Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Open Thread!

Never tried this before, but LET'S GO FOR IT.

The comments section is yours. Converse with each other, ask those random questions you've been meaning to ask, talk about what's on your mind, ruminate on the meaning of life, discuss your favorite television shows.... you name it.

There is no topic.


Jordyn said...

How is it that there's NO COMMENTS on the open thread?

And also... does anyone have an fabulous YA recommendations for me?

pamela hammonds said...

If you'd have chosen another career path--no limitations on talent--what would it have been?

Jackie said...

we are all successful, published authors (smirk, ya right)

don't eat yellow snow Jordyn

Nathan Bransford said...


Probably a basketball player. Sadly I'm 5'10", painfully slow, and I can't jump. I'm crafty though!

Anonymous said...

Nathan...if you read this.

How 'bout a discussion on rights. When I check the PublishersMarketplace deals page, they're all over the board, World, World ENglish, North American, etc.

What exactly do each of these mean and what are the pros and cons?

It seems to me that you'd want to grant as few rights as possible so they could be sold separately.

Nathan Bransford said...


Regarding rights: This post should help you out.

abc said...

What's up with borscht? Nothing against Russians, but yuck!

Nathan Bransford said...


Oh, that post I cited doesn't include pros and cons. Basically, holding onto rights (i.e., say, only granting the publisher North American rights) is advantageous if you think you can sell the rights you're holding onto for more than what the publisher would give you for those rights. Every situation is different, but that's the basic framework. Sometimes there's an advantage in letting the publisher control those rights, sometimes it's better to retain them. Hard to describe it more specifically than that because each one is a judgment call.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for Mr. Bransford or anyone else who might know:

I've queried an agent three times. Each time this agent requested a partial. Each time, this agent passed on the partial almost as soon as he or she got it. He or she could not have possibly read more than a couple of pages. Why the heck does this agent keep requesting partials from me? While this agent may like my ideas, he or she obviously doesn't like my storytelling. I've already honed my writing skills to death. Since this agent never comments, but rejects with a form letter, I have no idea what's going on. I'm thinking it's pointless to ever query this agent for any future project. If he or she doesn't have a 'Don't Bother' List, maybe I should.

Nathan Bransford said...


There could be so many possibilities -- they might not even remember they requested your work previously, it might be that you write good queries but the agent doesn't connect with your writing, they might like your writing but want to see more....

Tough to say. But I would keep them in mind for the future. Getting partial requests isn't a sure thing, and clearly you're doing something right and they see something in your work.

Adaora A. said...

5'10! I've never seen anyone on the blogosphere close to my height. Welcome to the club Nathan. I'm 5'9 and 3/4.

I had a question that came to me based on events yesterday. Last night, we found out that my dad's brother had died (he was only 31). With your clients, do you ever get clients sharing that kind of information with you? Do you find this information out if there is some sort of 'deadline' and you're touching base with them (as you said you do)?

Jill said...


1) Boxers? Briefs? Boxer-briefs?Commando?

2) Bathrobe? No bathrobe?

3) Pajamas? Gym shorts? Underpants? Au naturel? this taking the thread to a weird place?....

authorista said...

I'll repost my question from yesterday (buried in all that revision):

Nathan, for those of us debut authors who are just partnering or about to partner with agents, what would you say are the top agent-author newbie mistakes to avoid?

Anonymous said...

Can we toast marshmallows too, oh please? Alright, I know. I'd better get back to my anal-retentive, humdrum, no respect, but pays the bills- job (that is, until my book becomes a national bestseller). Very helpful site, Nathan.

Pamela- a concert violinist (even if my grandfather did once tell me I hold the bow like a monkey-whatever that means.)

Anonymous said...

Where do you shop a novella?

Are chapbook contests with reading fees the same as those awful poetry anthologies?

Anonymous said...

Can you name your writing group as feedback or experience in a query letter?

Nathan Bransford said...

Ack! Sorry, don't think I'm going to be able to answer everyone's questions. But I'll do my best -- it's a busy afternoon.


I'm so sorry to hear about that. The author/agent relationship is a professional one, but it also can become very friendly as well. At the end of the day I'm still the person's agent first (and that's how it should be for both of us), but that would definitely be something we would talk about.


I think the top mistake is that sometimes authors don't take the time to familiarize themselves with the publishing industry. Research is important, not just for writing, but also to know the biz.

Anonymous said...

What's your favorite way you unexpectedly came to know an author/client?


What's your favorite client relationship look like?

Jackie said...


I have to inject myself 3x a week (with a syringe-was scared of needles but has decided God has a sense of humor)

DON'T ever ask a nice looking, young male Surgeon where the arteries are in the legs. He educated me and I died...they are on the inside of your legs. I am a rather shy person

Anonymous said...

To answer Pamela's ?, I would be a rock singer...heavy on the rock.

Nathan, what would make you say, "NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!" if it landed in your inbox?


Adaora A. said...

Thanks Nathan. That answers my question entirely. I appreciate that. Are you ever going to finish reading the Harry Potter books?


Kat said...

If I could choose another career path, I'd be an actress. I'd have this scheme to take over the world, starting with costarring with Daniel Radcliffe in a brilliant movie about a damsel in distress *cough*me*cough. A knight in shining armor *cough*Dan*cough* would rescue her from the clutches of something terrible -wizard gone bad- and they would live happily ever after...

And in real life, everything would be just the same.

(That's pretty much all that I've come up with so far in the plan for world domination.) But yes, I would be an actress.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Hey, this should be called:

You Tell Each Other

Instead of

You Tell Me

Drat, I work now, I'll have to post again at 3 a.m.

Sophie W. said...

