Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, December 21, 2007

This Year in Publishing 2007

Well, I slapped my head on my way to work this morning because I belatedly realized I should have done an extensive "This YEAR in Publishing" retrospective and put time into a thoughtful look back on the year in publishing and the first year of this blog. Whoops.

So here's the year in publishing, 2007, in hastily-put-together-digest form:

- There were a lot of books published.
- Many of them won awards.
- Most of the awards were won by Cormac McCarthy.
- Vampires are dead as a genre.
- No wait they're huge.
- Ok, NOW they're dead.
- Still huge.
- If you published a dog memoir in 2007 you're probably on the bestseller list right now.
- If you published a dog memoir prior to 2007 you're probably shaking your fist at the sky and shouting, "Why, God, why was 2007 the year of the dog memoir?? Why could it not have been 1998??".
- 2007 will not be the year of the under-contract Lynne Spears parenting memoir.
- 2008 probably won't be either.
- There were lawsuits in publishing.
- (Redacted)
- Perseus absorbed Avalon, AMS went bankrupt and Perseus absorbed PGW, and the debate between US and UK publishers about the exclusivity of the European market dragged on into another year.
- How about that Spencer?
- E-books.
- Queries.
- Monkeys.
- Oh my.
- My heart is in San Francisco.
- But I still love New York.
- We lost Kurt Vonnegut, Madeleine L'Engle, Norman Mailer, Robert Jordan and many other wonderful writers.
- The fabulous Miss Snark retired.
- New agent blogs ramped up production.
- Jessica Faust began her quest for sainthood by doing a million pitch critiques.
- We had a few contests.
- I almost died.
- The blog went from getting about 5 hits a day at the beginning of the year to over 1,000.
- THANK YOU to everyone for reading and commenting and making this year so much fun -- I truly appreciate all the time you have taken to participate.
- I hope you find all of the success you've been working so hard for in 2008.

Have a great New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dealing With Bad Reviews

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Internet is pretty awesome. I didn't step into a single store to do my Christmas shopping, there are boundless opportunities to waste time, we can settle petty arguments about who is right about song lyrics, and any medium that gives us instant access to video segments about drunk monkeys is fine by me.

But there's a downside to the Internet: it makes people mean.

You know what I'm talking about -- the anonymous posters who write horrible things they wouldn't say in person, the sniping and the trashing, and the general snarky tone that has become the Internet's stock in trade. We've all probably been guilty of it at one time or another - there's just something about the anonymity of the Internet that makes people lose their minds.

I bring this up because this meanness has become an unfortunate part of the landscape for authors. There have always been bad reviews, and one could make the case that getting trashed in the New York Times Book Review hurts the worst because of the size of the platform (or one could make the case that hey, at least you're getting reviewed in the Times). But nowadays, because of the Internet, everyone can be a reviewer, and now authors of even well-liked books have to deal with an abundance of nasty reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, and lots of mean comments easily available on the Internet. And some of these reviewers, especially the anonymous ones, say things that would make H.L. Mencken blush.

So while everyone has to deal a lot of rejection even to get into the mainstream publishing game, unfortunately it doesn't end when you're a published author. It takes an exceedingly thick skin to be an author these days, perhaps moreso than at any time in the past. And while I'm not an author myself, I work with enough to know that it's not always easy, and getting sniped at, even when it's a stupid snipe, really hurts.

I guess I'd like to make a plea for authors to remember the jealousy that's at the heart of most bad reviews and for everyone to try not to be mean just because no one can punch you through a computer screen.

Of course Longfellow said it a tad more eloquently:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's Your Favorite Holiday Book?

I'm kind of obsessed with Christmastime. I know some people find it stressful, what with all of the good cheer, colorful lights, and egg nog, but I seriously can't get enough Christmas. Santa, bring me a bestseller!!

So last night I was thinking: what's your favorite December holiday book? Doesn't just have to be Christmas (this is an equal opportunity blog!), but there are so many awesome candidates to choose from.

With apologies to Charles Dickens, I'm going with THE POLAR EXPRESS by Chris Van Allsburg, which manages to be awesomely Christmassy and nostalgic and yet slightly scary at the same time. It just so happens that my favorite Christmas songs are also the ones that are a bit wistful and sad, like "I Heard the Bells" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" -- what can I say, I like a nuanced holiday.

