Author Topic: Just finished Elantris  (Read 2838 times)

SeanTMStiennon

  • Level 1
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Ph34r m4 s|<1illz
    • View Profile
    • Author Page
Just finished Elantris
« on: August 01, 2006, 12:06:08 AM »
I just finished Elantris a few minutes ago, and I paid a visit to your website seeking for a way to congragulate you on a novel well-crafted.  I hope I've found it.

Anyway, I enjoyed Elantris immensely.  The characters were particularly impressive--Galladon and Hrathen leading the pack for me--and I enjoyed watching the various conflicts and character relationships develop.  The resolutions didn't disappoint.

(SPOILERS)

When I started reading, one of my main worries was that Hrathen/Shu-Dereth was going to be a big slam on traditional religion--that's something which always irritates me.  It was great to see that Hrathen was a complex character who, in the end, made perhaps the book's most powerful choice for good without sacrificing his faith in God--his last thought is of standing before Jaddeth.  Even Dilaf rose about the usual stereotype of the religious fantatic.  All I can say is, bravo!  And thanks for an awesome read, Brandon (Mr. Sanderson?)

I write science-fiction/fantasy myself--I've probably written about 800,000 words in the past five years, including four novel rough drafts and a whole mess of short stories.  I've had some success in small-presses with my shorts--Silver Lake Publishing released my first short story collection, entitled Six with Flinteye, a year or so back (six space opera tales about Jalazar Flinteye, mercenary, bounty hunter, and body guard, available on Amazon.com, B&N.com, Fictionwise.com, and the publisher's website).  I've also made a couple sales to Pitch-Black Publishing (www.pitchblackbooks.com) and various e-zines and small-print magazines.

Anyway...I've got a publishing question for you, if you have a little time to burn: I'm a couple weeks away from completing a novel (with revision and all--it's the first book I've actually revised and prepared for publication).  My question is: Do you recommend sending the book straight to publishers who accept unsolicited subs (Baen, DAW, and Tor), or would you advise starting off with query letters to agents?  Or is there a third option?

Thanks!  I'll definitely be reading Mistborn, although financial and storage space limitations will probably force me to wait for the paperback...

EUOL

  • Moderator
  • Level 58
  • *
  • Posts: 4708
  • Fell Points: 33
  • Mr. Prolific [tm]
    • View Profile
    • Brandon Sanderson dot com
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2006, 01:57:37 AM »
Sean,

Thanks for the vote of confidence!  (And please, call me Brandon.)

My suggestion is to go for BOTH of the first options.  Send the book to the above mentioned places (one at a time, unless you're brave and want to risk the wrath of publishers who don't like simultaneous submissions.)  My experience is that Daw gets back fastest, Baen second, and Tor third.  Of course, you'll want to pick the publisher who would work best.  Send a space opera to Baen first, but an epic fantasy to Tor, a stand alone fantasy to Daw, that kind of thing.  

Last I checked, you could still slip unsolicited subs in at Ace, if you knew what you were doing, but that could have changed.

Also, send to agents.  I'd recommend not just queries (most agents ignore those, in my experience) but trying to look for agents who will accept sample chapters and outlines.  That improves your chances.  The exception is Joshua Bilmes, who is my agent.  (And whom I highly recommend.)  He reads and responds truthfully to every query he gets.

The third option is to try and meet editors and agents, getting a feel for which ones specifically would like your writing style.  This is easiest done at a place like Worldcon or World Fantasy.  Reading their blogs also works, as does watching which books they specifically work on and publish.  (I.E.  Patrick Neilsen Hayden likes different work from Moshe Feder, who likes different work from Jim Frankel--but all are Tor editors.  If you send blind to Tor, you never know who will read the ms.)  

And, I guarantee that MISTBORN is worth the money and the space in hardback!  But, I can understand financial limitations.  Goodness knows, we've all had them at times!

Note--I don't know if I spelled any of those editors names right, and I'm too lazy to look!  But they're close, I think.  Patrick did John Scalzi in recent books, Jim found Terry Goodkind, and Moshe publishes me.  Just in case you were wondering at some of their stylistic preferences.
http://www.BrandonSanderson.com

"Technically, I don't even have a brain."--Fellfrosch

stacer

  • Level 58
  • *
  • Posts: 4641
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • Stacy Whitman's Grimoire
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2006, 02:55:36 AM »
I thought Jim Frankel left Tor. I had heard that on Publisher's Lunch or something like that at least six months ago. Is he still with them and I'm uninformed?