I actually have to write a one page reflection on the purpose of life for my english class. I've decided that the purpose of life is a pointless and fruitless pursuit of infinity. I'm going to try to write it without sounding as cynical as I did on my midterm paper...

Jordyn - Anything by Herbie Brennan deserves a looksee.

Pamela - I'm waiting for the profession "astronaut ballerina water harpsichordist warrior" to finally make it big...

Jackie said...

Sophie please post a picture and a link when you achieve that, k?

God speed to ya :)

brimfire said...

If I could make myself stop writing, I'd be a heavy-on-the-rock rock star too. I can't sing at all, but I can sometimes get away with screaming lyrics. :-)

If I'm being realistic, though, I'd want to be an archivist at a presidential library. I volunteered at one when I was in college and loved working with history and seeing all the documents that go to and from the White House. And you have to have a security clearance for some of the positions, so that's cool.

Is it funny that one of my books is about a rock star and a work in progress is about an archivist? :-)Do yall ever write about people in careers that you'd want?


Anonymous said...

Times New Roman or Courier? I hate (TNR), but agent query, on their website, in their formatting section, states it is the preferred font. Heaven forbid, I submit something that screams out screenwriter turns wannabe novelist.

Margaret Yang said...

Open thread? Open thread? Nathan, do you have blog block?

How about interviewing a different agent, someone very different from you?

Dead Man Walking said...

Um, anyone know the latest on the Curtis Brown US website?

MisterEdward said...

1. Borscht is good.

2. Times New Roman is way easier to read than Courier.

3. The Curtis Brown US website has been "under construction" for over a year.

4. I want to know how old everyone here is.

Nathan Bransford said...

Margaret Yang-

Not so much blog block as busy day!

cdr said...

I have this pond in my back yard. It has huge, ugly fish in it. They like me. Whenever I stand on the shore, they swim over and lounge on the surface, dissecting me with their beady fish eyes.

One of them even has swam up onto the rocks once so his head stuck out of the water. I think he wanted me to touch him, but his disgusting face tentacles convinced me not to.

I decided to name the fish. The big one is Billiam. The rock climber is Karl. And the small guy who always chases the ducks is Luscious.

I have to say, naming my fish pleased me. Until, one day I was out chilling with the fish and I realized that there were far more than three large ugly fish living in the pond. In fact, I think I spotted close to fifteen. It got to the point where I couldn't tell who was who anymore.

I cried a lot that night. Though Billiam, Karl and Luscious are all surely still alive out back in my pond, it still feels like I've lost three great freinds. They were my only freinds.

Sometimes I go out back to my pond and call out their names across the water. But I'm always greeted by seven or eight fish and I just can't be sure if any of them are my fish, my freinds. The ducks look at me knowingly in these moments. They pity me, I think.

Adaora A. said...

Favorite book and movie of all time?

Favorite book = er...tough but I can't stop going back to SCARLETT LETTER by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Favorite Film = FOREST GUMP (I can quote every line in that movie).

Jackie said...

according to my Mom, I am 41

according to my Dad, I am 42

I stopped counting

Jackie said...

MisterEd, age?

Sophie W. said...

Jackie - I totally will and I will dedicate my first pirouette on Saturn to you.

Edward - I like borscht. I like writing in Courier and reading in TNR. I'm sixteen. And a half. (heehee)

Adaora - I can honestly say I have no favorite book or movie. I'm indecisive.

Jackie said...

lol ty Sophie

don't breathe Saturns air

Diana said...

Jordyn, if you haven't read them already, I recommend Stephenie Meyer's books Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse, in that order.

I am trying to find an agent. In the meanwhile, I've had an editor request a full. Should I include the fact that an editor is interested in my query letters?

Anonymous said...

Age- 35

Sign (for those of you astrologically inclined)- Leo

Favorite movie- "Girl, Interrupted" (I like to cater every now and then to my "why be normal" inner persona, plus, lets face it, anything with Jared Leto gets my vote. "Casablanca" ROCKS too. (& Bette Davis, ah, the list is too long)

Favorite Book (autobiography)- The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller (what an AMAZING woman!)

Location- Los Angeles, (aka, The Land of the Fruits and Nuts)

Heidi the Hick said...

If I had been born with my ol man's great sense of pitch and without my family's innate modesty- yup, modesty, me- I would have made an ass kickin rock star.

I think it's better this way because now I can just confide (modestly) that I would have been a great rock star.

Instead, I can dress like a cowboy and write books about rock stars, and once a year party in the same general vicinity as rock stars. So really it all is working out okay.

Since this is Open Thread day...

Who do you all think is a rock star of the author world?

Sophie W. said...

Jackie - I'll take a gas mask, don't worry.

Adaora A. said...

@cdr- I'm 21.

Anyone in here a twin?

I have a twin sister. The dispute with being a twin is - aside from being dressed the same from infancy up until age 11 - is how many minutes apart are you. I say I'm 2 minutes older then my sister because my parents said so. My sister claims she saw one minute difference on the birth certificate. This was a C-section birth (so my head wasn't squashed when I was born).

Jackie said...

CDR you should consider fish aquariums as a hobby. I had a gazillion small tanks but now just have a 75 gallon and 55 gallon tank. The Oranda Goldfish are beautiful and graceful to watch...the king "Fish" was orange and 10 inches in size. Check 'em out on the internet, they are beautiful

Adaora A. said...

I'll forgive you sophie.

green ray said...

Nathan, you know, you exude the charm, I've been meaning to tell you. You're just a delight to read. Shows how a sense of style comes through in writing, and this is encouraging to me.

