Your name in print isn't the same as 'published'

Would you care to post a message about some of the worst "credentials" that an author has used to try to get you to read a manuscript? I've heard of authors using one POD notorious for pretending to be a "Traditional Publisher" as a publishing credit, but I'm sure you have seen a few that top that. Have you ever seen any queries with real howlers in them, like bragging that the attached novel is a NaNoWriMo winner?

For those Snarklings unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it's short for National Novel Writing Month. And kind of like the Special Olympics, if you cross the finish line, You're a WINNER!

They have a lovely web site that explains it all.

Now, there's nothing wrong with doing NaNoWrMo. Have at it. It might actually do you some good to have a deadline and be forced to post your progress.

However, don't use "winning" as a publishing credential in your cover letter to Miss Snark or any other agent.

I've never gotten a query using that, but I have had people tell me they're published poets..and they list the poetry publisher who publishes almost everything entered in a contest and then charges $65 for the book. I've used to write back saying "this isn't what you think it is" but now I don't.

I've had people tell me they are book critics when they mean they post reviews at Amazon. I've had people tell me they are columnists at the local paper when the local paper -desperate for free content- will publish "guest opinions" from anyone in the zip code.

These folks aren't trying to put one over on me. They honestly don't know that what they're doing isn't taken seriously by agents or editors. Most of them are nice people who enjoy writing as a hobby. I don't fault them for that. More power to them in fact--they READ the books I sell.


Bunneh said...

This is all good stuff to know -- I was actually wondering whether participating in NaNoWriMo would be a good idea or not. I like the idea of having a deadline that forces me to write rather than revise. Revision is something of an obsession with me, and often creates problems because I don't move forward like I should. If I think dialogue is crap, I obsess over it and poke at it until I like it. In the meantime, things aren't advancing and I'm grinding my teeth down to nubbins in frustration.

I wouldn't expect NaNoWriMo to carry much weight, but it seems like it'd be a helpful exercise if you've got a problem obsessing over details.

Lois Lane said...

I always wonder if I should include my writing awards as part of my query. Since they are all newspaper awards, I refrain. Your post about contests, is pretty much how I feel about newspaper awards. Bad idea? Good idea?

Also, I wonder if I should state in my letters, that I am a published columnist and reporter with XYZ Newz.

Man, I suck at this letter stuff! Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.
Lois Lane

P.S. Do you think of Mork from Ork when you read "NaNoWriMo" or is it just me?

Ira Rosofsky said...

Miss Snark, What about a number of letters to the New York Times on a topic relevant to the book you are querying about? It's about as hard to get a letter published as it is to find an agent. Is it a joke to mention this?

Anonymous said...

bunneh - I like NaNo for exactly that reason. It can be enormously helpful to have a deadline so tight that you just cannot look back, not even for a word. Of course, 80% of what you get at the end is crap, but the kernel that's left is, I think, better for your being forced to write without thinking too much.

It made me laugh really, really hard to see that peeps are using NaNo in query letters though. I can't even imagine what goes through the head.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I'm glad to see my question was worthy of a post. I don't know of anyone actually using NaNoWriMo in a querry - it was just the most absurd example of something that sounds like a publishing credit but only to someone who doesn't know what it means.

BTW, so far the closest thing I have to a publishing credit is having written a story for Darwin Awards Volume III. Well, I suppose that's sort of an anthology contribution...