What's yours?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The First Agent You Query

So yesterday I dealt with a topic that no one likes, namely rejection letters, and I poured some further depresserade on the situation by saying that I gotta delete your follow-up questions as well. How's that for some Christmas spirit!! The Grinch has nothing on me. Also you're getting coal in your stocking.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, you too have the power to make an agent cringe like they've been rejected. You can make them curl up into the fetal position and have them screaming invectives against the universe and throwing staplers at their assistants. It's easy: let the agent know that they're not the first person you've queried.

People usually mean well, and often they don't seem to have any idea they're doing this. They'll say something like, "X agent was very encouraging in their rejection letter." My response: "You queried X agent before me??? (pass out onto the floor)"

This. Kills. Me. Every time. Never fail. Especially from blog readers.

As you can tell from my picture and my sunny outlook on life, I'm a young agent. Being a young agent isn't easy. I'm competing with all of the other experienced agents for the best projects, and honestly, one of the important reasons I blog every day is that so all you writers out there will think of me first when you send out your queries. I absolutely want to be the first person you query -- naturally, I want to be the first agent to see the best projects.

But hey -- I'm realistic. Maybe you think someone else would be a better fit, maybe you want to give another agent a gander first, maybe you don't want to query someone who fell for a Nigerian e-mail scam yesterday (ROSE, HOW COULD YOU???). I understand! Just don't tell me about it.

My blood pressure thanks you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

About Those Follow-Up Questions After a Rejection...

I know. My standard query rejection letters are just as ambiguous and unhelpful as every other agent's (except that if you personalize your letter to me I'll personalize mine back). I know you're left hanging, that you'd like some leads, some more info... anything more than what I'm able to give you.

But I'm sorry -- my response is my response. That's it. I get 6,000-7,000 queries a year. I can't provide tips or referrals or answer further questions to even a small portion of these, or else I'd do nothing but answer queries and query questions. I have to delete follow-up questions so I can move on with my day. I mean, I can't even respond to say I'm not responding, simply because that alone would be such a huge time suck. So I just delete them.

Here are the appropriate responses to a rejection:

1) a brief thank you
2) an offer to use the query for a blog critique
3) if I responded to your partial or full, I'm a bit more open-minded about clarifying points that I made in my rejection if they're unclear. But please don't abuse this one.
4) an offer to pay me $3,000,000 USD if I would kindly lovely provide my bank account information for the prodigious transfer of secret funds (by the way, Rose, your top secret gold oil discovery cash money hasn't arrived yet and I gave you all of the bank information you need -- contact me asap!)

If you want to ask me a question about publishing or if you want a tip or anything else, please please please first google my name and the topic. At this point it's a good bet that I've already blogged about it at some point. If you don't find the answer, please either offer it as a potential blog topic, via e-mail, or ask through the comments sections. I can't get to all of these questions, but if I can answer it in such a way that more people will see the question and answer I'll be much much more inclined to respond.

Thanks for understanding -- this is what the blog is for, and while I don't like deleting people's e-mails when they are asking a good-natured question, I just have to do it. At least until Rose's oil gold cash money arrives in my bank account.

Friday, December 14, 2007

This Week in Publishing 12/14/07

This Week in the December Publishing Coma:

Slate has, in my opinion, one of the very best end-of-the-year-best-of-books lists because they do something very simple: ask a bunch of people what their favorite book was and have them talk about it. You know. What we did on Wednesday.

Our favorite feline Galley Cat caught up with an AM New York article about how online popularity isn't translating into mega book sales. You can let the kids out of the house, folks -- a book based on this blog will not be roaming the streets.

This just in from the New York Times: popular online content translates into book sales!! Annnnnnd just so we're clear: online popularity does not translate into book sales. Unless it does.

In e-book news: mobile novels are already big in Japan, and, naturally, the establishment is wringing its hands over the (alleged) trash the kids are reading. Hmmm... where have I heard that before?

