Your Questions Answered
Here are some questions I’ve received from readers lately, and my brief answers.
I’m stuck on my second draft. When is it a good idea to bring in an outside editor?
You should bring in an editor when you can’t go any further on your own. Try a critique partner first—it will save you money and help you get your manuscript to the point where the cost of an editor will be worth it.
I have some questions over copyright. I’m working on my manuscript (and have been for several years) but I’m wondering what protection I have if it should leak out online.
1. You own your work without having to do anything specific like registering a copyright.
2. Everyone is subject to plagiarism.
3. My personal opinion is that worrying about someone stealing your work is a waste of precious time and emotional energy. We should all be so lucky as to have people wanting to steal what we’ve written! In fact, your time and energy is better spent working on your writing and getting it published.
How does an author balance the age-old advice of “writing what you love” against writing what the market is demanding?
The secret is to find the point at which your passion meets the market. If no such point exists, keep writing what you love and find the readers who will love it too.
If an author e-publishes first, does that diminish his chance of securing an agent later?
In most cases, the answer is “not anymore.” However, if it’s obvious that the author self-pubbed out of disdain for traditional publishing, then agents will think twice about working with them.
Does winning an RWA writing contest (or any writing contest) pique an agent’s interest when reading a query? Is it worth mentioning?
Yes, a brief mention of any contests you’ve won is helpful in a query.
What is the best way to query an agent vs. a publisher? Are they looking for the same thing?
In most cases, this choice is not available to you. Large publishers do not accept queries from authors, only from agents. If you want a large publisher, then your only choice is to query agents. If you are shooting for a small independent publisher, and you’ve researched the ones who accept submissions directly from authors, then query them instead.
How do you politely ask literary agents whether they accept simultaneous submissions if there’s nothing on their web site to say otherwise?
Almost all agents accept simultaneous submissions; the default position is to assume they do, unless their website specifically says they don’t.
That’s all the questions for today! In the comments, feel free to leave more questions that I can answer on the blog in the new year.