10.13.2005

Miss Snark's Sarcophogus of Surprises

Dear Miss Snark,
Is there a point where agents give up on selling a work? How long do you circulate something? Until every single editor you can sell it to rejects it? Or say, after six months have passed and you haven't had any interest? Thanks for the info. Rock on!


Miss Snark launches new projects out into the world like she's firing a cannon at Waterloo: lots of smoke and steam and screaming. Sometimes the enemy...I mean the publisher, sorry ... sometimes the publisher bites, sometimes not (fools! fools!).

I keep going till I've run through everyone I think SHOULD buy it, and a few more I think might. Then I stop and try to figure out if I'm the witless one. Sometimes things I love are just not things other people love (fools! fools!).

This is when I sometimes reposition a project. "oh wait, that's not a novel, that's a poem!" Sometimes I reread all the rejection letters and see if there's some info to be gleaned "oh wait, we killed a hamster with our bunny slippers on page one...bad mistake".

And sometimes I let a project rest. Sometimes I'll find a new publisher, an editor will move to a new house and be looking for something else, and sometimes the light bulb will go on over my pointy little noggin.

I hardly ever give up. Sometimes, but not soon, and not, never, ever, happily.
Just for starters, if I give up, I've got a big fat loss in my expense column that I'll never recoup and I hate that almost as much as my abacus wielding accountant Mr. Ray N. Mann does.

8 comments:

Jillian said...
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Jillian said...

Heavens to Betsy, you are a natural wit! Allow me to take a moment to say: Thank you, Miss Snark, for not being a stuffy, pretentious, rod-up-the-butt, "I know more than you know," insufferable, publishing industry git. As raw as you are around the edges (keeps one on one's toes), you have a heart of platinum beating away inside there.

Thank you for giving the Blogosphere for Bewildered Writers a blog so refreshingly helpful and witty.

Bernita said...

Raw? RAW?
Let a devoted snarkling tell you that is raw silk you see, young one.
Otherwise, I totally agree.

Mark Pritchard said...

One of the questions I asked my agent in our first meeting was "What's the worst-case scenario?" She replied, "I send it to twelve editors and none of them takes it, and unfortunately, we're sort of done."

I asked why twelve. She said it was because, with industry consolidation, and editors of various imprints all going to one big meeting once a week, that's all the mainstream publishers there are nowadays. I was taken aback but when I thought about it, it made sense.

TillyLost said...

When you do give up on a project, by then, hasn't the writer normally written a new book for you to shop around? Or (gulp) if the first project isn't marketable, do you think the next one won't be as well?

kmfrontain said...

Oh, I love your column. Either I cringe reading it (because I have this habit of feeling for your victims, however much they deserved it), or I giggle non-stop. Like this time.

In case you're wondering what recently made me cringe, it was the soccer mom thingy. I so felt for her, knowing perhaps a little of where she's coming from. But you have likely given her, and perhaps many others, a clue. A clue with big nails. Railroad spikes. Gleaming, brand new, sharpened spikes, with big men attached by chains that have massive muscles to wield massive sledgehammers to drive those clues in.

Now then. The men in chains are interesting. I shall just be off to order you a dozen. And another set for me.

E. Dashwood said...

So Miss Snark disagrees with Miles' agent that there could be a book without a home.

litagent said...

It all depends on how I feel about a book. Usually, I only take on a book if I absolutely love it. And in those cases, even if it doesn't sell to the first 12 people -- or the second 12 -- I can't bear to give up on it. As long as the author is fine with that I'll keep it on my list. You never know what new editor might come along (or new independent house will pop up) that might be a perfect fit. On the other hand, if I take a book on because it seems like a slam dunk, marketwise, and it doesn't sell, I'll give it to the end of the contract period (usually a year)and cut it loose.