WE ARE BACK! FOR REALSIES, Y'ALL. Kelly and JJ go through a backlog of questions, give answers, and catch up a bit on life. Also: their call for submissions for their query critique podcast is still open! If you would like your query critiqued by the two of us, please send them to email@example.com with the subject QUERY CRITIQUE.
Is it best to get an agent in your own country or can you query elsewhere?
This really depends on where you want your "home" market to be. If you are writing in English and want to your domestic market to be the US, then it's probably best to query a US agent, as they would have the most number of contacts in US publishing. But there are plenty of literary agents in other countries who act as subagents for agents abroad and sell rights in their territories, so again, it comes down comfort and where you want to prioritize your sales.
Why are books that tell, don't show sometimes really great despite all advice to the contrary? (I.e. Why are books that "break the rules" still really "good"?)
(Note: the writer calls these sorts of books "literary cheesecake" which is great.) As with anything in a creative industry, a lot of things come down to subjective taste, but also enjoyment factor. There are plenty of books both Kelly and JJ love that are less than perfect craft-wise (they call those "crack"). Craft is one thing, crack is another. It would be great if both came together in the same book, but honestly? A lot of us probably prefer cheesecake to broccoli.
When do you know when a book is ready to be queried after it's been critiqued and revised?
This is one of those situations when you know when you know. If your story has a coherent, cohesive beginning, middle, and end and all you're working on now is nitpicky, niggling edits, then it's probably ready. Agents aren't looking for perfection; they're looking for potential. Obviously don't send in something with egregious errors or half-baked in execution, but if the story is sound, it's probably ready to be queried.
How do I break into publishing? Do I go to a graduate/summer publishing course?
We've written some posts here at PubCrawl about breaking into publishing, but the short answer is this: it is an incredibly competitive industry, so don't expect to go to one of these publishing courses and end up with a job. Make sure you have backup plans and work every angle to develop contacts and skills.
How do you go about handling an R&R (revise and resubmit)?
Again, with many other answers, "it depends." There's no need to inform the editor or agent of your revision plans; the plans matter less than the execution. If an agent is requesting an R&R, you can respond to the email where they requested it.
Is it worth hiring a freelance editor?
Short answer: No. Longer answer: It depends. There are a lot of free resources out there to help writers with craft issues, and of course, a good critique partner or group are worth their weight in gold. HOWEVER. If you are looking to be self-published, or if you writing nonfiction, it would be helpful to get a professional editor's opinion. Also, if a lot of the feedback you're getting on your manuscript is "close, but not quite" and you're not sure how to execute the revision feedback, then it may be helpful to hire a freelance editor.
How do you specify age groups for nonfiction groups published before recommended guidelines?
Er...use your best judgment? We would also recommend reaching out to the library as they would have better resources as to the guidelines for establishing age groups. (Librarians are magic!)
What We're Working On
JJ is working on—you guessed it—book 2. And going to the gym!
Kelly went out on submission with her first client! She will also be teaching classes at Loft Literary in the fall.
What We're Reading/Books Discussed
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas**
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao*
Off Menu Recommendations
* PubCrawl member ** PubCrawl alumna
That's all for this week! We are back to a regular posting schedule and will return with a QUERY REFRESHER next week! Also a reminder, our submission call for queries to be critiqued on the podcast is still open, so if you would like feedback on your queries, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line QUERY CRITIQUE. As always if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, send us an ask on Tumblr, or tweet using the hashtag #askpubcrawl!