Today I did something I've never done, and it felt very empowering: I withdrew a manuscript from consideration from an agent who's had it over a year. It was the only way I could take charge of the situation, because she hardly ever answered me and yet kept asking to resend it every few months. My last agent was like this, and I don't want to work that way again. I felt it was best for all parties concerned, so I withdrew it very politely; and she answered me (for a change!) with a very kind wishing me well. So that's my news for today: POWER!

Jackie said...

ie "Rock Star of the Author World", right now my hat is off to J K Rowling (she single handedly got billions of kids to read again)

Jackie said...

Sophie dress warm and try not to leap when doing your turns

Erik said...

Anonymous & adaora:

Age: 42
Career: I've been a research chemist / engineer, and so far writing is more fun.
Sign: Ophiuchus
Fave Place: Wherever I am now
Fave Book: Currently "Don Quixote"
Fave Movie: "Casablanca" or "Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World". I watch both every 6 months or so.
Kids: 12 (girl) and 8 (boy)
Pets: Westie, 4 cats, parakeet.

Words In, Words Out said...

Open thread! FUN!!!!
Age: 26, Aries

So roommate made me read this book called 13 Reasons Why. It is SIMPLY AMAZING. One of the best books I've ever read and the premise is so unique. LOVED IT. Have you bought it yet? Why not? Seriously, stop reading and go to Amazon!

Anywho, career. If it's an anything anything I'd be an amazing rock star VIOLINIST. Yeah, you didn't see THAT one coming did you?!

Random question for Nathan: Ever get that haircut? ;)

Scott said...

If I tug on this thread, will the blog unravel?

DeadlyAccurate said...

And also... does anyone have an fabulous YA recommendations for me?

Jonathan Stroud's The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Jackie said...

Scot, we are raveled??? :)

Anonymous said...


-What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows
-The Invisible Rules of the Zoe Lama
-The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things

Jackie said...

J K Rowlings also taught people (not just kids) to reach for their dreams again, even amidst tragedy

Jackie said...

naptime for the old fart here, sry, top o the mornin to ya all :)

Words In, Words Out said...

Jackie & Scot: Perhaps we are rave led?

Jackie said...

"WORDS IN..." you would have a tough time convincing people I am raveled...ty anyway

superwench83 said...

Okay, here's a question for the open thread: Wanna be my agent? :)

Wow. That sounds creepy. Like a really bad pick-up line or something. "Hey, baby, wanna be my agent? I've got this book that'll rock your world."

Steph Leite said...

*jumping in with the world's most boring topic*

Hmm so it's 7PM and I just woke up.......

I'm going to have the hardest time sleeping tonight.

Words In, Words Out said...

lol @ superwench....I would immediately say yes to a date with any guy who used one of the following (seemingly) creepy pick up lines: Hey baby, what's your word count? Nice font! Or how about "Wanna get cozy with my mystery?"

Heidi the Hick said...

I think Neil Gaiman is a rock star author.

His album covers would scare your mom.

ManiacScribbler said...

Fabulous YA? 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.

If I have a set of short stories that I would like to submit all together (because they're all similar stories) how would I go about presenting that to an agent? And any out there that you know of that accept this sort of submission?
ManiacScribbler =^..^=

Steph Leite said...

Best YA books I've read in years are the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray. Libba's been my idol ever since she wrote the first one.

Adaora A. said...

@eric- Married! Kids! Sounds like a nice life.

@heidi- John Grisham is a rockstar. He honestly is amazing.
Favorite sport: FOOTBALL (aka Soccer)

Favorite Food: Shrimp...anything with shrimp is win.

Favorite cocktail: Cosmopolitan or Green Apple Martini. If I'm feeling especially cultured (circa a few weeks ago) it will be a Chardonnay.

Favorite Stress Reliever: The Gym, dress shopping, and Yoga...

I'm a Libra.


Who is your favorite actor?

Mine is easily Mr. Daniel Radcliffe. He just rocks my socks.

Nadine said...


Have you seen the trailer for the upcoming episodes of the Hills? It's on YouTube if you've missed it.

Also - no mention of LOST recently? I can't wait for tonight's episode. I think we find out who all of the Oceanic six are....

Anonymous said...

I need to tell my agent he's not working hard enough for me. Is cursing appropriate in such a scenario?

Nathan Bransford said...


DEFINITELY looking forward to Lost tonight, this season has been really great.


No, cursing at agents is generally not advised, even if they deserve it!

Tom Geller said...

I'd like to see some comparative sales figures. How many books sell 10,000 copies? 20,000? 100,000? At what point does a book typically earn out its advance? When is it considered a "success"? How many copies are sold of books on the best-seller lists?

(I know... "it all depends." But it's somewhere between 10 copies and a million, and I'm betting you can narrow it down even further. :) )

I'm in the non-fiction field, which I know is substantially different. Still, I'd love to hear whatever figures you have.

Adaora A. said...

Has a prospective client ever sworn at you Nathan?

MisterEdward said...

1. MisterEd is 37.

2. New question: What is your genre?

Nathan, I would love to see a "You Tell Me" where everyone says their genre and age.... I am curious to see what the correlation is, if any.

Inquiring horses want to know.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

This thread has gone weird... or was it already weird?

Is Holly Black YA? Tithe and Valiant were good. I don't read a lot of YA...

No questions from me. But I'm having a good chuckle over the comments and questions of others.

Nathan... will you ever take romance? I know many people in the romance world that love you! well, this blog anyways.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

And Pamela...

I would have played first clarinet for the TSO... once upon a time I did have the talent... writing fills that void.

Adaora A. said...

Anyone play any instruments? Sing?

I use to be in the Choir. I played the Tuba in Highschool, and I'm teaching myself the acoustic guitar. Once I've mastered it I want to work on the electric and then the piano.

