Questions for the Blog?

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 16 2018

I have a short list of questions that I’ve received as comments that I will be answering as blog posts, but if you have a question you’d like to have answered on the blog or something you’d like me to talk more about do not hesitate to leave a comment here or email us at bookends@

Thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you.

28 responses to “Questions for the Blog?”

  1. Avatar Kris says:

    What do you do when a novel is is written outside of a specific genre, but you love it anyway? Do you pass on it, advise the author to change it, or try to sell it that way? Thanks.

  2. Avatar Bryan Fagan says:

    I came across a list of eBook publishers. No agent required. I’m looking for a home for my debut novel. This is tempting. Your thoughts.

  3. Avatar Cindy Williams Schrauben says:

    Hi Jessica. Thanks for this opportunity. My question is this: “How often does a connection via a conference lead to representation.”
    I am weighing my options – more conferences, classes, etc and how to optimize my chances at obtain an agent.

  4. If one who has been a published children’s book illustrator forever-and is working towards Illustrator/author-would you recommend approaching a literary agent first, or try their luck at submitting to publishers? (and hoping you can find a literary agency that is looking for a team player) Sometimes its frustrating- who do you ask these questions to- I need a direction to focus on.

  5. Avatar Kaitlyn Sanchez says:

    My main questions are about illustration notes and grammar. I’ve read many conflicting ideas about illustration notes, some which say even if it’s integral to the story, don’t include an illustration note, what do you think? Also, if there are a few grammar mistakes, will an agent pass on a project just for that?

    Thank you so much!

  6. Avatar Stacy Nockowitz says:

    I have a question for you! Is it okay t make your YA protagonist 14 years old? I’ve been given conflicting answers to this question. One agent said I should age my protagonist up to 15 because it’s really hard to sell a 14 y.o. YA protag. Another agent told me that I should write what I want to write and not listen to the first agent! I’d love some guidance here. Thank you!

  7. Avatar Lisa says:

    If I submit a new manuscript to an agent who previously requested (and rejected) a full from me, should I mention this to them when querying the new book?

  8. Avatar Tricia says:

    I’m going to RWA this summer and there is a discussion in my local chapter on what to expect. How do you approach a conference?

    • Avatar Stacy Nockowitz says:

      I would love to hear the answer to this one, too! I’m going to SCBWI in August, and frankly, I’m a little terrified.

      • Just popping in to say – don’t be terrified of SCBWI! Authors and illustrators at all points in their publishing journey will be there, and so the only thing you need to do is be ready to listen, learn, and connect with your peers. I know some people fear that they have to walk into a conference and be ready to hand over finished work to editors and agents – but that’s not at all the case! I usually leave conferences feeling grateful to have spent the day with so many other creative people that are dedicated to children’s lit, and inspired to work on my own WIP! You’re going to have a great time!

        • Avatar Stacy Nockowitz says:

          Thank you for the boost! I’m going to do lots of prep work for SCBWI so I don’t become too overwhelmed.

    • Tricia! I’ll be there too! i’m sooo excited, and yes, also interested to hear an agent’s perspective!

  9. Avatar Lennon says:

    For an illustrator-author, how extensive should an online portfolio be? And are certain kinds of sites preferred over others (i.e. Instagram vs. personal website)?
    Thank you!

  10. Avatar Shelby Tench says:

    I have a few #askagent questions, all regarding the use of comps in queries.

    This first one is like the opposite of comparing manuscripts to NYT bestsellers…
    Can a comp be “too indie”? Should I worry that an agent might not be familiar with the comp or should I stick with an indie comp to increase chances of finding an agent with interests like mine? Do indie comps make the manuscript seem too niche?

    What are your thoughts on comps that are more than 2 years old? (I saw a blog post that said only comp books published within last 2 years and my brain melted.)

    What about not using comps at all in a query?

  11. Avatar Hollie Glover says:

    When I first started writing I used Word and quickly found myself getting lost if I wanted to make even the slightest change.

    A few author friends suggested writing programs and now I type away happily with all my character profiles, scenes and chapters separated and easily jumped between.

    What do you think of using writing programmes from a professional point of view? Do they help or just move problems to later in the publishing process?
    Would you ever consider accepting a manuscript in the format of a program like scrivener?

