Dear Author Enablers,
I’ve written a fun and exciting novel about a growing kitten that has superpowers, crazy but helpful friends and a bad nemesis. His pet parents slowly unravel his secret while running a cat shelter. I have sent this manuscript to friends and family (ages 13-76) and have received an overwhelming positive response. I want to send a query let- ter to an agent, but I can’t determine which one to contact because I don’t know if my book is young adult or mystery/comedy.
Roxanne Henderson
Buckeye, Arizona

Why, that sounds like our kitten, Scruffy, who’s flying around the room right now reading our minds! No . . . just kidding; kittens can’t fly. That’s Bert, our psychic canary!

Based on your description, we think your book fits snugly in the young adult (YA) category, with the potential to appeal to some adults. (People will assume it’s geared to a young audience the second they see the words “kitten with superpowers.”) As you know, YA is a popular category, so don’t get too hung up on the idea that you’re losing something by not publishing for adults.

Dear Author Enablers,
I’ve decided to enter a writing contest. Is it best to mail my entry early, before the judges are inundated, or is it better to mail my entry right before the final deadline? (I’ve heard that judges tend to remember what they’ve read last—as opposed to first—so it stands to reason that if your entry is in the last pile, it will be remembered above those entries that were received earlier.)
S. R. Anzalone
Bronx, New York

You’re overthinking this. You can’t control the judging process, which varies from contest to contest and judge to judge. Make sure you understand and adhere to all the submission guidelines. Most important: your writing must be presented at its absolute best. If your story is memorable, the judges will remember it whenever it is read. We have judged writing contests, and it is the great writing that stands out—not the order in which it is received.

Most writers enter contests with the hope of getting acknowledgment and a career break. That may happen, but the exercise of going through the process itself provides great experience in writing and submitting your work for publication. Write the best piece you can, follow the submission guidelines and move on to new challenges.

Dear Author Enablers,
I have the completed manuscript of a novel written by my grandfather sometime in the 1940s or ’50s that was never published. I’m transfer- ring it into electronic form and editing as I go. I think it is a great story and a fascinating view of the time (just prior to and during World War II). I would love to see it finally get published, and I hope to submit the manuscript to an agent. Since I am not the author, and he is now deceased, how do I go about it?
Michael Hunsicker
Lexington, Massachusetts

There is no literary or publishing reason why you shouldn’t do this. However, we are not attorneys and can’t respond from the perspective of legal ownership. Are there any other heirs who might claim rights to the property? Were wishes ex- pressed in your grandfather’s will? We’re sure a lawyer could think of a lot more “what ifs” than we can.

A current example of a similar co- authorship is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Mary Ann Shaffer, the original author, died in 2008 and Annie Barrows, her niece, completed the novel, which became a bestseller. When you contact agents, we think it’d be smart to mention this book as one of your comparison titles.

Email your questions about writing and publishing to Kathi and Sam! Don't forget to include your name and hometown.  You can find more advice on their blog.

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