Nitwit of the Day!

Miss Snark,

I come here to open my nitwit moment to ridicule. I sent out another batch of queries today, and was feeling rather good about this one, as the letter has improved quite a bit since the last batch. That is, I was feeling rather good until now. I just realized that I forgot to sign any of them. They all end Thank you,[blank] Can teenagers have senior moments?

Need to feel better? I spent a good part of today, and some of yesterday working on an email pitch to an editor. I'd been referred by another editor, and I really needed to make it good.

I slaved over it. Spell checked it. Read it again. Let it sit in "drafts" for an hour. Sent it.

Great email. Too bad I got the name of the publisher wrong huh.
My editor friend had given me two names. I mixed up the companies in the body of the email. I have the email right: Felix @ Doubleday; the text of the email talks about how this would be a perfect book for him at Grove Atlantic.

No, I'm not laughing.
Not at all.
I'm gnasing my f/ing teeth.
Ya, the editor laughed it off but I'll tell you, I feel like a NITWIT.

Yes, Miss Snark is the Nitwit of the day.
Sorry Elektra, not signing your letters isn't even close.
It's not something I think you should continue to do, but it's not a deal breaker. (How old are you anyway??)


Elektra said...

You deserve gin. Lots and lots of gin.
And I'm nineteen.

Miss Snark said...

ok, well, that's reassuring. If anyone reading this blog is under say...16, stop now. It will stunt your growth and lead to the reading of trashy novels.

dink said...

I absolutely LOVE this post. I'm sorry it happened but it was lovely to know the Snarky One knows whereof she speaks Nitwit-wise. ;-)
And it reinforces the agents/editors are human beings concept ...I like that.

Gads! elektra isn't even as old as one of my (unpubbed) manuscripts gaaaasp cough cough

kitty said...

19? Christalmighty, I've got pantyhose older than elektra.

Elektra said...

Sadly enough, I have clothes older than I am, too :)

M. G. Tarquini said...

19, and already running her own crapometer.

I'll wash down my next bottle of Miss Clairol Extra Coverage with my own pail of gin.

Elektra said...

If it makes you feel any better, I got a reply from an agent today who was not only a nitwit, but rude to boot.
I sent her an e-query about a week ago, and just recieved her answer--one of the huffiest and most condescending I've ever recieved, saying that she didn't accept e-queries, which I would know if I had bothered to look at her web site.
Well, I HAD looked at her website, and checked again just to make sure--under submissions it says that all queries should be sent to her by E-mail, and ONLY if she requested additional materials were you to send anything by post.
I'm still deciding whether to tell her that she's shooting herself in the foot...

Anonymous said...

Do it, Elektra. You have your whole life ahead of you. It'd be fun.

And tell us all about it, of course.

Aphrodite the Flighty said...

This blog brings up another question, Miss Snark...

Just *how* do agents pitch to editors? For instance, would a phone conversation require a different pitch, verses an e-mail, verses a pitch over gin and a bucket of olives?

I ask this so that I can get a better understanding of how to help my agent when he is in this process with my books.

I usually give him a pitch that resembles what's on a coverjacket.

Can I be doing anything more for him?

Merla said...

So-so - I'm 16 and I'm still reading and enjoying your informative posts. Muahaha

ecrivain said...

Three cheers for young writers! I'm nineteen too, and I've already been writing fiction for thirteen years.

Rose said...

Yes, yay for young writers!

I've been writing since I was 4 or 5, and writing my current WIP since I was eleven. I'm 16 now.

Kate said...

Hooray for young writers! I've been published regularly since I was 16, and now, at 22, I've finally turned to writing for a living full-time. Of course, if I want to graduate to a respectable title like novelist I'll have to actually finish writing one, so you're already way ahead of me in that regard, Elektra. Congratulations!

Bethany said...

Seventeen years old and have been writing my entire life! I think I'm getting close to having my first non-revolting novel represented by an agent, which I think is nifty. Hurrah for young writers! :D

Elektra said...

Oh goodness...I don't think there are this many young people over at fanfiction.net. I had no idea there was such an abundance.

Anonymous said...


Oh perlease.... this is a worthy blog. Please do not sully it by mentioning that den of fangirl angst and bad grammar.

There's good fanfiction around, but none of its on fanfiction.net!

Anonymous said...

Whao! Bethany- I canna dream of such confidence.

Amazing, being able to describe yourself as a novelist at 17! ( I'm 37 and if pressed mumble "er I um write a bit.. stuff, you know stories... nothing much..." and slink away.)
I went to your blog, you give tutorials? Are you sure you're not 27? 37? 47? Girl go check your birth certificate- don't leave me standing here feeling like an under-achiever.

Good luck with that representation :) Sounds like you are close.
Anono Mouse

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog since age 15 ... 16 now. I haven't moved on to trashy novels yet, in fact, I've been inspired to try the classics.

bonniers said...

I say rah for young writers, too. A writer is a writer no matter what the age.

