Thursday, February 11, 2016

Questions an agent asks before signing

What kind of questions do you ask authors before signing? If you've read a full manuscript and think, "Hey, this is a shark-worthy story", what questions are you going to ask the author before offering to sign her, to see if she's got what it takes to swim with a shark?

1. How offended are you by an agent who says fuck every third word? More than "some?" --ding!

2. How offended are you by revision suggestions? More than "any?" --ding!
3. How mad at me are you going to be if I can't sell this? Totally?? --DING.

Ok, I'm pulling your leg on this.

My first question is always:
(1)what's your long term goal? 
Publishing is a long game and it's essential we both know where you want to end up before we start strategizing about how to get there.

(2)What else do you want to write? 
I've learned by experience to ask this sooner rather than later. A novelist who really wants to write screenplays, or non-fiction, needs a different playbook than a novelist who wants to write a series, or stand alones.

(3)Have you talked to my other clients?
Do you know what you're in for? I want to make sure prospective clients have talked (or at least emailed) with current clients.

(4) What questions do you have?

(5) What are you worried or nervous about?

(6) What haven't I asked about that I should have?

(7) Are you ok with my active social media presence**
This has to be asked with more subtley in that writers will say "oh it's no problem" cause that's the expected answer. I've learned to listen for the questions they ask that indicate they are NOT ok with it. 

This isn't some kind of industry standard in that if an agent doesn't ask, there's a red flag. This is my list. Other agents might ask different things.


DLM said...

Oh my lands! My virgin ears! Or eyes ...

I'm curious what the questions are that an author might ask indicating they are uncomfortable with The Shark's online generosity.

Good the **** morning, everyone!

AJ Blythe said...

Oh, I can see how the comment trail is going to go this time!

As this is my future pen name, keeping mine clean. You never know when a shark might swim past.

Same puzzlement as nightsmusic, why the Q about social media? Or because we're all here and are obviously fine with it does that mean we can't see it?

And at what point in the querying process do I contact your clients? And are they aware we will be contacting them? Gary Corby mightn't be happy if he wakes up tomorrow morning with 96 emails asking if the water's safe to swim in.

To save time later, here are my answers:
(1) a long writing career
(2) more cozies, lots more cozies
(3) see my note above on Gary Corby
(4) a shark gave me a list...
(5) I'm a woodland creature - everything
(6) guess we'll find out
(7) only if I'm included

Lucie Witt said...

I love that so many in this community cuss with such enthusiasm! I curse like a sailor, admittedly.

Thanks OP for asking such an interesting question!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I think....the social media thing might bother some authors, who perhaps thinks Le Sharque should be spending her time slavishly reading? It's my best guess. It isn't how I would feel, mind you....

Granted, it's a mixed blessing when agents are very Twitter active. They'll post #MSWL, they'll post other conversational things you're interested in, they'll do #tenqueries....and then you'll agonize about how often to tweet at them, if that query was yours, etc. etc. (and then you'll agonize about "should I have put 'we talked about Lolita and Pale Fire on Twitter at 2 am one Sunday'" in your query or if that's taking it too far).

xnye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheyenne said...

Regarding talking with other clients of said agent, I was under the impression we should ask an agent, on "the call," if they mind us speaking to a few of their clients. But QOTKU seems to suggest we should already have done so beforehand. Is that right? I sort of feel that if I rocked up (online, of course) to clients of an agent I had a full out to and asked about their experiences, they'd probably either ignore me or think I was just jumping the gun a bit. Thoughts?

Colin Smith said...

I'm fairly sure the basis of these questions is experience. In other words, the question about social media presence is because she has had people (possibly non-clients) complain about the time she spends on social media vs. reading (their) queries/submissions.

I guess we're answering the questions now so when Janet calls, we can spend the time trading kale recipes? :)

1) I would like a writing career. Whether it's my main career or a side career is not as important as the fact that I write stuff, someone publishes my stuff, and lots of people get to read my stuff.

2) Aside from words? :) I enjoy fiction, I don't do screenplays, and I don't have a platform for non-fiction.

3) I've met and dined with three of your clients--four if you count Barbara Poelle. :) (I hope she's not reading this...) They all seemed sane-ish, and were happy to share the table with you, so I guess that's a good sign.

4) *Blank Stare* (No... not again!)

5) See 4.

6) How and when I prefer to be contacted. I have a cell phone, we have a landline at home, and I have a phone at my work place. I want to be sure I get your call, so we should talk about the best way to do that.

7) Absolutely not. You need to drop all social media activity now. Especially that blog. Such a time suck. Oh, sorry--I was talking to myself. You? Heck yes I'm okay with your social media presence. :)

And on the question of profanity, while I don't use it myself, I attended a British public school for 7 years--a Cathedral school, no less--so I'm quite acclimated to the more colorful forms of expression known to mankind. I'm neither shocked nor offended by it. :)

Okay, Janet. Let's talk kale... :)

Lennon Faris said...

I was also wondering about timing on that 'other clients' bit. Do most of these sorts of questions happen over email or phone? An email might give you a bit of time to get back with them. Although I imagine you would want to answer right away to an agent offering rep.

Those first three questions made me laugh. (and 2Ns, NM, and DLM's responses - hahah!) This could be a translation: 1) are you OK with my personality 2) do you take criticism well, and 3) how do you respond when things go 'wrong'? If someone has an issue with any of those, maybe an agent SHOULD say, sayonara!

