12.11.2005

Nitwit of the Day


While it's true that it might cost less or at least not more to allow for recycling the ms., I guess I'm still a little paranoid about having other people dispose of a full manuscript.

I'll have to see if it's safe and reasonable to have agents and editors dispose of the ms.

Ok, let's have a tiny little break for reality here.

First, when you hear about people prowling through the trash for "things of value" I assure you that your manuscript isn't even in their Top 100 list. They are looking first and foremost for SSNs, bank account info and proprietary info.

And just exactly how do you plan to find out if it's safe for agents and editors to discard your ms? A little quiz included with your query? A surveillance team sent to watch?

Do you honest to god think anyone is going to steal your DISCARDED manuscript from the trash? Honey, if they want to steal something, they want to steal something we LIKED, not something we rejected.

People who paw through the garbage for souvenirs want them from famous people. And even then, those people are collectors (disturbed collectors but collectors) not writers looking to pass off your august tome as their own.

Get over yourself.

7 comments:

archer said...

The trouble is that people read Humboldt's Gift,the plot of which turn on a similar eventuality, and they think this is the way things happen in real live literary life. I must admit I thought so myself. It took me a while to figure out that Bellow could make fake stuff seem like, you know, real.

Anonymous said...

I heard from the amorphous, anonymous "they" that publishers and agents think less of you if you ask they recycle the manuscript and only send a #10 SASE. Something about not caring enough about your own work to want the 'script back; consequently, why should they care about it?

This alleged advice could be pre-home laserjet & paper by the ream at Costco's, or it could be crazy yak droppings, so I turn to you, Miss Snark: is there the slightest shred of truth to this?

Brady Westwater said...

Ah... ignore my post under the next comment. The snark is back!

Anonymous said...

Well, though I agree with Miss S, I think she's being a little too snarkish here. I once set an ms to an agent in England, he passed on it, but I did have a little concern for the idea behind the book at least. The agent got a little huffy when I mentioned this, so MS isn't alone. Thankfully, the book is copyrighted and due out in 06.

roach said...

"I heard from the amorphous, anonymous "they" that publishers and agents think less of you if you ask they recycle the manuscript and only send a #10 SASE. Something about not caring enough about your own work to want the 'script back; consequently, why should they care about it?"

Wasn't this the advice given by Mr. Lie-a-Little? If so, we all saw how stellar the rest of his query/cover letter advice was, didn't we?

I'm willing to bet that if an agent or publisher is going to pass on a manuscript they're thinking about getting on to the next manuscript, and not giving a second's thought to what mysterious code is sent by the inclusion of a #10 SASE.

Miss Snark said...

Anon2 above: you can't copyright an idea.
Only the execution. No wonder that agent got huffy. I would have too.

David Isaak said...

Humboldt's, yeah...and Movern Callar, and the movie Throw Momma From the Train. Writers like this found/stolen/misappropriated ms. as a premise for fiction, possibly because they all think about it at some point.

But has anyone ever heard of it happening in real life? Oh, yeah, chunks of text, obscure short stories (a good case of this recently)...but whole novels?

If there are such cases, I'd really be interested in hearing about them.

But I don't know who these purported thieves could be. Most of the writers I've met seem to think their words are gold (even the lead-cored adverbs).

I'm not denying that agents throw brilliant manuscripts into the trash every day. There is no doubt whatsoever that this is the case--in fact, the norm. (Check out Pushcart's "Rotten Reviews and Rejections" for proof.) But if a writer can't get a magnificent manuscript represented by an agent...why would a dumpster-diver be able to manage it?

As to having your ideas stolen: you wish. About a zillion people have claimed they came up with the idea for the movie "Independence Day." (Superior alien force invades Earth. The world unites--under US leadership, natch!--and, after being amazingly brave as underdogs, a smart human finds a chink in their armor...)

You know what? I believe all those people. They probably really did come up with that idea long before the movie was made.

Because it's a pretty pedestrian idea.

Folks: You should be so lucky as to write something anyone wants to steal.