    • Avatar AJ Blythe says:

      Hollie, Scrivener has an export function that will “download” the manuscript into a single Word document so you can submit to agents. =)

    • Holly: Sorry for the delay. I have no opinion on writing programs. I’ve never really seen any in action and haven’t used them myself. I think, however, a writer should use any tool that works for her. As for accepting a manuscript in a program format, I can only accept what I can read. Most editors (and agents) work on manuscripts in Word using track changes which is why that’s the most accepted format. It’s also the format that most easily converts to my Kindle for easy reading.

      Thanks for the question!

      • Avatar Hollie Glover says:

        Thanks Jessica,
        I know it does track changes, I’ve used it a few times. And I know it imports Word not sure how well or if at all if track changes are turned on.
        But I will admit the first thing I did when I finished my first draft was convert it and send it to kindle.
        That’s when the my problems started or I started finding my problems?
        Either way, by the time I’d “put” my kindle down and “walked” away a “few” times, I had the opportunity to buy one of the pretty white kindles. Then I opened a new file named Take Two.

  12. If an author has a previous traditionally published book (not self-pubbed) that is not directly related to the query book, do you give much weight to how well it has sold or whether it was published by a smaller or larger house?

  13. Avatar Brooks Jones says:

    Do many of you have more than one version of a form rejection? In other words:
    Version A: Heck no, you didn’t even follow our guidelines
    Version B: Thank you, but no thanks/I could never sell this
    Version C: Great writing, tons of potential but no room on my list
    I ask because I’m starting to see more following the form of Version C, but they still seem like form rejections (which I am grateful for: any response is better than no response)!

  14. Avatar Kate says:

    Is there a market for spoonie and survivor lit that has a plot that deals with, but isn’t entirely centered around, living with illness? It seems like most books (especially about cancer) deal with terminal cases when that isn’t what illness looks like for many. Are agents and publishers interested in these stories and, if so, does this fall under own voices or is it something to be shared as relevant experience in a query only?

  15. Avatar Lisa says:

    I have a question regarding diverse voices. I heard that a deaf protagonist is considered a DV, but would a mute MC who communicates through sign language also be considered a Diverse Voice?

  16. Please could you consider writing a blog post on what questions one should ask an agent once an offer of representation is on the table?

  17. I want to pop in and thank everyone for the terrific questions. The entire team has been busy writing posts and answers. Please keep an eye on the blog over the next few weeks (and potentially months) as we give you our answers.

    Thank you again. And please don’t hesitate to keep the questions coming.

  18. Avatar Stacey says:

    Hi, I have a question about check ins. I’ve heard from many authors who, generally speaking, received their offers of representation quite quickly after submission (usually within days, and at times, only a few hours). Agent blogs and tweets, however, often claim that getting to the offering stage can take many weeks/months. What is the ‘real deal’ here? Does an agent usually know pretty quickly if they’re going to offer representation? If they’re excited about a project, would they typically read and respond ASAP? Should an author send a check in email? I’ve heard agents say they appreciate the check in, but in every real-life instance from authors I know, it’s resulted in an insta-reject.

    (Full disclosure – I’ve had a project out with an agent for 3+ months {a non-Book Ends agent}, which I know isn’t that terribly long, but my submission email has been viewed over 120 times (!), so I know it hasn’t gotten lost in the shuffle. I’m afraid to check in, as every author I know who has done this has gotten an immediate rejection. Is checking in the ‘kiss of death’ for a submission? Of note – it is weeks past the time they said they typically respond to full submissions. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!)

    • You asked. I answered. Watch YouTube for you question answered this afternoon.

      • Avatar Stacey says:

        Thank you so much for your thorough (and quick!) reply. To answer your question, I use Mailtrack for Gmail – an app that allows you to see when someone has viewed your email (and how many times). I think many authors have begun to use platforms like this while querying, in order to combat the ‘no response means no’ trend that your vlogged about a couple weeks ago.

        It’s a real challenge to know what’s going on when agents don’t communicate. Should you move on? Is it ok to query another agent at that agency (if not against agency policy)? Should you keep waiting? At least this way we know if the agent has seen the query, and if some days/weeks pass without a reply, we can assume it’s been sent to the rejection file, and we can safely move on to the next query.

        Thanks again so much for your reply, and being a champion of communication and information for authors!

  19. Do you have any advice for writers who are drawn to write narrative nonfiction and memoir, but that want to be published traditionally? What does a memoir need to make it interesting enough for an agent to take the writer on? Without being famous, what type of real-world experience and platform would be expected from a writer? Thank you!