Jillian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

Adaora -- I agree COMPLETELY that Mr. Radcliffe is amazing! He doesn't know it yet, and I don't see how it's going to happen, but he's gonna marry me some day...

(Dan, if you're reading this, by some miracle, let me know.)

So, what does everyone think about the news that the last Harry Potter
will be a two-part movie?

Anonymous said...

I'm being a cowardly anonymouse because my question is a bit cheeky.

Nathan, do you really care how 90 different people revise?

Or to put a finer point on it, the comment trails on your posts often remind me of a slush pile. They contain a lot of writing that is reasonably interesting if considered in single dollops, but which doesn't stand out from the smorgasbord when considered as part of the whole.

Do you - a person who has a real slush pile to deal with - really care to hear that many of your blog readers chime in on a topic?

Cowardly Mouse

Adaora A. said...

Oh Kat, you are a true kindred spirit. Daniel Radcliffe is all sorts of win and awesomeness. My blog says as much sometimes.

Adaora A. said...


About the Last HP film: I think it's good because the story demands it. The final book is rich with so many things - for as far as I read before I quit it with Heron Ron and Hermione looming at my backside - so it wouldn't do to split it up. Also looking forward to EQUUS this September.

Steph Leite said...

Adaora - yup, I play guitar. Badly, but I do. :D

Nathan Bransford said...

cowardly muse-

I'm definitely curious about how people go about it and I read all the responses, yes. But the real value of threads like those is that people can help each other with new ideas and read the threads to see how other writers go about it.

Words In, Words Out said...

Great answer Nathan!

Adaora A. said...

@Steph- Yay! What kind of acoustic do you have? I use to have a oscar shmidt by washburn acoustic but I traded it in - and shelled out an extra 200 quid to upgrade - for my solid (sounds better with age, love of my life) vantage.

Nathan: Do you recieve a lot of 'blog poster' query letters or are you still getting a lot of the dreaded sort of (rhetoric`al question containing, impersonal, mass query format, monkey love free )query letters?

liquidambar said...

Sophie W.:

Just one page to get at the purpose of life? Good luck with that!

Thank goodness I'm not in school any more.

December/Stacia said...

I saw Daniel Radcliffe naked last year, in Equus in London.

It was a very pleasant experience. (But the photos some people passed around online, of him nude with the white horse? Faked.) Daniel has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, though, in department.

What? Sixteen is legal age in the UK.

Marti said...

To Nathan and all of the commenters:

What are your feelings regarding book trailers? (The short videos often shown on YouTube or author websites - sometimes they're an author interview, sometimes they're a mini-movie of the plot)

Do you watch them? Ever done one?

Words In, Words Out said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah B said...

Age--47 11/12ths...
Fav movie -- Princess Bride
YA Books--anything by Tamora Pierce, she does the best fantasy YA ever (run, do not walk)
Love borcht
Fantasy career--kosher pig farmer or maybe mime...

Nathan--is it a good sign if 3 out of 10 agents queried have requested 1st 50, or is that about par for the course? (2 "no thank yous" and 5 no response yet for the others)Don't want to get excited yet...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Nathan, you're coming to hear pitches from my writer's club in May, so I wanted to ask you: Would you prefer I buy you a beer, a mixed drink, or a shot of tequila?

Heather said...

I like peanut butter.


Anne Dayton said...

Wow. Wow. Come for the writing advice, stay for the naked Harry Potter!

Nathan, I'm hereby afraid of your blog.

Adaora A. said...

@december - Awesome. Another DR fan. We're taking over the world. Sixteen is the legal age yes.

@heather- I like peanut butter too. In elementary school they took away my PB&J sandwitch b/c some kids in the class were allergic. They didn't give me something else to eat instead. The mongrols.

Words In, Words Out said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adaora A. said...

Ann dayton wants to go to NYC with december and I to see EQUUS on broadway. You're more then welcome darling.

Steph Leite said...

Adaora - I don't have an acoustic (yet). My brother, however, has a six-string and a twelve-string Ovation. As for electric, I have a Fender :D

I personally prefer acoustic better. The sound is more... soul-sy?

Adaora A. said...

Oh let me have your fender. Ahh geezz. My dream is to own a fender. I definetly prefer acoustic. Have you heard Nirvana Unplugged? Kurt Cobain was amazing with his acoustic, Dave Grohl provding drums and melody, and Krist Novoselic providing a second acoustic or the brilliant acordian...which I would love to own. 12 String? Awesome. Your brother is offically fantastic.

I would love to play piano. I use to take keyboard lessons years back but I want a grand piano and I just think it would be brilliant.

Lupina said...

Yikes! You wait til after 5 to read the blog and there are 95 posts!

My topic is The Wire. I'm about to start Season 3, fighting a "reserve DVD" war with other borrowers at two different libraries. I'm now a Wire crackhead. My kids catch me muttering gutter language and I answer questions with either "Indeed!" or "Mos' def!" But I get why you think this show would make us better writers. The Wire puts the new in nuance. I'm still crying over Wallace.

But I'm not giving my age, other than to say I'm a few corpuscles past stardust.

Josephine Damian said...

Nathan, do you have any pets?

Are you planning on watching the new HBO series on John Adams that starts on Sunday? Or are you still mourning "The Wire's" end?

Are you planning on going to more conferences and will you post that on your blog and/or myspace if you do?

Friends of Nathan's blog who also watch "American Idol!"

Are you, like me, saying WTF over the fact that gravel-mouthed rocker Amanda is still in it and hasn't been kicked off yet?!


I (heart) Chickezie!

Paul Phillips said...

