Hannah Bowman

Literary Agent

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Anonymous asked: Now that the "blog is dead" how important is it for an author to have a social media platform? What do you look for when you're assessing platform?

For debut fiction writers it’s not key — although I encourage all my authors to get on Twitter and Facebook once they have a book deal. But in fiction, the book is really all that matters. For nonfiction, platform is more important, because you have to be seen as a leader in your subject.

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Anonymous asked: I am in the process of leaving my agent for a variety of reasons. I will soon query again. Assuming my query process is successful and a potential agent calls for a discussion, how much will s/he want to know about my relationship with my past agent? I'm afraid of saying too little and looking like I'm hiding something. (I'm not.) I don't want to say too much, though, and look like I'm either high maintenance (I'm not) or trash-talking my previous agent (which is unprofessional). Ideas? Thanks!

I think that really depends on the new agent you find! I would probably want to know why you parted ways with the previous agent, but of course you can be somewhat vague in answering that if you don’t want to give details.

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Anonymous asked: What is the difference between NA (new adult) & A (adult)?

Ha, that’s a subject of heated debate! See my Twitter timeline on Friday. Right now, NA in the market is pretty much only a subset of contemporary romance about college-aged students. But that may be changing. When in doubt, I would just call your project adult.

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Anonymous asked: Hi Ms. Bowman. I've completed a Fantasy manuscript w/ a 13 y/o MC (other characters are 14y/o or older) and I was told by an agent that my manuscript would be considered upper MG. When querying should I specify that my work is upper MG and avoid agents that do YA? Thank you in advance.

I think it’s more likely MG than YA, although it depends on the voice — if you think it could be YA, you could query those agents, who can always pass.

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Anonymous asked: I'm currently writing a YA book and I can't figure out if it's horror or paranormal. It deals with abandoned churches and possession. 1) Do I need to have that figured out before I submit queries, 2) How would you distinguish between those two genres?

I think horror is scarier than paranormal — that’s the main distinction I see.

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Anonymous asked: This might sound silly, but I'm curious: is it normal for an author to hope that they and their agent become friends? My manuscript isn't done yet, but when I eventually have it ready to be sent off I have this silly hope that beyond being someone who represents my book, my agent will be someone that is genuinely my friend. Is that dumb? I feel like a little kid for saying that haha

I think the nature of the relationship depends on the agent and the author, but it’s certainly a close relationship in every case — you hope to work closely with your agent for a long time, so you have to get along well.

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Anonymous asked: If you happened to love the first novel of an already complete trilogy, and the author is so amazing that you offered representation, would you then want to read the next two books, or would you focus on trying to sell the first before touching the sequels?

I would certainly read all three (probably before offering rep and certainly before selling it).

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sharpewords asked: Hi Hannah, I was just wondering how you feel personally about prologues? I am working on an YA epic fantasy and my critique partner suggested to rethink mine because agents and publishers don't like them. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta and Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes both have prologues. If you request pages and there is a prologue would you keep reading? Thanks in advance.

I’ll be honest: I’m one of the rare agents who likes prologues, especially in fantasy. But they do have to be short and express something important to the story.

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Anonymous asked: Do you feel the YA sci-fi market is saturated? I am querying, but I can easily see how my novel could compare to the likes of DIVERGENT or THE HUNGER GAMES even though its not particularly distopian. I'm just scared that I'm wasting my time on a hard sell. Thanks.

I think YA sci-fi is hard right now, because it’s very hard to differentiate sci-fi from dystopian. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy.

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Anonymous asked: Writing my first novel and I'm 1/2 way done (thriller Tom Clancy type military genre) maybe 2 more months and I'm done. I would like to submit to an agent but I have two questions. First: You're an agent would you look at a half written novel? Second: Without a referral and if you had to put a number to it, what % is likely that a submission from an unknown even gets acknowledged. Along those likes if someone does actually look at a submission, whats the actual response time from most agents?

1. No, we only consider complete submissions.

2. I respond to all queries (unless they get stuck in my spam filter). An agent’s website should let you know if they respond or if no-response-means-no. Right now, my response time to queries is about a month, and about 6 weeks for submissions.