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's answer all these questions now so the path is smoother when the QOTKU calls!

(1) Writing and publishing things I'll be proud of.

(2) Whatever I can dig out of the wrinkles in my brain.

(3) No. I've looked at what they've written, but haven't talked to them. Like others, I suspect they won't talk to me just because I would like to be represented by their agent some day (who wouldn't?), so it seems like that would be something to do in the 12 minutes between getting an offer and accepting said offer.

(4) What would be the preferred way to show my appreciation? A case of wine? A dozen roses? A swarm of plushy fish for your plushy shark to snack on?

(5) Whether I can live up to your expectations. Actually, that's not quite right. I'm a woodland creature. I KNOW I'll fall short, but I worry about how.

(6) Man, oh man, this question implies you expect me to be smarter than you! *runs and hides*

(7) I'm here, so of course my answer is yes, but it makes me wonder. What if you were active in some other area? Suppose you spent a few hours every day visiting the aquarium or polishing your teeth? Would your clients have a say on whether they are OK with that? As long as you do your job at the usual superb level, what else you do is nobody's fucking business. (I had to get one in there!)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So, woodland creatures can curse like drunken pirates. I love these woodland creatures. Although, if your agent is not the shark, should we exhibit our mastery of profanity on that first phone call?

Just to save the shark time, just in case she suddenly becomes a huge fantasy fan.

1. A writing cottage in Scotland, books published every year or so. I need to write. If I get paid for it, in theory, I could do it even more. Although, short of having my brain forcibly removed, nothing will stop me from writing. A Hugo might be useful. Maybe, then Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman would talk to me or *gasp* play Cards Against Humanity with me. Yes, I realize a Hugo is nothing close to the nirvana of winning one of the flash fiction contests here, but still.

2. To start with I have a seven book series all based on the same world and mythos. Then I have a three book series, still fantasy but transects sci-fi. I also have four books that are not serials, but two could be if they do well. They are all sub-categories of SFF. I love SFF but I also love mystery and thriller. All my books have those elements as well.

3. If you could get your other clients to lift their respective restraining orders against me, I would love to speak to them. I promise not to handcuff any of them to the bar again. Or for very long.

4. What is your favorite whiskey? Have you read the entire book? How much revision did you think was needed? What publishers do you have in mind for this book? How much communication can I expect with you? What do you do to avoid the dread agent burn out? If you run off with Jack Reacher finally, will another agent at your agency take up my cause? What happens to me? How many publishers will you send to before you give up on the book? What happens if you can’t sell the book? Do you drop me like a bad habit or do you take up the next book? Anyhow, you know this list. I think you wrote it.

5. I worry, fret even, that there really is some agent blacklist and that I am on it and everyone is secretly pointing at me and laughing. I actually don’t like kale. Is that a problem? Am I supposed to like it? I’m a woodland creature. I worry about everything.

6. Where are the exits? Does this blog make me look fat?

7. I would literally die without your social media presence. Well, I would sulk a lot more than usual. So that would be a yes.

S.P. Bowers said...

1. To write book after book from the comfort of my home computer and fill my life with words.
2. Books, books, and more books. Unfortunately, most of them are books you don't represent.
3. Can I? I bet they have lots of good stories.
4. Can I have a nap now?
5. That I will mess my kids up beyond repair.
6. Heh, I'm so not answering this on line. :)
7. In all seriousness, why in the world would that bother people?

Dena Pawling said...

Original questions:

1. I have no problem talking with my Navy son, and he's a pro as cussing because he's a sailor.

2. I actually WANT revision suggestions because I want an agent who knows more about this industry than I do, and who has good ideas.

3. Mad, no. Disappointed, yes. But it can sit while you try to sell my next one, and hopefully it will resurface and sell down the road.

New questions:

1. Write lots of books. Don't get too many gray hairs. See my grandkids.

2. I have LOTS of ideas for stuff to write. Unfortunately, most of them are not what you rep.

3. Not yet but if you [or any agent] requested a full and/or expressed interest in me, I definitely would make a contact.

4. I have a list of questions to ask an agent who expresses interest in me/my writing.

5. My #2 son's long-term living arrangements, because my husband and I won't always be around for him. As I once put it to my #1 son – who's gonna take him to the beach? Give him hugs? Send him a birthday card? [Okay, now I'm crying, just like I did when I had this conversation with my #1 son.]

6. Do YOU think you can work with ME?

7. My guess for social media presence is the same thing my pastor once said. “I use a lot of personal experiences in my preaching, so my congregation learns a LOT about me and my family. If any of my family REALLY don't want me to use a certain experience, they need to specifically let me know. Otherwise it's fair game.” Radio announcers and other similar jobs probably have this same philosophy. And I would have the same expectations for an agent with an active social media presence. Anecdotes which include me are fair game unless I've specifically requested otherwise.

DLM said...

(1) To "really" be an author. This means, to me, continuing to publish and grow, participating in the writing community of my regional group, of my genre, of my friends virtual and IRL, and in this to support my work.

(2) My interest is pretty much historical fiction. I have one on hiatus and another set in Late Antiquity Europe/Constantinople. A third will center on the Channel Islands before/during/after the Norman Conquest. After that, I don't know yet. If I ever tried anything else, it would probably be science fiction, but I haven't the confidence at this point to think I could pull it off. I don't ever expect to write contemporary.

