Friday, June 02, 2017

Some reasons you heard no

1. You queried a novel that is the second in a series, and you self-pubbed the first. It's almost impossible to sell a second novel in a series even if the first one was published by a major house.  And self-pubbed is almost always a non-starter cause of the sales figures. Publishers just aren't interested in a book that sold 600 copies, unless it won some sort of prestigious award, or got optioned for a movie, or some other reason that persuades them more copies will fly off the shelves.

How you will avoid this: write something new, or treat book two as the first in the series. It will also help if you remove it from Amazon before querying.

2. Your memoir is a retelling of Eat Pray Love.  You even use it as a comp.
How you will avoid this: If you want to write this kind of memoir, you're going to need to talk about it in a way that makes me think you've got something new to say. And "new to say" doesn't mean "it's about ME, not someone else."

3. The title indicates your values are so out of sync with mine that I don't even read the query. (Example: Only Sluts Get Abortions; Gays are Evil; Immigrants are Terrorists) I respond poorly to these kinds of hot-button-pushing projects in general.

How you will avoid this: if you want to write a book that takes a position on a issue, frame your argument in something less incendiary than good versus evil. And remember that most people won 't shell out money for a book if the title just makes them mad.

4. You self pubbed the book you're querying me for.  Other agents consider them. I don't.
How you'll avoid this: Either don't self-publish, or just leave me off your query list. 

5. Ho-hum. The plot of the book is so run of the mill that even good writing can't save it.
How you will avoid this: know your category. If you don't know what's already been done, and done to death, it's hard to know what's fresh and new.

6. You describe how characters look but not how they are. I'm less interested in eye color than I am in moral compass. One is filler. The other isn't. If you don't know which is which, stop querying.

How you will avoid this: learn to read your own work with a critical eye. Make a list of the adjectives and adverbs you use to develop character. If they're all external (big, strong, tall, glamourous, sexy) or patronizing (spunky, feisty, Mr. Mom) you've got a problem.

Any questions?


Susan said...

*raises hand* I have a question!

When publishers are looking at copies sold for self-published books or otherwise, are they looking at paperback, e-book, or all three?

And when considering self-published books, do these numbers only take into account books sold online or in bookstores, or copies sold at events (from the author's stock). I ask because I sell more books at events, and I'm wondering if the numbers can be skewed negatively if those aren't taken into account.

I'm less interested in eye color than I am in moral compass. One is filler. The other isn't.

YES. Characterization is about more than their physical appearance. I just read a story that focused on the physical too much and it drove me bananas.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

ruh-roh. Maximus is not happy.

I really perked up when I saw this column's title. I do want to learn why queries are rejected. But these all seem Weird? Lacking common sense?...that I'm surprised people still submit such queries. Especially to Janet.

Quick, Reefers, someone get a good query to our Queen so she can invite a MS submission and get into an absorbing read. Otherwise, it may be off with someone's head!

Janet Reid said...

Lisa don't let this list fool you. I get some really terrific queries regularly. I did a post once on why I requested fulls; I'll do that again once I have enough to draw some conclusions. (I've only requested 30 manuscripts this year so far)

Unknown said...

Lisa, whew! At first I thought you meant that Janet's reasons were off-base, weird, lacking common sense. I kept waiting for the sky to explode. Good thing I read until the end!

#3 seems ridiculous. Someone didn't do their homework.

Kitty said...

Janet: I've only requested 30 manuscripts this year so far

That's 1 ms. every 5 days, on average. It doesn't sound 'bad' until you consider just how many manuscripts were rejected in that time.

Colin Smith said...

Interesting. #3 might be hard to gauge, unless you make the assumption that everyone working in publishing tilts liberal/progressive, so tread carefully when dealing with issues near and dear to that perspective. That said, we should try not to be incendiary with any topic anyway. It's possible Janet might read a novel that doesn't wholly sit with her values if it's presented in a way that puts the emphasis on telling a good story, as opposed to trying to make the reader angry.

Good list, Janet. I'm looking forward to the "Why I Said Yes to the MS" post, so I can take notes for when I return to the WiP. :D

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Why I heard no.
1. Agent overwhelmed with submissions.
2. Genre not quite right.
3. Agent closed to submissions.

