dianafox: (heart + hands)
( Jul. 3rd, 2008 01:45 pm)
First, thank you to everyone for the get well wishes! I meant to update sooner--are you beginning to see a pattern here?--but I was mostly better by the time I posted last month; any continuing delay in responding to submissions has been due to lack of time rather than to illness. (I have been holding off on blogging for the past few weeks in the vain hope that I would be able to make a triumphant Caught Up On Slush post, but I need to give up that fantasy. I mean, I am catching up all the time, but I think there’s like, slush denial where agents and editors don’t want to admit that it’s impossible for us to ever be completely caught up... or maybe that’s just me?)

Anyway, I have started getting queries mentioning that I haven’t blogged in a while, so I figured it was time to say something. Other than that I am behind on submissions, but you all knew that, right? Queries are up to six weeks, requested manuscripts between 2 and 3 months. Patience is the order of the day.

I am never quite sure what to say when I begin these entries, but I don’t really feel like talking about publishing so I am going to talk about (other) things which are awesome instead. (I use the word awesome a lot, without irony. Don't judge me.)

First awesome thing: Somebody got me an anonymous LJ gift! It is a purple rhino, and I love him. (You can see him here.) He supports PFLAG and everything! In fact this is such a perfect virtual gift that I now feel no one else ever needs to get me another virtual gift from Livejournal, although links to your favorite free LJ icon communities would be welcome.

Second awesome thing: contracts. Okay, I wasn’t going to talk about publishing, but I love contracts, and one of the most fun parts of selling some books is that now I get to go over the contracts for them. I am also enjoying working with my contracts consultant, with whom I had never worked before. I made the decision to use a contracts consultant early on because as a new agency, I’m very concerned with establishing the best terms for my boilerplate with different publishers... plus I think it’s good to have someone else be the go-between so I don’t have to be the one personally doing the arguing.

(Not because I wouldn’t be into it, but--and this is something it took me years of fighting with my landlords in housing court to learn--part of the reason people hire lawyers is because lawyers are objective and therefore usually won’t get too emotional and want to strangle said landlords, which is not a helpful mental state to be in when it comes to winning arguments. Similarly, my contracts manager is less likely to take a clause in a contract as a personal insult than I am, even if on a rational level I understand that it’s just business. This is of course one of the main reasons writers have agents too, to help preserve the relationship between author and editor by acting as a buffer when necessary.)

Third awesome thing: the Iron Man movie. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s worth seeing if you can still catch it in the theaters. This is a public service announcement because I saw it after almost everyone else in the world, even though that may have been partly my own fault since I spent so much of my time at New York Comic-Con going "am I the only person on the planet who has absolutely no interest in seeing Iron Man?"... thus leading my friends to conclude that I had no interest in seeing it with them. Then every single person I know who saw it loved it, and I had to wait almost two weeks before I got to go myself! However, it was worth waiting for, as it was a group excursion preceded by a pedicure and overall turned out to be one of those lovely evenings with friends that just make me happy to be alive.

Which brings me to air conditioning. I put the invention of air conditioning up there with modern medicine and the Internet as one of the greatest advances of our era (and there's an interesting dilemma--which would you rather live without, the Internet or air conditioning?). Given the stress of everyday life, I feel like I forget more often than I should to appreciate the basics: health, food, shelter, privilege, and the dizzying variety of choices and experiences that are available to me right here, right now, simply by getting to live in this place at this moment in history.

It's the everyday pleasures that I find the most extraordinary; not just the moments of happiness I feel, but being grateful that I’m able to be happy in those moments. I wasn’t always able to feel these things (happiness, or gratitude), and I know now that they’re connected. So being able to simply enjoy a passing moment in my day, whether it’s leaving the gym all sweaty and glowing from endorphins, or seeing a cute dog (or person!) on the street, or savoring the first sip of a decaf iced cappuccino, or taking in the quality of the air and the light as I step outside, or just a random fleeting awareness of being really here, I try to appreciate it all and not take any of it for granted. Even if I do still act like a bitch and yell at cab drivers sometimes.

Finally, from [livejournal.com profile] claudiagray: [livejournal.com profile] counteragent's little sister-in-law, Jenny, is very sick. It would be so wonderful if you could take a quick moment (just like 3 minutes) to check out her family's blog (http://jenjensfamily.blogspot.com/) and see if you think you might know anyone like Jenny. They are looking for "comparables" (people who have similar symptoms) that may have had success with treatments Jenny's docs haven't yet tried. They would also really appreciate it if you post about this on your blog and thus help them spread the word.