(3) By the time we get this far, if I haven't spoken to your clients, I'll be asking to, and probably researching them and reaching out to someone if I'm not already acquainted with any.

(4) What will I need to learn, in order to best support my work and our efforts to get it out there? What can I get away with, from X and Y and Z ideas I've had in this regard already? Do we have ideas on where to submit (first choice, and second choices?)?

(5) It is possible I am too arrogant or ignorant to be nervous.

(6) "What haven't I asked about that I should have?" What haven't *I* asked that I should have????

(7) I dig ya the mostest.

Colin Smith said...

SP: My wife has read some of my flash fiction to our kids, so I'm afraid the damage has been done... 8-O

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Social media presence: My concern would be if a change happens during the contractual relationship. If I sign on with an agent who's not real active on social media but then a year later, s/he becomes quite active, I'd be wondering what's going on. And the same if a socially savvy agent becomes quiet.

Long term goals: On a serious note (and it's reallyreally easy for me to slip into that mode which is why I reallyreally appreciate the humor--odd or picquant or coarse humor--that pops out in this community), but I digress. I want to write thought provoking stories. Not moralistic, not preachy, not soap-boxy. In my WiP, I've added a bit of whimsy in dealing with a heavy topic. Is that workable? Sellable? I don't know. But my crit partners get my characters. So that's good.

Janet, in #2 you use the word playbook. Is that an in-real-life book or is it just a mind-method you use to help you deal with current clients or determine whether or not to accept an author, whose work you love, as a client?

Donnaeve said...

Eeeep. Unable to read due to burned to crisp eyeballs.


Bethany Elizabeth said...

Honestly, I get nervous around people who don't curse. Just because I do it so often - and so colorfully! But I was raised in a non-cursing household, and my curses often come out as a weird profane Christmas carol - "Jiminy f**king Christmas!" or "Gosh damn it".

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Don't you have any thoughts/words of wisdom to share from the other side of The Call? :)

Bethany: Sorry that I make you nervous. :D I'm sure there are agents who don't use profanity in public. Indeed, during my fifteen minutes with Jessica Faust, she didn't utter a single cuss. Maybe she was holding back until after I left (I kind of like the idea of an agent wanting to make a good impression). :)

BJ Muntain said...

I love social media. In fact, I've talked to Bill Cameron, Jeff Somers, and Gary Corby on Twitter, though not necessarily about Janet. They do say good things about their agent on Twitter, though.

As for those who think the fabulosity won't talk to 'just anyone'... no. Just no. They are wonderful, chatty people and are always willing to tell you about their agent. Ask them. Say, "I'm thinking about querying Janet Reid", or "Janet's offered representation - what do you think?"

I once had a bit of uncertainty about an agent I was querying. I'd seen one of his former clients at a conference earlier, so I e-mailed him to ask him what he thought. He sent me a well-thought-out, honest response, and I'm very grateful for that. I did query this agent. I didn't get an offer of representation, though, but I was glad I'd asked about him, anyway.

Theresa said...

I had no idea shy woodland creatures were so adept at dropping F bombs. The forest may be a dangerous place.

I was raised in a non-cursing household, too, so I never learned to work those words into casual conversation. I have to be really surprised or upset for one of them to pop out.

2 NNs, your opening post made me laugh out loud with its excellent use of profanity.

nightsmusic said...

I don't normally do what I posted above. My go-to is pretty much, Son Of A Nutcracker and if you know where that came from, kudos to you! :)

I've talked to well-known authors on twitter. They're real, honest to gosh people who actually want to see others succeed so asking them about their agent shouldn't be out of the ordinary for them. (I've also roomed with and am friends with several who cheerily chat about their agents as well) What strikes me in all of Janet's questions-to-us list is: How brave are we? How committed to becoming successful are we? How willing to become chum are we? If she and we are both comfy with the answers, it will be a good fit. That's all we can ask for.

Lucie Witt said...

Colin said: 1) I would like a writing career. Whether it's my main career or a side career is not as important as the fact that I write stuff, someone publishes my stuff, and lots of people get to read my stuff.

THAT is exactly how I feel about it. I don't have to have a career that allows me to quit my day job, though it would be nice. Ultimately I'd like a long term publishing career that allows me to only teach on the side. To make up for loss of benefits and wages from my main job, I'd need to net about 50% of my current income from writing. For me that's a much more attainable goal than quitting both jobs and just writing.

I tend to think of agents who are very active on social media as a positive - it's like free marketing! There are so many authors I know of not through their online presence, but because of their agent's.

Anonymous said...

Original Questions:

1. I could live without it, but it's none of my business how someone else besides my children speak. Having said that, I am the old biddy who has asked the loud, foul-mouthed drunk in a restaurant to tone down the language when children are present.

In one instance local rich boy was screaming about a football game. I asked a waiter if he could ask the man to settle down. "Oh that's so-and-so. He's got $10,000 bet on the game."

"I know who he is. That doesn't give him the right to ruin everyone else's dinner."

Since management wouldn't speak to him, I did. He apologized and stopped.

2. I would be greatly surprised if there weren't revision suggestions.

3. Mad? No. Disappointed? Greatly, but I'm already working on something else.

New Questions:

1. Live long enough to get some of these stories out of my head and in someone else's head. That means a book every 18-24 months. No, I am not Tawna Fenske, there will not be one every six months.