And EUOL, you did pretty good, except it's Nielsen, which is an easy mistake. I only know it at this moment because I went over to Making Light, Patrick and Teresa's blog, to grab that url.

They're the only adult fantasy editors I know of who blog, but I haven't really looked far. There's also several children's fantasy editors who blog, like Cheryl Klein, who works for Arthur Levine at Scholastic. She doesn't work with all fantasy--her latest projects seem to be chick lit YA--but her blog is an interesting read.

Also, I highly recommend Miss Snark, a New York agent writing anonymously, as a really good resource for info on querying agents.
Help start a small press dedicated to publishing multicultural fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults. http://preview.tinyurl.com/pzojaf.

Follow our blog at http://www.tupublishing.com
We're on Twitter, too! http://www.twitter.com/tupublishing

EUOL

  • Moderator
  • Level 58
  • *
  • Posts: 4708
  • Fell Points: 33
  • Mr. Prolific [tm]
    • View Profile
    • Brandon Sanderson dot com
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2006, 01:01:14 PM »
Stacer,

Last I spoke with Jim was at WFA back in October, so if he left in Jan or Feb, I might not have heard about it.  He did seem pretty disgruntled, since Goodkind had recently dumped him.  
http://www.BrandonSanderson.com

"Technically, I don't even have a brain."--Fellfrosch

SeanTMStiennon

  • Level 1
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Ph34r m4 s|<1illz
    • View Profile
    • Author Page
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2006, 01:02:55 PM »
Thanks, Brandon!  This particular book is a space opera of the gunfights-and-blades variety, using the same character from my short story collection (it's a stand-alone, though).  I may have an opening with Roc, so I'll probably follow that up first and see if it leads anywhere--they tend to publish relatively short books (100k-120k), and are definitely fans of series characters.

After that, I'm thinking Baen is indeed my best bet--plus, I've got a couple stories on Eric Flint's desk for the final round of consideration for Baen's Universe, so if he buys those, it might make them more open to buying a novel from me.

I actually did go to World Fantasy Con last year (in Madison, my hometown), but I mainly met people I already knew online or from previous conventions.  I guess I wasn't exactly sure how to approach editors--I guess "Hello, Mr. X.  What sort of work are you looking for?" is probably a good bet.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained  ;).

Say...if you don't mind me asking, what kind of stuff do you think your agent is looking for?  If he's at all a fan of space opera, I'll definitely send him a query.

I really like the sound of Mistborn (I was involved with Deep Magic, and I read your interview there), but $28 is pretty steep for one book, given that I'm a college student and all...I might track down a used copy, but then you wouldn't get any royalties :(.  Or maybe I'll sell a story (six cents a word at Universe!) and have an influx of cash to burn ;D.

Thanks again for your time and advice!

EUOL

  • Moderator
  • Level 58
  • *
  • Posts: 4708
  • Fell Points: 33
  • Mr. Prolific [tm]
    • View Profile
    • Brandon Sanderson dot com
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2006, 01:19:33 PM »
Yes, Baen would be an excellent choice.

The trick at the conventions is to NOT hang out all the time with your friends, but instead corner authors, editors, and agents and talk to them.  Generally, you want to ask about what they're working on, ask for advice for new writers, non-threatening things like that.  Ask authors how they broke in, who their editors/agents are, that sort of things.  Networking.  

Joshua Bilmes, my agent, would also be a very good choice, as he does more space opera than he does things like mine.  He represents Elizabeth Moon and Simon R. Green, for instance.  
http://www.BrandonSanderson.com

"Technically, I don't even have a brain."--Fellfrosch

SeanTMStiennon

  • Level 1
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Ph34r m4 s|<1illz
    • View Profile
    • Author Page
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2006, 06:29:44 PM »
I'll keep that in mind at my next con...and I'll definitely give Mr. Bilmes a shot. :).

Thank you!

Miriel

  • Level 2
  • **
  • Posts: 30
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2006, 06:58:12 PM »
I also have a publishing question, if you don't mind, Brandon.  I submitted one of my novels to Tor recently, and got a note with feedback about what they did really like, and what they didn't (a problem with believability, caused because I waited too long to explain part of the world).  I made the revisions, and I'd like to re-submit it, but Tor never specifically asked for the novel back.  Would it be rude to send it in again? I don't want to offend an editor.

