Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All Day Q&A!

It's been a few months since I did one of the only regular features on this blog: Q&A Day! So bring on your questions, and I will answer them in comments as quickly as I can. Please note that I am typing one-handed, since there's a baby in my other:)

Awww, so cute, right?

36 comments:

  1. WHEN CAN I SQUISH THE BABY CHEEKS?

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  2. Whenever you want! You just have to, you know, be in Utah:)

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  3. Yay for baby boys!! :D He's so sweet! Congratulations!

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  4. What questions did you ask your agent before you decided to go with them?

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    1. Christine, for me it was a little different. With my first agent, I revised with him for 9 months pre-offer, so I basically knew how we'd work together and didn't gave many questions. When he left the biz, Anna was the one at CB who loved my work and wanted to take over my career. Of course the situation required some different questions than your typical offer scenario.

      Basically, I asked questions that would help me gauge how much Anna cared about my work and career. I also asked about her revision process and submission style/plans, since by then I knew a lot more about that. Obviously I decided to stay at CB and with Anna, who I feel is really the ideal agent for me personally.

      I think the most important thing to look for with n agent is business compatibility. They are there to sell your work, and similar styles of communication, etc can really help.

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  5. Congrats on the cutie patootie. I love babies who come with a head of hair already intact. Are his eyes blue or brown?

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  6. He's too dang cute!! Love him. :)

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  7. Congratulations on your darling baby! My question for you is since your book coming out sounds like it's YA, is that the genre you plan to continue writing in? Or would you like to write books in other genres?

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    1. So far I've stayed entirely within YA, though I have jumped around in genre there. I've done paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary...but they have all been YA. I can see myself hanging out in YA for a long time. I feel like my voice suits it well, and I have a passion for teen lit and encouraging kids to read.

      That said, I don't like to put myself in a box, so I can't say I'll never write adult or middle grade or whatever.

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  8. No questions, but nice to see you, and the little bug! Hope you're feeling well and that everyone there is happy and healthy (at least one is, judging by the picture).

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  9. So cute! Now my 6 mo. old looks like a giant. I love the new baby time:) (well not the lack of sleep, body recovering, milk coming in-and overflowing with abandon part), but the rest of it is pretty amazing.
    My questions for you-how did you know when your MS was ready to query? I don't know if I'll ever feel like mine are shiny enough.

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    1. Short answer: I didn't know! I was the noob sending out my MS way, way, way too early. My first novel? I did one "revision" and then wrote a horrible query letter. Obviously, I didn't get any requests. My second and third novels queried? I did beta readers, but I didn't listen to anything they said and didn't really, truly revise. Yeah, didn't get many requests. My fourth novel I worked with an agent for 9 whole months doing R+Rs, *finally* learned how to revise, and then he offered.

      Honestly, it's really hard to know if it's ready until you get out there and see. I can't tell you when to do that—heck, I still don't know when my stuff good! That's why people recommend querying in batches: That way you can gauge response. If you're not getting any requests, then it's likely the query. If you're not getting past partials, then there's probably something wrong with your MS.

      I would say don't be afraid to try. Obviously it doesn't have to be perfect on the first try! I'm a sad but great example of that. I queried agents several times. I never got banned. I learned a lot. And eventually the first agent to ever reject me became my first agent to offer representation:)

      Just remember you don't have to be perfect—you just have to keep improving.

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    2. The reminder that I don't have to be perfect is encouraging. Thank you for your indepth answer. I'm making note of how you said to gauge responses.

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    3. This is so wonderfully encouraging. Thanks, as always, for your honesty and openness! :)

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  10. I'm doing a Revise and Resubmit and I'm so worried that the agent will take a look at my shinier revised ms and......hate it. *sigh* I guess, on more question-y note- How often do you think people who do R+R's sign with an agent afterwards (not necessarily the agent who requested the revisions)? **



    **I guess I am just freaking out. The agent was enthusiastic on the phone when we spoke and even could think of editors on the spot who she'd hypothetically send my ms out too....but I still worry......

    Oh woes of writing.

    Also your new baby? ADORABLE!!!!

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    1. Rachel, honestly? It's a hard situation to be in. R+R can go either way, and I haven't really seen it go more positive in direction than negative. I'd say 50/50? I *did* get my first agent off of a very long R+R adventure, where I revised for him I think five times over nine months before I got an official offer. Luckily, it turned out well—but I have seen it go the other way, too. Heck, I revised my first submission for an editor and they still had to reject it. So I've been on both sides of that horrible coin.

      It really depends on a ton of factors. It depends on how much you are willing to revise—truly revise, not just deleting a few sentences here and there. It depends on how much the agent likes the MS, how the market is, and possibly if it's a full moon or not.

      I wish I could be more positive, but I feel like I have to be honest with you because I have been there before. It's such a hard, stressful place to be, and I wish you the best. Just know that even if it doesn't pan out, it doesn't mean it's over. It happens to A LOT of people, and it's okay if it happens to you. I hope it doesn't, but it won't mean you've failed if it does.