2. Unfurls scroll. Here's the plan and the stories. That's assuming I don't see something else of interest to add to the list. Oh! Old photograph!

3. I shoot the bull with several of them. Few of them seem sane, but I assume they were that way before they met you.

4. Here's my list of questions. Among others, are you a hands on agent? How often do you check in while submitting? I don't care what the time frame is as long as I know what to expect.

5. What are your expectations from me?

6. Do I really need an author photo?

7. I love your social media. Some people are like social mimes. I don't like mimes. A mime is a terrible thing to waste.

Anonymous said...

I'm putzing around this morning instead of writing, trying to distract myself. I'm surprised more people aren't posting. Wish you were.

Cody, middle son, was in an accident. He was hooking up a trailer and someone dropped a beam on his hand, crushing it. He's in surgery this morning to try and reattach the tendons. If they can't, they'll have to remove the fingers.

If any of you are the praying kind, he could use them.


angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

This post is timely for me.

n. 1 is why I've decided to let go of trying to be published. Hell, I haven't even finished the main WIP I've been working on since 2011. At least I won't be adding to the slush pile. Making this choice has been real hard.

If a literary agent asked me if I wanted quit my day job, the answer is no. To be a career writer, like Jeff Somers who has been writing masses since a wee age, you need lots of time. (I read his blog.) I have no doubts that the heavy work load comes after a writer signs with an agent.

For a long time I've teetered between writing and my day job but the day job took over a few months ago in a way I had always dreamed it might. Still it is heartbreaking because writing brings me so much joy. I even had to quit teaching English to the group of French children, who also bring me great joy. The agent who is pushing me was far from my first choice and that is a big lesson learned.

I hope everyone here finds the path to their writing career. I am your biggest fan.

And I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who has gutter mouth. I thought I was.

Right now I'm half way through The Ionia Sanction. Holy Hades, I can't believe I waited so long to read Gary Corby. It's a good thing The Queen is comfortable with social media. I wouldn't have discovered her authors without it.

french sojourn said...

Julie.M. Weathers;
I am sending prayers for Cody, sorry to hear of this.

Be strong, be there, be positive.
My best to you, your son Cody, and your family.

prayers from France.

DLM said...

Angie, I am so SO sorry. You know I know how hard a decision to let go can be. BUT ... just to throw a little devil's advocate around and make it even worse for you: the choice isn't between quitting your day job and publishing. Almost nobody who gets to be a published author is able to quit a job; anymore, I don't think it's an expectation almost anyone would encourage.

But it is lovely to hear your other endeavors are flourishing so. You have talents beyond my comprehension, and I hope that and Gary Corby's good book help you through this time. I had to let go of hope on The Ax and the Vase last APRIL, and it's still difficult. But sometimes you do have to.

*Proffers a nice soft, warm Gossamer TEC for purring and nestling*
*Gossamer TEC is marvelously consoling*

DLM said...

Oh my stars, Julie - my prayers are y'all's.

Lucie Witt said...


I'm so sorry to hear about Cody's accident. I'm keeping both of you in my thoughts and prayers.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Julie, so sorry about Cody's accident! Praying for his health and for the success of the operation. I hope he's all right, and I hope you're all right.

Craig F said...

Questions I would ask the Queen during the call:
1. I went through a period where fuck was the first and last word. It was also every other word. I moved on but backslide at times. Will that make you feel inadequate because you can only manage to say fuck every third word?

2.If you want me to rewrite the whole thing in first person you can stuff it.

3. It's a fucking thriller with nifty weapons like a Barrett and one person with an affectation for MP-7s. It has waves of attacks military tactics and a DCB F26 as a boat. How can you not sell it?

1) My long term goal is to have built a brand with seven thrillers that are increasingly speculative before stepping into sci-fi like you have never seen.

2) Did you miss my long range goals?

3) Will being a long term blog Reider work as a substitute?

4) Let me think about it.

5) You drink scotch and I drink whiskey, can we be compatible?

6) Yes, I am living in sin.

&) Which social media are you talking about? I am considering a blog with a name like ODD DUCK if that is close enough. Again, it is a thriller and an air of mystery might create a buzz of its own.

Donnaeve said...

Oh man, Julie, I'm sorry about that. (FUCKING BEAM)
Oops. Supposed to be praying.

In all seriousness, I do hope his surgery goes better than expected.

Now that the invasion of the sanctimonious body snatcher has let the REAL Donnaeve resume commenting, I was just trying to make some of you squirm with my supposed lily white mouth.

Anywho, why yes Colin, since you asked... thank you!

What I loved about my first conversation with John Talbot is that it flowed so naturally from one point to the next, with each of us asking questions along the way. It was four years ago, yet I remember it like anyone remembers other important events in your life. John is a long term career agent. I'm sure he's parted ways with some of his clients, but it doesn't seem to happen often.

As many of you know, I was with him for three years before he sold DIXIE DUPREE (the book that got my contract with him) but that's the important piece right there. He still had FAITH in that story when I'd all but given up on it.

I think what I'm saying is this - you'll KNOW, you'll have a sense of it (gut instinct) when you talk to an agent - despite any questions you might have. When I spoke to him, we clicked. I liked him right away. He was professional, abundantly enthusiastic about my work, and in it for the long haul.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: The "praying kind"--you bet. Praying for Cody right now. And for you. :)

Angie: YAY!!! I keep telling you guys how great Gary's books are. Please believe me and buy them so he will keep writing them. You don't have to know anything about Ancient Greece to enjoy them.

