Dear Miss Snark,
Thanks for the heads up. Don't worry about the nitwit thing, I've been called a lot worse just today and it's still morning here. MS: there's something worse than being called a nitwit in this blog? I shudder to think.
I did suggest that writing to published authors could be useful to writers trying to break through publishing walls. Reason number 58 begins: "Many people in the publishing business will not like me saying this, but I think submitting a short bit of your writing directly to a published author is an effective way to gain access to agents. Clients who refer writers to their
agents feel good nurturing new talent; if it works out, they have done the agent a favor."
(A key phrase is "short bit.") I came to this belief by hearing from several authors that they were helped in some way by an already published author and were willing to help others in the same manner.
I believe an author who has been through the publishing grinder has an embedded empathy or sympathy for writers starting out and may not be as jaded as most agents and editors. I've received referrals from authors I've worked with and taken them more seriously than over the transom submissions and I would much rather have heard an author tell me that someone submitted something to him/her and they liked it than hear that the writer being passed along is his/her brother-in-law.
That said, I warn against invading an author's privacy and selecting authors who are brand name bestsellers and those who are busy on tour. An author who is uninterested is under no obligation to respond in any way and their silence should not be held against them. A writer should not ask for specific advice on their writing or a manuscript critique. Any correspondence is just a no obligation invitation to read something.
I should add a few things. The advice only holds true if you know the author's work well and think he would enjoy a piece of yours. If the writing is not good enough, then you've just wasted everyone's time. Any "tricks" like these are long shots, and while I've seen it work, I've seen it fail many, many more times. Best to stick to working on the page.
What day and time should everyone meet in Times Square? MS: oh darn, you weren't there at3pm today?
Thanks for all the kind words about my book,