      Do your best. Be proud of that. And good luck:)

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    2. Thank you for your honesty, Natalie. I appreciate that more than anything else. Doing my best and I am really proud of where my revisions have taken me so far (new plot line, axed an old one, adding personality to a character). And honestly I've realized whatever happens - I have a much better novel because of these revisions. whether an agent takes it or not.

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  11. Congratulations on the little guy! Hope you're still managing a little time to yourself between everything. :)

    I've been waiting for you to do another Q&A for a while, actually. I was curious about your relationship with your critique partners. Inevitably, it seems, you'll all write at different speeds; some people will be fast enough to produce a couple books a year, and others may take a couple years to produce one book. That first person will ask for critiques on four MSs for every one MS the latter person writes. When you're working with your CPs, how you approach this apparent imbalance of work/feedback? Because the fast writer is going to be asking a lot more from their CPs than the slower writer is. (In your case, I was thinking of Kiersten White and her book-in-a-week binges versus, you know, more normal writers ;) ).

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    1. Seabrooke, that's an interesting question. It can be "unequal" at times, but honestly I am HAPPY to read for Kiersten whenever she needs:) I look forward to it every time, and since I read as she writes, I only get a chunk at a time. That is doable for me. Funny thing is, she's been begging for ME to write something new because she misses my writing. So I guess when you are reading for your closest crit partners it's not a "burden." It's a pleasure.

      But the biggest change I've seen thus far is simply that I don't read for as many people as I used to. When you get an agent—and even more so when you get an editor—the need for a large beta reader pool diminishes quite a bit. It's a hard transition because you don't want to hurt feelings, but all my published friends have had to cut back for many reasons. I don't take it personally, and I hope they don't either. It's just that your agent and editor become the most important on feedback, and you end up keeping just a few trusted readers to keep you on track in the early stages.

      In the end, I think it comes down to one thing: Your writing has to come first. If you don't have time or if reading for others is impairing your writing, then you have to be upfront and tell people. Take on what you can, but don't get so burdened down that you're always feeling guilty and behind on tasks.

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    2. Thanks for your frank response, Natalie. :) I'm one of the fast writers, so I always feel guilty about how much I'm sending off to my crit partners, worrying that they'll be too polite to say anything but are maybe being annoyed by the constant requests for feedback. But hopefully, as you say, they find it a pleasure, not a burden. :)

      That's also good to be aware of regarding the change in critiquing "workload" once you're signed somewhere. Something I hadn't thought too much about.

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  12. Congrats on the baby, gorgeous!

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  13. Just wanted to officially welcome your baby to the world! And hope you're getting some sleep. :-)

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  14. Oh my! That is one freaking cute baby! I can't believe I'm going to have one of those soon. *cue panic attack*

    Can you write me a manual on how to be a mum and a writer?

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    1. Haha, Jade, if I ever really figure it out, I'll let you know. Just...don't beat yourself up over not being perfect. Try to savor the time you have, because it does fly. And force your hubby to change diapers:)

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    2. Okay, that's good advice! I might need to stick a post-it up somewhere just to remind myself.

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  15. Is it normal for an agent to ask for a lot of revisions before making an offer? What would be considered excessive? And can you be querying other agents too?

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    1. Tess, it can be normal. I personally did five revisions for my first agent pre-offer. It really depends on what you're willing to do and if you and the agent click. I'm not sure what would be considered excessive, only because every person has a different tolerance level. But for me, I always ask myself two things:

      1. Would the book be better if I followed these suggestions?

      2. Do I feel like these suggestions are getting me closer to my vision of the work?

      If I can answer "yes" to both of those questions, then I do the edits for my agent or editor. If not, then I discuss why I am uncomfortable and try to come up with compromising changes. If those aren't in line, well, sometimes you have to walk away from either a project or a person, depending on the situation.

      As for querying other agents at the same time—it depends on your agreement with the agent asking for revisions. If they request an exclusive and you grant it, then querying must stop. Otherwise, it's usually acceptable to continue querying, though if you are doing major changes I would stop anyway since you'd want to send out your best draft possible.

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  16. Hi Natalie! My question is ... what's your baby's name? And congratulations.

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    1. I try to keep my kids' names offline, but you can call him The Dread Pirate Baby:)

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  17. I'm obviously late to the party, but just wanted to say congratulations on your baby! What a little cutie!! Hope you're getting some time to rest :)

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  18. Okay, that is one cute baby. And already fixing up plot holes, judging by the expression.

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  19. Oh new baby! So exciting. And exhausting. Mine comes in 5 weeks. Hopefully a little earlier because there's not room for both of us in this body anymore. Good luck with your new bigger family:)

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  20. He's so cute Natalie!!! Congratulations!!! So glad he's here and y'all are both doing well! *sends happy sleep wishes* :D

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