Here, I'll make it easy for you:


Now... go on! Your eyes will love you for it. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Colin, Maybe if you read it to them enough it will bring them full circle. :)

Julie, hope the surgery is going well. Good luck.

Barb Cameron said...

So sorry to hear about your son's accident. Surgeons can do many miraculous things these days, I'm sending positive thoughts and prayers to you both.

John Frain said...

What a great week in this blog. So much incredible information.

I'm struck by a few questions that I would have anticipated making your list, specifically:
1) Are you comfortable with social media (implying why don't you have more social media presence, dear author, and

2) Talk to me about your willingness and availability to travel and promote your work. And

3) Realizing this isn't non-fiction, we're still interested in marketing your work. What thought have you given to this area?

While I'm here, and so I don't dent into my max-3 posts, count me in the camp that is surprised we might have already talked to your other clients. (I do so love the word other in this usage.

Julie, prayers for your son. I was with my daughter who was in surgery yesterday and all went well so far. While doctors are amazing, a person really needs an advocate in health care these days. The prime goal, it would seem, is to move people OUT regardless of care or understanding. Nobody I came in contact was good at listening. I suspect they do their jobs by rote, so it doesn't surprise me how many things go wrong. Be your son's advocate if he can't advocate for himself.

nightsmusic said...

Julie, prayers for your son!

Anonymous said...

Julie, oh no! Sending out all my thoughts and prayers for skill to doctors, compassion to nurses, strength to Cody, support to you. We're all right with you there.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I've generally had good experiences. I hope your daughter is doing well. I'm sorry she had to have surgery, though. Cody is in Texas and I'm in Wisconsin, so there isn't much I can do. He says he has someone there with him. I'm waiting for a phone call. Wish I had thought to tell him to have the surgeon call me. He's in Ft. Worth and they have good doctors, so I have to hope he got one of the good ones.


Anonymous said...

Thank you all for prayers and kind thoughts. I do believe in the power of prayer.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Julie, I just took a few moments to pray for Cody and your family and I hope his surgery goes well. I don't blame you for trying to distract yourself from that!

I love it when people tell me they'd prefer I tone down my cursing - I would much rather make an infinitesimally small sacrifice to my vocabulary than make someone feel uncomfortable, especially when there are kids around.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Julie- praying for your son. There are really great doctors in Texas. Let us know how he does.

Adib Khorram said...

Julie, I hope all goes well.

Peggy said...

Julie, sending positive vibes from Indiana. Strength to you, to him, and to his doctors and nurses!

My brother in law cut off there off his fingertips last week (husband and father in law are both professional woodworkers, BIL was working on an art project and wasn't quite careful enough). His docs did good work, but it sure makes me glad the biggest risk I face as a writer is shark bite!

Julie said...

Julie, am praying for Cody. <3

Janet, popping out of my perpetual hiding spot to ask a couple of questions - I'd sort of thought it was presumptuous to go poking around in Agents' client lists. I have some fulls out there - should I be talking with the relevant Agents' clients (and by "talking," I mean "emailing") now? And how would THAT go? Because I haven't the faintest idea what the heck I would say. "Hi, you don't know me, but I'm checking out your Agent, how's s/he to work with? Reasonable? Or stinky as old, warm cheese?" Because sure as this winter's been weird, the very next email that will be sent is one that goes like this: "Um, Agent X, I just got this odd email from some random person named Nemo..."

And then with regard to "Goals," do you mean financial (I want to live in Buck'nam Pellice), literary (I want to be the next Steinbeck-King-Faulkner-George), personal (I want to bring about world peace through my writing, cure cancer, and get my candidate elected while I'm at it), or something else?

Thanks much,

CynthiaMc said...

Original questions:
1. F word - As long as I'm not expected to participate, no problem.
2. Revision - whatever makes it better.
3. Can't sell this - I'd ask "what can you sell?" and go with that.

1. Long term goal: Replace corporate job with writing for a living.

2. What else do you want to write?: Screenplays

3. Have you talked to my other clients?: Not yet, but I did check your list.

4. What questions do you have?: What book is an editor dying to see? (because I may have what they're looking for).

5. Worried/nervous about: That I may spend my entire life in corporate world. That I may be sitting on the next big thing and not know it.

6. Ask me: Do you have a beach house and may I visit? Answer: Not yet and absolutely.

7. OK with your active social media presence?: Yep. It's how I found you.

Mark Ellis said...

If creature pictured above pulls your leg, all questions become moot.

Colin Smith said...

So... I've been thinking about this "should we contact Agent Wonderful's clients at the query stage?" dilemma. I totally totally like totally get where my fellow Woodlanders are coming from on this. It seems presumptuous, and why should busy writers spill to us wannabes about their agents? BUT... why not? Writers are more than happy to effuse about their agents on Twitter, so why not drop Ms. Happy Client an email asking about their experience with Agent Wonderful? And if you can slip in a "BTW, I loved your latest novel" then all the better.

Think of it this way: if YOU were the writer being written to by a querier asking about YOUR agent, would you be offended, or understanding?

Just a thought...

CynthiaMc said...

Lunchtime flyby - Julie, hugs, love and prayers.

Mark Ellis said...

