my style' versus 'you shouldn't try this anywhere?'

And I also got my Amazon notice! Now I just need to finish my re-read of The Name of the Wind and I'll be all ready. :)

Colin Smith said...

Bethany: I think the objection is to the political (or other) agenda being front-and-center. Or where the author notes in the query that the novel is "a warning about the dangers of a Trump (or Clinton) presidency." If you have to be explicit, then the agenda is clearly more important to you than the story. And more than likely the story sucks as a result. Whatever the underlying theme or message of the novel, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY. :)

On a side note, October 25th is also the day we are scheduled to close on our house. :D

Claire Bobrow said...

Love the list today, especially #4. Gives me hope, as I'm quite conversant with ridiculous :-)

My copy of "Dixie" is arriving Oct. 25th - hooray!

Springsteen? "Jungleland" all the way for me.

Theresa said...

EM: That was a solid gold, A essay. I've been thinking all morning that now that Dylan is a laureate, there is reasonable hope for Springsteen as poet, storyteller, chronicler.

Donnaeve said...

A BIG thanks again to all who've ordered! Libraries (some? all? Not sure how this works) will have it too.

Julie - I understand - this is not a book for everyone. As one reviewer on Goodreads said, (who gave it a good review btw) it pulls ALL the triggers. You've intuited this is not the story for you and it's smart for everyone who is considering it or any other book, to peruse the reviews first.

John Davis Frain said...

My oh my, this blog continues to amaze me. First, Janet's posts. Then the brilliance in the comments. Wow.

EM, thanks for the plug on the blog, but I'll play contrarian to your professor story. I think it's wonderful when all of you brilliant straight-A folks receive a B. Wonderful for you, I mean, I'm not talking about helping the curve. (That's another story.) How many of your A essays do your remember from the same time?

I'm not defending your teacher. What I'm saying is, you learned a whole different lesson with that essay than with all your others. You did your usual research, practiced your writing and then AFTER you finished and got your essay back -- you learned the valuable lesson about one of the illusions in real life.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

It's generous of Janet to explain why she's not interested in some queries. I think many writers believe an agent's refusal is moral harassment. That is why it is utterly important to disassociate your emotions from your creations. As Janet has said in the past agents are looking for work. It is their job to recognize what they know they can sell. It is also subjective. That's the part that stings.

Detach your work from your emotions. When revisions are requested you'll be ready to dig in.

Then there is moral harrassment. Up until a few weeks ago it was an abstract concept to me. Kind of like post traumatic choc syndrome. Until it happens to you, it doesn't exist. It's one thing to give constructive criticism. It's another thing to arbitrarily debase someone, and lie, and lie, and lie. I almost quit painting. I need a kitten to pet.

We might all need a kitten to pet after Nov. 8th...

E.M. I got straight A's in advanced English all through High School. Except for a paper I retyped so many times because my dyslexic fingers kept making mistakes. I'd run out of paper so flipped over a page and typed a perfect copy. The teacher gave me a B. I was so furious, the next paper I wrote argumented how students will work more for a beautiful teacher. Our teacher was the antethesis to physical beauty. She gave me an A. We're friends now. She's grand. I was an asshat.

Donna, how exciting!

John Davis Frain said...

Seems I never read the comments without laughing several times. Thank you, Julie Weathers, for helping: "I'm not discussing my old boyfriends with a prospective boyfriend." Ha!

Like so many here, I love these lists. And while I'm usually not surprised, this one struck me: "Anything under 80K gets the fish eye from me."

I've never counted the words in an Alan Furst novel, but it feels like 72K, maybe 75K. And holy homonym, can he write a novel. On the other hand, he's Alan Furst, a known quantity. I guess like so many other things (SOOOOOO many other things), an established brilliant author can get away with things that a fledgling rookie cannot. Oh right, life isn't fair. Damn.

Colin Smith said...

John: Note, she said "gets the fish-eye"--that's not an outright rejection. I think Janet realizes there's a margin (70-79K?) where brilliance might still happen. Too far below that, though, and you're likely just throwing words on the page and not developing characters and story. That's my understanding anyhoo. :)

dndrea said...

Janet, you are too funny!

I love your alcohol honorable mentions. It really brightens my day. :)

Colin Smith said...

Off-topic, but our very own Sam Hawke's fantasy series has been bought by Tor:

Read the announcement here!

Sam just mentioned it on Twitter, so I hope it's okay for me to mention it here. :)

HUGE congratulations, Sam! :D

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Sam Hawke Way to go! Excellent. So exciting. I am over the moon for you. That’s amazing. I can’t wait to read your book. I write fantasy too and I keep being told the market is flooded and yet, here’s a sale by a debut author. This is a great inspiration. Fantastic.

Moka Moh said...

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Sam Hawke said...

Aw, thanks Colin and EM! Yes it's totally OK to mention now. Have been dying sitting on this news for a while now. Now I can be openly excited!!