Why I REALLY heard no...or nothing.
1. Addressed to the wrong agent.
2. Typos.
3. Three pages long, Lucida in pink.
4. Called it a fiction novel.
5. Did not arrive with the flowers and whiskey.

Sam Hawke said...

Colin, I think the point with #3 is not that Janet says you can't query those topics (though I reckon all of those sound like intensely awful topics for books), just that if you're writing about value-based opinions that people have strong feelings on, the agent may be so opposed to the values you're spruiking that she doesn't care to read.

DLM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DLM said...

Lisa B - "Reefers" ... I am now eagerly awaiting the Reefer Madness flash contest.

Kitty - and how many she actually makes offers on, out of those thirty!

2Ns, hah! Probably true.

Sam Hawke taught me a new word, and a wonderful one at that. Thank you!!!!

These nuts-and-bolts posts are so useful. Even beyond querying, for those of us not even anywhere approaching the trenches, the *writing* advice is still good guidance.

Ironically, the current scene I'm working on is the one in my WIP where a character describes the appearance of Clovis I in some detail. I never did this in AX, so it's something of a personal joke just for myself. (And it is relevant to the proceedings!)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

These are my favorite posts. And one day I will be contributing to one of her excellent "rejection reasons" as I am certain to provide a whole new level on why I was rejected. At this point, I will have to be creative to add a new reason for no. Perhaps, it will only be that I write fantasy and she already reps Jeff Somers and I almost never forget to wear pants. And I am a Jack Daniels kind of gal which conflicts with our queen's more sophisticated whisky preferences.

The one thing it won't be is that the writing is poor. At long last, I have conquered that bridge. Now, whether I have written a story that can be sold; well I have no freaking idea. Publishing is such a damn coy mistress.

Sam Hawke said...

Hehe DLM, was that spruiking? I'd say it's a legitimately common word in Aus but I always forget Americans don't use it! :)

Colin Smith said...

Sam: Given my theological persuasion, I read a great many books that don't sit 100% with my values. Most of them, however, focus on the story, and don't try to lecture me on why I'm wrong. While there are books that are thematically non-starters for me (no thank you, FIFTY SHADES), I'll give most novels a try if they're good stories well-written. Even if the worldview behind the story is not my own. Of course, I'm not an agent evaluating whether or not I want to take the book on as a project, and I'm sure agents are more selective for that reason. But I'm equally sure many agents take on books not because they want to champion a cause, or get behind a particular moral perspective, but because it's a book that deserves to be read. Even if they don't agree 100% with the author's point of view.

Sam Hawke said...

I agree, Colin. I just meant that Janet wasn't saying 'you can't query things that are inconsistent with left/progressive values', more that if you query something where the values inherent in the story are so repugnant to the particular agent, they're not going to bother to read. And if the 'value' being espoused in the story is so obvious in the query letter, it's probably not the subtle, well-written story that you're looking for.

For you, it's probably not worth your time picking up a book where the query says 'Christians are the true evil in the world and it's up to Athena the Spunky Atheist to murder them all for the planet's own good'. And not just because that's repugnant to your worldview, but because it demonstrably sounds like a sh*&te book. :)

You can't predict what an agent's values are (I mean you can guess based on their SM etc) and sometimes that means that there'll just be agents who won't want to read your stuff. Or sometimes it'll mean that you're writing horribly bad crap that NO-ONE wants to pick up.

DLM said...

Y'all keep reminding me of that email Janet shared with us once, simultaneously "querying" and chastising her for not being brave enough to read a conservative viewpoint. He presumed to all but tell her she was a lefty loonie, and that therefore she could doesn't love America. Punchline being, he was incorrect in his baseline assumptions, and apparently thought he had taken patriotism itself as a personal brand nobody else could lay claim to.

Talk about bad writing. Oh my.

Craig F said...

Out of sync books. I have had opportunities(?) to read a few of these. Part of what do has me running in farming circles and too many know I have that strange habit called writing.

All of those such things I have read seem to have forgotten the cardinal rule of writing: Entrance your readers first. Suck them in and make them want to turn pages.

You can go off the rails later, after your readers have invested in what you are writing.

Eye candy. I love eye candy but reading has to have something you can sink your teeth into too.

If you self publish something good enough to be a trade paperback, they will pursue you, do not pursue them first.

Y'all have a nice weekend. Ours, down here, is going to be damp and overcast. We need the rain, but...