Colin, Just speaking for myself, I wouldn't be offended or understanding, but cautious. I would thank the writer for his/her interest, offer encouragement, but I would keep it vague, cuz I wouldn't want to overstep my position by divulging information that it is the agent's place to divulge. See, just like a politician :)

Once I got comfortable with my status, I'd probably loosen up.

Unknown said...

Some of you people seem a little punch drunk for a Thusday. And I love it! Laughed throughout the feed. Except for the body maiming posts, those were sad. Nice bi-polar start to my day!

Anonymous said...

I think your online presence is a god-send. My first impression was sanity yet! Like that shark attack book I read when I was a kid; one clever shark swam up a fresh water creek in Florida to feed at a jumpin' swimming hole. Gotta love the good sense. Like the owner of Motel Hell who buried his guests to their neck until they were ripe and then lopped their heads off. It's awesome!

CynthiaMc said...

And John and anyone else who needs/would like them.

Anonymous said...

I already asked Janet if she would come visit Kari Lynn on the ranch with me. She declined, murmuring something about snow in July. I even offered to let her have Kari's teepee.

So, I've already got the most important question out of the way.

Christina Seine said...

I think in some cases a highly active social media presence would concern me - not a deal breaker but a pink (not even a red) flag. But in Janet's case A) she's been around the block, B) she's not just hanging out on twitter all day chatting, and C) Janet's blog showcases her amazing store of knowledge. It shows she's a force to be reckoned with. And we've seen, when Janet's overwhelmed, that she puts the blog on hold for a few hours or for a day, if needed.

I would have a hard tome contacting Janet's other clients. I'd feel like such a groupie, lol. Plus some of them are almost as scary as she is!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Julie, prayers for your son.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Prayers for Cody.

Diane, I understand most writers can't quit their day jobs. But I would think agents want the best a writer can offer. If it's half, it's not the full monty.

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Still asleep, but they saved the fingers so far. Thank you all very much for prayers.

Anonymous said...


There are very few authors who actually write full time. Diana Gabaldon didn't quit her job until her third book, I believe if I remember correctly. Even then her father kept sending her job notices so she could get a real job in case the writing thing didn't work out.

Agents realize most authors have jobs and families.

Don't give up on your dream.

Anonymous said...

Julie, GREAT NEWS! *whew* He's in for a long, difficult struggle, but it will be so much better than it could have been. I'm so happy to hear he came through it well.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Thanks for the update. VERY pleased to hear. Please pass on our best wishes to Cody when he's awake. :)

Janice Grinyer said...

Having lists like these are important to making educated decisions, for both Client and Agent. And a picture of a Shark smiling is an added bonus. I don't think those are apple peelings between its teeth.

The social media question brings up another question-

Janet, are there any confidentiality clauses in an Agent/Client contract that would cover this issue i.e. broadcasting a Client's/Agent's personal information to the public from either/or? Having signed a few in my lifetime due to career choices, I have found they really do aid in "clearing the air" beforehand for expectations- just part of doing business.

Or in other words; The "No airing dirty laundry" clause. :D

Janice Grinyer said...

Julie, sorry to hear about your Son's accident, and glad they were able to save his fingers. Are they promoting leech therapy? The Texas Medical community was a frontrunner in the nation to promote this type of therapy in reattachments - I read that it can really help in bringing back circulation with a successful outcome...Anyhow, healing wishes sent his way!

Lilac Shoshani said...

Julie, praying! <3 Wonderful they were able to save his fingers. Please keep us posted.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure. He just barely woke up and hasn't spoken to the doctor yet. I harassed a nurse into giving me a report. They had just brought him out.


Allison Newchurch said...

I haven't seen this much cussing since I last saw Billy Connolly live.

Q1. I'd have to agree with Carolynnwith2Ns on that, but with a hint of Mr Spock. To live long and prosper.

Q2. Piles of stuff. Stories of manipulation; revenge; murder; blood lust. Oh and one about an Aussie pretending to be from NZ who kidnaps a princess...

Q3. Not yet.

Q4. How long have you got?

Q5. Making an idiot of myself. Oh, wait...

Q6. You haven't asked me how I feel about swearing.

Q7. Extremely. If it wasn't for your social media presence, I wouldn't have access to the many hundreds of Query Shark posts.

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

Original Qs:

1. Not really. I don't curse, but that's part of my brand. (Secretly, I'd be pleased to hear you say "Holy Fuckamoly" (in a good way) over one of my mss.)

2. Not very. Experience has taught me revision suggestions make for a stronger end product. I've had revisions make the difference between, "It's okay" and "We're publishing this right now!!" In fact, just last week.

3. Not very. How mad would you be if I indie published a ms you believed in but couldn't sell? Part of my career plan includes the possiblity of being a hybrid author.

Why, oh why couldn't you rep Romance and Fantasy? Got any remoras who do?

Agent Kristin reps all genres in which I write, but as she's a rather popular agent with a rather full list, it's rather difficult to woo her over.

AJ Blythe said...

Julie, thinking of you, Cody and your family. I hope you continue to receive good news. (((hugs)))

Kae Ridwyn said...

Wow! What a lot to comment on this morning!

