Peeps - I know that some of you are waiting (patiently!) for answers. I'm so, so, so, so sorry! This week has been hell, and we're headed out for vacation this afternoon. (Ha, screw you, Ernesto! We're coming anyway.) I promise to answer all of them when I get back. So for today, I'm tacking a bunch of easier questions that I don't have to wax poetic on. Here ya go. Happy long weekend!
Oh, and I'm thrilled to report that I just received my final cover art. I heart it to death! I'm so, so pleased - the art dept at Harper rocks!
How early should I begin sending in seasonal ideas?
If we're talking major monthly mags (and I assume that we are), you'll want about six months. For example, it's now August. I'm working on stories for late-winter and early-spring. So this might be a good time to pitch something on, say, anything from Valentine's Day to Easter. Or anything in between. (Yes, we write our holiday articles in the middle of the summer!)
Okay, so let's say I have a great query and I am ready to send it in. I get the masthead information only to find a bunch of different editors. For example, I am looking at Parents. There is the articles editor, news editor, food editor, associate editor, assistant editors and so on. Who exactly do I send my query to? Take the query you posted on your blog- the one for Parents about gas. Which editor would that have gone to?
The best way to be certain is to actually call the magazine and ask. Parents, for example, is particularly tricky because a different editor oversees each different age group. 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, etc, are all editor by different folks. In general, however, the features editor usually handles the bigger articles that you see toward the middle/back of the magazine, the entertainment editor handles the celeb stuff, and associate or assistant editors might handle FOBs. One person who doesn't assign at all is the managing editor. In fact, the higher up you go on the masthead, the less likely that person is to assign.
I was wondering if you know anything about film rights? I know I retained mine in my name, but do I then have to use my lit agent as my film agency since the co. does handle film rights? Or do I get a separate Hollywood agent?
What happens most often is that your lit agent farms them out to a film agent with whom he or she is partnered. For example, your agent might have a relationship with CAA, and CAA will handle the rights. One look at Publishers Marketplace makes this clear: nearly all of the film rights say something like, "TDLF sold to Warner Brothers by Genius Agent at CAA on behalf of Genius Agent at Trident Media." Or whatever. I think it's pretty unusual for an author to go seek film representation on her own. If you think that your book has movie potential, I'd simply raise the issue with your agent: she'd know best.
I've written about a hundred pages of a novel, but I'm not sure how to go about finding a good agent. Do I start querying before it's all done? Is there any similarity between querying for a mag. article and querying for a novel?
Bad news: you have to finish your novel completely before submitting it to agents. Why? Because it's a hell of a lot easier to start a novel than to complete it. (Example A: moi. My first ms lingered on my hard drive for FOUR YEARS until I finally banged out the ending.) Not to mention that a book that starts out as brilliant might dissolve into total drivel by the time you've reached the second (or third) act. Agents know this, and they're not going to pin their hopes on a partially written novel: it's simply a waste of their energy (and time). Now, if we're talking non-fiction, then it's a whole different ballgame, but for fiction, you gotta go the distance.
As far as similarities between mag queries and novel queries, well, I think it's really important to show your voice in both. What makes my queries successful (again, I think!), is that editors and agents get/got a real sense of my writing style via the pitch letter, and if they were drawn to that style, they'd probably be drawn to the book (or mag article). So while the specifics of what you include in the letter are obviously going to be quite different, the overall tone probably wouldn't be. Does that make sense?
So...there you have it. Some quick and dirty questions and answers. Anyone have any questions?