And finally, for all of The Wire fans who chimed in yesterday, definitely definitely check out the New Yorker's profile of David Simon, which is awesome and fascinating, and includes a hilarious story about how the actress who plays Snoop (who basically WAS Snoop in her past life) collared some guy who was selling bootlegged copies of The Wire and then called up David Simon on his cell to ask what she should do to him.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Praise of The Wire (Oh Indeed)

Twenty years from now I truly think people will look back on the 2000s as a golden era of television. Not only have we witnessed the rise of reality shows as a force of nature (real people in ridiculous situations -- what's not to like???), but this is also a time when some truly groundbreaking dramatic shows of unparalleled depth and complexity hit the airwaves -- The Sopranos (actually debuted in '99, but still), Six Feet Under, Lost, Big Love, Deadwood, many many others, and, in my opinion the absolute pinnacle of the form and the best television series I have ever seen: The Wire.

What does this have to do with books? Well, I think there are two reasons for this golden era that also happen to be very relevant to writing.

The first cornerstone of this golden era is that after appealing to the lowest common denominator for forty years and more or less following H.L. Mencken's maxim that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, TV show creators did something extremely crucial: they started trusting their viewers.

I was too young to watch the classic TV series Dallas the first time around, but my fiancee and I recently rented the DVDs, and it was seriously amazing to watch. Not only because of the hilariously dated aspects, such as a reference to the exoticness of an avocado, but to our modern eyes everything was revealed extreeeeemly slooowly. Nothing happened that wasn't explained in depth. There wasn't a whole lot of complexity to the plots, either -- JR was evil, Bobby was good, Sue Ellen was drunk. Piece of cake.

Compare that to The Wire, with multiple intersecting plots, dozens and dozens of characters, little to no exposition to explain who is who and which side each person is on. Throw in some intense slang and you have one big recipe for confusion.

But it all comes together in an incredible fashion. There have been times when I was lost and confused, but eventually it all makes sense and it's just such an unparalleled, comprehensive look at an entire city, the different elements and currents that make up our society, and the intractable nature of our worst problems.

All of this is possible because the creators of the show trust that their viewers are intelligent enough to figure it all out.

The second cornerstone is that in order to have a complex show it has to be populated with similarly complex characters, and our golden era has given us some of the most memorable and richly rendered characters in television history.

Going back to Dallas, JR is extremely memorable and one of the greatest characters ever -- no one has made being evil look more fun. But complex? Not really.

Compare JR to the extremely complex characters on the Wire, such as Omar, a fearsome gay outlaw who makes living stealing from drug dealers and lives by his own strict moral code. Omar is a nuanced character with his own language, habits, weaknesses, abilities and a decidedly unique sense of morality... he's by society's standards a horrible person who has killed dozens of people, and yet he's so likable and fascinating.

Even the minor characters on The Wire are richly rendered through seemingly minor details that reveal a huge amount about the characters in a short time. Wee-Bey is an assassin who loves to collect fish. Snoop dresses and speaks like a man, but is actually a fearsome female gangbanger. Every single character in the show has small habits and touches that make them unique. There are over 50 major and minor characters on The Wire, and yet I can look at the list of the cast on the IMDB page and I'd be able to tell you in depth who every single one is. That's because all of those small touches make them memorable.

So if you haven't seen The Wire definitely, definitely check it out, it's incredible, it's fantastically written, and it may just help your own writing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Was Your Favorite Book Published in 2007?

The Top Ten Books of 2007 Lists are out in force these days, and while it's mind-boggling that people can even do this (no one read all the books published in 2007... so how in the heck do they decide?)..... let's just go ahead and compile our own best-of list, shall we?

So you tell me: what was the best book you read that was published in 2007?

Aside from my books by my clients, my favorite book of '07 was.............

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie. Just a really awesome, touching, funny novel.

There are still so many books from 2007 I want to read... I'm not ready for '08! Slow down, time!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Literary Agents and Writers Overseas

In the comment's section of yesterday's post, Steph and Melanie wondered if being overseas is an impediment to securing representation. In a word: no. I have clients from around the world and am definitely open to all.

But there are some things to think about. I'm often asked by people living in the UK and Australia if they could have a US agent as their primary agent -- yes, you can. But it's very important to think about your work and where its natural market lies. There are some books that are universal (HARRY POTTER, for one big one), but the US, UK and Australian markets are all very different, and the readers have different sensibilities. A book that is successful in the United States might not be successful in the UK, and vice versa. So take an honest look at your work, because even though the US market is the biggest, you may be best served finding a publisher for it in your home market. And for that you'd need a home agent.