EM - eh, don't worry about people saying the market's flooded, or that you have to cut your fantasy below 120K to sell it. Some of that stuff floating around is discouraging and mostly untrue. Editors are still happily acquiring fantasy, don't fret!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Jennifer The entire Born to Run album is amazing. When I was a teen, I had never been to New Jersey. In the infamous essay, I argued that in listening to Springsteen’s Thunder Road, all of us caught a glimpse of the “every man” life in Jersey and in America. Which to me freaking made it poetry. The same thing was true of Tangled Up in Blue. It related common experience in a real and emotional way that transcended class and experience. Oh well.

Cheryl The most devastating thing about the berating I received in class over that essay was this was a teacher I liked. I had fought like Hell to get into the class (an AP English class). She said she could not make any sense of either of the songs I cited and therefore they could not be poetry.

I have on authority that I was a total asshat as a teen. I was very definitely a rebel without a clue at best. I argued furiously with this teacher about context, meaning, historical references, validity of the poems we studied. I rather enjoyed it. It scared my classmates to no end (bonus), but I really believed the teacher enjoyed the back and forth. One day some of the girls from that class told me that this English teacher despised me and was afraid of me. That made me super sad.

About two years earlier, I had written a short story about a girl who is horrifically bullied in PE class and blows up the gym so she wouldn’t have to go to the class. It had the whole school talking for a spell and probably the source of my teacher’s fear. I got called into the principal’s office on that one. After deciding that well, yes I was probably insane but my test scores made the school look good, I got a Saturday detention (queue up Breakfast Club) and excused from PE for the rest of high school.

Theresa Thank you. I really thought so. At least I was super passionate about it. I was a wannabe musician and poet myself at the time. Turns out I don’t really have a talent for music. Writing, however, well that remains to be seen.

John Manuscript Frain I agree with you. I was in tears over that essay. My dad said the same thing as you. He also said that the teacher had a point, I had followed the spirit of the assignment but not the letter of it. Still, I feel vindicated today.

Claire Jungleland is a great song. I adore it. However, at the time, this one bit in Thunder Road that just blew me away, really spoke to me. I was not much to look at and sort of blended in with the scenery. I was also unpopular, in fact, pretty much despised by my peers. So I felt a connection with the loneliness and desperation of the song, and then that hope that maybe I would some day be all right with somebody.

So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me

-Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road

Angie I did like this teacher. She rarely gave As so I loved getting them from her. Even though, apparently, she was afraid of me. Ah well. On November 7th, I think I’ll get a kitty, go to Paris, and buy one of your paintings. It will make me feel better maybe. Of course, I’ll need to win the lottery first. But if I could…

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Lennon, I LOVE the music from Truman Show. I used to play the CD over and over again.

John Davis Frain said...

EM, remember how Thunder Road ends:
So Elise climb in.
It's a town full of losers.
I'm pulling outta here to win.

(Editor's note: Sometimes Bruce uses the name "Mary" in concert, just depends where you hear him.)

Sam, awesome news. I'm toasting in your general direction. And since I don't know your general direction, I'll toast again just to be safe. That is so, so thrilling. And I'm so, so happy for you. By the way, your "very efficient" line at 8:10 this morning was a winner. Well struck!

From Janet: "Tell me what matters."
Answer: This blog. And your audience. What a place!

JulieWeathers said...


I don't need safe places or trigger warnings, but I tend to avoid some things. A respected author I know recommended a very popular book she thought I'd like about a woman who survives a horrendous childhood and goes on to become a famous author. I'm sure it was beautifully written, but as they say, not all books are for all people. Nevertheless, I shall be your stalwart cheerleader.

I always read reviews. I have a thing about throwing books away, which I consider a crime, and yet I won't give one away I hate. It keeps me from cluttering up bookshelves with unwanted books. All that careful planning goes out the window when I step foot inside a bookstore, however. I go in for one book and invariably walk out with a dozen. Of course I need that book on Templar knights and the three on pirates, and the two on medieval architecture, and the one on Admiral Nelson, and the two Poe books. Why do you ask?

JulieWeathers said...


I actually did throw away one book recently with extreme prejudice. It was highly recommended. I would love it because it's about the Civil War. The reviews sounded pretty decent. Holy moly.

It reeked of political correctness and "we must do the right thing to make up for the evils of the past by portraying all southerners as monsters!"

Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

I love these lists. I'm convinced that, one day, when I actually begin querying, there will be a list comprised entirely of things, new and different things, that *I* have managed to screw up in spite of all these efforts.

Sam, that is SUCH great news!!! I'm so happy for you and can't wait to read your work in published form. Please keep us posted.

Donna, I'm really looking forward to reading reviews of your book so I can determine whether and how badly it will break my heart. I need to know that before I invest, time or money. And that is a compliment and testament to what I suspect is the power of your writing. I've had your pub date marked on my calendar for a very long time.

OK, back to writing fiction. One thing you realize after losing power for several hours and then internet for several days is how much time you spend online and not writing. *focus*

Claire Bobrow said...

Sam Hawke: congratulations! That is fantastic news!

E.M. and John Davis Frain: I hear you on those final lines in Thunder Road. And just for a bit of trivia, they're uttered by Ryan Reynolds' character in the movie "Just Friends."

JulieWeathers said...