Thank you.

And, wow, I have just written two single-spaced pages in Word... it occurs to me that maybe part of why I have such a difficult time with blogging is that if I really let myself go, I would never shut up. Perhaps I fear creating a blogging monster! At any rate, I think I will stop now.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans, and an early happy weekend to everyone!
dianafox: (evernight)
( May. 27th, 2008 01:03 am)
I just realized I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to announce that I am Officially Behind on slush.

This month has included a bout with stomach flu/food poisoning, a sinus & ear infection, and slamming my finger in the door--fortunately my finger sustained no significant damage and I am now on antibiotics for the infection, but all of that combined with a freelance project deadline this week has led to things languishing in my inbox for longer than usual. If I still haven't replied to your query, I apologize. I'm going to try to get caught up on all queries through the end of April in the next few days, time permitting, and I am working my way through requested manuscripts as quickly as possible.

In other news, today is the official release date for Evernight, the first in a terrific new YA vampire romance series by Claudia Gray. To wish Claudia a happy book birthday--and for a chance to enter some great contests!--check out her livejournal ([livejournal.com profile] claudiagray).

Finally, urban fantasy author and new Fox Literary client [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire has a pro writing blog and some exciting news here.

So... what's new in your world?
Somebody sent me a query last night from a BlackBerry. At midnight.

(I will post a real entry soon, I just found that too hilarious not to share.)
dianafox: (Default)
( May. 3rd, 2008 09:32 pm)
I spent all day answering email, and now have less than a hundred queries left in my inbox. To celebrate, I thought I would pick out a new (already published, not by one of my clients) book to read for pleasure, and as usual thinking about what I was in the mood for got me thinking about what I represent.

My current authors write in genres ranging from science fiction to fantasy (urban and historical), YA fantasy (literary & commercial), other YA (contemporary), literary fiction, romantic suspense, thrillers, romance/erotica (contemporary & paranormal)... and then it occurred to me, you know what’s missing from this list? Historical romance! Historical fiction, period. I have very few historical fiction writers right now, and NO writers of historical romance. I worked with an amazing agent who represented lots of it, I’m an avid reader of the genre, and somehow I have no clients who write historical romance of the kind I love to read... yet.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m extremely selective about what I like in historical romance--more so even than is normal for me--but I grew up devouring the work of Laura Kinsale (my all time favorite romance novelist), Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Loretta Chase, Judith Ivory, Anita Mills, Mary Balogh, Anne Stuart, Susan Johnson, Madeline Hunter, Julia Ross, Gayle Feyrer, Tracy Grant, Carla Kelly, and many other authors I still read to this day, although some of them are no longer publishing or have stopped writing straight historicals.

(If anyone is interested, I also cut my teeth on Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, Catherine Coulter, Johanna Lindsey, Meagan McKinney, Bertrice Small, Virginia Henley, Brenda Joyce, Marsha Canham, Rebecca Brandewyne, Iris Johansen, Jayne Anne Krentz, Gayle Wilson, Christina Skye, Marjorie Farrell, and again, a host of others I can’t think of off the top of my head right now. I am leaving out authors like Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Dunnett, and Jane Austen as well, because I feel they are in a separate class as inventors of their own subgenres.)

As far as what I’m looking for now--to read and represent--recently published books by new authors which I’ve adored include The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran, Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas, The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne, and pretty much everything Lydia Joyce has ever written. So, if any of you can think of other historical romances I might like, I’d love suggestions in the comments. (And if you write books like this and are looking for an agent, please query me!)

Finally, would it be good if I posted more lists along these lines? Or other types of lists? I can’t promise I’ll do so, but I enjoy list-making and find it a relaxing and useful means of procrastination.
dianafox: (Default)
( Apr. 29th, 2008 05:13 pm)
I haven't blogged before now because I have been busy working and clearing out my inbox... I am down to less than 200 messages to answer, which is heartening but took most of the weekend to accomplish. An update on the slush situation, partially re-posted from Verla Kay here:

I usually try to answer queries in a month or less, although I've gotten kind of slammed so I'm a little behind at the moment. I hope to get through most of what's left from the end of March and beginning of April in the next few days, and it's always okay to re-query if it's been a while, or you're worried that I might not have gotten your email... I don't mind! (And by "a while", I mean if it's been more than a month on a query, or more than 6-8 weeks if I have your manuscript. If these response windows change, I'll post about it to my AgentQuery and Publishers Marketplace pages.)

