7.16.2005

John Twelve Hawks...off the grid

This is the big publicity stunt of the summer I guess. The author claims to live "off the grid".
By that he means no credit cards, no driver's license, no bank accounts, or at least none under his own name. And John Twelve Hawks isn't his real name.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but I thought "off the grid" meant you lived off the power grid. Generators and solar power and the like. Off the grid was a huge issue for survivalists during Y2K. I've never heard of anyone using "off the grid" to describe living undercover. Not even in novels. Did I miss something?

Speaking of novels, this guy needs to read John D. MacDonald. Cause even Travis McGee, the original guy "no documentation guy", later changed his ways. I can't remember which book but he said "the fastest way to attract undue attention was NOT to have ID in your wallet".

Good thing Mr Twelve Hawks hasn't tried to visit his editor at Doubleday. The guards at 1745 Broadway ask for picture ID.

Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award

Glimmer Train Press presents its Summer Very Short Fiction Award, open to all writers. Winner receives $1200 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories, while the first/second runners-up receive $500/$300 respectively. Word count must not exceed 2000.

$10 entry fee for each story.

Submissions should be made online at GlimmerTrain.

Deadline: JULY 31, 2005.

And if you win, you better buy Miss Snark a gin...double.

7.15.2005

Busy? I'll show you stinkin' beezee!

The Snarkling's comments to my last post have unleased
a certain scent of ..well... fresh meat!

The Snarkling Challenge (rephrased from the very nice
polite comment that was posted):

Just What the Fuck Do You DO All Day??

Miss Snark (although a vegetarian) will respond to the
clarion call of challenge (or is that carrion call..she's not
quite sure).

Starting ....next week!
I'll write down what I'm doing at the top of the hour
and post a day's events at the end of the day.
Certain liberties may need to be taken to protect
the guilty...and Miss Snark's innocent clients as well.

The idea of exposing my calender ...well...I may
rather be nekkid in Times Square with the Nekkid
Cowboy.

Speaking of which..does he have a book deal?

Agents are sooooo busy....crap

Well, Miss Snark is getting a bit more attention than she bargained for
and some of it isn't NICE!!!
Miss Snark is genteely horrified of course.

Well, fuck'em.

My faves are along the lines of
"you're an agent and you have time to
1. do this;
2. read;
3. blog;
4. sleep??"

Implicit in that is of course the idea that agents are
busy busy busy.

Miss Snark realizes this is propaganda perpetuated by
agents themselves.
Anywhere you look (or at least anywhere the Snarkettes have looked)
is some form of "agents are busy people, don't bother them,
don't waste their time".

Well, here's the news.
Agents are no busier than say..waitresses.
Auto mechanics. Reporters.
Doctors. Mothers of small infants.

Sure we're busy.
But yanno, it's not like we're saving lives here.
Or feeding helpless infants.
Or fixing Fords.
Or slapping down grits 'n eggs and a cuppa joe.


The idea that agents are too busy to be bothered is crap.
We're never too busy to sign a contract, negotiate a deal
or return a phone call from Disney. Trust me. NEVER.

"Agents are busy people"
is code for
"don't expect a publishing tutorial".

"Agents are busy people" means we don't WANT to spend time
talking to you about things you should already know.

It's like asking your college math teacher to help you
with long division. If you don't know long division by the time
you get to college, you need a different kind of help.

If you don't know about publishing by the time you get to me,
you need to get to work and learn the basics.
There's no shortage of people to tell you about it,
websites to look at and books to buy.

Ya we're busy. But we're busy doing the stuff we WANT to do.
Like read.
Like blog.
Like dream up ways to disguise well written literary fiction as "relentlessly commercial".
And new words for memoir.

And of course, you can have an indepth, at length,
no holds barred publishing tutorial starting NOW
if you are George Clooney. Or Denzel
Washington.

7.13.2005

Yet Another Wretched Query Letter

In today's slush pile comes this:

"I am seeking an agent to represent my recently completed book titled "Title". In researching Writers Market your agency met all of my criteria so I'm hoping you'll want to take a look at my work."

All of your criteria huh? Breathing? Willing to slice open an envelope? Foolish enough to list self in Writers Market?

I'm not sure why this annoys me so much, but I swear it raises my hackles almost as fast as "fiction novel"...and I got that in the query right after this winner.

In case you're wondering, we assume you selected this agency because we match SOMEsort of crtieria. If you found my name in Writers Market just say so. You're much likelier to get my attention if you've actually READ any of books I've sold, but that appears to be too much to hope for most days.
I confess. I don't keep much of a library. Once I've read something, even something I love, I give it away. Housing Works Bookstore, a friend, a client, the lobby of my building; all have gotten my castoffs recently.

People are stunned when I tell them I don't have books. My reader friends are horrified. "But, but," they sputter "you LOVE books, you love to read!" Yes, I do. But I live in a small space, work in a smaller one, and I HATE clutter. I hate it more than I love books I guess.

What brought this to mind was John Perreault's Art Diary . Normally I read him for a blog's eye view of art but this time he's talking about artist's libraries.

I live with an artist. He doesn't keep books either.

Does this make us deeply suspect? (this is a rhetorical question, no snarky replies are needed!).

Actually I think it makes us either minimalists or Zen Buddhists. Detachment as a form of inner bliss.

How many books do you have?

7.11.2005

Courtesy of that really wonderful site ArtsJournal.com comes Patti Thorn, writing in the Rocky Mountain News about What Does It Take To Make It Big In the Book Business?

Once, a prospective client didn't sign with me because she'd heard me say "most writers don't earn a living from their work". She thought it was defeatist talk, and since she was sure she was the exception to the norm, she signed with someone who didn't tell her she'd be lucky to break even.

Eternal optimists, and you-control-your-destiny Tony Robbins and Tom Cruise (who I think didn''t graduate from high school but by god don't let that stop you from listening to his opinions on medical topics) aside...do you know the difference between reality and going in hock up to your eyeballs because you KNOW you're the next Big Thing?

As an agent my job is half cheerleader and half mother in law. Guess which part is more fun. Yes, we cheer you on. Yes we WANT you to be the next Big Thing. (Remember I make fifteen percent from all those lovely Big Thing Bonanzas so I'm VERY interested in you being a success). But, I've been here a long time. Most of the authors I have these conversations with haven't.

The truth is..keep your day job. And save a lot of money for promotion cause writing books is a HOBBY for most people. If they are LUCKY, they make money one year in three. Not all of course. But MOST. And unlike Lake Woebegone, dear snarklings, we are not all above average.