Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ask The Editor Free-For-All Tuesday Is Here by Morgan Mandel

Intro:
For those who have come down to earth after the long weekend of 4th and 5th of July celebrations.  we offer our monthly feature called Ask the Editor Free-For-All. Our member editors at The Blood-Red Pencil are standing by eager to hear your questions and respond. We also invite other editors to chime in with their advice and wisdom.

Don't be shy. No question is too basic or silly.

This is how it works:
Today, and Every First Tuesday of the Month, The Blood-Red Pencil sponsors our Ask the Editor Free-For-All. I send out e-mail blasts to e-groups, post on Facebook and other hot spots calling brave souls to speak up and admit they don't know everything. Ask a question here and get an answer from an editor before you submit your manuscript to a publisher or agent.

If you haven't reached the submission stage, it's possible you still may need answers to roadblocks keeping you from doing your best work. Find out how to break through those barriers here.

The Blood-Red Pencil is at your service. Ask, and our Editors will answer.

To Submit A Question, Follow These Easy Steps:

Leave a comment in the comment section below. Make sure you include your name and blog url or website not only for promo, but so we know you’re legit. (One link only for each person, please!)

One or more of our editors will stop by during the day and answer your question in the comment section. If an editor feels your question needs a more lengthy explanation, you'll get a comment to the effect that an entire post will be devoted to the subject at a later date. If that's the case, you'll be fortunate enough to get added promotion here. You may even be told where to send a jpeg of your book cover and/or yourself and a buy link.

Although it's not required, you may leave your e-mail address with your comment. Because your question may require a follow-up, it's a good idea if you mention somewhere in your comment where you heard about our Ask the Editor Free-For-All. That way we can contact you so you don't miss the answer.

Remember to check back here not only for your answer, but also the answers to other people's questions. You never know what may prove helpful later on. Since some of you are on Digest for your e-groups, questions and answers could carry over through Wednesday, and possibly Thursday.

Once again, remember that no question is too dumb. This is a learning and sharing place for all of us.
Okay, now what are your questions?

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http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel
Morgan Mandel

27 comments :

  1. Good evening all,
    Some one has to be first, looks like it is me.
    I have often wondered if someone sends a manuscript in a brightly coloured envelope or wrapped with ribbons etc, would it get them on to the editors desk quicker than a manuscript in a plain brown envelope?

    Regards
    Margaret

    mjljtanner@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. FYI, Morgan. On my blog, comments are coming in via e-mail but are not appearing on the site. This is a test comment.

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  3. Good morning Margaret. Hopefully Blogger has its hiccup cured for the day so questions can now post.

    All the best advice I've ever read instructs us to keep everything about our submissions professional -- in formatting, paper color white, font color black, mailings businesslike.

    I suspect there are a few agents or editors who enjoy a bit of whimsy, but by the time they see your work, envelopes and ribbons have most likely been discarded by their assistants or intern readers.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My question is which is proper A Historical Perspective or An Historical Perspective?

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. Janice -- Grammar Girl says "The actual rule is that you use 'a' before words that start with a consonant 'sound' and 'an' before worlds that start with a vowel 'sound.'"

    Using that rule, "a historical perspective" is correct. "An hour" is also correct.

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  7. Janice, I always use "a historical" but others I respect use "an historical" (William Goldman, Dean Koontz). I use "an" only if the "h" is silent. Otherwise it sounds pretentious to me.

    Scott

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  8. Margaret, as Patricia said, keep your query professional. No colored paper, no ribbons, no confetti in the envelope or gift cards or cartoony stationery. Agents are professionals and so are writers. Doing silly things will get you labeled as an amateur.

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  9. Are dream sequences okay if they're important to the plot line and they're not used to start the story off? I've heard a lot of people say not to start novels off with a dream, but I was wondering if dreams would be okay outside of the first chapter.

    Rachael
    http://writerschasm.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  10. There is nothing wrong with a dream sequence if it moves the story forward, and if it makes sense within the context of the book. If it confuses the reader, then it's a problem. That's sometimes the case with this tactic.

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  11. I was going to leave a test comment because blogger said no comments. I was surprised to find all of these comments here.

    This visual verification thing was going on last week at some blogs. If you make up a word and fill everything else in, the verification word will pop up and the rest needs to be repeated. Crazy.

    Morgan Mandel

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  12. As an editor, how do you determine where your loyalties lie? If a publisher is acting shady toward a writer (or vice-versa) how do you as an editor handle it? How do you determine how much of it to handle?
    Kimani.Perfectlypolishedwords@gmail.com

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  13. Kimani, I suspect the answer to your question depends on the editor. In-house editors are paid by the companies that hire them; logically, their loyalties might lie with their employers. Freelancers, on the other hand, should be loyal to the writers whose manuscripts they are editing. As a freelance editor and small publisher myself, I always work in the best interest of the writer and the book. If I take on a book to edit and/or publish, I want it to be the best it can be for everyone concerned.

