Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management and author of The First Five Pages, answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Will my location affect my ability to land a deal?
"Hi Noah, I'm a 13 year old writer from Singapore. As the arts scene is not very vibrant in my country, I wish to find an American/British publisher. Do you think they will entertain my requests, taking into consideration my country? Thanks! "
I wouldn't worry about this too much. Good writing is universal. When an agent receives a manuscript, he takes it on its own terms. He does not – or at least he should not – look at the author bio to decide what country the author is from when making a decision. Good writing is good writing. And bad writing is bad writing. I'd rather take on a good author from Singapore than a lousy one from New York City. I don't see readers discriminating when making their purchases either – and I'm sure we can point to a ton of bestsellers written by authors who live all around the world.
The bigger issue will be whether your book is strictly about Singapore, and in a very limited way. That is not to say that a book about Singapore could not become a huge international bestseller. But if your book, the way you have written it, feels very local and specific to publishers, and feels as if it could not translate to other places and other cultures, then that might give them pause. So it is really about the topic of your book – and your writing style and execution -- not about where you live.
As far as your age, it is possible that could give some agents or publishers pause. I would not necessarily advertise your age in your query letter. Let them read and accept your work on its own terms. Then if they decide to accept it, you can always tell them after the fact. Indeed, in some cases that could end up being a selling point, as well.
The most important thing for you to worry about, being 13, is that you should keep writing, keep revising, keep improving your skills, and keep reading. At your age, you are building the foundation and building blocks for a long and successful career as an author. No matter what, don't get discouraged. It can take many writers many years of rejections before they break through. Don't let it affect you, don't pay too much attention to it, and whatever you do, keep writing and keep trying.
Please feel free to ask Mr. Lukeman your questions about publishing (or about the craft of writing) by posting them in the "comments" section of the blog. He cannot answer every question, but will pick questions to respond to periodically. Please be advised that he is providing this service simply to give back to the writing community and that he is not accepting new clients, so please don't use this blog to query him.
To give back to the writing community, Mr. Lukeman has made several of his books available for free, including How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, How to Write a Great Query Letter and Ask a Literary Agent (Year One). Feel free to visit www.writeagreatquery.com to download the e-books.
Periodically, Mr. Lukeman will send out the Ask a Literary Agent ezine. If you'd like to subscribe, you may do so here:
Noah Lukeman is President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, finalists for the National Book Award, multiple New York Times bestsellers, major celebrities, and faculty of universities ranging from Harvard to Stanford.
Mr. Lukeman is also author of several books on the craft of writing, including The First Five Pages (Simon & Schuster), The Plot Thickens (St. Martins Press) and A Dash of Style: (W.W. Norton). He has also authored two e-books: How to Write a Great Query Letter and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, which he gives away for free as a way of giving back to the writing community. He has also made available over 100 pages of free advice for authors from all his books, which you can read on his site.
Mr. Lukeman has been a guest speaker on the subjects of writing and publishing at numerous forums, including Harvard, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, Stanford University, and the Writers Digest Panel at Book Expo America. He earned his B.A. with High Honors in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, cum laude.