Thursday, December 11, 2008

My First FAQ

In desperate need of a blog post that exists purely to spite A.S. King (long story), I thought I'd take a moment to address a few questions that have come my way since taking over here at Flux. It occurred me to that the answers might be of use to people besides the one who asked the questions. Many of these questions are related not just to Flux but to "the biz" in general. Please remember: most of these answers apply to ME. Questions that focus on preference are MY preference and may differ by editor or publishing house. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Let's check the Flux mailbag for some FAQ!

Writermania100 writes: Is there a standard font and format for manuscripts to be submitted to editors and agents?

I think there are a few standards. Double spaced? Absolutely. I don't think I'll find anyone who argues with me on that. Will I banish you to the Total Perspective Vortex for sending me something single spaced? No. (I will WISH I could banish you as I hit Ctrl-A and double space it myself and that will make me start reading your work with my mind in a haze of anger and resentment but I won't banish you.) One inch margins? Yeah, I think that's pretty standard across the board. Fonts? Oy. Some old school editors and agents ask for Courier. Personally, I hate Courier. Dunno why. Just hard on my eyes. I'm very much a Times New Roman guy. (And, yes, if you submit something in Courier, I'll do my Ctrl-A trick and magic it into being TNR.) I encourage people NOT to get creative with fonts. Don't submit your fantasy novel in Olde English font. (Please, for the love of Mike, don't submit ANYTHING in Olde English font.)

YAguy asks: Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to the stuff you read?

Of course I do. The person who tells you they don't is a liar-pants. Will I share them with you? Mmm. I dunno. As soon as I start saying, "I hate when writers do this..." it sends writers in a tizzy, either fumbling to "fix" something in their manuscript or they denounce me as a fool who wouldn't know their brilliant writing if it grew legs, crawled up my arm, and danced the Watusi. I'll say this much: I enjoy logic. I want things to make sense on some level. If your hockey playing, first person boy protagonist is spending WAY too much time cataloging every article of clothing that every character he encounters is wearing ("Todd was standing there in his navy blue, GAP, zip-up pullover, his dark tan Dockers, ankle cut white socks, and brown bowling shoes..."*), I need to know that there's a really good reason this guy is obsessed with fashion**. Otherwise, I'm going to assume you just took a writing class where the importance of concrete details was impressed upon you and you took it a liiiitle too much too heart. Again, will it make me reject you? Probably not. But you can bet any sweet bippy you may have lying around that it WILL come up in my editorial letter. And it will look a lot like this: "Is this really his voice? :-("

SuperAgent29 asks: Are you going to go and change everything that Andrew worked so hard to establish?

This actually is THE most FAQ I have. My somewhat wishy-washy answer thus far has been: I don't see the point in fixing that which isn't broken. That's not to say that I might not explore some new territory (I like to experiment) but I like what Flux is and I like what we're known for. My goal isn't to change and shake things up. My goal is to continue the standards we've tried to maintain since our inception. If that's a little vague and evasive, good. Means I can do whatever I want. :-)

Although I never opened myself up to questions, I find myself getting them. That's cool. Feel free to keep sending and maybe I'll do another of these soon. And not just out of spite.

*= I made this line up. This is not from an actual submission. But it closely approximates one of those moments where I go, "Ummm..." in certain manuscripts.

**=I'm not saying that hockey playing, first person boy protagonists CAN'T be obsessed with fashion. That might actually make for an interesting book. But the observations should be organic to the character. You should assume, for the purposes of this post, that said HPFPBP showed absolutely NO OTHER INTEREST in fashion throughout the book, except when another character would walk through the door and he would interrupt his discussion of Derek Boogaard to go into extended detail on what the character was wearing.


theyayayas said...

Maybe "Todd" is actually Sean Avery?

Trisha (who know you made up the example, but would totally read a YA novel about a Sean Avery-like teen)

theyayayas said...

Make that who knows you made up the example...

A.S. King said...

Great blog! We share a pet peeve. I also rely on logic.
I suppose I should blog now, eh?

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Shoot. *Reformats BALLAD out of Old English font*.

Brian, it was sexier in that font.

Brian Mandabach said...

Amy King is my sister, so I started reading this post in a haze of anger and resentment.

But then I read her comment, so I'll just say, great blog!

And I have another question, how do you feel about animals that talk and think like humans? (As literary characters.)

Brian F. said...

I'm for anything that's done well.

A.S. King said...

I always wanted a brother. :)

You know, I thought about this some more and I have to say that lists of clothing in fiction drive me bonkers. I think it's because I don't care about clothes in real life, so clothes in fiction - especially listing brand names I've never heard of - seems a bit like forcing it. That said, often times I will not describe my characters at all. (That way, I can write whole books about chickens who think they're humans, and no one is any wiser.)

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