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Thirty queries that elicited requests? That's better odds than I'd have thought. But that's queries, not representation. I'm looking forward, too, to another why I said yes column when that's ready.

kathy joyce: the things we write and push publish that later can be taken askew...scary! I would not criticize Janet. I admire her generosity here and her ability to provide analysis for queries, publication, and marketing.

Colin and Sam: I'm with you about #3. Tell a compelling and enticing story.

In Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things, one of her narrators is a white supremacist. She creates empathy (and I'm not sympathetic to white supremacists) for him because she nuances and individualizes the various backstories and the forward character arcs for him and for his family and his brotherhood...colleagues(?).

Julie Weathers said...

I think this is one morning I should have had coffee before I started reading. I'm still pondering Sam's "You can't predict what an agent's values are (I mean you can guess based on their SM etc"

Wait, we have to guess an agent's sadistic/masochistic ratio and tendencies? They're agents. Of course, they're sadistic. They're probably also masochistic. Do I really need to weigh this?

I was trying to think if I've described my MC in Rain Crow. She has gray eyes which we only know because her maid says blue brings out their color. The MC scoffs as this as they are gray. She has long, dark hair that comes nearly to the back of her knees when it's unbound. We assume she is attractive given the effect she has on men. She is. She's quite beautiful, but I didn't see any need to dwell on it.

The hair detail I needed because she will roll messages up in it later.

I like descriptions of characters if they are well done and not laundry lists.

After a thorough description of Disraeli, Owen Parry ends it with this in Honor's Kingdom, which seems perfect to me.:

"For all his merriment and flash, he put me in mind of a cobra. I think it was the way his neck come up out of his collar, floating his head back and forth ever so slowly, as if awaiting the perfect chance to strike."

It goes back to what Janet is saying, the description puts you in mind of a perfectly smarmy little character and this just tops it off.

Colin Smith said...

Sam: For some reason, Athena the Spunky Atheist looks like a Powerpuff girl, only angry. After all, why else would she be going around killing Christians? :)

As Juliesaid, I don't think the point is to discern the worldview and values of every agent. We need to write great stories, write them well, and do it because they're stories worth telling, not to get people angry, or to be an a-hat.

Elissa M said...

I find posts like this very helpful. It's not that I would make similar mistakes if I weren't forewarned (well, maybe #5--but I hope not). It just really helps me to be reminded that publishing is a business, and like it or not, we're offering a product for sale. I must always remember that a query's purpose is to show how my product is going to fill that need the agent didn't even realize she had.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Further to the point made by others, no matter what a writer's worldview is, whether I have sympathy for it or not, didactic writing is grating on the nerves. I don't read to be preached at.

If a writer wants to share and champion some view or another, being dismissive of all other views will convince no one but the writer's tiny little echo chamber.

Tell a story that invites the reader to think for themselves, to question, to re-evaluate, to cheer, to laugh, to cry, to empathize, to arrive at new understandings. That won't happen by using words to pound a reader over the head, especially not an agent who can hit the rejection button and continue their search for that diamond in the rough in their vast slushy trough.

Yes, please, have self-righteous and bombastic characters to create tension but make sure your MC is complex and draws the reader in like Owen Perry's Disraeli cobra - great example, Julie

Julie Weathers said...


It always comes down to story. It is the one universal truth.

Amy Johnson said...

"How you will avoid this: if you want to write a book that takes a position on a issue, frame your argument in something less incendiary than good versus evil." I keep trying to give the antagonist in my WIP some positive qualities. Her cause is good, but the allegations she makes aren’t warranted. And they hurt people. But she keeps thinking she’s in the right.

Amy Johnson said...

#6: Understood. Also:

I have used how characters look to show how they are. (Some people would immediately get all over me for saying that, but I know my fellow reefers aren’t like that.) In one story, the protagonist notes another character's physical description in positive terms, and contrasts them with her own characteristics, which she sees as negative. The purpose of the physical descriptions--in that context--is to reveal the protagonist’s insecurities and jealousy. I'm guessing Janet would say physical descriptions are fine and good if they're used for a good reason.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Amy Yes, I am certain you are correct about physical descriptions in that light. My MC in my WIP is filled with self-loathing and thinks himself fat and ugly - neither which is true if you or I were looking at him but the bullying by his classmates, his mother abandoning him, and several other external factors distort his view of himself. It is a tricky thing because at same time, I have to subtly hint that what Husk perceives about himself may not be quite accurate.

french sojourn said...