Firstly, Julie - add me to the 'was / am praying / thank you for the update' list. My best friend's son did this exact same thing just 10 days ago, and after a rather-long surgery, his fingers were also saved. Praise God for good surgeons! Hopefully Cody's recuperation will be as successful as Jake's has been :)

Secondly - I rarely swear. In a recent flash fiction that included the f word, I winced as I typed it, and continue to cringe every time I read it. But as I was rendering an autobiographical event, and as those were the actual words that were being thrown around, I had to record them faithfully. Even when I didn't want to. But I'm okay with other people swearing. And those first few comments had me cracking up!

Thirdly - why on earth would anyone 'not be okay with' your social media presence, Janet?! That's pretty crazy. Surely he/she would want an agent who is social media / marketing savvy?

And my answers to your questions:

(1) My long term goal is to have my carefully-crafted words being read by a multitude of people that I've never met before. So yes, I'm very, very, very open to revision suggestions! My long term goal is to write lots. And lots. And lots. And lots more after that. And then - yes, you guessed it! Even more!

(2) What else do I want to write? In addition to the MG that I'm writing now, I''m planning to write: fantasy stand alone novels and novel series; Christian novels and novel series; crime fiction; and YA. Then screenplays. Then dabble in TV series. Like (1), I'm planning on writing lots. But having said all that, I'm thinking that it'd probably be best to attain some level of mastery in one genre first. And yes, I'd be more than happy for my agent to be the "you've reached some level of mastery now" announcer.

(3) No, I haven't talked to your other clients, because I'm one of those who would feel it was rather presumptuous. (Although reading other Reider's comments about 'talking' with them on twitter has made me think again.) But also, I have a feeling that, were I to be lucky enough that the QOTKU would want to sign me, I'd already "know what I was in for". You're very open with how you conduct your business: how often you're in contact with clients / prospective clients, for example; and I'm already aware of how regularly you tweet / post to Facebook / blog / run Flash fiction competitions, etc etc. And thank you for that too, by the way!

(4) My own questions? Well, thanks for asking! I'm pretty sure that you wrote a post on this exact topic. I'd ask these questions. :D

(5) I'm worried and nervous about lots of things. But I *try* to worry only about those things which are under my control. Because otherwise, worrying sucks precious writing energy.

(6) Things you should have asked about but haven't? I can't think of anything at the top of my head. But I'll mull over the question and try to have an answer for you if we ever have this conversation for real! :) and

(7) Yes, I am absolutely okay with your social media presence. In fact, I believe that your social media presence enhances your awesomeness, and I'd think less of your agenting-abilities if you were less active. (Did you know, it's really rather difficult to find an agent who is as social-media-savvy as you, Janet, who reps what I write? I wish there were more agents like you!)

And I'm probably over my 300 words, so I'll shut up now. Happy writing, everyone!

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

Prayers for you and your Cody, Julie. I understand hand injuries all-too-well, as my dad once suffered one. May all have gone well in the surgery and subsequent recovery.

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

I can understand how some clients might be uncomfortable with an agent who spent time online. Professional jealously is the first reason to pop into my head. If a client was struggling over something or results weren't happening as fast or as smoothly as a client would like, I can see them resenting the time an agent is spending online instead of spending on them.

For this reason alone I can accept the late or terse replies I get to my queries because I tell myself the agent is spending the bulk of their working time on their contracted clients. Yes, I am an idealist and optimist.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Only every third word? Lightweight.

Anonymous said...

Oh FFS. Does this mean I'd have to actually speak to you? Like on the phone? "Dammit, Jim, I'm a writer, not a speaker." Don't all those teeth get in the way when you try to talk?

I had a lovely conversation about you with one of your clients, via twitter DMs, during a certain contest you were trying your best not to let me win. I seem to remember one (or perhaps both) of us using words like "insane" and "tenacious" and "crazy" and "but in a good way." And those were the compliments. Didn't tell me anything I hadn't already figured out on my own.

I worry about BEARS.

Julie, I'm not much for prayer, but I am sending strong healing thoughts to your son. I absolutely believe in the power of that. And comforting virtual hugs to you.

DeadSpiderEye said...

What's your long term goal?

Yeah I like that one, mum used to ask what we wanted for Dinner, I'd ask for something like, Quails' eggs in aspic, followed by filet mignon with armagnac gravy and croquet potatoes. I'd get liver and onions with the added bonus of spotted dick and custard for afters. What I want is the world where a freshly peeled grape is always on hand, delivered to me by one of a dozen suitably nubile and adoring girls, but...

I'll settle for what I can get.

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

1. Career author, with no Day Job (I've got a patron, ie His Grace, the Duke of Kneale). I have a fifty-year plan drafted out, with revisions as needed.

2. After spending ten years in my apprenticeship and a few more in my journeymanhood, I have safely come to the conclusion that I am happiest with novels and novellas. Maybe I'll write short story now and then, but no screenplays, no poetry, non-fiction only when required, no greeting cards, etc. Novels are where my heart lies. Escapist fiction. I want to write Romance, Fantasy and some SF.

3. Not yet, but I would. I need to harvest them for information, especially if they're gonna be my agency-siblings. I definitely want to talk to the midlisters.

4. Here's my list. I've been researching this for some time because I want to be sure we're a good fit. After all, I want us to be in this together for the long run.

5. That after a while, especially if we've not been getting any nibbles, you might not think I'm saleable. I've always believed I'm saleable, but is that because I truly am, or I'm I the mother with the ugly baby only she will love? I want you to believe in me as much as I believe in me. Because when I believe in me, I accomplish mighty things. When you believe in me, my mightiness skyrockets.

