Is there room to play with genres if you’re querying in one and want to write while you wait. In other words, will an agent expect you to stick close to what you’ve submitted? I stay fairly dark, but play in horror, sci-fi and a mixture of semi-literary commercial fare. Also, am I able to start a book of short stories, or is that putting the car before the horse.
Write what you want and what you love and whatever is going to make you happy. However.
There are indeed authors who are able to branch out into multiple genres, who write wildly different types of books, and who are successful in different genres. These people also tend to eat coffee grounds for breakfast and mainline Red Bull.
For most mortals, it’s best to take things one step at a time. Until you’ve reached John Grisham level, try and stick to one genre. Because as a writer, you get better. You learn the conventions. You can draw upon your previous work. If you are published, your readers get to know you and your style. Many of the bestselling authors of today weren’t born so, they got there through gradually building their audience by writing books of a certain style.
As I’ve said previously on the blog, it’s hard enough to break out in one genre, let alone several. When you have an agent you can discuss hopping and decide what’s best. But for most it’s best to stay near home.
Do you recommend writing groups, and if so, is there a website devoted to listing them?
This is a question for your fellow writers. I’m like Padma on Top Chef. I just eat the food. I don’t need to see how it’s made.
Which genres are hot?
Celebrity books and books by existing bestsellers.
(Seriously though, I strongly discourage trend watching.)
When is the new Amazon Kindle coming out?!
According to noted technology gossip site The New York Times, the new Kindle will drop February 9th
I know you only accept email queries, but I’m over here, freezing in Arizona, for a change, and wondering if snail mail queries hold more weight for other agents than the email. It’s probably a frequently asked question but I’m really curious about your opinion.
I’m sure this varies from agent to agent, but if they have submission requirements posted, follow that. For me: I look much more highly on the e-mailed queries, because that’s how I ask to be queried. But I will say this: if Michael Chabon sent me a letter in the mail I would not throw it away. In fact, I might even write him back.
I’m currently shopping a YA paranormal; while I haven’t been offered representation yet, some of the comments I’ve received make me think I’m getting close. Meanwhile, a friend with publishing experience in the erotica genre read some of my more adult work and thinks I should give erotic romance a try. If I use a pen name and place something with an erotica e-publisher, am I hurting my chances of publishing my YA? I’ve read up on the possible perils of working in different genres at the same time, including your take on the matter in your FAQ, but I’m specifically concerned about having a more adult publishing credit come back and bite me when I’m writing for younger readers.
You genre hoppers! Always with your hopping!
In the world of the Internet, it seems pretty hard to keep a secret. If you think one is going to endanger the other you’d need to think really carefully about whether you’re willing to risk that.
How do you feel about pen names? Have your authors run into any problems using them that you could warn us about?
Pen names can be necessary at certain stages in a career when an author needs a fresh start, or when authors want to avoid the harsh glare of third world dictators. But they should not be adopted lightly and there should be a very good reason for it, mostly because it’s an incredible pain to have to pretend you’re another person. In this world of blogging and Twittering and nonstop publicity, it’s even more of a pain than it used to be.
Do you think more agents will be following Firebrand’s idea of offering “query holidays”, where writers submit first pages instead of a query letter?
I’d be curious to hear how they felt it worked though. I heard third hand that they ended up requesting more material, which had query-hating authors rejoicing and saying “See! See!!”
But as an agent obsessed with efficiency, I’m not sure I see requesting more material as a harbinger of a successful system.
This past Friday, you mentioned in the comments section of your blog: “And, of course, it means I’m always on the lookout for the next great self-published book.” What about small press books for which the publishing contracts have expired, or the publishing house has gone out of business?
Many small press books have impressive resumes: review quote from famous author, hundreds of copies sold, major book awards, placement in libraries, etc.; but absolutely no distribution in bookstores. I’ve seen many such books moved from one small publishing house to another, and have always wondered if the author ever tried to contact a literary agent before submitting to another small press.
Yes, definitely. There are certain difficulties involved with a small sales track, but look: if the major publishers are going to move to a model where they only publishing the safe bets, they’re going to be missing stuff. I aim to find said stuff.
If and when a writer does get signed by an agent, are there any newbie mistakes you see newly signed writers making on a regular basis in regards to agents and editors? Maybe if we know about them, we can prevent them from happening in the first place! Knowing is half the battle and all that.
Not all writers know that when they sign with an agent that they are expected to purchase a very, very nice bottle of wine, preferably over $100+ and send it to the agent’s attention. They are then expected to follow that up with subscriptions to bacon of the month clubs, courtside tickets to sporting events (preferably basketball games involving teams from Sacramento), and by arranging lunch with Cormac McCarthy at his favorite diner.
Hope that helps!