Amy; as an analogy. When my daughter was growing up I told her that if she made a decision that was based on what she knew and she felt it was the right decision, then it was right at that point in time. If she looked back ten years later, knowing what she knows now, and the current facts dictated she was wrong then. Well, she was still right ten years ago due to what she knew.
I think the gift of time is wisdom, but the presents of any point of time is doing right based on what you know then. I.E. Don't beat yourself up for mistakes, learn from them.
In regards to your story, the lead character can make wrong decisions based on her tilt of reality, they can hurt other people and she should be responsible, but growth comes at a price.

Cheers Hank.

Julie Weathers said...


In one workshop Diana Gabaldon gives on description, she advises weaving it in with action. Don't tell readers things simply because you know them. There has to be a purpose.

In a recent scene, my MC has been poisoned with strychnine. One of the side effects in small doses is a heightened sense of awareness. College students used to take it to stay alert while they were studying for exams in the 1800's. In this agitated state, the MC notices things she might not have taken note of otherwise. These details will come into play later, but it has to still seem important at the time.

Diana gives several examples of weaving the description in with action that are excellent, but any of her works do this. I'm sure Reading some samples on Amazon will uncover some.

When you do it in this manner, it doesn't really seem like description. Then there are times that I think a person simply needs to get lost in it and set the reader down in a new place.

Claire Bobrow said...

I agree with Elissa. Hopefully, we wouldn't make most of these mistakes, except #5 (a-oo-ga!), but it's nice to be reminded.

Julie: I thought the one universal truth was: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife." :-)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Interesting conversation, as always.

Regarding descriptions of how a character looks, and Julie mentioned "laundry lists"... I'm reading THE LAST MILE by David Baldacci. He does exactly that: Each character he introduces gets a stark laundry list run-down of their appearance before the story moves on. But it absolutely fits the tone of the book.

Which reiterates Janet's bottom line: Rules can be broken if you tell a compelling story.

A book reaching a variety of people with different worldviews is a wonderful thing. Colin and I just had a terrific (private) conversation about one such title featuring religious faith. Colin is a highly educated theologian, I... am not. Yet we both loved the story.

Querying? Did it. We'll see which side of the aisle I fall on :-)

Julie Weathers said...

Claire, that is a universally acknowledged truth to be sure, but in the end, the One universal truth is it all comes down to story.


And I should see about mine. Those darned people won't kill themselves.

Joseph S. said...

Two unrelated points

First, I guess I’m dead in the water already. I briefly describe characters. Skimming through my WIP there’s a lot of age and hair color and some body builds and clothing, and one “charming.”

Second, a question – What’s the difference between a memoir and an autobiography? I’m reading “The Newspaper Boy.” The author calls it a memoir but it spans at least 20 years of his life (From about age 6 to about age 26 - maybe older).

french sojourn said...

Julie; I'm still laughing, well done!

"Those darned people won't kill themselves." epic.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Julie everything you say about your book makes me WANT IT.

I'm starting to think that July is going to be revision time, with the novel I'm querying. And then more querying may commence. I always love seeing these lists (and will scroll through #TenQueries on Twitter frequently). I didn't really mean to take a querying break, and certainly kept submitting short stories, but I kinda took a querying break.

Also, I wanted to let the Reef know that I had a short story accepted! I'll link it, mais oui, when it's out later this month.

Karen McCoy said...

John, I think the timeline is key--a memoir only spans a certain phase of life, while a autobiography covers everything about the author's life until that point. As far as libraries are concerned, biographies get a genre sticker, but memoirs don't. Sometimes biographies have their own library section, while others are inter-filed. It just depends.

Ho-hum is especially tricky in markets that are already saturated. In fantasy, ball gowns and such are pretty much done, and the opening scene of my novel has them (though they don't show up for the rest of the novel). I'm sure it's hard when agents only see the first few pages and have to gauge whether the story is enough from there.

Cheryl said...

I'm going off-topic here, but I just got back from an excellent writing retreat. If you're in the Great Lakes area (or don't mind travelling) and you want to check out workshops/retreats or residencies, I highly recommend

It's a lovely location with a nice house, good food, and the host, Dawn Kresan, is very accommodating. I met some great people and got a lot of work done.

