September 6th, 2007

books

what to write next.... and which project to query...

My client Patricia Bray has an article up at Writer Unboxed from the perspective of the working writer who has to balance the practicalities and realities of the business side of publishing with the call of the imagination.

On a related note.... there seems to be a mixed message out there about what to do when querying if one is an author with multiple projects. Having been in the situation where I turned down a very good manuscript that I thought would get a difficult reception from editors and asked the author for something else, which I subsequently took on and then sold (and, yes, I've also sold the first book now too), I can see where it might be tempting to send an agent a pitch for the entire repetoire, and hope you get a hit. However, as an agent, I sometimes find those lists rather daunting and want to instinctively shy away. I tend to recommend to writers who have asked me this question on panels that they pitch their strongest project -- the best written and most commercial one. And perhaps tag a couple of sentences in at the end of the query about what they plan to work on next, or a sequel, if there is one. And then let the writing do the work of hooking the agent before unleashing the wide variety available from the writer's imagination.

Don't get me wrong. I love diversity. It is one of the best things about working with such a range of imaginative people. Indeed, Patricia speaks in her article a little bit of why we moved from romance to fantasy. And I have several times consulted with clients about which project they should write next based on brief descriptions of several from the idea folders. We have discussed a variety of factors, including the commercial aspects of the project and how it will grow their audience, how it will help them expand their talent in the craft of writing, and how strongly the story inspires them.

Since it is rare to put more than one or two unrelated projects on the market simultaneously, it's self-evident that such choices must be made.