Reader Questions

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 22 2007

Besides the basic rants and raves about being a literary agent, and the comments they generate, I like to make sure we are giving you, the readers, what you want.

Last November I made a post asking for reader questions, and the response was so heavy, and the questions so good, that I’m back asking again.

So, please let us know if there are any questions you have for us or if there’s anything you’d like us to be talking about, and don’t be shy. Is there anything you want to know about BookEnds, literary agents, publishing. . . ? Or even anything more specific? A situation you are in that you would like some feedback on? Is there something you’d like us to post more on, a subject you’ve enjoyed reading that you’d like to know even more about? We’ll read all of your comments and answer some soon, some later.


21 responses to “Reader Questions”

  1. Avatar Sam says:

    What happens if an author finds an agent with one book, but she has another book in a different genre she’d like to market as well, however, her agent doesn’t take that genre?
    Would the agent help her find another agent for that particular book, or would she be expected to find another agent (for that book)?
    What if the agent loved one of the author’s books but not the other. Would the agent market it anyway?
    Do authors ever have more than one agent, or is this why most agencies have several agents working in different genres? Sorry – three questions, I know. But my editor and I have been discussing this, and we want to know the answer!

  2. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Please talk about collaboration — how it works in a collection, and how it works if you’re writing with a writing partner. Do publishers put together a collection/novellas, or can writers approach a publisher with an idea?

    Can you each have your own agent if you’re writing a book together? Does what you agree between yourselves hold more sway than what an agent would prefer? If one author has more credentials than the other how do you address that factor?

    Most of all, can you remain friends after writing a book together?

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I’m working on a novel set in London (where I’ve lived for a while) and wondering how British I can make the my own writing and the dialog before it’ll be considered too much.


  4. Avatar Wendy says:

    The single title contemporary romance market seems to be caput for now…yet authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Catherine Anderson, Susan Wiggs, Susan Mallery still manage to hang onto their share of the market. What common denominators account for their continued success (other than being named “Susan”)? In your opinion, do they write “high concept” contemporary romance?

    In your opinion, can an author build a strong career today–like the ladies above–in straight contemp romance/romantic comedy?

  5. Avatar jbstanley says:

    A lot of writers seeking publication have asked me what to do about editing their finished manuscripts. Sure, they’ve handed it over to good friends who tell them it’s the best thing since pepperoni pizza, but where can they turn for real editing. Could you give some advice on where aspiring writers can turn for editing help, so that when they do approach an agent, their work is the dazzling and polished piece of prose that it was destined to become.

  6. Avatar Robin L. says:

    I have a question about Romantic Suspense. Since you rep mystery and romance, I’m hoping you can help me. Basically, I didn’t know that there *is* a shelf called Romantic Suspense till I stumbled upon it in the bookstore the other day. I’m writing a mystery that I’m hoping is in a similar style to Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series. So it’s a mystery, with romantic sub-plots.

    Now I’m afraid that if I query for it as a ‘mystery’ agents will think I’m a nitwit for not calling it romantic suspense. Or if I query for it as romantic suspense, agents won’t have heard of the genre (like me prior to last week).

    How would you handle this?


  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I’ve been shopping around a paranormal romance. I’ve had requests from agents for partials, even for fulls, but ultimately no requests for representation and the only thing I’m told is, “I wasn’t as taken with the project as I hoped.”

    If there’s something wrong with the plot/characters/etc. I’d love to know what it is so I could fix it. I’m already part of a writing/critique group, and the members all made their comments before I started shopping it around, so my question is, is my book just not going to work out?

    I’ve already started shopping around a new one, but I’m disappointed because that one was part of a series, so it’s like I wasted a lot of time/effort on four books that doesn’t look like they’ll see print.

    I truly understand how busy all of you agents are and with the amount of submissions you receive, you don’t have the time to do more than a standard rejection letter, I just wish it was possible to even get a one-sentence reason for rejection – “I didn’t like the characters, the last act didn’t appeal to me, I thought the situation was implausible, etc.”