Next up: Surrey International Writers' Conference

Karen McCoy said...

Julie, that's an amazing concept! I'm joining the line of reefers who want to read your stuff.

Karen McCoy said...

Congratulations, Jennifer!

Colin Smith said...

Congratulations, Jennifer!! Another one to add to the Published Works list.

I'm still trying to find a home for my quirky little Twilight Zone tales... one day, perhaps. :)

Morgan Hazelwood said...

Thanks for this! I always think I'm following these suggestions... hopefully I'm not too self-delusional. :-)

Joseph Snoe She doesn't say DON'T describe characters, she merely says make sure you say something about who they are inside, as well.

Two Ns Lucida in pink? Surely FUCHSIA was the way to go!

PAH said...

Well this is embarrassing. All five of these were me...

Beth Carpenter said...

Jennifer, congratulations! So great to hear of a yes. Looking forward to more details.

Adele said...

I remember an early Harlequin romance in which the beautiful protagonist with the honey hair and the caramel eyes put on her biscuit coat ... and at that point I stopped reading, directed an imaginary glare in the writer's direction, and said "Eat first, then write".

Many a manual directed at beginning writers advises that a physical description of the characters must appear, 'because the readers will want to know'. Now, I have never wanted to know; in fact I've sometimes been taken out of the story when the physical description wasn't the same as my imagination. But I've heard well-known writers, who started their careers a long time ago, say the same thing. So I wonder - is this advice that was true 50 years ago that people are holding onto, or is it still true today?

Ardenwolfe said...

Wow at some of those title examples. Does that seriously happen? Again . . . wow.

BJ Muntain said...

My comments (because I know you're all dying to hear them):

1) This is the reason I look at my friends like they're crazy when they suggest I self-publish. I know that a self-published series can do fairly well (especially in science fiction), but you can pretty well expect to never get that series traditionally published. It can take several books in a series to get decent sales. Most series you see on the NYT Bestseller Lists were NOT there when the series first came out. Those didn't start showing up until about book 4 or 5. Or until book 1 got a movie deal (which usually didn't happen until other books had been published in the series, anyway). So unless you're planning to self-publish quite a few books in the series and develop a large following, you're probably not even going to get a glance from traditional publishers with other books from that series.

3) It's possible that some people are stuck in the clickbait titles they see on-line. How many times have you clicked on such a title, intending to give someone a piece of your mind, only to find that they used it to simply get your attention? For instance, I could see 'Immigrants are Terrorists' used for an article to speak to the idiocy of that point of view. But books are NOT articles. Books are NOT clickbait. Clickbait is used for unpaid articles, because the originator is making money from the number of clicks, usually from advertisers. Or they're advertising something themselves. No one pays for clickbait itself. Unless they buy the National Enquirer - that thing is 99% clickbait. Or, as Agent K in Men in Black said, it's the best journalism regarding alien activities on Earth...

4) When people ask if they should self-publish, or suggest that I self-publish, I tell them that once something is self-published, it's very difficult to get it traditionally published. Some people think that self-publishing something is the way to get the attention of the publishing industry. Some people claim that's the only way to get traditionally published. Of course, these people only read the general news, not the publishing news. They only read about the rare outlier, not the constant stream of 'inliers'. And as Janet has said many times in the past, if you want to query a self-published book, even to an agent who accepts such queries, you still need to have pretty damn good sales on that book. Or even previous books.

6) I think the best characterization comes through in the character's actions, not through descriptions. A detail or two of how the character looks isn't bad - especially if it becomes important later - but physical descriptions (blond, blue-eyed, etc.) don't tell much about the character by themselves. They just help the reader picture the character in their minds. To tell you the truth, if the description includes an adjective or adverb that says what they're like, that doesn't work for me. How are they feisty? SHOW me, don't TELL me. When it comes to characterization, showing is far more important than telling. Telling usually results in a stick figure or a stereotype. Showing is deeper, and it will strengthen the characterization. In fact, showing that contradicts the telling can be useful. Telling: He looked like an evil villain from an old space opera. Showing: When the cat jumped onto the table to sniff his tuna sandwich, he offered it a piece of tuna and giggled when its whiskers tickled his fingers.

DLM said...

Adele, that is a stitch!

On the autobiography/memoir question, I'd say too that memoir focuses on one aspect of a person's life and is more thematic, where the autobiography is more a chronicle and more holistic.

