Random Questions

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 15 2012

Do you automatically reject a query if the author does not have a college degree?

No. I don’t know of any agency who would. Unless you’re an expert writing nonfiction on a subject that would require a degree of some sort, I don’t care if you’ve never been to school.

Is “mainstream literary fiction” an appropriate term/genre to describe a novel in a query letter? I’m getting ready to submit a book that doesn’t fit easily into either category. Bret Easton Ellis would be an example of an author that writes this type of fiction.

Yes, mainstream literary fiction is fine.

Do you work with authors from other countries?

Absolutely! We don’t care where you’re from, only that you’ve written a good book. We have authors from all over the world.

I have two nonfiction books published (under my married name) and am now working on a novel. I may be taking back my maiden name in the future and am wondering if pursuing publication using a different last name will affect the career I hope I can have as a novelist.

Since nonfiction and fiction are two different markets, it shouldn’t matter at all which name you publish under. Of course, there’s always an “it depends,” in this case based on what kind of nonfiction you wrote (memoir, for example) or how successful your nonfiction was, but ultimately writing under two different names should be fine.

When an agent requests pages, are they referring to the physical pages in a word document, or is the referring to 250-word pages?

I assume you mean page count. These days I think you can go by the word count in your Word document. However, if you feel more comfortable with the 250-word per page count, go with that. Honestly, it doesn’t make that much of a difference to the agent. If you mean how many actual pages, the agent will look at the number on the bottom of the Word document, so go with that.


4 responses to “Random Questions”

  1. Avatar Colin Smith says:

    On the page count question, I've read from more than one agent that we writers tend to over-think this (please–it's stressful submitting stuff to agents!). The message I've heard is that 5, 10, 50, 100 pages is a guide. If you go a little over or under in order to complete a sentence or scene, the agent isn't going to trash your work. In fact, as I understand it, most agents know whether a novel piques their interest somewhere between 5 to 10 pages in, so if she gets to the end of your partial, she probably isn't looking at the page count–she's requesting a full. 🙂

    That's based on what I've read. Is this true in your experience, Jessica?

  2. Avatar Patty says:

    If you've self-pubbed a book, and then want to get an agent with a different one under a different name, does the agent need to know about the first one. I sort of want to keep things separate.

  3. I'm glad people are loosening up their standards. I understand why the old 250-a-page rule used to matter before we had tools to count our words for us (especially for estimating the printed length of a book), but it did get confusing for a while, especially as some agents were fine with what Word says and some seemed to cling to the old model.

    As for having different last names for fiction vs. non-fiction, lots of author do similar things with pseudonyms, etc. If I get married, I'll probably still use my maiden name for publishing. You'll just have to remember that the name with which you published your non-fiction will become a sort of pseudonym, and you'll continue to be known by that as long as those books are read.

  4. Well this sounded great! I never thought of the last-name thing… I've always thought I'll be using my maiden name, even if I get married.