2.23.2006

Publishing Credential are not a Free Pass to the Dance

Dear Miss Snark,

This question rises from the depth of the other 90%. Those of us who are story-tellers rather than wordsmiths and try as we might will probably never write the gin-pail dropping query.

What if one of us poor slobs was to self-publish a novel, promote it on a web site and sell impressive numbers (insert own scornful number here.) Would you consider taking on another work by such a person with only that as a credential?

Before you cut & paste advice 3-C, (get off buttocks and do your time with magazine articles) let me be irritating and say that some of us feel that the qualities make for short articles are not the same as those needed to create a MS that doesn't have a serial killer or a shiny-toothed cop chasing an evil drug-lord.

My retriever says hi to KY and wants to know if he's up for a rabbit-hunt sometime?


First, KY wants to know if he has to bring firearms for a rabbit hunt. Sadly, his application for a concealed weapons permit was denied by NYPD. Something about his "known associates" being of questionable character.

Second, I'll consider anything you send me that's well written. You can write and self publish a great novel and sell ten zillion copies. I still won't consider it a writing credential, but it doesn't mean I won't read your second work.

If you write well, I'll read it. You can be unpublished, multi-published, published exclusively in Rabbitania, and looking to break into the North American market: if you write well, I'll read it. If I think I can sell it, I'll talk to you. If you aren't a nutcase, and I'm not swamped with projects, I'll probably invite you to the dance.

Publishing credentials are nice, but it's the writing that counts.

Once more with fervor: good writing trumps all.

7 comments:

Elektra said...

I've been wondering--how would Adams have written a query letter that didn't make Watership Down sound like Rabbitania?

Christa M. Miller said...

some of us feel that the qualities make for short articles are not the same as those needed to create a MS that doesn't have a serial killer or a shiny-toothed cop chasing an evil drug-lord

Yup, that's pretty irritating. Here's what article-writing has taught me:

- How to edit. Being limited to 2,000 words means having only what's absolutely essential in that article.

- How to work with editors. Including how to market my work.

- How to find the sources that make my work accurate/authentic.

- Confidence. I can get published if I work hard enough and write well enough.

- How to describe with accuracy. One of the most useful pieces of advice I ever heard came from an award-winning MFA-credentialed author, who said that good fiction is about describing the world with as much accuracy as possible. I don't think it is fair to restrict that quality only to literary fiction. Dennis Lehane's world is as accurate as John Updike's... just in a different way.

December Quinn said...

Second that, Christa!

Eileen said...

Question- that is going to sound snarkier than I mean it to- I honestly just don't get this. If you think you are a good writer- why don't you think you can write a good query? It may not be your preferred style/form etc.- but with all the resources, books with samples etc. if you feel you have good storytelling/writing skills why wouldn't you feel confident to write a competent/capable query?

mcbun said...

Ah, Watership Down. It was originally titled Rabbitania Up and was considered a fantasy novel. Alas, Adams found it sold better on your planet under a different title. Of course, we cancelled his Rabbitanian passport for High Treason.

Anonymous said...

mcburn--ROTFL

Rabbitania Up, now there's a title I'd bye. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Before you cut & paste advice 3-C, (get off buttocks and do your time with magazine articles) let me be irritating and say that some of us feel that the qualities make for short articles are not the same as those needed to create a MS that doesn't have a serial killer or a shiny-toothed cop chasing an evil drug-lord."


This reminds me of arrogant young actors, with no credits, who look down on extras, and believe they are better than George Clooney. Grow up!