BJ, on your #3 - maybe clickbait is itself born out of this tendency, originally used by books and newspapers? The human penchant for sensationalism ... yellow journalism come to the new millennium ...

BJ Muntain said...

Regarding #3: I don't think Janet's point was about the topic as much as it's about the title. As she said, "most people won't shell out money for a book if the title just makes them mad." Titles aren't always what a book is about. And conservative values don't necessarily mean automatic rejection, either - a lot of conservative books are published. Chances are Janet would actually look at a book with a title like "Immigrants or Terrorists?: The Scientific Facts", rather than "Immigrants are Terrorists". That doesn't mean she'd necessarily take on the book, but at least she wouldn't automatically reject the query on the title alone. Janet's also said that once Obama became president, she stopped taking on thrillers that had a presidential assassination in it, because she didn't want to feel responsible if someone used the ideas in that book. Agents have their own values, and their own standards. And their own specialties. If you're worried about Christian values getting your book rejected (and that would really only be the case if the Christian values took over the book, rather than existed behind the scenes), there are agents who specialize in Christian literature. They know the publishers that will publish these books. And there are a number of publishers who will only publish books with Christian values.

Joseph: I may be wrong, but I think the difference between autobiography and memoir is that the first is more factually non-fiction and the second is more narrative non-fiction. A memoir is actually queried more like a novel than like non-fiction.

DM: I'm not sure. I mean, there have been books published with similar clickbait-type titles pre-internet, and sensationalism has always sold, but it's only in the recent years that it's become so damned prevalent. I'm even getting non-spam e-mails with clickbait-type subject lines, and it drives me crazy. In these days, we're competing for eyes, more than ever, but clickbait is manipulative bull... paddies. (Sorry. For me, clickbait is a worse sin than simply bad titles. Manipulation of any kind turns me right off.)

DLM said...

BJ, you're right and I'm with you there.

In the past year, I've told more than one emailer who actually wasn't a spammer that I was unsubscribing due to their level of discourse. Manipulative verbiage like that stinks of desperation and condescension all rolled into one, and: 1) I don't have time to be treated as if I were stupid. 2) I don't have time to deal with those who are themselves moronic or ill-informed.

I also hate the shouty or way-too-chummy tone too many employ. By the time I'm home and going though personal email or personal blogs/sites I like, I need nerve CALMING, not things trying to get me het up. I'm also old-fashioned enough that electronic strangers calling me "Diane" via blast emails really pisses me off. At the very best, you BOT, I am Ms. Major to you. Augh.

Julie Weathers said...



And to you and Karen Your lips to God's ear it sees the light of day.

Joseph S. said...

I sort of just came across a variation of # 3. It wasn’t the title. I hope I can explain it without giving away too much of the book. The book is a standard thriller (actually, so far a very good one).

I’m reading along and around page 80 the characters talk about the death (that actually occurred) of a named real life public figure, the well-chronicled unusual events surrounding his death, and his possible connection to a secret society. Then the novel says as fact in the context of the novel the man was murdered and that the same people who assassinated him also assassinated a fictional character in the novel. (That’s as far as I’ve read so far)

I guess I would have gone along with it if it had been a tie-in to JFK or Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe; but for some reason I found the inclusion of this relatively recent death in this manner to be in bad taste.

BJ Muntain said...

DLM: If you were an animal, you would be my spirit animal. :) As it is, I think we're kindred spirits, there. I've unsubscribed to a few non-spammers, too, and told them that it was because of the clickbait subject lines. Or it was because they 'tailored' the e-mail to my shopping habits, and they used a whole bunch of nonsense items that I have NEVER bought at that store. Tailoring things to gender rather than shopping habits is a really bad way to go these days.

Steve Stubbs said...

Janet Reid said...

"I did a post once on why I requested fulls; I'll do that again once I have enough to draw some conclusions."

Yes, please do. These lists of "why I said no" are extremely valuable and made much more valuable when paired with lists of "why I requested fulls."

BTW, I wouldn't write or submit anything like this, but you might find It amusing that some agents do rep books with hot button titles. I have several here, including SMART GIRLS MARRY MONEY, THE GOLD DIGGER'S GUIDE, and THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO DEPRAVITY (HOW TO GET LAID WITHOUT GETTING SCREWED.) Yes, those are real titles.

