You Asked For It

J. Patterson, of Sucksville, IL asks:

"If I am going to be querying a comedic piece of fiction (yes, it's more than boob puns, just not much more) - should I target commercial fiction agents? Those agents listed as accepting "quirky" or "humor" on Agent Query? What category do I fall under? "

"Quirky" is one of those words, like "interesting," "unique," and "special," that travel under the guise of a compliment but are actually what we used to call out on the West Coast a "secret dis." For example, we are pretty sure we got voted "most unique" in the graduating senior class of our terrifying backwoods hyperconservative hometown only because there was no category for "most likely to come out as a Jesus-hating baby-sacrificing communist homosexual within fifteen minutes of graduating." Anyway. We cannot fully answer this question without knowing more about your DO NOT QUERY US WE ARE ANONYMOUS project, but it sounds as though yes, you should query agents who specialize in "quirky" commercial fiction. We mean "quirky" as no insult to you.

A. Fournier, of Meaulnes, AK demands:

"What percentage of queries actually result in representation... on average? Also, how many clients do most agents have at one time?"

"Steve" receives around 200 queries a week; we request 3 or 4 manuscripts a week; "Steve" has signed up six clients out of the slush pile since we started working for "Steve" about a year and a half ago. HOWEVER. This information is of no use to you. You ALREADY KNOW the odds are against you, author-friends. If your book is GOOD and/or has COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL, someone will eventually take notice. If it helps you in your Process to imagine us standing behind you, screaming "SACK UP, BABIES," please feel free to do so.Number of clients varies wildly amongst the agent population. "Steve" has about thirty, but some of them fools ain't churned out a book since we was in diapers.

C. Dickens, of Charming-Upon-Loquacious, NH wonders:

"If Manhattan were to become inundated, what item do you have in your office, or could you scrounge up in your building, that you could use as a flotation device and/or floating cocktail bar? "

Honey, by the time that happens, we are going to be riding high on the seventeen-figure advance our Young Adult Fantasy Novel will shortly garner us, lolling about in our Italian Villa, with Baby Cave bringing us delicious cocktails and tasty snacks whilst our Support Team fans us with palm fronds.

H. Bloom, of Pomposity, AR ponders:

"Do you ever socialize with assistants from competing agencies? If so, what might a typical activity and/or topic of conversation be?"

Funny you should ask! We have just got home after having drinksies with the Nice Assistant (who, unlike us, is polite, discreet, and always tastefully dressed) where we were discussing how much being a writer is like being a contestant on ANTM. You either got the face or you don't, kiddos, and all the boob jobs in the world ain't gonna make you pretty. Also, we talk mad shit about the back office.

R. Bringhurst, of Joyful, WA enquires:

"If it's more difficult to sell a novel by a debut writer, why isn't anyone publishing paperback originals of debut novelists? I mean high-quality paperback originals, like the Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions, with the flaps and heavier paper. I know I am much more likely to buy a book by an author I've never heard of for $15 than $27, and I can't imagine I'm the only one. Is it just the negative stigma associated with the phrase 'paperback original'?"

Honestly, this is a fine example of The Publishing Industry Acting Like a Bunch of Cretins. We don't know. We recently witnessed a Tragic Debacle, involving a debut author of "Steve's," wherein "Steve" pleaded extensively with the publisher of said debut for a paperback original; said publisher refused, added HORRIFIC cover for good measure; book tanked; career of debut author is now dubious at best. Indie presses are far ahead of the curve on this one.

M. Bulgakov of Behemoth, NY entreats:

"Editorial Anonymous posted this as part of a blog entry on overenthusiastic, unagented first-time authors: 'No questions about escalations? No polite query about a slightly higher advance? No discussion of where I see the book development going?' The higher advance part I get. What are escalations? What does book development mean here?"

We assume the lovely EA is referring to royalty escalation clauses in author contracts; basically, this means your royalties go up if your sales do. "Book Development" is like when you have the Magical Conversation with your Potential Agent, and the Agent asks you where you see your Revisions headed, and you are all like, "I really envision this novel as a sort of homage to Anna Karenina , with certain postmodernist elements, and of course the meta-narrative which references freely both The Society of the Spectacle and Ulysses," and your Potential Agent is all like, "Yeah, totally! I think you should also change the milieu to Forks and add a little something LINK NOT SAFE FOR WORK sparkly." In other words, a conversation you really want to have before you sign anything.

M. Anderson, of Feed, NJ muses:

"Will the publishing industry screw up with e-books the way the music industry did with mp3s?"

Don't know. We will never, ever, not if you hold a GUN TO OUR HEAD, read a book (actual book, not manuscript) on an electronic device. Never. We refer you now to other people who have some idea of what they are talking about

J. Rowling, of Concerned, AL poses:

"Who would you bet on in a bar fight/arm wrestling match/thumb war/first person to successfully brainwash the whole effing world? Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer?"

We recently reread A Study in Scarlet and are reminded that even the inimitable Sherlock Holmes thought twice before fucking with the Mormons. We are going with the Steems on this one.

F. Fanon of Revolution, OR queries:

"How do you keep your butt from getting droopy and flat while sitting at a desk all day? Squats on your lunch hour?"

A vigorous regimen of squats and lunges. Not at the office. In the interests of full disclosure, Rejectionist père is 6'4" and capped out at a buck-fifty for most of his adult life, so we have a pretty hefty genetic advantage in this arena.

B. Smith of Dreamy, MA demands:

"Are press on nails the answer for an impromptu Friday night switch from typing to club-hopping?"

Nope. Karl is.