EUOL

  • Moderator
  • Level 58
  • *
  • Posts: 4708
  • Fell Points: 33
  • Mr. Prolific [tm]
    • View Profile
    • Brandon Sanderson dot com
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2006, 07:06:01 PM »
No, I don't think it would be rude to do so.  Just be as polite in your letter as you just were!

Getting a personal response from an editor is a fairly big deal.  If they took the time to tell you what they liked and disliked about the book, then that means they read a significant portion of it--which is a very good sign.  I'd say that it would be a bad idea to NOT send it back.

Just make sure it goes to the exact same editor.  Out of curiosity, who wrote you the comments?
http://www.BrandonSanderson.com

"Technically, I don't even have a brain."--Fellfrosch

Skar

  • Moderator
  • Level 54
  • *****
  • Posts: 3979
  • Fell Points: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2006, 08:20:56 PM »
To chime in... My father once sent a story to Analog and got a reply with feedback in it but no specific request to see the story again.  He made the changes but didn't send it back to them.  Years later he ran into the editor that had sent him the feedback and mentioned the story.  The guy recognized the story and told my Dad he had been expecting to publish it if he got it back.  My Dad swiftly kicked himself in the pants.

I think that if they go to the trouble to respond like that they actually EXPECT to see it again.

</2cents>
"Skar is the kind of bird who, when you try to kill him with a stone, uses it, and the other bird, to take vengeance on you in a swirling melee of death."

-Fellfrosch

Miriel

  • Level 2
  • **
  • Posts: 30
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2006, 08:44:15 PM »
I'm afraid I don't know who wrote them: the comments were written on the empty half-page of the rejection letter, and they weren't signed.

Shrain

  • Level 34
  • *
  • Posts: 2030
  • Fell Points: 1
  • Gargoyles have all the fun.
    • View Profile
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2006, 09:32:16 PM »
hmm. Maybe it was an EA then?
Lord Ruler and Lady Protractor were off on vacation, thus the angles running amok.
--Spriggan

"The movie of my life must be really low-budget."
--Harry Dresden in DEAD BEAT

stacer

  • Level 58
  • *
  • Posts: 4641
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • Stacy Whitman's Grimoire
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2006, 10:06:08 PM »
When I don't sign handwritten comments on a form rejection, it's because it's just iffy enough that I'd just as soon not see it again as see it. I probably wouldn't even remember it if it was resubmitted, unless it was too like the previous version that I am reminded by its poor quality (I've had this happen before).

If it's significantly improved, then I'd resubmit. If it's not significantly changed, I wouldn't worry about it. Of course, it does matter whether the notes mark a serious problem in the writing itself. It sounds like yours, Miriel, was just that it needed more up-front development. If so--and if it really wasn't the editor just trying to throw you at least one reason it was rejected (sometimes, honestly, I just can't find a good reason except "the writing is really bad," which would be entirely too rude and inspecific), then yes, resubmit, noting that you've submitted this previously and made changes according to suggestions. It's a tougher situation, though, when you don't know who wrote it, especially at a house like Tor that has so many editors (in my own house, we only have 2 on the children's books, so it has to be one of us).

It's all so individual. Sometimes I have more time to pay attention to slush, so I try to give a little more feedback even to the ones I'm not interested in at all, because they have someday-potential. Most months I have nowhere near that kind of time, so only the better ones get the nice rejects from me. As a general rule, yes, go with what EUOL says, but also be realistic about how significantly improved the book is.
Help start a small press dedicated to publishing multicultural fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults. http://preview.tinyurl.com/pzojaf.

Follow our blog at http://www.tupublishing.com
We're on Twitter, too! http://www.twitter.com/tupublishing

SeanTMStiennon

  • Level 1
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Ph34r m4 s&#124;&lt;1illz
    • View Profile
    • Author Page
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2006, 12:02:59 AM »
Brandon,

Another question occurs to me...how did you break in?  ;)

Apologies if you've already answered that one somewhere on your site.

stacer

  • Level 58
  • *
  • Posts: 4641
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • Stacy Whitman's Grimoire
Re: Just finished Elantris
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2006, 12:15:37 AM »
You probably *should* have it somewhere on your site, if you don't. :) A lot of people ask writers that.
Help start a small press dedicated to publishing multicultural fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults. http://preview.tinyurl.com/pzojaf.

Follow our blog at http://www.tupublishing.com
We're on Twitter, too! http://www.twitter.com/tupublishing