But if you want to find a home in the American market -- query away! I can't wait to take a look.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Annual December Publishing Coma

Many of you who follow the goings on of the publishing industry have probably heard about the mythic December Publishing Coma, in which things slow down and the only work that gets done are frantic searches for Wiis.

This is all very real (except for the Wii part. I think). Things do slow down from the craziness of the fall, and while work gets done and I'm most certainly still in the office working, this is generally not a big time for new submissions. Things get quieter as the end of the year approaches.

But as Janet Reid mentioned, this is a time when agents and editors alike catch up on their reading and try and get things in order for submissions in the new year. So if you are polishing off a query, go ahead and send it now (but I'd avoid the week around Christmas and New Years).

So... that's all I got for today. What can I say, it's December!

Friday, December 7, 2007

This Week in Publishing 12/7/07

I'm not the only one on an e-book kick. Forbes recently featured a slide show on the present and future of e-books, which includes some pretty snazzy devices. Including this one: the Readius, a device about the size of a cell phone that features a fold-out, flexible e-ink display, coming soon! Yowza. The Readius will also stop global warming, cure ebola and ALTER THE FABRIC OF TIME AND SPACE. Thanks to Shelf Awareness for the tip.

And GalleyCat has another rundown of reactions to the Kindle in the LA Times and Post, including this quote from Jonathan Franzen: "I can see travel guides and Michael Crichton novels translating into pixels easily enough. But the person who cares about Kafka wants Kafka unerasable. Am I fetishizing ink and paper? Sure, and I'm fetishizing truth and integrity too." Just so we're clear: ink and paper = truth and integrity. E-books = LIES!! ALL LIES!!!

Moonrat gives a great breakdown of the terms "sell in" and "sell through" and about how you gotta have the sell in if you're going to have the sell through. Trust me, she makes it make sense.

Via Publishers Lunch, a company called Paperspine is angling to be the Netflix of books, with book rental subscription plans starting at $9.99. No word yet from the company that offers book rental subscription plans starting at $0.00 -- Your Public Library, Inc.

This week's Publishers Weekly features a tremendous article by Oscar Villalon about why Northern California is an awesomer place for books than anywhere else. Among other insightful points about our impeccable literary pedigree, he notes that we Northern Californians spend more money per capita on book purchases and booze consumption than anywhere else in the United States. (Let's just say I'm doing my part on both counts.)

And finally, how could I NOT link to this one. As if we needed proof: monkeys are smarter than you. Also funnier.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Query Critique: Sampling a New World

The people voted yesterday and the people have spoken: since only 1% you voted for option C, I can only conclude that a full 99% of you want to be in Brody Jenner's cell phone. Wow. (Although judging from the extensive contacts in his cell, 97% of you are probably already in it.)

Also, people are split pretty evenly between those saying they'll die with paper books (hopefully not DUE to paper books) and those who are either somewhat or totally ready for e-books, assuming there are some technological breakthroughs. Very interesting.

Query critique time! As a reminder, if you receive a rejection from me, you may volunteer to have your query critiqued politely, anonymously, and haphazardly on my blog. I'm afraid I can't guarantee that I'll use your query on the blog, but if it sparks an idea or if I feel it would be useful I may take you up on it.

And as always, please be as polite and nice to the anonymous author as possible. Mean and/or unconstructive comments will be dealt with swiftly and harshly, particularly the anonymous sarcastic ones.

Mean anonymous comments, you are officially on notice. All military options are on the table.

Now then. First I'll show the query in full so you get a sense of the flow, then I'll provide my comments.


I read your blog daily because I enjoy both your sense of humor and the enthusiasm you show for your work there, and also because I greatly appreciate the advice you give aspiring writers. Thank you for donating your time in this manner, and Godspeed in your battle against query letters beginning with rhetorical questions. Please consider DARK HEIR, my 94,000 word fantasy novel, for representation.

Katirin is a princess of such embarrassing parentage her family forced her into a convent to get her out of the royal succession. When she discovers the convent's bland and blissful priestesses--women who share a communal mind and do little except sing--aren't really the god's mouthpieces at all, but empty husks puppeteered by a demon, Katirin realizes she must find a way out of the convent or the demon will devour her soul.