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  14. Kimani:
    The editors at this site are free-lance developmental and line editors who get paid to help writers ready their manuscripts for submission to publishing house editors, agents, or self-publication. As such, I for one have never gotten between a publisher and an author. Have any of you others?

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  15. Horserider: I agree with Dani. I would only add that I like a dream sequence to be embedded far enough in the narrative so that my knowledge of the characters is secure enough to inform the interpretation of the dream.

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  16. Hi Patricia,
    Thanks for your reply, I was just wondering. Nothing beats a well presented manuscript, of course.
    Regards

    Margaret

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  17. Thank you very much for your response to my question. I too am a freelance editor, just starting out, and I have come across some crazy situations. Your answer really did give me an answer. Thanks again!

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  18. Thank you, Morgan. I recently gave a pitch on my third ms, a 90,000 word thriller, to an uber NY agent. I will paste my short pitch here and then jot his response. Of course, he hasn't read a sentence of the ms. I wanted to hear your brutally honest impression of the pitch:

    Most mothers would do anything to protect their children. But how far is too far? Mya, a staunch anti-death penalty activist and attorney in Strong Bow, Oklahoma, awakens to discover she is buried alive. She escapes, but finds her troubles are just beginning. When Mya returns home, the highly regarded DA insinuates that he killed her husband and that her eight-year-old daughter was the original kidnapping target. Mya hires Officer Ruiz to provide protection. Ruiz accompanies her on a trip where the two grow closer until they locate her husband’s decapitated skull. Enraged, Mya attacks the DA and Ruiz arrests her. Mya stalks the DA and the sheriff. She learns they are involved in a human trafficking ring that involves the CIA and U.S. allies who are using kickbacks to fund the war on terror.

    The uber agent did spend a great deal of time talking with me, but said "human trafficking has been done to death." Is that your experience? Thank you again, Morgan. Sincerely, Brenda Wallace

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  19. "Human trafficking has been done to death." Now that's an interesting sentence. Good thing it wasn't overheard at the airport. ;) Seriously, I think what the agent is telling you amounts to your story not having a new and fresh enough angle to stand apart from all the other similar stories. (We are presuming he is familiar with these themes in literature.) Are you familiar with any/many of the novels he's possibly referring to? If not, it might be a good idea to compare yours to a half dozen just to see how it blends into oblivion or what you can tweak to make your book stand apart. Then you can say to the next agent, this book is different because... fill in the blanks.

    Dani

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  20. My question is for those of you who write mysteries as well as nonfiction. Do you have the same literary agent for all of your books? I've noticed that sometimes the agents who would love my mystery writing don't list the areas of nonfiction I want to write in.

    Anonymous for now

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  21. Thank you, Dani. I will give that a try.

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  22. Anonymous, some writers who write in different categories, such as nonfiction and fiction will have different agents. Agents represent and like certain genres. They know the houses who publish them. They know the editors and what they're looking for in that category. They may not know who to approach in another category and you'd be better off finding an agent who does.

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  23. Kimani, the person who fights for the author is the agent. The editor works for the publisher. Oh, he or she will get behind the author, but they have split loyalties. Your agent is your ally.

    While working on this week's newsletter, I read an article that definitely speaks to your question. Here's the link to it:
    http://www.pw.org/content/necessary_agent

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  24. Brenda,
    I can't judge about your content, but my first impression of your pitch is that it's too long to be considered a pitch. Sounds more like a short synopsis to me.

    For pitches, most editors or agents like to see a few sentences about the story, something about your qualifications, why you're submitting there, and where your story could fit. I agree mentioning what would make it stand out from the bunch is helpful as well.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  25. I agree, Brenda, being, uh, familiar with your work. It's very tricky to be both a recognizable commodity but simultaneously fresh and distinct. In fact, I think that's one of the problems with mainstream publishing. Too many decisions are made by people who won't read the book, so it really does have to come in with an undeniable knock-out pitch. Try reducing it to one sentence and see if you get the most critical elements in. It may be that "human trafficking" is unnecessary.

    Scott Nicholson
    http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

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  26. Who is the publisher for 'anonymous'?

    I have found it very hard to get a publisher that accepts 'unsolicited manuscripts'. There are so many restrctions: "only via an agent", "only XX genre", "no new authors", "currently our books are full" and so the negatives continue...
    Very frustrating to get past first base.
    Alan Moore

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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