Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ask the Agent- why don't cha?

What's Jack up to? Well, he's really bummed today. We can no longer hold Nana hostage and she's going home today, so no more clandestine treats for Jack. Sad days ahead. Waaa....

This weekend while having lunch with my Fab Agent, Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency , Elaine agreed to be interviewed on my humble little blog here. So we were brainstorming on what she would be interviewed about and she came up with the idea of Ask the Agent. That means the interview is up to you!

Please feel free to post your burning (not too burning-this is a family show!) questions in the comments section and I'll pose a bunch for Elaine to answer here. So what do you want to know? Don't be shy. This should be fun!



Lauren said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pve design said...

What is the single most important thing an agent and a writer need in order to work well with one another.
Is the answer sand-paper?

Louisa Edwards said...

Hi Elaine,
My question is this: if you had to name the top three characteristics of the perfect client, what would they be?

xoxox, Louisa

Edward said...

Hi Elaine,

I'd like to know what your favorite book is and why? Also, did you have a favorite book as a child? Why do you think these books had an impact on you?

Anonymous said...


What do you like best about your job besides reading the work of the writers you represent.

Thanks in advance!

Jeanine McAdam

Megan Frampton said...

Are you still able to read for pleasure? What non-cliented reads have you read lately?

And who would you love to represent (besides your current roster, of course)?

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

What do you look for in query letters when selecting writers to work with?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Elaine! I hope you're doing well.

I have a question for you. How do you feel about sharing a client with another agent--i.e., if the other agent only reps one genre of writing, but the client wants to write in another, too, and needs/wants representation for it.

Do you or your agency ever run into this situation? Do you think it can work out okay?

If so, any tips on how to make it work and how someone in this situation would go about it?

Thanks kindly for your thoughts!

Kwana said...

Great questions so far! Thanks. Keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

Howdy Elaine! (and Kwana!)

What's the best part of your job?

Anonymous said...

Hi Elaine!

I realize that your as an agent may handle this in a specific way that renders my question completely irrelevant at your agency, but *in general,* say an agent reads a full, writes a nice long letter about revisions, and tosses the ball back to the author with the option of viewing it again after a revision if the suggestions make sense to the author. All of this is rather open-ended (ie, I don't know if we're even as far as if-then statements--just "ifs."). What, in general, do you and your cohorts view as a reasonable time to do these open-ended revisions in? A few weeks? A few months? Any idea of a generally reasonable timeline would be appreciated. Thanks!

Paulita said...

I'm wondering how you, or agents, or editors, feel about novels in third person present? Should I change to past tense because some people are more comfortable with that?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for doing this.

What do you think are the key elements within the author's responsibility in the marketing plan?


Lucie Simone said...

Hi Elaine,
I'm interested in how marketable a contemporary sexy (but not full on erotic) romance written in a light/humorous tone would be. Regardless of trends, is this genre still healthy? I ask because we are always hearing about the hot erotica market, but what about the contemporary romance that doesn't close the bedroom door, but also doesn't get extreme.

Lauren said...

Hi Elaine,

In my original post, I forgot to thank you for taking time to do this, and also to thank Kwana for having such a good idea and providing this service to other writers.

Warm regards,
Michelle Lauren

Anonymous said...

Hello Elaine,

How much do freelance editorial credits figure into your decision to take on a writer? Also, do you think they influence acquiring editors and advances?

Thanks for taking questions.


Lynn Reynolds said...

Elaine, I used to hear that if you were contracted with an e-publisher, agents wouldn't look at your work. Now it seems like I'm seeing a number of writers moving from the e-publishing world to big NY houses. Does being published by a small press or an e-publisher help or hinder a writer's effort to attract interest from an agent and from a mainstream publisher?

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Hi Elaine,

I did a quick scan of the other questions and didn't see mine posted (although Paulita's is similar). How do you (and editors you work with) feel about first person present for a chick-lit style book?

Thanks so much,

Shalanna said...

These are all great questions. SO I'll take a different tack.

When you are ready to offer representation, is it usually before or after you request some edits or changes? In other words, would you generally tell a potential client that you want to see the book after X, Y, and Z have been tweaked and THEN you'll discuss sending a contract, or would you generally take that client and put her/him under contract and THEN send an editorial letter? I've had both of these things happen, and was just wondering which one is more common. Of course, the agent I made all these tweaks (improvements, all, I thought) for didn't take me on, and the deal-breaker was that I didn't do ONE of the changes because I thought it would ruin the ending, and I asked that we talk about it further . . . but no, that was the end of that one. *sigh*

Also . . . isn't chick lit dead? Books that have a chicklitty voice need to be "branded" women's commercial fiction or whatnot. They still work well in first person present tense, I think, but they can't be called by the VERBOTEN label.

(Sneaked in a second question there, didn't I? You gotta watch me. I'll do stuff like that.)

Kwana said...

Great questions and thanks Michelle I'm happy to do this.

Stacey G. said...

Question for Elaine:

I recently had the pleasure of meeting you at a conference. I was so impressed with your candid, honest approach to getting books published. What things keep you reading when a requested partial has been submitted to you? What parts of a query letter are most important in your eyes?

N said...

Kwana and Elaine, this is wonderful. Will you post your answers?

I have a question, and I'm quite sure it will sound like a "newbie" one...are publishers looking for any particular non-fiction subject matter right now? What's hot, what are people reading?

If you are not an "expert" in a field, but have a particular POV/take on something (ie: parenting, house renovation...yes Kwana, you know my life), is there ever an interest in that?

Thanks much for the time.

Anonymous said...

your agent is hot. is she single?

Kwana said...

Thanks for the question, N. Yes we'll post the answers. What will happen is I'll send the questions to Elaine as an interview and then post all her answers in a series once she has them answered.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Elaine,
I was wondering, are agents today only interested in representing authors with full length novels? I have written a novella, and I'm wondering what my chances of getting representation are.

Many Thanks,
Kianna Alexander

Anonymous said...

An question for Elaine: I've had nearly a dozen agents ask for a full manuscript after having read the first 100 pages and literally gushing over them. Then nothing for more than a few months. I'm assuming something is wrong with the last part of the book, but since no one has actually rejected it, or commented on it, I have no idea why the first part is so good and the last part turns people off. How can I find out?

Eleni Konstantine said...

Thanks Kwana and Elaine.

How many requests do you ask for on average from the huge number of query letters you receive in a week? And what makes those query letters standout (other than following the guidelines of course *grin*)

Maree Anderson said...

Hi Elaine,

I've been given a rejection which said: '...after some discussion we unfortunately decided that we don't think it would be quite the right fit for our list at this time.' Is this a nice way of saying 'thanks but no thanks' or is there a possibility the agency/agent may well be interested in the same ms say, in 6-12 months or so? I guess I'm asking whether it would be worth re-querying the agency.


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