Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Talking to Yourself

I have talked myself into many things. For instance, in the Spring of 1998 I talked myself into the idea of seeing "Spice World," the pseudo-documentary about the Spice Girls. And then afterwards I talked myself into thinking it actually wasn't all that bad. And then, perhaps most impressively of all, I talked myself into not being embarrassed about paying to see it (this took some doing).

I tell you this because when you're an agent who so badly want to discover new authors and sell books and when you are reading thousands of queries in search of new projects, it's very very very tempting to talk yourself into a project from a new author. If you squint right, a whole bunch of projects can sort of touch on the same chord as that other project that kind of hit this other nerve as this other project that enjoyed so much success.

But every now and then, a project comes along through the Discovery Pile (I have to pay Edward Necarsulmer IV a dollar every time I use that phrase) that is just so good and such an absolute no-brainer that it reminds you what it feels like when you have something that works. You don't even have to think about whether it's good or whether you want to rep it or whether it will sell, you just know.

And it always reminds me that if you have to talk yourself into something it means it isn't right. Especially if it's a movie about a British girl group.

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE! People of the world! Spice up your life! Every boy every girl!


Luc2 said...

Hmm, I can see how that works.
But about what are these projects when you just know, Nathan? Is there a denominator? Or to quote the Spice Girls: Tell me what you want, what you really really want!

I had to ask.

Nathan Bransford said...


I wish there were a formula or a common denominator, but there really isn't one beyond "I just know." I really just go for the projects that make me want to ziggy zig ha.

Luc2 said...

I thought so.
Drat, you really know your Spice-stuff. I'm just a Wannabe.

Melanie Avila said...

So, if you're gonna be my agent, I gotta get with your friends?

Sorry, this isn't helping.

Other Lisa said...

"ziggy zig ha"?

Is this something I missed staying away from the Spice World?

Nathan Bransford said...

other lisa-

In the song Wannabe there's a part where Mel B says "I wanna I wanna I wanna I really really really wanna ziggy zig ha."

Or something like that.

Heidi the Hick said...

OO embarrassing confession time! I liked that movie! I went in expecting it to be totally STOOPID and I was not disappointed!

I have never ziggyzigha'd though. I'm sorry, all the other smart folks took all the good Spice Girl jokes.

So when do we get to hear about this project that you didn't have to talk yourself into?

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Does the same hold true if you have to talk yourself OUT of something?


Thanks for the chuckles and the insights...

--Chiron O'Keefe

Other Lisa said...

Boy, so you agree to "ziggy zig ha," who knows what you could be getting into?!

Topher1961 said...

This is Topher1961, I haven't been able to get into my account, so I'm posting anonymously.

I just want you to know that your blog is now blocked from my worksite due to

"Potentially Dangerous Material"

So there, you're a danger to the state of Minnesota.

Topher1961 said...

how about that, I did get into my account

Nathan Bransford said...


I don't know what I've done to be considered a danger to the good people of Minnesota, but I'm oddly flattered.

Topher1961 said...

I can still access Jonathan Lyons' site.

Jonathan Lyons is NOT a danger to the state of Minnesota.

Nathan Bransford IS.

Just setting the record straight in case the FBI is monitoring agent blogs today.

sally jenkins said...

This whole dialouge is too funny for silence. I didn't need to talk myself into feeling this way, even though I grew up in Minnesota. No wonder I frequent this site.

P.G said...

Just remember Nathan that "Friendship never ends".
But you just might end for making those songs get stuck in my head again.
Yes I will admit I bought two Spice Girls CDs. I blame my young niece who loved to dance for those purchases.
I never did see the movie.
And seems like staying away from Minnesota might be a smart move on your part Nathan.
Do as the spice girls suggested and
"be a little bit wiser" in your attendance of movies.

Dave F. said...

I'm ashamed to say that I gave into temptation last night and watched the new episode of SOUTH PARK.
It was crap. The European Fecal Standards and Measuring Office in Zürich Switzerland certified it as crap.
And that's my last online confession.

And Edward Necarsulmer IV proves it's all worth it. Never give up.

Church Lady said...

"And that's my last online confession. "

Ahhh, yes. Dave is much better at other forms of confession.

Christopher M. Park said...

Out of curiosity, at what point in the process do you generally realize that a submission is one of these golden projects? Is this something that you start to suspect while reading the query, or does that feeling not really take over until you start reading sample pages? Do you always realize this on page one, or does it take the entire manuscript before you are fully confident?

I'm guessing that you start having excited suspicions early on in, but that you have to read the entire project before you know that everything gels the way it is supposed to.

Nathan Bransford said...


Yeah, I'll have a feeling that something is good when I get the query, and then when I'm reading the manuscript I'm chanting "please stay good, play stay good," but my decision isn't usually made up until the end.

Danette Haworth said...

Wow! to the lucky author who has you talking like this! It sounds like finding the golden ticket--way better than spice.

BTW, did you read their reunion tour sold out in 38 seconds?

ORION said...

And as a writer?
When you zip off a first draft and you just KNOW in your guy that THIS is the one...

ORION said...

freudian slip
gut NOT guy
Thank GOODNESS for copyeditors

Christopher M. Park said...

Ah, that makes sense. I've read about other agents being disappointed at how many of their promising partials fizzle in the full.

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

I saw them in concert. Seriously.

Josephine Damian said...

Nathan, please, please, say the project is "The Holy Bennu"!

Or at least give us a clue as to what exactly about this project spiced up your world.

Voice? Original concept? Characters? An evil albino in a jellytank? :-)

But I feel your pain as an agent. So many published books I read start off terrific, and maintain terrific-ness until they get into the second act wherein they tend to run amok and get lost.

I stop reading MANY books in the second act for that reason, so I know what you mean about waiting till the end to decide.

Eric said...

I think "Fizzle in the Full" played the O-Dome in '87.

original bran fan said...

Nathan, your description of how you read manuscripts sounds exactly like how I read published books. I pick it up on the blurb and premise, start reading... If it is good, I am thinking "please stay good, please stay good." As Josephine Damian said, so many books fall apart halfway through. If I find myself NOT thinking "please stay good" for several chapters, but instead am caught up in the story, then I know it's a keeper.

cyn said...

*shakes head*

oh dear.


getitwritten_guy said...

Nathan - -
I love it when anyone gets enthused and even passionate about their work! Your posts are very encouraging.

My big fantasy is to get exactly the reaction you describe from an agent when I start the query process.

(WIP status: First draft complete, now into revision. And you've actually helped the process. When I need a little boost, I just read some of your posts.)

Related Posts with Thumbnails