Adaora: I used to play in a rock band, many, many, years ago. Still jam now and then. My original guitar is a fender acoustic 6 string (it's almost 30 years old now and I only play it now and then. I used to own a Gibson Les Paul. These were the two guitars I used in the band. Recently I purchased a Yamaha electric/acoustic and hand made Beaver Creek acoustic bass.

As far as the career path I would have picked a writer. I did some serious writing in high school then the rock band came along and then it got a little fuzzy after that. After the clouds cleared I got a more traditional job and I've been at that for almost 25 years.

Now I'm trying the writing again. :-)

Sophie W. said...

Adaora - I'm in jazz choir at school. I've been singing since I was 6 or 7, and I play guitar and flute. I've been meaning to teach myself piano for a long time.

Liquidambar - I actually managed to do it. I digressed into my usual philosophical cynicism around the second paragraph, though. I don't know why I'm so dark when I write for english class... none of my WIPs are so dark. I think it's because I hate school.

Steph Leite said...
That's my baby!

My brother, aside from having the two acoustics, has another two or three electrics. (Forgot the exact number. I think it's two but I'll check with him.) I'm in love with his acoustic 6-string. It looks a little like this (, with the cosmic circles on the top, but his looks better. :) And it sounds amazing. *sigh*

I play some keyboard, and we used to have a real piano, but I've never been keen on it. Guitar over it any day.

Adaora A. said...

Hey everyone is replying me. I suppose I had a really good question.

@phillips- Awesome. My favorite high school teacher was in a band. I forget their name but he was awesome. He taught philosophy and religion (I went to a catholic school).

@sophie- Yup. I was in the choir from age 12 ish till 18? It was a great time. Had my first crush there, learned to sing, learned to read music, I learned how to look good in pictures (thanks Heather), and a host of other things. My sister played the flute in high school. I wanted the trumpet at first but the teacher gave it to someone else and I got the tuba. I need to buy one because I still have the sheet music, and I could play that instrument so well if I had it in front of me now. Cool. Nice to see other guitar lovers around. I long to be able to play the piano.

Adaora A. said...

Wow...your brothers instruments are beautiful. Yours too.

This is Stella (my acoustic):

In the summer, I take her to the park and play her on the park bench. I get queer look but I think they're just jealous. The sun is really warm and bright, the sound of her is like heaven. I'm saying all this hoping desperately to banish winter forever.

TV Shows I'm waiting on bated breath for: Ashton Kutchers MISS GUIDED and THE BATCHELOR...he's here - in America - to "steal all our women."

Kaleb said...

Nathan you have no clue what you're getting yourself into with an open comment box :)

Aimless Writer said...

A man is not a success because he has never failed, but because failure has never stopped him.

Anonymous said...


I've been offered a publishing contract for a first novel by a small but experienced publisher who offered me an advance and wants me to do a second book to create a series out of my main character.

They have not specifically asked to hear my ideas for a second book before signing. Is it to my advantage to let them hear my ideas first, in the hopes that if they reall love them I might get a better deal, or should I not get into second book ideas until after I sign the contract, in case they do not like what I am proposing.

mlh said...

I only have one little question, and I will make it brief.

Nathan, how common is it to butt heads with an editor who wants to change certain aspects of the novel, but you and the author agree that it shouldn't be changed? Who normally wins in such a standoff?

Sorry, I know it's two questions. The second one came out of nowhere.

Nathan Bransford said...


I just got back from drinks with an editor, and what an awesome/crazy thread!

To try and answer some of the questions:

anon who asked what I drink: bourbon.

to the anon who asked about the series -- try and find an agent asap. It's really difficult to make the series/stand-alone decision without considering the particular project, the particular author, and the particular editor, so I wouldn't necessarily be able to generalize my advice. But it sounds like you're in a good position to find an agent.


Authors and editors do not often butt heads, but this is often a time when an agent can step in and referee. A good agent will help calm the situation down and make sure everyone is being nice to each other and make sure good sense wins out in the end.

Anonymous said...

So many posts, whew. Just wanted to let people know about a wonderful online forum connected with Agent Query. It's called agent query connect, a beta site. People can go there and get critique and generally do what today's open blog is doing. Get to know one another and our writing too.
I too am looking forward to LOST tonight. I just love that I can never quite figure out what's going to happen next.

gwen said...

I'd suggest the Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy is also popular. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series is hugely popular, though I am not fond of it. I also picked up Incantation by Alice Hoffman, and it was a beautiful book - about perseverance in the face of persecution in 16th century Spain. Some other authors to look for are Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfield, Holly Black, Cecil Castellucci, and Maureen Johnson.

***@CDR - I saved a young cardinal earlier this year. I found him on the road. He could not fly yet. I took him in and cared for him a couple days. Somehow, his parents were still around - and I took him out to them a couple days after I found him. They didn't reject him. Took him right back as though they knew he'd been lost. I named him Charlie.

Now there are four cardinals who fly through the yard. Two males, two females. I don't know which one is Charlie. But every so often, a male cardinal perches on the railing outside the family room window, and I like to think it's him. It was nice to feel needed - like he needed me to look after him, to keep him safe until his parents found him.

I still miss him.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Identify the Frustrating and Unnecessary Word In the Following Passage, and Win a Pondful of Guitar-Playing Goldfish!

From the website:

"Each weekend, Book TV features 48 hours of nonfiction books from Saturday 8:00 AM to Monday 8:00 AM ET.

We invite your comments about our web site, our television programming, and any books you want to recommend for our coverage. You can e-mail Book TV at or feel free to leave a phone message at 202-737-3220."

