Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 23, 2014

Ask Kathy

Children’s book illustrator and writer Nata Romeo sent in this stylize iguana for today’s post. She says, “Art is my passion.” I recently completed illustrations for a book titled ‘Wildlife Animals A to Z’, which she intends to self publish. Her preferred medium is a combination of watercolor and pen and ink. 

This coming weekend I will be meeting with Agent Sean McCarthy and Publishing Executive Director and Managing Editor, Steve Meltzer. Some of you have sent in questions for me to ask so I can relay the answers to you. Please email me if you would like to add to the list.

Here are the questions sent to me:

1.  What do you think of prologues? Use them or lose them?

2.  When formatting a manuscript: Do you know of any rule that says you must NOT indent the first paragraph of a new chapter? What do you think?

3.  What’s the best way to label a manuscript/book that falls on the borderline between middle grades and young adult? (Think ages 10 to 14. For example, I’m talking about a horsey book, and that is the age at which the most girls are the most horse-crazy, and the best time to market such a book to them.) Would agents/editors want to see it called upper middle grades? Tween?

4.  What is the preferred word length for a book aimed at the upper middle grades/tween reader?

5.  Are there any conventions for labeling manuscripts/books that mix genres? (For example, a series that is historical/science fiction/fantasy.)

6.  Because agents now often don’t respond if they aren’t interested in a query, that certainly makes it acceptable, almost imperative, to send simultaneous queries (although with each obviously tailored to a particular agent/agency). Is ten to a dozen too many to send out at once?

7.  Underlining makes it clearer to copyeditors and typesetters what needs to be italicized, but do agents have a preference whether the manuscript uses the italic or the underline function of the computer to indicate what will ultimately be italicized?

8.  I read on your blog to only use one space between each sentence in your manuscript. I had someone tell me they have asked editors and were told it was okay. Would you double check with Sean McCarthy and Steve Meltzer on this?

9.  I never heard of using capital letters the first time a character is mentioned in a synopsis. Would you ask about that at your retreat?

10. I have been told not to use any “ing” words in my manuscript. Is there a rule about this that I have missed?

11.  What amount of books do you need to sell to have a publisher think your book was successful?

12.  How hard is it to get your rights back on a book you that has gone out of print? Do you have any words of wisdom or steps an author could take to get the rights back?  

13.  What do you think about using the real name of a media or entertainer in your book? Is that okay or should you make up a similar name?

14.  I am an illustrator and writer. Is it okay to send in a picture book dummy?

15.  What is speculative fiction?

16.  If you want to write a book from two character’s POV, using alternating chapters, is it okay to scatter in a few chapter’s from a third character’s point-of-view?

17.  If you are writing a book using two character’s POV with alternating chapters, could the main character be in first person and the second character be in third person?

18. Do you have any thoughts on when to give up on a manuscript your have completed and has gotten rejected?

Talk tomorrow,




  1. thank you Kathy for the feature!!! I’m recovering from a broken wrist! (dominant hand!) I refused to let this “Break” stop me from doing what I love—-Art—–but on a positive note, spurred from this horrible experience I have become aware that I’m ambidextrous 🙂
    and created an Ambidextrous Artists Around The World group:


    • Donna,

      That is amazing. I know I am not, though I do know other people who had accidents and developed that ability. Hope it heals quickly.



  2. I don’t have any questions to add, but I am looking forward to reading the answers in a future post!


  3. Kathy, some of these questions are great and relevant to what I would like to know. Can I say how much I love your posts and how much I appreciate the work and sharing that you give. Thank you.
    If I could take the opportunity to ask a question to Sean it would be, ‘How did you feel when you first read NO FITS!, NILSON?


    • Kaye,

      Is there a story behind this question? Just curious. Thanks for the nice comment.



  4. Hi Kathy,
    I have a question for them. Would they be for or against an author putting an ms on Wattpad to test the waters with it? Why or why not?
    All best,


  5. Forgot to say – can’t wait to see some of these answers!


  6. Hey Nata, great to see your artwork on Kathy’s fantastic site. Sorry to hear about your wrist. And Kathy, what a great line-up of questions. I can’t wait to read the answers when you return. Enjoy your trip. 🙂


  7. Soooooo nice to see your art here, Nata!!


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