Sam, I am over the moon for you. Congratulations!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

John I have seen Springsteen in concert 4x and he always sings "Mary". I must have seen him in wrong places:) But those lyrics, priceless to a lonely kid.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

SAM so happy, happy, happy for you.
Lots and lots of chocolate.

Craig F said...

Sam: Heartfelt congratulations

I first saw Springsteen in the Tampa Jai Alai building on Nov. 11 1975 with less than 4000 others. He opened with Thunder Road. It was the solo piano and harmonica start. Then the band broke in and that wall of sound blew us away.

Yes he is a poet.

Scott G said...
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Lennon Faris said...

Sam Hawke - congratulations!! that's awesome.

2Ns - hooray I've found someone else with peculiar music tastes! :)

Scott G said...

Always love coming back after a long day to catch up on the comments.

Sam - This is excellent advice! But I was leaning toward a non-fictitious novel which, as I think about it, is the same thing as a real fiction novel, which actually puts me right back where I started. Ugh! I can't take it!

Also, congrats on your news!

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

3. Querying for a second, third, or fourth novel in a series

Again, if sales weren't stellar, but the author won't/can't get the rest of the series published by the publisher, I believe these books are an excellent candidate for indie publishing.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Sam, huge congratulations. More books I look forward to buying at Shakespeare and Co.

EM, The teacher was a good lesson for rejection. Come to Paris with the kitten.

Sam Hawke said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. Though I've had to sit on the news for almost a month this is the first day it's really felt real, because I've been able to share it with people who know something about the path to getting here! I so appreciate this community.

Stephen G Parks said...

Congratulations Sam! Tor's a great publisher to land with.

Donna, do you know if 'Dixie' will be for sale outside of the US/Canada? Amazon isn't great at delivering to Malaysia, but a surprising number of new American titles do show up in our bookstores (Most recently and unexpectedly found Charlie Jane Anders' All the Birds in the Sky).

As for Springsteen's poetry, and the perfection of Born to Run, the song Backstreets always gets me right here:

Remember all the movies, Terry,
We'd go see
Trying to learn to walk like the heroes
We thought we had to be

MA Hudson said...

Stephen - try That's where I ordered mine. They deliver free worldwide.

Sam - such exciting news, well done. It must be so satisfying to have all your hard work finally paying off. Can't wait to read it.
Talking of word counts, would you mind telling us how long City of Lies is? (I write middle grade fantasy and am struggling to get my WIP to under 80k but everyone says middle grade should be under 60k!)

Stephen G Parks said...

Thanks MA. I'll check it out.

LynnRodz said...

Query parties, I love this idea! Is alcohol involved? By the end of the evening (and depending on what you're drinking) either all the queries sound great or they all sound awful.

Seriously, I think it's a great idea, because as you say, one agent may hate the query while another may love it. These parties give the queries better odds.

Beth said...

Congratulations, Sam! I'm thrilled for you.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Sam! I'm late to the news, as per usual, but am sending massive congratulations from this side of the world! Go you! Can't wait to read it!

Joseph Snoe said...

Congratulations, Sam Hawke.

Please keep us informed on your experiences in the publishing process.

Donnaeve said...

Stephen P MA had it right - that's where I would have pointed you, there or Amazon, but is better on shipping, I think.

Sam I congratulated you on FB, but I wanted to do so here, and I hope you see it. CONGRATULATIONS! Sam, Sam, he's our man, if he can't do it, nobody can!

But - you DID do it. And like Elise said earlier, hope is renewed for those writing fantasy who've heard/been told/believe that market is saturated. It came back to the writing. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts, it did. Way to go!

Sam Hawke said...

MA Hudson - word count is currently around 165K. It's likely to get longer in revisions, not shorter. While it's entirely possible that some agents rejected it on the basis of word count, it's obviously not a huge deal as I had no issue getting requests from my query. My gut feeling was always that the 'rule' that fantasy should be under 120K was wrong, just based on unscientific anecdotal evidence as a reader of fantasy (I couldn't identify any successful adult fantasy debuts I'd read that were anywhere NEAR 120K).

I'm not sure whether things are a tougher sell in middle grade when you're over the 'recommended' length or not. Like I said, my gut feeling is that fantasy requires a lot more words than any other genre and that fantasy readers like it that way. Have you looked into what rough word counts successful MG fantasy novels have?

Thanks again for the kind words, everyone. You are all making these last few days extra specially fun. xoxox

MA Hudson said...

Sam - thanks so much for that. It's great to get some inside info. What you say all makes sense - you need a lot of words to build a whole new world. Also though, it's the old adage that it's the story that counts and it sounds like yours hits the mark!! Very exciting.
As for Middle Grade, for better or worse I'm using the first Harry Potter book as my benchmark. If I can get the word count down to about 77k then I'll query with that and see what happens.
CONGRATULATIONS again. Very awesome news. Xxx

Sam Hawke said...

That sounds fair to me - I mean, HP1 got picked up at that length before anyone knew it was going to be The Biggest Thing Ever!

I heard at a seminar recently that the biggest bestsellers are usually on the long side for their category. I guess the trick is that if the book is good enough, everyone is happy that there's a bit more of it. ;)

Good luck!!