Yes, I am Mighty Heidi.

6. Good question, well asked, and one I haven't considered. Will consider it now. (Adds new section to her Questions page: what do I want an agent to know about me?)

7. For the most part, I am. Your usage is regulated, you've displayed your work ethic and process in various posts here and there, and you seem to know your business. (The surety of this answer would also be based on info I've received from Q3.)

One of the questions on my List o' Questions is: What day is your day off and what do you do when you're not being an agent (fr'ex, what's your hobby)? As much as I want my agent to spend as much time as they can on me as a client, I also understand the value of downtime and doing things for oneself. I believe it best for one's mental and emotional health in the long run. If this blog is what you do to unwind and keep sane, then that's a good thing. But it is still an agenty thing to do. I insist you have some down time. I know you can do it, because when you get ill, you post filler and let us woodland creatures loose on the comments.

Burnout tends to happen to those who think it won't happen to them.

Megan V said...


My best wishes to Cody. That beam must've dropped right on his fingers!

My Dad—who's as Farmer as they come—had a similar accident years ago. Someone up and knocked his hoisting equipment, dropping an a-frame on his hand. The a-frame smashed his palm and his two little fingers. Long story short, Dad got metal replacements for a bunch of his bones, but hand worked out fine in the long run.

Here's hoping that Cody's hand heals up fast and doesn't cause him too many future problems!

I hope you enjoy your time in Wisco. It's got a lot of great things, including one great Farmer who's had so many injuries, it's hard to keep track. :)

Unknown said...

So pissed I missed the fuck fest.

But glad Cody has fingers!

Lennon Faris said...

Hoping & praying everything continues to go well for Cody's hand and John's daughter. Surgeries can be nerve-wracking. Glad for updates!

Anonymous said...

Thank y'all for the prayers and good thoughts on Cody's behalf. He'll talk to the doctor tomorrow. He's out of it, so I haven't spoken to him. You think you're over worrying about kids at some point, but it never gets easier and you never feel less helpless.

Thank God they saved his fingers. Now for a safe recovery.

Thank you all for indulging me.

We now return you to regular programming.

Matt Adams said...

Glad to hear that, Julie. Hope recovery goes well and quick.

The only answer I'd have is for #3. I'd only be mad if you gave up on selling it before all possible avenues were exhausted, because I'm told once you've shopped it, it's dead to other agents. I'd be angry if you made the decision to shitcan my book and take away my options after a small sampling of rejections. Because of that once-shopped-and-dead reality, I think an agent's duty is to pursue every possible opportunity, because the decision to stop is apparently fatal to the book at this time.

And not everyone has another book ready to go. I know some do, but not everyone, and taking away someone's chance to get THIS work published at any time before it's absolutely necessary seems like a shitty thing to do, so if you did that, I'd be mad.

Still would send you toffee for Christmas, though. Just because.

Susan said...

Julie: Just dropping in long enough to say my thoughts are with you and your son. Here's wishing for a full and speedy recovery.

Tamlyn said...

Julie, best wishes for your son's continued recovery.

Unknown said...

Julie - so sorry to hear about Cody, but I will pray for a complete recovery. I'll also pray for the medical team that will oversee his therapy. It's really tough being so far away from the offspring when they get hurt. Prayers for your peace of mind, 'cause I know you want to leap through the phone and get something done YESTERDAY!

Miles O'Neal said...

Rats. The first three questions were dope.

1) I'm as unoffendable as they come.
2) I'd worry if you hadn't any. Even though my early readers made plenty and I took about half of them.
3) Mad? My nickname in college was Mad Dog. Does that help?

But like a tricksy trickster you turned three into seven (the new new math).

1) To write a lot of good stories, and share them with a lot of people. This means turning writing into my f/t job ASAP-- recognizing that that may not be as soon as I would like. I need to get all these stories out of my head and into other heads.
2) Beyond the four part YA fantasy series from the 1500s? Stories down that timeline set today. Other characters' stories, including the main girl's, the faerie princess's, one or two dragons', and likely the dragon lore master's. (I'd like to team up with a female author for the female stories. Preferably someone who likes Anne McCaffrey and Andre (Mary Alice) Norton. And Sayers. And Collins. And Rowling.) And short stories for kids. And picture books for stories I told our kids. And short stories in fantasy, And SF. And... I'd be happy to let someone else write the screenplays.
3) Only if they're involved in this blog. AFAIK.
4) Ha ha ha. I want to know everything. EVERYTHING.
5) That I will not tell all my stories before I die. I plan to be at least 120, and am not at all sure that gives me enough time; I have a lot of stories. That I will use italics and you will gnash those big, pointy teeth at me. That it takes so much energy to focus on my day job (I'd rather be writing).
6) Why I haven't cashed my last royalty check. (A: I was too busy writing a sequel to my last novel.) Wait; that comes later. Never mind.
7) How else would I have found you?

Miles O'Neal said...

Julie, I just now saw this three. I'm glad he's doing well, but am praying for a miraculous recovery.

JEN Garrett said...

Oh, man, I'm so lost in the comments of this blog post! I didn't know that many people wrote erotica, and yet everyone keeps comparing their ideas to sex!

Seriously, though, it does bother me a little. If you weren't such a great agent (and that's not just ego stroking - I really think that!), I'd think twice or thrice because of your propensity to use certain words outside their intended meaning.