Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hey, You Asked...

All righty, then. Here's round one of Ask Elana. I'm going to archive these on that handy "Ask Elana" page up there. Got a question for me? Ask away!

Question #1:
I recently finished my first novel and sent its first query. After getting a request for full (!), the agent wrote back to say she liked it and she wants to "get some other reads." I'm thrilled about the positive response, but I'm wondering about the other reads. Is she talking about other agents? Does that mean she's planning on passing it to someone else in her agency? Any guesses?

To which Elana said:
Excellent question.

When an agent says they're getting other reads, it means she's passing around her office. She might have an assistant read it. Her boss (for lack of a better term), if she has to get everyone in the agency on board. Or simply her fellow agents in her office. Many times, you'll work with different agents for foreign rights, film rights, etc, and those people all read your book. Editors do the same thing, BTW.

Lots of times, they print your MS and pass pages around, which is why it's important to have your name, title and contact info on every single page.

And holy congrats!!! This is big news!

Question #2:
I have a manuscript critique w/ a very high profile (at least as far as twitter/blog/writers boards go) agent at a conference. (I'm trying to control my breathing and not go all fan girl!)

My question is this -- I submitted my first 10 pages back in February to the conference coordinators and, of course, it's been fairly heavily revised since then. When is it appropriate to tell the agent during the critique that I've got a revision? At the beginning of the meeting? Or is it more polite to let her comment and then reveal that I've revised? I'm thinking at the beginning, but I don't want her to think she's wasted her time critiquing the original version!

Thanks!

To which Elana answered:
This is a tricksy one. I would think that the best thing to do would be to let them know that you've made revisions up front, but that you're still more than interested in what they have to say, because you're always open to improvement. So you could say something like, "I'm grateful you took the time to critique the first ten pages for me. I've done a revision since then, but I'd love to see what else I need to improve."

You know? That way, you don't come off sounding like you've done all you're going to do, that you're still willing to learn and that you're grateful for what she's done.

And that's it for today! Got any questions? Agree/disagree with my answers? Lay it on me.

52 comments:

Candyland said...

I love your answers. Now, my question:

What if you get a response from an agent who says they love the underlying story better than what you have written and think you should rewrite as nonfiction but your gut is unsure on what to do with that(and other agents still have ms)?

Diane said...

Good answers! Congrats over your BIG news. :O)

Matthew Rush said...

Great questions and answers Elana, nice to see you've done it again (great blog post that is).

I can't think of a question right now but of course I will always keep coming back!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great questions and answers. Congrats to the person who wrote question #1. That is so awesome that you got a request for a full manuscript on your first query.

I really enjoyed this post. Hope you'll continue with the questions & answers.

Piedmont Writer said...

Thanks for doing this Elana.

Here's my question. Just out of curiosity -- If I should get offered representation and I still have queries out -- from Feb -- do I still have to notify those agents or should I look on those as a no.

And what exactly does this letter say? Dear Blah Blah, I 've been offered representation.... Okay, now what? Do I tell them by who? Do I ask them if they want to read the full? Or is that their job to ask me? Do I give them a time frame in which to get back to me?

I've heard about these letters but have never seen one so any help you could give would be great.

Thank Elana -- you totally rock!

M. Gray said...

The "getting other reads" stage is sooo great. We all want that!!

paulgreci said...

I don't have a question but I sure enjoyed reading your answers!!

Vicki Rocho said...

YAY! I'm looking forward to more of this feature! Great questions and solid answers! You're doing a great job educating this novice over here...

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the advice! Have a good week:)

Kelly said...

Great question/answer session. You are a wonderful asset to our writing community, Elana!

lbdiamond said...

Seems like the bottom line is keeping communication open so everybody's on the same page. Great answers! :D

Holly Dodson said...

Very good questions and answers! Thanks, Elana!

Jaydee Morgan said...

I think this is such a great idea and I loved hearing your answers already. Looking forward to more :)

Christi Goddard said...

With so much negative out there, question #1 was a great ray of hope. Thanks for sharing!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wonderful post, as usual, Elana...I hope you had a lovely weekend. :)

Christina Lee said...

PERECT answers!!!

Janet Johnson said...

Great post! I had never heard of getting other readings, so it's good to know.

Christine Fonseca said...

Great Q&A as usual! Have a wonderful first full week off!

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

wonderful wonderful post! As always ;o)

Thanks for the great info!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Carol Kilgore said...