For Katirin, however, escaping telepathic priestesses and irate nobility isn't enough--not when she can see the demon's hunger will one day destroy the nation she should have ruled. Katirin vows to stop the creature, but she needs to answer one question first--how do you kill a demon that lives in a thousand bodies?

I am a physicist, visual artist and rock climber. DARK HEIR is my first novel and is complete and available upon request. I have pasted the first five pages of the novel below. Thank you for your time and consideration; I look forward to hearing from you.


This is a solid query. Good personalization (not just saying she reads my blog but making an in-joke -- always appreciated), and well-written. I was just a tad confused about the setting (the entire novel takes place in a convent? would priestesses who do little but sing be interesting?), but I liked the idea of having to battle a demon inhabiting multiple bodies. I feel that way every time I have to call my cable company. (rimshot!)

So this query critique isn't really about the query. It's about the sample pages the author provided. Here is the opening:


Shadows clung to the corners of the dormitory as predawn painted the sleeping initiates gray. The room whispered a chorus of soft breathing.

Katirin's trunk yawned open on her bed, pale robes forming the tongue of its mouth. Katirin tossed a pair of stockings in, then turned to face Esfirre again. "Help you. I can't even help myself. What am I supposed to do, hide you under my wimple?"

No, in your coach. The luggage compartment. Esfirre curled her signing hand to preserve its heat, then shifted her weight to dab one foot atop the other's toes.

Katirin made her tone cut. "And what would that accomplish? My guards would find you."

Anger creased Esfirre's face and her fingers flashed through more sign language. Not right away, and it might be enough. Haven't you a spine?

Katirin's outrage warred with her urge to laugh. "That, I still retain."

I don't have any way off this island.

"And contrary to appearances, neither do I."

If you don't help me escape the Taish, I'll kill myself instead!

Katirin snorted a laugh. "Oh. Well, that I could help you with. How do you intend to do it? A noose of torn sheet? A knife slipped from the kitchens?"

Frustration etched lines in Esfirre's young face. Don't mock me. I'm serious.

Katirin felt the smile slide off her face. "I know it. So am I. Come, and I'll prove it." She turned and walked to the narrow slot window at the end of the dormitory. Katirin swung the glass wide and stepped up onto the stone sill, then looked back.

Amid the shadows, Esfirre frowned her irritation.

Katirin flared her eyes at the younger woman, then slid sideways through the window. The sky fanned icy pink and blue around her and open air gulped at her feet. A thick vine, scabby and studded by puckered leaves, clung to the convent's outer wall. Katirin found her usual handholds and began to climb. The vine hissed and showered brown flakes down her sleeves.


Nathan again. I start reading hundreds and hundreds of novels every year. Several a day. And it's not an easy thing to do -- one thing I never realized until I became an agent and began reading so many books is that it takes a great deal of mental work just to start a novel, because it takes a lot of brain energy to get your bearings. Every detail you read in the beginning establishes where you are, who the characters are, what they're like, etc. and your mind has to piece things together, which isn't always easy.

So it's extremely, extremely important to get the reader on very sound footing as soon as possible and to ease them into a new world. Even if you're throwing the reader into a very unique setting and a chaotic situation (a gun battle on a foreign planet, for instance, or a apocalyptic future featuring unique slang, a la CLOCKWORK ORANGE), it's so important to put things in context for the reader and to begin teaching them the "rules" of the world. Basically showing the reader what aspects of the world are like ours, and which aren't.

As much as I like the premise of this query, I'm afraid I didn't feel that there was solid grounding here. Starting off with a conversation is tricky, and rather than learning as I went along I found myself more and more confused about what was happening and where and when it was happening.

I also had some concerns about the writing. There were times when the dialogue was stilted ("That, I still retain,") but perhaps more importantly, I honestly felt that although the author really tried to create some unique imagery, I felt like the description tried too hard. As a very rudimentary rule of thumb, description should be as clear as possible, except when something is indescribable in simple language, in which case it can be more expansive.