Even if most of you are young enough to be my grandchildren :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I, too, was a novelist at nineteen. However, I allowed myself to be seduced by the siren song of a R.J. (real job). RESIST! If you want to be a writer, find a waitressing job and keep writing! Picking it up again after 20 years in marketing sux.

Jo Bourne said...

There's several popular writers who first published in their early twenties. Julia Qinn and Teresa Medeiros come to mind.

Sixteen, seventeen, or nineteen doesn't seem young to be a serious novelist. Go for it.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, it's nice to know that seasoned veterans make mistakes, too. :)

Carmen said...

I'm 21. I have several projects going on (one is in its fifth year and still not finished--and it may never be, but it's a good experience). They say "youth is wasted on the young." I don't EVER want to be a testament to that. We might as well write now, why wait?

harridan said...


Now is the time to learn the art of snappy business emails cloaked in humbleness.

I would definitely email the agent back with an apology, and a link to the page saying she took email submissions. Or just where you found that information on her own site.

Then something along the lines of you just wanted to let her know in case it was something she wasn't aware of. Helpful, ya know.

After all, every website designer knows that each cross referencing page needs updated on a site overhaul.

Be the knight on this one. Your point will come off clear enough while taking the high road.

Gabriele C. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gabriele C. said...

Now I feel old. ;-)

I started writing fiction when I was 40.

(And obviously, some of my brain cells responsible for spelling, have just died - that deleted comment was mine.)

Elektra said...

Thanks, harridan--I took your advice, and sent a very 'high road' reply (though, I must admit, I was thinking neener, neener, neener the whole time). Now we just have to wait and see if she replies.

Nance said...

Oh the horror of reading all these young bloggers on my birthday! I woke up this morning, had to step out of the shower to apply the surgi creame to my growing mustache, wait 5 min, step back in, rinse, come out to apply the Miss Clairol-wait ten minutes, shower, apply tooth whitening strips, dry hair, slather on wrinkle cream, trowel on makeup and all so that I could sit in my home office and work on my next book without scaring myself with the reflection in my computer screen. Sigh. My only consultation is I'm living my dream. Thanks for reminding me that you all are coming up behind me and if I don't write better and better books you all are going to over take me. Gin any one?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm 15. Young Writers rule. My parents don't approve, surprisingly. I've finished a rough draft of a novel, I just won't try to get an agent until they can't order me around.

Lisa Hunter said...

Francoise Sagan wrote Bonjour Tristesse when she was rediculously young -- maybe 16 when she wrote it and 17 when it was published. It was an international best-seller that was made into a hit movie.

Of course, none of the teens posting here are old enough to remember Bonjour Tristesse...

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

My sympathies to the Captain of the SS Snark

An Insta Poem by Rachael

Argh! Avast there matey . . .
Mizen the main mast and batten the buckels.

Umm Belay that!
I meant batten the hatcheries and stop your chuckles.

Oh Shoot! That be wrong too.
You there! What ever your name is . . .

And you too,
The one with the hair all frizzy

You're confusing me
And making me all dizzy.

What is the name of that thing?
That. There!
That hangs all limp when it is supposed to be catching the air?

I want you to furl it, or tie it off or something
I just can't remember it's name.
But I'm pointing to it just the same!

Argh! You got it matey!
Memory's not important you see.
All I have to do it point and mumble,
and you understand me.

My sympathies Snarkie. I've been confused all my life;
It has something to do with being a mother or the mistress of Goats.
Thank God I don't captain the Queen's boats.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, I did the same thing with a query letter recently. Sent it to an agent at the address of a different agency. OOPS!

Fortunately the novel sucked at the time so it cost me nothing. Premature querying syndrome--PQS. Don't let this happen to you.

I'm getting pretty annoyed with posting here anonymously. Must. . . get. . . identity. Must. . . get. . . [gasp]

Nora McCrea said...

Gabriele C.--- For every Virginia Woolf or Carson McCullers (am I dreaming she was very young when she published The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter? I think that's right), there's a Henry Miller, a Burroughs, a Bukowski. Ok, so most of the late starters mentioned above were alcoholic men, but still, they had a life first.

Maybe this is a question partly of what you write. I could see writing genre or coming of age fiction, but it's hard to imagine certain kinds of stories being written by an extremely young person. Anna Karenina, for example, or Grapes of Wrath, mostly because of the visceral presence of mortality in those narratives.

Bethany said...

What I think is fantastic about writing is that it's one of the few jobs that people of any age can do! Whether you start when you're four or forty doesn't matter-- writing is limited to the age of the mind, not the age of the body, and sometimes the age of the mind is irrelevent, too. ;) Age means nothing. Talent, common sense, and a little know-how from the blog of Miss Snark? That's a whole lot more important.

And yes, I'm quite sure that I'm seventeen. But only for another two months. :)

Anonymous said...

Hurray for young writers! Most good writers take FOREVER to learn how to put a sentence together, much less a paragraph. You might as well start young, so you can get something out before you're as gray as I am.