4.17.2006

Nitwit of the Day has companay

Dear Miss Snark

I'm sure that the massive good karma you‚ve generated by creating this wonderful blog will make up for a lot of prior bad behavior. (What priors? Miss Snark denies all)

I've worked for three years to complete my novel, making a lot of sacrifices along the way. I am now ready to query agents and have been gathering information from websites.

In discussing submissions, one NY firm (noted for handling fiction) posted an article by an agent (actually an ex-agent) in which she described tired old story lines that everyone hated to see come across their desks. I was stunned to discover that one of her descriptions fit my
plot exactly. Since her description is so well-written and exactly the right length, I was considering incorporating it into my one-page query letter (customizing it of course, with the names of my own characters).

My question is this: should I leave the agent who wrote the article off my query list (she seems to be highly regarded) or should I submit to her anyway and just run the risk that she will recognize her own words and reject me out-of-hand because of the obvious plagiarism?


Cause yanno(tm) the only people who read agent's websites are writers, right? Like I don't look at them?

Plagiarism is stupid.
Do I really have to tell you not to do it?

If you do, you'll be sorry. And I don't mean in the karmic sense. I mean in the sense that when people find out (and they will) you will have destroyed any kind of mutual trust with your "lucky" agent let alone everyone else. Publishing is a relationship driven industry and if you steal things from agent's websites the only thing more fun than catching you is talking about it...endlessly.

And of course, the idea that you pitch an idea using words from an article about "tired old plots no one wants to see" is really just icing on the cake.

Let me check the date of the email...April 1? Sadly...no.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

My head just went kerblamsky... I seriously hope this letter is nothing more than an exercise in ironic juxtaposition or something.

Anonymous said...

Why would a writer even consider plagiarism? Plagiarism is for people who can't think of something of their own to say, and that's pretty much the opposite of what a writer is.

So hers was well-written? Whazza matter with yours? Are you not also capable of writing well, given that you just completed a novel?

Anonymous said...

If I am ever at a loss to imagine ways in which people can completely skewer themselves, I know I can count on Miss Snark's Nitwit of the Day.

December Quinn said...

Why not just mention her and her comments in your query?

"BOOK is a 103,000 word novel about a young man's coming of age in the turbulent 60's.

Agent X recently mentioned in PW that novels with the same storyline as mine are a dime a dozen, and an automatic reject, 'rarely if ever rising above dull cliche.'

I'm sure you are smart enough to disagree, so I'm ready to send you the first three chapters blah blah blah..."

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Somebody call Mr. Bailey, the circus is missing a clown...

Anonymous said...

Dear original poster -
I would really love to see that article about tired plots, actually. Since you're probably not going to send to that agency, can you post a link? Also, I agree with December Quinn on how to approach other agents with it.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Oh dear, anonymous...

One can write a splendid novel and fall completely flat on the query. Kersplat. Just have a look at the Crapometer archives -- I am sure many of them represent great books, but when it comes to boiling 400 pages down to a single page or -- heaven forbid -- a paragraph, we are lost.

Hence the reason Miss Snark prefers pages to synopses. It's all in the writing...of the novel.

But of course, plagiarism is unthinkable, especially when taken from advice about what NOT to submit to agents. That's just ludicrous.

Dama Negra said...

That is really sad. Makes me wonder about the quality of his novel, if he has to plagarize from a 'things that suck' section to pitch it.

MadScientistMatt said...

Most "How not to write" descriptions are so mocking that it's hard to see one making a good querry letter.

But I have one question - anyone know where this list might be? I want to read it too!

Anonymous said...

Might this be a troll, i.e. someone trying to become Nitwit of the Day? This just seems like such a wilfully bad idea.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I dunno...'All the other books like mine are boring and cliched, but you, Mr. Agent, are way too smart to believe something like that, so let me send you three chapters of a novel that takes a hackneyed idea and does something original...'

Better the author just write a sparkling query that infuses the hackneyed idea with new life and not mention at all that Agent X thinks its been done to death.

But I'm voting that this is a troll trying for Nitwit of the Day, to actually ask if it's okay to plagiarize. I hope the nitwit asked the question from an email account that doesn't give his/her real name.

Dave Robinson said...

It makes one wonder what he sacrificed during those three years; ethics perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I bet the thing this guy read was:
http://www.maassagency.com/QueryLetterSecrets.html

Just my guess. Hope this helps the one who asked.

Spooky Balsam said...

Okay, this person has GOT to be joking...

ann said...

Cool stuff on the Maass agency web site.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

If I read that a particular agent/agency I was interested in did not want a particular plot that happened to be similar to what I have written, I think I'd give up and slit my wrists.

Shelli Stevens said...

Wait. That was a joke, right?

Carmen said...

Wow.

Someone's calendar must be off by, oh... 18 days.

Anonymous said...

Check out
http://raleva31.livejournal.com/

This agent rocks- although we still love you best Ms. Snark