Lastly, I've been noticing that many writers these days are relying on descriptions of facial expressions in order to convey emotion. For example, just in the last part of this passage, Esfirre's face was lined with frustration, Katirin felt her smile fall off her face, Esfirre frowned her irritation, and Katirin flared her eyes. I'm not going to name names, but some very, very successful published authors employ this technique, but I'd be very careful and very judicious in how you use it -- descriptions of facial expressions really only thinly veiled ways of telling the reader what emotion the character is feeling. Unique gestures, dialogue and actions tend to be much more interesting ways of describing the way someone is feeling and go further toward creating interesting characters. Emotions and facial expressions are universal -- how people deal with emotions and express those emotions are unique.

Thanks again to the author for participating!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Will You Ever Buy Mostly E-Books?

What can I say, I'm on an e-book kick lately. This week's You Tell Me is a poll, but EXPOUND in the comments section like you've never expounded before!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Writing is Fundamental

Do you know what is one of the strangest things people say? (Besides "fundamental" -- check out the word origins of THAT one).

Whenever someone tells a good or dramatic story, what do people say to them?

"Wow. You should write a book."

Somewhere along the way in our culture we've adopted this belief that whenever someone has something dramatic happen to them they should write a book. I know people are being polite by associating a great story with the depth of a book, but I also think people genuinely mean they should go and write a book about it and get it published. I'm sort of mystified by this one. Not to be TOO cynical (it's a rainy day in SF), but how did this happen? I don't think many people go to the bookstore looking to find a book about someone's crazy story about a root canal gone bad.

Life is really dramatic. People have some crazy, incredible, touching stories, and I am truly heartbroken every time I have to reject someone's devastating, sad, real-life story. I have to pass on manuscripts by cancer survivors, people in prison, heroic veterans, people with terminal illnesses, and stories of crazy-horrible abuse and, hopefully, redemption from those depths. It's really hard and depressing to send these people rejection letters, but I have to do it. Because in order to write a book you can't just have a great story -- you have to be a great writer.

Sometimes, yes, crazy things happen to a writer and they write a book about it. But it's just not true that everyone has a book in them, or rather, that everyone can write the book that's in them. Writers write books -- not people with interesting stories to tell.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Genre Hopping

I read books from nearly every single genre, and I know I'm not alone -- book lovers love books, all kinds of books. And so it naturally follows that when people sit down at the old typewriter they want to write books in every genre under the sun. Sometimes at the same time. I often receive queries from people who are shopping novels in multiple genres, even massively different genres, such as science fiction and historical romance.

But here's the thing -- for the most part (big caveat alert), genre hopping isn't always the best move.

I know. You have a killer idea for a science fiction novel involving monkey space cannibals and you ALSO have an idea for a historical fiction novel about a group of courtesans in King Arthur's court who are actually monkey space cannibals. WHAT TO DO??

Well, pick one, for starters. And then go all out. Because, as most of you know, it's really, really hard to break out in one genre. It takes mountains of time, effort, luck, perseverance, luck, effort, perseverance... time... I could keep repeating myself indefinitely. I could keep repeating myself indefinitely. Breaking out is really hard to do, and the kings of genre fiction have worked for years to steadily build an audience (and a brand) within the same genre. Heck, even writing a novel within a genre that's saleable usually takes several attempts.

Did I mention it's hard? It's hard. So you make it even harder for yourself when you splinter your time, attention, learning curve, and, eventually, your audience by jumping around to different genres.

But. Genre hopping can be done, and done well. And here's the best method: first you become hugely successful.

Take John Grisham. He wrote legal thrillers that became some of the most successful and popular books of our time. However, his most recent book has nothing to do with the courtroom -- it's about a football team (the American kind) in Italy and it's called PLAYING FOR PIZZA, and oh yes, it's a massive bestseller. Why is he able to do this? BECAUSE HE IS JOHN GRISHAM.

Unless someone could type in one of those TM symbols after your name without anyone blinking or thinking it's strange, chances are you probably aren't there yet.

I know there are exceptions, people who are successfully able to juggle multiple genres, whether it's by using pen names or just following their own drummer. But genre hopping should really only be undertaken in close consultation with your agent and after a lot of soul searching -- are you hopping because it's fun or because it's the best career move? If it's the former, have all the fun you want, but don't forget that a writing career is a marathon, and it's hard to win when you sit down every mile to change your shoes.

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