10.28.2005

I heard it through the grapevine

Several previous posts came from Snarklings hearing things on writers boards, or from the ether, or other sources. A comment asks:

In all seriousness, how do people get this sort of info? How can the great unwashed, er, I mean unpublished keep up with current events?

My advice: don't. Most of the posts on this topic have been people getting information that is either suspect or wrong. Writer's boards can be useful. They can also fuel your anxiety. They can be the home of people who think every agent is out to pick your pocket and the publishing industry is second only to Congress as a den of thieves. A question of "what do you know about Miss Snark" that elicits "she spends too much time on her blog to be a real agent" is not only snotty, and wrong, it's not the answer you're looking for.

If you really want to be plugged in and read what agents are reading, subscribe to Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Weekly. It gives the basics of who is buying what, who's selling what, and factual information. Miss Snark posts her sales to Publishers Marketplace regularly and you'd know she is both 1. real; and 2. making sales even as she blogs.

Your job is to write well. Every minute you spend worrying, or wondering about rumors is one minute less doing something constructive.

If you have spare time on your hands, read more great books. And this blog of course too.

11 comments:

Kasey Mackenzie said...

It does crack me up that people who complain about working full time and finding time to write yet still have plenty of time to surf online writer's groups and read blogs constantly have the balls to say an agent who has time to post regularly on one of those blogs can't really be an agent. Pot, meet kettle.

Funny how they can manage to find free time while still supposedly being uber busy, but think that agents somehow aren't entitled to their own free time...

Existential Man said...

"Miss Snark posts her sales to Publishers Marketplace regularly and you'd know she is both 1. real; and 2. making sales even as she blogs."

Obviously, this would only be true if we in fact knew the real name of Her Royal Snarkiness.
Otherwise, we wouldn't know her sales from those of the Binkster,
Faith Hamlin, Betsy Amster, or love-struck-and-in-a sales-slump 007.

Mark Pettus said...

If I can work full-time, write a novel, seek representation for my last novel, keep a blog, read other blogs, visit writers' forums, read, play with my kids, eat, take ballroom lessons... I'm pretty sure an agent can work and blog.

Writers groups (online or offline) can increase a writer's anxiety. They all have people who won't ever be published (or won't ever be published again), who spend their days telling the rest of us why we won't either.

Forums are good places to help other writers, or ask other writers for help, but every writers group has people who don't help, and refuse to ask for help (no matter how much they need it). These same trolls blame every misfortune on mean old agents, or snotty editors, or readers who refused to slog through their second-person POV, 100 page prologue.

God, I hope I'm not describing myself.

Existential Man said...

Mark, I don't know if you're describing yourself but I do know that you need to be careful with your generalizations about writers' forums.

Check out the "Backspace" Forum, which charges a small yearly fee after an initial free trial period, and includes many published authors, some of them the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow. The roster of those participating also includes the regular sharing of advice and experience of a long-time and current NY Times best-selling author, Kay Hooper.

Backspace includes agents who are members and who post regularly in response to writers' questions, as well as short-story contests, a yearly conference in New York, honest critique of queries, and a wide-open and far-reaching forum of intelligent dialogue on all questions related to writing and publication.

And, wait, there's more: agents, well-known authors, editors, publicists and bloggers are invited in to conduct 2-3 day question and answer sessions for the members.

You can read the main public page here: http://www.bksp.org and access the forum through that page. This is the best writing forum around. For those who are serious about publication, try it.

(Ok, Karen, you owe me one)

Karen Dionne said...

Wow, I guess I do owe you. Thanks, EM.

The Backspace discussion forums really are unique because they're made up of serious writers, and because such a high percentage of the regular membership is agented and/or published. (Approx. 60 out of 350 members, according to a recent highly unscientific poll.) Answers to questions come not from uninformed newbies, but those who know.

For the curious, I posted an essay about online writers groups and Backspace in particular on Backspace's PM blog today. (No collusion between myself and EM in this, I swear!) If you can slog through all the blatant self-promotion, there are some nice quotes about the value of the Backspace forums from Sarah Weinman, Erin Reel, Kristin Nelson, Kay Hooper, and others.

Maya said...

Backspace is also the place that I read the three-part series of articles by Richard Curtis--"Publishing in the Twenty-First Century." I first read it in March of this year and have gone back to read it several times since.

Christine said...

Actually, the place I heard about 'the agent' who I think is the subject of the entry a few down from this was the SCBWI boards, on their "representation" forum. It contains updates on who moved where, etc... There is also a similar one for editors at publishing houses.

I find the information to be credible most of the time.

Mizrepresent said...

Oooooh Miss Snark, you better watch yourself...i'm checking out George Clooney on Oprah, and i think i'm ready to give you a run for your money...so fill up on gin...its ON!

Harry Connolly said...

Miss Snark, I accept your judgement.

Amie Stuart said...

I'm not much of one for writer's lists or boards but my CP loves Backspace *g*. OTOH I get really irritated at people who blather on about what a waste of time blogging is. It takes me between 5 and 20 minutes to blog depending on my topic. I probably spend too much time blog-hopping but the house wouldn't get cleaned even if I weren't....as long as I get my writing/editing done, I suppose that's my business. *sigh*

Mark Pettus said...

Backspace looks like a great group. I'm sure it's full of wonderful people, and I'm glad you are benefitting from your association with them.