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Old 01-08-2007, 04:18 AM   #1
Cathy C
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Ask Lucienne Diver! Guest agent arriving week of January 15th

Here's your chance, folks! Lucienne Diver of Spectrum Literary Agency will be here the week of January 15th to answer all your questions about . . . well, agenting things!

Here's a little more about her, from her own mouth:

Lucienne Diver is a long time book addict who went to work for Spectrum Literary Agency nearly fourteen years ago to feed her habit. She now represents over forty authors of commercial fiction, primarily in the areas of romance, fantasy, mystery and suspense. Clients include Marjorie M. Liu, Susan Krinard, Rachel Caine, Carol Berg and Lynn Flewelling. Her alphabet soup of memberships includes AAR, RWA, MWA and SFWA. Further information is available on the website: www.spectrumliteraryagency.com.

So, get those engines revving and come up with some awesome questions to ask Ms. Diver!
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Old 01-08-2007, 04:36 AM   #2
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thanks so much! (sniff--she rejected me twice--2 queries--within a month, but i look forward to her wisdom).
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Old 01-08-2007, 07:09 AM   #3
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Cool.
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Old 01-08-2007, 01:18 PM   #4
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Hi Lucienne, and thanks so much for joining us!

I'm wondering about fiction writers who cross over to nonfiction and vice versa. Am I right in assuming that writing credits in one wouldn't make a whole lot of difference when trying to sell the other? (That is, if I'd written nonfiction books, it wouldn't be of much help in selling a novel?) And as a part 2 of that question, do booksellers pay attention to that when ordering an author's new book in a new genre? (Do they take into account sales of the author's self-help book when the author's debut novel comes out?)

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2007, 06:17 AM   #5
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Hi Lucienne!

You represent a variety of books from romance to SF to everything in between. Is there a particular sub-genre or plot device that you have a weakness for? Something in particular you can't stand?

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2007, 02:02 PM   #6
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Thank you for dropping by Lucienne

I would like to know your view on whether to include the five first pages of the work in a query letter as advised in some quarters.
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Old 01-09-2007, 02:47 PM   #7
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Hi Ms. Diver,

Thanks so much for coming.

I wondered, is there anything you're really tired of seeing? Any type of character or plot point you're just not interested in anymore?

Conversely, what are you particularly interested in seeing? I know it's a bit like Irysangel's question, but I'm more curious as to where you see the genre heading in the next couple of years, or what books nobody's writing but you wish someone would (Nadia Cornier posts these sometimes on her blog, as do the ladies at BookEnds. I wondered if you had thoughts in that direction as well.)

Thanks again!
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Old 01-09-2007, 06:23 PM   #8
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Hi Lucienne.

Can you give us an idea of the factors that you, or agents in general, leverage during negotiations to entice publishers to allocate larger budgets for promotion? Aside from an author expressing willingness to use existing platform and/or be proactive with the standard marketing stuff, are there things that might influence the disposition to be generous?

Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise.
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Old 01-09-2007, 08:32 PM   #9
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Hi, Lucienne!

One question that comes up here a lot has to do with subsidy POD/self-published titles. Are you willing to represent a novel that has already been offered for sale to the public with an ISBN, but has had less than 1,000 total sales? If so, under what conditions? If not, is there anything the author can do to turn a self-published/subsidy novel into something you WOULD represent (major edits, changing the title, changing the character's names, etc.?)

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2007, 08:39 PM   #10
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Thanks for spending time here with us, Ms. Diver!

Any favorite lines or great turns of phrases that have stuck with you from books you've sold? In addition to learning about what type of plots/characters excite you, I'm interested in what style of writing (i.e., craft) excites you.
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Old 01-09-2007, 08:49 PM   #11
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Welcome, Ms. Diver! Thank you for your time.

Here are a few questions:

1. Do you have established guidelines on manuscript format?

2. What are your thoughts about enclosing sample pages with query letters? Are you for or against the practice?

3. Are you open to cross-genre books within your field? If so, how do you go about choosing which publishers to approach?
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Old 01-09-2007, 09:34 PM   #12
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Hi Lucienne, thank you for joining us!

I've seen a few discussions lately that deal with the query letter and a character's sexuality. For example, if a main character is gay but his sexuality has little bearing on the plot, would you rather see this information for the first time in the query letter or in the sample pages? I've seen similiar concerns regarding a character's race.
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Old 01-09-2007, 10:16 PM   #13
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Hi Lucienne, and thanks so much for coming by.

My question is: how do you see the author / agent relationship? We all understand that it is a business arrangement, but I was wondering if you could expand on that.
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Old 01-09-2007, 10:21 PM   #14
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Hi, Ms. Diver - thank you so much for visiting!

Do you or your agency consider YA? I checked your website, and I'm having a hard time figuring it out (I did see your agency reps a JAM novel coming out - meaning Berkley Jam?). Forgive my ignorance, and thank you!

Sincerely,

Rhonda
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Old 01-11-2007, 02:43 AM   #15
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Hi Lucienne! Thank you for taking the time to come here to answer our questions.