Some people have written to ask which of my two email addresses they should use for querying me, and the answer is that either my first name or 'submissions' at foxliterary.com will work; I do have the spam filters set up a little differently for these two addresses, but mail should get to me from both of them. I prefer to be queried at the submissions address because then I can just look at the header and know it's a submission--also, if you put the word query AND the title of your book in the subject line, that makes my life easier when sorting through email.

I should also add that any preferences I state here should be viewed as helpful suggestions, not draconian rules which will cause me to auto-reject a query! I see receiving submissions as a privilege, not a right. I appreciate how hard people work at this process and I'm not interested in judging anyone for things like accidentally sending the same email twice, forgetting to include sample pages at the end of your email, using the less preferred address, etc. (believe it or not, these are mistakes even agents have been known to make--sometimes even with editors!--because we're human too). And, yes, I realize it's somewhat contradictory to encourage both perfectionism and detachment, but querying agents is hard enough on both sides that I sometimes just want to tell authors that it's all right to relax a little. Neither they nor I are ever going to be perfect. At our best, we're still going to learn and improve.

Which leads to today's question (from [livejournal.com profile] takroc) --

What is your opinion on critique groups? Live face to face ones and the online variety?

I am very much for them, with the caveat that just as with anything else it's important to have a good one, and a dysfunctional critique group may be worse than no critique group. Overall, however, I think they're invaluable and almost all my clients have made use of them.

As far as online vs. face to face, it's what works best for the individual that's important. While the Internet offers wonderful resources for helping people find and participate in a critique group that is right for them (as well as a way for people to measure whether a group is helpful by talking to people in other groups about what does or doesn't work for them personally), I don't think it matters where the group meets as long as it helps create better writers!

And with that I will go back to answering queries.
dianafox: (Default)
( Apr. 23rd, 2008 01:54 pm)
First, I’m thrilled by the amount of submissions I’ve received over the past week--I have been working my way through them as quickly as I can, but thank you to everyone who’s been spreading the word and please keep those queries coming! Before I talk about the query process, though, I wanted to answer a question from [livejournal.com profile] sirenecheval, who asked

There are more and more agents blogging these days, many for many reasons. What are your reasons?

I will start off with a confession:

I never wanted to blog. There are already so many great agent blogs out there, and I resisted for years because I thought, what are the odds that I am going to have anything to say that one of them hasn't covered more than adequately at one time or another? I used to joke that if I ever had a blog I would probably just end up posting about taxes and other fascinating things nobody else ever seems to write about.

However, I do think it's important to have a place to publicize what's going on with clients and the agency, and to be able to answer questions from potential clients. More than that, I realized that there were some things that were unique to me that it might be useful to share, and also that I really do love talking about myself and could doubtless get used to doing it on the Internet if I tried. (This may or may not coincide with my talking about publishing, but hopefully it will to some extent since I'm assuming that that's what most of you are here to read about.)

That said, one thing that’s a little different about me and the query process that I want to mention right away is that I almost always request full manuscripts rather than partials. That’s because I use email for everything. Even if you send me a paper query letter, if you include your email address--and you should always include your email address!--I’m going to email you with my request, and ask you to send me an electronic copy of your manuscript.

I do get that it’s exciting to receive a request for a full as opposed to a partial because it can be a way of gauging an agent’s level of interest, and I think this is still the case… when dealing with hard copy submissions. In that case, requesting partials makes sense, because it saves space as well as money spent on postage. With email, if I ask for the full manuscript, that way it’s in my inbox and I can read as much or as little as I like without having to email the author more than one request. This saves time for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll try to answer comments and update again soon with answers to the rest of your questions.
dianafox: (Default)
( Apr. 18th, 2008 09:50 pm)

Thanks so much for all your comments, and the warm welcome.

I've spent the entire day at New York Comic Con and now I am going to go watch Battlestar Galactica before I fall into bed, but I'll post again after the convention is over... Hope you're all having a great weekend!

dianafox: (Default)
( Apr. 16th, 2008 02:56 am)
Hi! I'll be posting here about my career as a literary agent and other publishing stuff. I'm an infrequent blogger at best so it will probably just be agency news and announcements about my clients for the most part, but feel free to suggest other topics or ask me questions in the comments.
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