  8. Avatar Su says:

    Where do you see the women’s fiction market heading in the next three to five years?

  9. Avatar alicia says:

    I would like to know more about how involved agents get in their authors’ careers. How much of an author’s short stories, novels-in-progress, novel ideas, marketing plan, etc. do you like to see? Would you prefer your author to keep you in the loop about these things, or do you expect an author to do a certain amount on their own and only let you know about the “big stuff” (i.e., a completed novel)?

  10. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Here’s one I’m struggling with right now.

    What happens when you and your client disagree on a plot point in her manuscript? Say shifting POVs, the ending or beginning? Say she agrees with 90% of your suggestions, but disagrees with some. How much of your advice do you expect her to use?


  11. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Great Blog! Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions…
    At what point do you recommend a career-focused but not-yet-published author set up a website? Last year I snapped up my domain name and set up a very simple, inexpensive site, but I’m not doing much with it. Hmmm…should I be?

  12. Avatar Anonymous says:

    What about writers who were able to sell a couple of books in the mid 1990’s, then for some reason, the next books didn’t sell.

    Is it the style? The market? I’ve parted ways with my original agent. She didn’t try all that hard after the option books were turned down. A couple houses then nothing.

    But now I’m looking for a new agent for a new book, and I’m gun-shy. Do I use my name? Put those previous books down as a credit? Or do they work against me?

  13. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Is there a particular genre that is hot in the marketplace right now? Something editors are requesting or looking for more than other genres?

  14. Avatar Kimber An says:

    These are all great. I don’t have any of my own questions right now, but I’m looking forward to the answers to all of yours.

  15. Avatar Anonymous says:

    How widespread is the practice of successful commercial authors putting their names to someone else’s work?

  16. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Hi. I’m always interested in what kinds of querys agents are getting. Are there common themes in character names, plot ideas, something that is just way out there? Did you find something in the query box that got you excited? Are people following your submission guidelines?

  17. Avatar Anonymous says:

    First of all… I love your blog. It is a wonderful resource for aspiring writers. Thank you for devoting the time and effort it requires.

    My question concerns romantic comedies. With so much emphasis on paranormal romance today, do you see a place for romantic comedy on the shelves today?

  18. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I’d like to know about publishing credits and what exactly counts vs. what will work against you.

    I’ve found unity across editor and agent blogs on self-publishing/PODs such as PublishAmerica.

    But what about epublishers?

    I know you have authors who were with or are still with epubs, but as a whole, how do agents and editors feel?

    Does it depend solely on the epublisher? Should you simply never list these credits because they aren’t print houses?

    Is there an industry standard of which epublishers count and which are overlooked?

    I know Ellora’s Cave is recognized by the RWA and so a better credit. But what of Samhain, Liquid Silver and others?



  19. Avatar jfaust says:

    Thanks everyone for the great questions. We’ll get right on them and start posting answers over the course of the next few months. Don’t worry. If you missed this round we promise to post the request for questions again and you never know when we’ll just happen to discuss that subject you want to know more about.

  20. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Two years ago I was looking for an agent. I received two offers of representation. One from a small, newish, up-and-coming agency, made up of three agents, one from a big-name, established agency.

    I went with big agency for their muscle, and contacts and record of success. I felt the name alone carried weight.

    After five submissions, my agent told me basically based on the uniform (meaning no thank you) feedback from editors, the book was unsellable in today’s market, and that was it for submissions. Maybe later, when the cycle turned.

    I’m working on the next book and meanwhile very unhappy that this is their policy. I hadn’t realized this was a question to ask. Is this the general rule with big agencies? I thought I was better off bigger, but I’m questioning my decision.
    I liked the other agent. I just felt the big guys had more juice. And how, if I decide to go back to the other agent, do I approach him?Will this bad choice color the rest of my writing career?

  21. I am a multi-published author with several published ebooks and short stories from two different publishers. I have a couple of print books coming out in the next few months. But I’d like to take my career to the next level. How open are you to ebook authors? I hear our stock is rising, but I’m not seeing that with colleagues. Any thoughts?