Monday, August 24, 2009

UK Agents for US Authors?

I have just begun the process of finding an agent and was considering sending a few queries off across the ocean to the UK. As I have found your blog highly informative, I am seeking your advice on whether I should go forward with this transatlantic solicitation. Are there any disadvantages, monetary or otherwise, of having an agent in a different country?


John Wienstroer

St. Louis, MO

All agents, whether US or UK, take a higher percentage of "foreign" deals, so a US agent trying to sell you in the UK will take a bigger piece and a UK agent trying to sell you in the US will take a bigger piece.

I don't know of many US authors represented primarily by a UK agent. The US market is simply so much bigger and getting published in the UK if you are from the US is far more difficult unless you are quite the big deal in the US. Hence, I think your odds of finding as UK agent as an American author are far more difficult than finding a US agent.

From a cash perspective, some UK publisher do offer in US Dollars to US agents, to benefit from the exchange rate. If you had a London agent, chances are they'd offer in pounds sterling which would benefit you from an exchange perspective.

In the end, I see no real harm in looking for a UK agent, but I think it a long shot.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I was going thru your submission requirements and was amused to see that you recommend never using italics, only underscores. In the 21st century, a manuscript that comes thru production with underscores is more likely to be set with underscores. (I'm a freelancer with 30 years of experience in book production.) Personally, I'll never understand the preference for underscores (blocking descenders); any proofreader or copy editor worth anything knows italic means italic. Furthermore, anyone who can't see that italics are italics is not doing a decent job in the first place. I mean, how can you notice whether the correct letters are being used unless you're reading letters (and I'm referring to individual characters, not correspondence).

Actually, if you wish to give a proofreader or copy editor a more difficult time, Courier or any sans serif would accomplish that (not that I've seen any manuscripts in the past ten years come through in Courier).

Cheers, --Chet

Dear Chet:

Thanks for the comments. I have to say they took me a bit by surprise, since you mention having thirty years in book production. Using an underscore to indicate italics has certainly been around since long before then and the primary reason for it is to ensure that the typesetter knows that the word is to be set in italics, not the copy editor or proofreader.

Just as a pound sign (#) is used to indicate a line space, so that the typesetter knows to actually put in a line space, underlining words you want set into italics helps ensure that the typesetter knows that there was no error. It wasn't an accidental insertion of a line or italics.

Further, if you are familiar with The Chicago Manual of Style, you know that the punctuation following a word set in italics is also italicized. And in some cases, quote marks are also. But it can hard to discern—especially if you are working on paper—whether or not some characters are in italics or not. Using the underscore makes it immediately apparent.

When I go through the electronic version of a client's work and globally search and replace italics with underscore, I'm nearly always surprised by the random spaces or characters that are actually set in italics. Not to mention the sometimes thousands of extra spaces, line spaces, tabs, etc. And in a day when publishers often start with an electronic copy of the manuscript, it's important to send in a clean ms, without all of that extra garbage. If the publisher prefers italics to underscore, it's an easy global search and replace, but when I'm reading things or preparing submissions, I always go with underscore for all of these reasons.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Waiting...and Waiting...and Waiting

Mr. Zack,

My full manuscript is out to two agents, they've both had them since early July 2009.

Can I query them with another book? Or should I wait to hear back on the first one?

What if I never hear back (meaning they've passed on my novel)? What's a reasonable amount of time to wait before querying them with a new project? Six months? A Year?


Jennifer Rinehart

Dear Jennifer:

Early July 2009 is pretty recent, so I wouldn't be feeling impatient just yet.

I would not query an agent considering your work about a second work until you've heard back on the first book. If you haven't heard back within ninety days, a friendly follow-up is fine. Then follow-up every ninety days until you hear something, unless, like me, your agent does something pro-active on a blog or otherwise to keep you informed as the status of the submissions under consideration.

Once an agent has passed on something of yours, I'd give it a couple of months before querying again. Let him or her clear his or her palette a bit.


Friday, August 07, 2009

QuickBooks R8: Did they really fix anything?

I've just downloaded and started to use the new Release 8 of QuickBooks 2009. I've been getting emails from Intuit for weeks now about how this new version will fix everything everyone hated about the new version of online banking.

Once you install the update, you are told that you now have a choice between the new version of Online Banking or the old. Yet, there is no intuitive manner of switching between the two. You have to know to go to Edit>Preferences>Checking>Company Preferences, and then, at the bottom, you can click a radio button that will let you make the switch. It sure would be nice if there was a "Switch to Register Mode" on the Online Banking screen. But, hey, I guess we should be happy they just gave us the option of switching!