Correct answer: NONFICTION. Why do they only broadcast NONFICTION related shows? Where is my FICTION booktv???? I would like a literary agent to weigh in on this question. I cannot for the life of me understand why or a publisher's consortium or the Kindle manufacturer...or SOMEBODY doesn't put together a fiction channel, like Food Network, it would be Book Network.

Possible shows:

"Not My Usual Read" - people discuss books that they don't normally read - or have always thought they wouldn't like. Could be celebs, or ordinary people, talking about how they always used to read only mysteries, but now they realize they really enjoy reading the biographies of famous economists!

"The Author in the Multimedia Age" - discusses how writers can branch out into other media, gives examples of writers who have successfully done so - I'm thinking (perhaps nostalgically) about the artwork of poets Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop - I mean, they were writing WAY before the present 24/7 media meltdown/conglomeration - and they drew as well! I mean, there are musicians who play 12 instruments - can't a writer at least become proficient in at least one other art form? To help spread their work out over multiple media (yeah, I mean right into those ever-shrinking cell phones!)

"I Hate Poetry" - Poetry lovers compete to win over poetry haters.

Anonymous said...

No one (that I've seen yet) has mentioned THE PIGMAN or THE OUTSIDERS as amazing YA fiction. I could picture Nathan in the boys room blowing up a toilet...back in the day, of course. -- Katie B.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

I don't claim to have prophetic dreams, but...

Re: Ron in the Harry Potter series - I had a dream recently that I went to an art gallery opening, and in their gift shop they had these cute heart-shaped earrings - but when I turned back to look at them again, they had morphed into gigantic, carved-granite hearts, that would have ripped your earlobes and broken your collarbones, if you'd tried to wear I went wandering around to the little cafe they had in this gallery, and there was Ron from Harry Potter! Wasted! All slouched and sloshed in a yellow formica booth. "Geez do you really want your fans to see you like that..."

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Am I the Only Selfish One

...whenever I post stuff in lit agent's blogs, I always get ideas and things I can use in my writing (fiction, poetry, website, a ton of stuff!) I look at the "text box" that I'm typing in right now - kind of like a sketch pad that they're always recommending artists carry with them - you know, you're walking down the street, and you notice someone with an interesting profile, or a frozen bagel with loads of salt on it - sitting on a sidewalk that itself has a ton of salt on it - so you're supposed to whip out your sketchpad and "capture the moment" - it's very strange to me, that although these are LITERARY agents blogs, the comments tend to be decidedly UNliterary...that seems very strange to me...I would assume there would be more a "quilt-like" effect in lit agent blogs, with people quoting their favorite writers, tossing off "bon mots" (okay so I'm not COMPLETELY sure what a bon mot is) - one liners, casual but careful descriptions of what's "staring them right in the face" at the moment - maybe 10 years from now it will be like that - just seems a little strange. I mean there is some of that, yes, but it seems like there could be way more...

Okay enough from this "yeah, I've got a twin brother" sister.

Adaora A. said...

What did the editor drink Nathan? You can always tell the personality of someone based on what they drink.

I googled bourbon:

"Bourbon is an American distilled spirit made primarily from corn and named for Bourbon County, Kentucky. It has been produced since the 18th century." Apparently September is 'National Bourbon Heitage Month."

My drink: Cosmopolitan. Contents? Cranberry juice, Contreau, Lime Juice and Vodka.

A said...

I believe writing a book is the toughest job in the world. But even then I wouldn't trade it with any other job. This whole routine of writing-agent hunt-publishing etc requires patience. I am not a very patient person and sometimes the whole thing gets very frustrating but I still want to write books and see my first book in bookstores. Wow what a great feeling it is to just imagine such a scene.

Nathan Bransford said...


He had a gin martini. Well, two.

Adaora A. said...

Gin Martini..hmm...gin and white vermouth according to google. That must mean that he or she likes a clean drink with a bit of kick (this is pure speculation). He or she must like a medium sized MS that has some edge. They like to hold their glass right handed. They like to keep a relationship with the agent and their client for the long term as well.

I'm good aren't I Nathan? Thanks!

I'd try to analyze you but you've given your game away in the way you blog (which is very cool for aspiring writers). Probably what you are doing intentionally.

Gin Martini...


Adaora A. said...

ACK! Edit to add: "He" is established. I thought the editor was a "he," based on drink selection. There is a girl from work who likes "stella beer" but like my universal cosmopolitan.

mkcbunny said...

I get sick for a few days, and look at all the comments gone by. I can't keep up.

43, Virgo.
Movie: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Or maybe Naked Lunch. Depends on my mood.

Book: Well, the last one I really raved about and stuffed into friends' hands like a crazy evangelist was The Road. No surprises there.

TV Show: Still working on The Wire, so I can't throw my lot in with that one yet, Nathan. But I really miss Deadwood. That last season was a real disappointment, though. And Lost? What's with the Jin twin?!?!

Dream Career: Writing. I was a visual artist for the first 35 years of my life. This is something new.

cdr: Watch out for herons by the pond. They'll break your heart.

mkcbunny said...

Oh, and bourbon. Nothing like 51% corn alcohol. None of that peaty Scotch for me.

Ruth said...

If I queried you back in January when you were getting snowed with queries, and didn't hear back from you. Does that mean:
a. my query got lost
b. my query is in an e-pile somewhere
c. my query sucked so bad it didn't merit a response
Just wondering.. .

December/Stacia said...

Oh, Nathan. A bourbon man. One more reason to adore you.

I agree with whomever mentioned The Outsiders. Remember when Nathan mentioned the agency still has SE Hinton's original query letter? I think I would start crying if I saw that. That book changed my life.

I also have a distinct fondness for "Goodbye Glamour Girl" by Erika Tamar. I think that one might be MG though.