In the interest of mental hygiene I don't actually read that stuff, but I do collect it for fun. Collecting them is fun, do you hear? Fun!

Casual-T said...

Colin... I'm as much of a nonbeliever as it gets, but FIFTY SHADES is a no-go, even for me. Maybe we've found common ground to begin closing the chasm which exists between our two opposing worldviews. Seems like Fifty Shades might be bringing people together after all. Who knows, maybe FIFTY SHADES DARKER will usher in world peace... HA!

Lennon Faris said...

I do love these. Thanks, Janet!

And congratulations, Jennifer!

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

I find it ironic that Athena the Spunky Atheist is named after a god...

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

Joseph Snoe, this might be an oversimplification, but a memoir is plot-based and an autobiography is character-based.

Steve Stubbs said...

Casual ﷓T said...

"FIFTY SHADES is a no﷓go, even for me."

Obviously I can't break it down for you in 100 words, but 50S has a lot to teach about commercial writing. Trust me. What it has to do with theology is a mystery to me.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER comes out on DVD this coming Tuesday (June 6.) I have not read the book but intend to see the movie, and not for theological edification but to learn about storytelling. It may inspire me to read the book, and not for entertainment but for instruction.

Colin Smith said...

Casual-T: The fact that we are both creatures created in the image of God is what unites us. That only one of us recognizes that fact is what eternally divides us. But we can enjoy the former, and discuss the latter. :)

Steve: It's all about theology.

And that's as far as I'm prepared to go on someone else's blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, congratulations! Yes, do post the link when it's available.

I love these posts. So informative, with a mixed reaction (from me) of "Oh, I would NEVER do that" to "Oh no, did I do that? Oh hell, I did."

Adele, in the short romance novella I wrote, I deliberately didn't describe the physical appearance of the main characters. After several friends had read it, I asked them to tell me what they thought those characters looked like. Responses were really interesting, all over the place, with many descriptions of the woman being a fairly close match to the reader's appearance (or perhaps preference, in the case of the one man I asked). I even had a couple people argue with me, quite vehemently, that yes I had provided a description. I'm of the opinion that less is more, but if you must add detailed description, do so early on before the reader has formed a mental image that might clash.

As for self-publishing, if you're going to do it, do it because that's what you want to do. Not because you think it might lead to something else. That's simply not realistic.

Joseph S. said...

Her Grace, Heidi

The author of The Newspaper Boy write of incidents and people he encountered over the years that made an impression on him. I'm only a quarter through it but it covers different subjects including how Birmingham has changed and how his attitudes to Blacks and foreigners changed as he grew older and some of his incidents while delivering or collecting for his newspapers.

He calls it a memoir, but so far the emphasis is on how events affected him and how he adjusted to them. To me it doesn't matter whether it's an autobiography or a memoir, but I was curious about the difference between the two.

Casual-T said...

Colin: In no way was it my intent to kick off a theological debate (especially not on Janet’s blog). My comment was meant as a humorous reply to your post, in which you mentioned your “theological persuasion.” I’m past that point in my life where I feel the need to prove or explain my worldview. I’m simply a guy trying his darnedest to live and let live.

Steve: There’s no need to break down anything for me in 100 words... Whether Fifty Shades has anything to teach about commercial writing or not, is completely beside the point. I was simply stating that that particular subject matter is something I am in no way interested in. There are plenty of other stories that can teach me about storytelling and writing (commercial or otherwise) AND that deal with a topic I’m actually interested in.

Sam Hawke said...

Jennifer, that's awesome news, congratulations!! Let us know details when you can!

Her Duchess Re Athena - that was part of my joke, of course! :)

roadkills-r-us said...

I would love to see a "Why I said, yes, then yes again" blog, and also a "Why I said yes, then no" blog. In each case the first response is to request a full, and the second response is why you did or did not offer to represent.

Unknown said...

Hi, I suppose I would be considered #1. I landed a publishing deal for book 1 in a series. Any future books in that series would have to be presented to them first for publication.

At the same time, I'm trying to get an agent. I have other novels I am working on outside of this first series but I would also like to see if perhaps an agent might be interested in repping me for the first series or other novels.

I don't know how to approach an agent or get them interested in this. It feels awkward to me. I don't know how to explain this in a way that would interest them.