I have a bit of a sticky question. A few years ago *when I didn't know much better*, I published through a POD company (NOT Publish America, thank heavens) and have now decided to completely gut the story and rewrite it as a new novel. I would like to keep the same characters and general plot, but do everything over the right way. My question is, will an agent be willing to look at this story now that it has a new name, rewritten and (hopefully) better quality? Or did I totally blow it? The reason is, I would like to turn this into a series and need that particular story as the first one.

Thank you so much for any help you might be able to give me!

Sincerely,

Monica
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Old 01-11-2007, 06:38 AM   #16
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Hi Lucienne!

(I know, I'm double-dipping by asking two questions...)


What do you feel is your strength as an agent?

Do you feel you're strongest at (for example) communicating with your authors, finding exciting projects, ironing out a firm contract with an editor, meticulous editing, negotiating the biggest auction...or none of the above? Is there something you wish you were better at?

Thanks! I'm thrilled you're stopping by this board.
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Old 01-11-2007, 10:28 AM   #17
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Hello from New Zealand, Ms Diver.

I have heard that Americans enjoy reading about Americans. How true is that? What are the difficulties for non-American writers trying to break in to the American market?

Thank you for spending time at the Water Cooler.

Sincerely

Dawn R
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Old 01-11-2007, 10:53 AM   #18
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Ms. Driver,

Thank you so much for coming!

I would like to know your thoughts on what genres are strong in the current market. I have heard, and read, a lot of speculation and don't know how accurate the rumors are.

Is chick-lit on it's way out?
Is it true that the paranormal is oversaturated and no one is buying it anymore?
Are there any genres that you are looking for at this time?

Thank you for taking time to answer all our questions.
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Old 01-11-2007, 05:13 PM   #19
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Hi Lucienne,
I am looking forward to hearing your wisdom. How much stock do agents really put in the query letter?
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Old 01-11-2007, 09:19 PM   #20
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Ms. Diver,
Hi. Welcome to AW! My question is this: what types of novels are hot right now and relate to what you are looking for? I know urban fantasy is hot but are you tired of the genre or do you look for these types of books and how well do they sell? Thanks for your time!
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Old 01-12-2007, 09:22 AM   #21
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length

What is the upper word limit for most mainstream novels/romances and at what length does a novel become - let's say - cumbersome?

Would it be better to submit an overly-long manuscript and allow the editor to make the cuts, or to cut it beforehand (even if you're unsure about making the cuts) and have a book of more marketable length? Do editors or agents, if they see the words "170k words" in a query letter, automatically think "recycle bin?"

Thanks so much for your time and help!
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Old 01-12-2007, 11:43 AM   #22
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two quick q's

hello. i have two questions.

first, if i get a short story published and decide to turn it into a novel later on and want to get the novel version published, will i have a harder time doing so? do i still have first rights for the novel or do i have to offer it as a reprint?

second, is there a market for novels that are retellings of greek mythology? i can't find very many for adults and am wondering why. it also seems like most publishers and agents prefer to see more original plots. is this true?

thanks!!
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Old 01-12-2007, 05:31 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackpen
hello. i have two questions.

first, if i get a short story published and decide to turn it into a novel later on and want to get the novel version published, will i have a harder time doing so? do i still have first rights for the novel or do i have to offer it as a reprint?

second, is there a market for novels that are retellings of greek mythology? i can't find very many for adults and am wondering why. it also seems like most publishers and agents prefer to see more original plots. is this true?

thanks!!
Why not re-tell them as they might have actually played out-the proto myth rather than the myth? From the point of view of the protagonist, who is just another poor schlup, trying to make a quasi-legal drachma or two.

Regards,
Scott
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Old 01-12-2007, 05:46 PM   #24
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Hello, Ms. Diver. Thanks for taking time to chat with us. I have a few questions -- some seem to crop up regularly in various circles, so we'd like your take on them.

#1 - 1. When you get a query letter, do you prefer to know right up front that the book is first in a series (or duology/trilogy) or would you rather take the book on as a stand-alone? Do you find it easier to sell series or stand-alone novels? Does genre impact that? (i.e. mystery and fantasy editors love series, romance eds not as much?)

#2 - How important are spelling and grammar in a manuscript? Are you willing to overlook things like that and take the book on if the plot and characters are great? Or do you stop reading if you run across too many of these problems?

#3 - Following on that question, do you think it's wiser for an author with grammar/spelling issues to obtain help in fixing those errors (either from a crit partner or from a paid source) or for them to learn to do it themselves? (That's not saying that all mss don't benefit from having another pair of eyes go over it before submission. I think they do. But which option do you think better serves a writer in the long run?)

#4 - What do you want to see from a published author who's seeking representation? Is it okay to seek representation with just a partial, or do you prefer that a pubbed author have a completed ms before they approach you?

#5 - What is your agenting style? For example, are you an "editing agent" or more of a hands-off-the-ms (pointing out only major issues, particularly issues that impact marketability) agent?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!

Susan G.
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Old 01-12-2007, 09:48 PM   #25
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Hi Ms. Diver! Thanks for answering our questions.

I'm wondering a bit about cross genre novels. I know some crosses, like paranormal romance, seem to be pretty popular right now, but I'm assuming not all are marketable. I'm working on a (non-urban) fantasy-mystery mix (sort of a cozy but not really), and I haven't found anything quite like it. Could you share some insight into whether something like that has any hope of being publishable? Thanks again!
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