Don't miss Equus, ladies!! Aside from the lovely nudity, it's fantastic. Dan really can act.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nathan, what would you recommend if a small publisher (who I heard only dishes out a $1500 advance) is interested in a newbie's book? Would any agent touch such a low advance?

Oh, and on Agentquery connect, I've heard they are inviting agents to join the party in their next phase. Have you heard anything about that?

Adaora A. said...

@december - I remember. I fell over in shock and envy. Lucky Nathan got to look at it. WOW.

Oh you better believe I won't miss the NYC showing. Reading week...equus here I come.

Anonymous said...

Two partial reads, two similar responses:

Thanks so much for giving me the chance to read your work. I enjoyed the energy and kid-friendly voice, but I regret that ultimately I did not fall in love with this to the extent that I’d need to in order to offer representation. Of course this process is very subjective and often times what’s not right for one agent will be perfect for another. Here’s wishing you continued success in all of your writing endeavors.


Thank you for submitting your partial manuscript for my review. You have a nice writing style and the story is intriguing. Unfortunately it is not something we can represent at this time. While we would love to represent all the worthy projects that come across our desks, we must make choices based on our current needs and our understanding of the publishing marketplace.
I encourage you to continue seeking representation and/or publication.

This is my first novel, so I would appreciate any help interpreting these comments.

1-10 10 says they may regret their decision later, 1 says I shouldnt' quit my day job, and 5 says can't tell anything, they are just being polite. Feel free to elaborate!

Kathryn Harris said...

How do you all feel about pen names? I have found myself in the unfortunate position of sharing the same name with the former Florida State Senator who "ruined the 2000 election." (Those are not my words, those are words others have told me in making the comparison.)
Prior to that moment, I always thought I had the perfect name for an author, but now I'm not so sure.
So, what are your thoughts?
Nathan, what do you think?

Jackie said...

I prefer using a Pename. Mine I have chosen my mothers maiden name and my paternal grandmothers maiden name. I have one child still in school and have held off Publishing because I don't want "fame and fortune", which I know I will have to effect them.

Since Florida has now messed with the last 2 major Elections, let me yell at you real loud! ha ha

theartgirl said...

Favorite movie-Little Voice
Favorite book-Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Wish- I wish I cold be content.


theartgirl said...

-and spellcheck--always.


Jackie said...

Fav BookS: have a ton but required reading turned into a pleasure
Grapes of Wrath/Steinbech
Woman in the Mist/Farley Mowat
(cultural anthropology)
Call of the Wild/Jack London
White Fang/Jack London
Understanding the Enneagram/Don
Richard & Russ Hudson
(personality types)
Drink: Nada, given the gift of
Multiple Sclerosis (and it is
a gift I would never trade).
Why pay for a drink or drugs
when I have the effects for
Size: 5' and sure I must have a
Kids: 2, 17 & 19
Married: yes, Legally Separated
(threw him out 4 years ago)
Dating: nope, not interested at
this time
Age: 41 or 42 (I stopped counting)

...if I missed anything, I love to talk, ask me

Richard said...

Nathan, I'm coming into this thread a bit late but I'd like to comment on the sad state of agents' rejection letters, which either gush apologies or appear to have been written by robots.

Fortunately, a solution is now available: Custom Rejection Letters! Please visit to view samples.

No longer do agents have to worry about having just the right rejection letter to express their disdain or sympathy for an author's submission!

Note: the above is satirical. In case you couldn't tell. But please visit the site anyway for a good laugh.

mlh said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Nathan. I was always curious if discussions ever lead to fisticuffs - figuratively speaking.

Jackie said...

oh yeah...
PetS: You will not smell my zoo
and be amazed
/75 & 55 Gallon Tropical
Fish Tanks
/Bearded Dragon-2 foot Desert
/Leopard Gecko-10 inches
(bright yellow, underbody
white, black spots, hints of
blue and purple
/8 cats, was working on being
the Neihborhood Cat Lady but
got over the "aw, isn't it
cute?" thing and they are all
fixed now

Taylor K. said...

Hey Nathan-

What's the deal with airline food? No, just kidding. Just surprised no one had asked yet.

Also, in response to Pamela's "what career would have you chosen" question my response must be somewhat fictional. I would be a superhero. A superhero who could fly, and talked cool like Gambit from X-men.

benwah said...

a @ 10:13 - i expect your assertion that 'writing a book is the toughest job in the world' is hyperbole. at least i hope so. while the work of writing is a solitary effort where all the pressure falls squarely on your own shoulders, it is at the same time liberating and creative. not many tasks offer those same rewards. as for the mechanics of the agent-editor-publishing dance, that's the cost of doing business. and in every job there are such costs. chin up.

nathan, in the battle between bourbon and gin martinis, i think i might make a seasonal decision: it's still too wintry for gin.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kids:

A martini is, by definition, made with gin. Therefore "gin martini" is redundant, a no-no for any writer! If you want it made with vodka, then you have to say "a vodka martini."

--a grizzled old bartender.

benwah said...

good point, barkeep. but in this day and age when anything poured into a martini glass gets some sort of -ini appellation, it often seems necessary to clarify. or, as i do when bellying up to the bar, just order by the gin. partial to plymouth myself.

man, too early on a friday to start thinking booze.

liquidambar said...

Anon 3/14 at 5:32 am:

It looks like you have a good project, but just haven't found the right person for it yet. IMHO, based solely on the quotations you provided. That can be frustrating, but trust me, you want a person who will be wholeheartedly enthusiastic. Keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Would writing in the erotica genre ever come back to bite you? ;)
Let's say you dabbled in it with e-publishers while trying to find your genre, and then wanted to write MG novels! Would this ruin your children's writing career if it came out you had written some rather adult fiction?
If you were writing erotica, how truly "anonymous" can you stay behind your pen name? Like if you were a teacher but wanted to write erotica without anyone knowing--can this be done? All hypothetical stuff here. :)

Vinnie Sorce said...