Interestingly enough, switching back to the old view cleared up a bug I had been battling for many months. I've had a Company Reminder about online transactions ready to send, even though there weren't any, forever. I had cleared it up by deactivating the checking account it was related to, but then it came back, apparently as a result of a failed online connection at one point. The attempts to make it go away and then to fix what was broken in my checking account ate up several days of my life, including an afternoon on the phone with QB Support. The representative appeared to fix the problem, but then it came back. Upgrading to R8 and switching to the old version of online banking seems to have cleared up the error.

The old version is clearly better. Today I downloaded transactions from Advanta that I had previously reconciled. It was easy as pie to uncheck the reconciled box and then match the transactions to the downloaded ones to make it all match up. Creating aliases on the fly is a piece of cake. And dealing with accounts is now back to being as easy as ice cream (just to keep up the dessert metaphor). Thanks, QB, for listening to the users and fixing this. But I still think you owe us all a free upgrade to the 2010 version just for suffering through the "improved" version you just made it possible for us to stop using.

Next, I'd like QB to really start working on PayPal integration. I realize that they hate PayPal. After all, PayPal offers merchant services with no monthly fee, whereas Intuit offers merchant services and charges users a significant monthly fee. I should admit, though, that I think anything over $5 a month is pretty significant. But for a guy like me who does only a couple of credit card transactions per month, there should be an inexpensive QB solution, and there is not. So I use PayPal.

PayPal, of course, has its own issues. It was effectively down for several days this week. A customer of mine tried for three or four days to get a payment to go through. That's completely unacceptable. PayPal has a QuickBooks wizard, but it is clunky and will not accept an email address with a .info extension. (Yes, people have email addresses ending in .info.) There should be a sleeker solution.

PayPal is, at the end of the day, a banking website and as such it should offer the same QuickBooks and Quicken integration that other banks do. Why it doesn't, I don't know, but I suspect it is because they are competing on the merchant services side and that Intuit is the one not playing ball. But I could be wrong.

QB could eliminate the problem by simply matching PayPal's merchant services terms, but I've seen no evidence that QB wants to actually compete for customers' business. And that's really the problem. Perhaps the time has come for the Justice Department to explore the question of whether or not QuickBook's market domination is a monopoly. Because I sure don't see any other programs out there with as much control over the marketplace.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The July Monthly Round-Up

Hi, I'm Crystal, Andy's summer intern, and here is the July monthly round-up:

• 56 queries received; 32 declined
• 11 sample chapters received; 2 declined
• 0 proposals received; 0 declined
• 1 manuscripts received; 3 declined

We are currently waiting on:

• 3 sample chapters
• 0 proposals
• 0 manuscripts

We currently have on hand and need to read:

• 17 sample chapters
• 3 proposals
• 7 full manuscripts, plus 2 full manuscripts from current clients

The sample chapters and proposals still under consideration, in the order in which we expect to read them, are:

1. Barrett
2. Markowitz
3. Rogers
4. Katz
5. Corsini
6. Watt
7. Duncan
8. Kaufman
9. Gordon
10. Donahue
11. Elliott
12. Johnson
13. Dunne
14. Haynes
15. Watts
16. Smith
17. Marso
18. Cannon
19. Johnston
20. Lawrence

The manuscripts still under consideration, in the order in which we expect to read them, are:

1. MacKinnon
2. Conner
3. Perrota
4. Hanford
5. Wexler
6. Mulrooney
7. Dracoules

(Please note that manuscripts by current clients are read before manuscripts by prospective clients.)

If your name is on one of these lists and you have accepted representation or found a publisher, please let us know immediately so that we can remove your material from our reading list.

In July, Andy did not offer representation to any new clients.


The Confusing World of Foreign Rights

Do I need multiple agents if I want to sell my translation rights to my novel in different countries? Or should I find one agent in my own country who can do this all for me? How does this work? I've just sold the Japanese rights to my first novel and was represented there by a Japanese agent. Would it be smart of me to ask them to represent me worldwide? This is all so confusing!—Anna Mara

Yes, it is confusing, for sure!

First, congrats on your sale. I admit I'm mighty curious how you found a Japanese agent to sell your book but you don't have a US or UK agent.

Traditionally, you would find a US or UK agent first and then that agent would sell your book in the US or UK and then that agent's Japanese agent would shop the book in Japan. It is highly unusual to have a sale from an English-language writer in Japan before a US or UK sale.

There are UK agents who also sell in the US and US agents who also sell in the UK, but I haven't heard of any deals by Japanese agents selling to US or UK publishers, so my advice would be to seek out a US or UK agent, being sure to mention that you already have representation and a sale in Japan.