Great concept. I'm sure you'll receive a lot of questions.

Stephanie McGee said...

Interesting questions and interesting answers.

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

Good info :) It's great to find out more from people who are further in the process than myself and learn the journey a little. Thanks for the Q&A and hope you had a great weekend.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Love the Q&A. Way better than Ann Landers :)

j.m. neeb said...

Elana - I have an "Ask Elana" question...

Okay, if there is a train heading west from Boston at a rate of 87 miles per hour and a train heading east from somwhere like, let's say, Las Vegas... Man, I haven't been to Vegas in a while. I'd sure like to go back there. Although, I'd also like to travel somewhere new. Oregon is supposed to be wonderful. Plus, their university's mascot is the Ducks and my blog is Ducks Out Of A Row, which means it's only natural that I visit there. I wonder what time of year is the best to head out to Oregon... but that's not my question. And besides, with the blog name and all, it might be too obvious and perhaps I should avoid the state altogether. Of course, I'm probably giving that too much thought and should get back to my initial question.

So how do I know if I have A.D.D.?

Slamdunk said...

No new questions, but I think you are spot-on with your #2: try to let them know about the revisions up front as it can be frustrating reading something that is "fluid."

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Thanks, Elana, for the awesome answers.

I'm in the same boat as the second question asker. Based on feedback I recently recieved from a critter, I made some changes (though not drastic ones) to my pages. But I'm interested to hear what the reviewer has to say, especially on the stuff I didn't change.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting situation with the second question. And honesty is the right answer.

Carolyn V. said...

All excellent answers! And that first question...awesome! How lucky is that? I'm way impressed. =D

VR Barkowski said...

Great info, Elana!

My question: is it really okay to nudge on a partial and or full after three months? I've had three fulls and two partials out for months. I realize agents are pressured and I don't want to be a pest or dissuade them from reading my ms if they haven't had the chance to get to it. On the other hand, if there is truly something wrong with it - which is what I'm beginning to suspect from the dearth of responses - I'd like to know so I can address the issues.

Abby Stevens said...

This is great! Excellent new feature, Elana!

Abby Stevens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PJ Hoover said...

That critique one is always tricky. I've been in that situation a million times!

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Great questions and answers!

R. Garrett Wilson said...

Wow, congratulations to the asker of question one.

Good luck to the person who asked question two.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Ooo, this is going to be a VERY helpful series, I can already tell. I had the same question about other readers, and you're right, that's exactly what it was--other assistants in the agency reading my draft for feedback and notes. Also my foreign rights agent.

The critique one is tricky. It's why I didn't let myself touch those pages until I got the professional feedback, so I wouldn't run into that problem. You gave great advice! :)

Lisa_Gibson said...

Great advice! These posts are going to be invaluable. :)

Sandy Shin said...

Thanks for taking your time to answer these questions, Elana! :)

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Great feature! I didn't know what 'other reads' meant. Thanks for the info!

Tahereh said...

you're such a gem, Elana.

what would we do without you??

Stephanie said...

Great questions and answers..and I hope to one day have my MS passed around and agent's office!!

Talli Roland said...

Great questions and excellent answers, Elana! Thanks!

Marjorie said...

Why would an agent need "other reads?" I think it indicates the agent is somewhat interested, but she needs other opinions because her own opinion is not that strong. However, it deserves a congratulations.

I would want an agent 100% supportive of my work, not an agent who needed "other reads."

L. E. Neighbour said...

:takes notes:
:P

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Elana, this was fascinating! Thanks for doing your post in this format. I found the second question/answer to be very helpful because we all revise constantly. As for tip one, I hope that is something I can relate to eventually :)

Marissa

Stephanie Thornton said...

Interesting questions and answers. Thanks for doing this!

catwoods said...

Elana,

Thanks for starting this. I think it will come in handy!

Congrats to the first question writer and best of luck.

KM said...

Both of these questions/answers are extremely helpful! Thanks!

Lea (YA Book Queen) said...

Interesting questions, and fabulous answers! I really like this new feature :)

WritingNut said...

I love this new feature. Very helpful, as always.

No questions as yet, but trust me, they are coming!

Jan Markley said...

good idea for an ongoing column! thanks!

Erica Chapman said...

Great questions and equally awesome answers... All good stuff to know, thanks Elana ;o)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Elana, how did you get so wise? :) Great responses, and how exciting for those who are this close!

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