Anybody know a good agent who is looking for crime/suspense/kind of goofy/love story?

Curtastrophe said...

An editor who I recently submitted a story to posted on their website, "If I haven't gotten back to you by 15th March that probably means your piece has made the final batch. I will have decided on all the stories I want by March 30."

Is it a bad idea to send this editor a query on the status of my story? My gut feeling says I should just wait it out until I hear back.


Anonymous said...

A prominent editor has asked my agent for revision rights with first right for refusal once they are made. Does this generally lead to a sale? Would an editor spend time poring over said book if there was no real interest?

Thanks, o wise one.

Anonymous said...

I recently discovered that a bestselling author just released a novel with the same title as the one I'm trying to get published. Does this absolutely mean I must change my title? I'm reluctant to do so only because it reflects the theme of my novel on a number of different levels, and I'm really terrible at coming up with titles. The stories are very different and in different genres, though they may share a common theme or two. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

Riley said...

On regards of the whole pseudo-memoir thing, which I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about:

I have to write a persuasive essay for my English class, and the topic I chose is "should agents and editors have to fact-check memoirs that they're about the publish?" The viewpoint that I'm defending is "No, agents and Editors should not have to fact check memoirs." I have an argument defeing that, but now I need the opposing side's argument, so I can shoot it down. Does anyone know the opposing argument to this issue? Thank you in advance!

Nathan Bransford said...


If the editor (and this goes for agents too) provide a date by which they say they'll let you know, best to wait for that date before you follow-up. So in this case I'd go with the latter date.


It depends. Sometimes they lead to a sale, sometimes they don't. It's a good sign since they are interested, but unfortunately it's no guarantee.


Yes, I would change the title (and sorry). In general, it's ok if you use a title that is either old or by a really obscure author, but it's probably best to avoid the confusion of having the same title as a bestselling author.

Curtastrophe said...

Yup. Thanks Nathan!!


December/Stacia said...

I hope I'm not too late here:

Anon 8:22, your anonymity depends on your publisher in some ways. I know at Ellora's Cave you can choose the level of anonymity you want when you sign your first contract (this is for in-company anonymity, I mean--at the highest level only your editor, Raelene Gorlinsky [the publisher], and I think one accounting person will know who you really are. Obviously your anonymity outside the company is up to you), and they are extremely diligent about it.

I can't speak for any other epublishers, but EC takes that very, very seriously.

December/Stacia said...

Oh, Anon 8:22, also, feel free to email me if you have any other questions. Seriously. Don't feel wierd about it. Decemberquinn AT gmail.

Chumplet said...

Nathan Bransford said...


Probably a basketball player. Sadly I'm 5'10", painfully slow, and I can't jump. I'm crafty though!

We had a talented center in our Mallorca basketball team and he was shorter than 5'10"

Don't forget Captain Canada!

Moose said...

nNathan, I used to drink bourbon but it gives some of the worst hangovers. Not as bad as champagne, but pretty bad.

What the liquor industry calls "white goods" give the mildest hangovers. My choice: white tequila.

Btw, a bird can fly but a fly can't bird.

danceluvr said...

to pamela H.

I'd be a professional ballet dancer with a prestigious company, like ABT.

But I guess you kind of figured that from my screen name.

adora a.

I, too, have a twin sister. We're 7 minutes apart, according to our birth certificates. She was first, so officially, I'm the baby in the family.

My mom tells us that we made up our own language as youngsters. Our mom purposely dressed us differently, even if it was only in color (I was the "green" girl).

We played together until adolescence hit. Then we competed with each other for grades and friends. We're still not very close after 40 years or so.

re: musical instruments

I started on the alto sax and graduated to the bassoon in junior high school. Played all through high school, then quit in college since it was only going to be a hobby for me. Plus they gave me the contrabassoon to play. Talk about boring music to play (whole notes).

My question:

How does one overcome the fear of sending out query letters and the package to agents? My goal is to finish the novel and get it out to agents this year, but I begin to panic the closer it comes time to do so.

spyscribbler said...

For Jordyn: Ally Carter's Gallagher Girl series, about an elite private school for spies, is brilliant. Genius. Fun.

The best books I've read in a long time, YA or no.

Anonymous said...

anon on erotica: Yes, definitely, it can be done. The hardest part is keeping one's own mouth shut. At least for me. :-)

If it gets out, I can heartily say it's completely my fault. You just tell one person, and then ... you just tell one more person ... and then pretty soon ...

I would suggest not telling anyone. Not for any reason. They'll want to know your pseudonym so they can support you, but if you tell one person, then it's easier to tell the next, and then pretty soon ...

Your privacy isn't just protected for societal or job reasons. Mention the word sex, and you can get some weird emails. I wouldn't publish erotica any other way. I'm old-fashioned, but when I started in the genre in the early days, we had NO CHOICE but to take a pseudonym, for safety reasons.

Nikki Duncan said...


For a great YA book I'd recommend Prom Dates From Hell by Rosemary Clement Moore.

Jillian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzanne Nam said...

i'm so late on this one, but i'm really curious about two things from other writers:

1. how many revisions do you go through before you feel like you're satisfied with your work?

2. how long does it take you from start to finish? do you write the first draft of your novel, sit on it for a year, go back; work on it for two or three years on and off; plow through the whole process in three months?

Anonymous said...

2008?? Never mind then haha.

Related Posts with Thumbnails