by Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam BarryApril 2012
Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors
MAKE IT TWO
Dear Author Enablers,
If I think I’ve found an agent I’m interested in, what should I do if the agent does not represent some of the genres I write in? For instance, I have some comedy scripts and some children’s manuscripts, but the agent does not represent children’s books. Can a writer have two agents?
The quick answer is yes: It’s fine to have two agents, as long as they know about each other and everyone is clear about who’s doing what. This can be a little tricky, and you’ll need to use all your people skills. Proceed carefully and make sure you get clear agreements about your working arrangement with everyone involved, in writing.
Agents definitely do have specialties. A large agency might have the personnel to meet all your needs. On the other hand, if you have one great agent who believes in you, that can be more valuable than experience in a particular genre.
VOTE OF THANKS
Dear Author Enablers,
What is the etiquette regarding giving thanks in an acknowledgment page to those who are generous enough to give you a blurb for your book? I’ve noticed such folks generally don’t get included. Is it because it makes it seem as though the endorsement is not honest or valid? I’m in the final stage of preparing my book for self-publication. I was able to obtain some terrific words of praise from some very busy people whom I had to pursue over several months. I want to include them in an official acknowledgment, but don’t want to seem amateurish if it normally “is not done.” Please advise.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Authors generally should not thank the people who endorse their book in the acknowledgments. It gives the appearance of a quid pro quo—a brown paper bag stuffed with cash or their favorite bottle of expensive booze should suffice.
Seriously, although most people know that endorsements are the result of some sort of personal connection (either yours or your editor’s), we all agree to the polite appearance that endorsements come about because a well-known author came upon a copy of your manuscript and fell in love.
It is better to send a formal thank you note to everyone who endorsed your book, along with an autographed copy. Congratulations for being so observant and doing your homework on this point of publishing etiquette.
CRAFT OF WRITING SPOTLIGHT
In part two of our conversation with Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise and director of the creative writing program at Florida International University, he answers three important questions about his approach to writing:
How do you establish a sense of place?
For a novelist, there is no more important or enjoyable aspect of writing. I love being in certain places in actual life, and love trying to bring others there in turn, via the five senses.
How do you write convincing dialogue?
Study screenplays. Less is more.
How do you create a compelling plot?
Five questions: Who is my main character? What tangible things does she want? What obstacles are in the way? Why does the quest turn out the way it does? Why will anyone care about any of the foregoing?
Email your questions about writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and hometown.