Yesterday's Nitwit Returns....and boy is she paged off

Miss Snark

I may be kind. I may even be a kind nitwit. I am certainly not as learned as you when it comes to the world of publishing. And if you wish to have fun at the expense of one who may be the next J.K Rowling or Dan Brown, so be it. The loss is not mine. There are others who will honesty answer my questions.

You web site says Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author. Considering the first anon's comment, I doubt the integrity of you're site's claim. I also seriously doubt your integrity and you're back handed claims to help aspiring writers. A challenge, you ask? Yes. Honestly answer my questions.

Some of the content of the 40 posted comments would indicate we are unsure what to do. We want to learn. We are asking. We are so hungry some of us are even willing to risk having our writing hands chopped off. But, this is not a game we are playing. You are a literary agent. At least that is your claim. You know the history of books, the power they hold and how they have molded the world. I implore you to treat history with the respect it deserves and the power it wields in the future. Your future Miss Snark. And mine.

You don't like how I answered your question? Golly.
You don't like how I answered it, so there must be something wrong with me. Sure. Yup. That's how I see it too. And of course a complaint isn't a real complaint unless the "integrity of the site" is called into question.

By dog, you just might be the next Dan Brown. Conspiracy! It's a conspiracy!

Here's your first clue of the day: I do moderate the comments. I thought "FUB" was pretty damn funny...and I thought you wrote it. Did you?

If you don't like what you see on this blog, go read someone elses. There are LOTS of people who'll be glad to give you all sorts of earnest, humorless, grim visaged help with no Snark. You can tell who they are: the titles of those blogs do not include the word SNARK. In fact, why don't you go resubmit that question to some other writing or publishing blogs or forums and see what you get.

Here's your bonus clue of the day: if you don't want ME to answer your questions, don't send them.


rmenlvsr said...

bee oh oh, aych oh oh.

Anyone who submits a question here must, at the very least, expect to be snarked. It doesn't mean you will be, but you can't let your guard down or take things personally. Sheesh!

Helen Lovejoy said...

Sweet Fancy Moses!

You hold the future in your hands, Miss Snark (Your future, Miss Snark. And mine). Please don't abuse this power by forcing the next J.K. Rowling to cut off her writing hands. Think about the future, Miss Snark! Think about the children. Won't you please think about the children?

Don't disrespect history and imperil our future by being such a wiseacre. Sheesh.

wench said...

Dear Kind Questioner,

Your mistake was not in asking an earnest question, it was in posting the question to a site where the answers are traditionally dealt out with a healthy side of ascerbic wit. There are many sites that offer the basics. Try your favourite authors, they may have writing tips on their sites. There's a wealth of information on sites like eHarlequin, even if you have no intention of writing romance.

Two tips in parting:
1) "you're" means you are. You meant to write "your". Twice.
2) Do not submit anything to Evil Editor. You won't like him any better than you like Miss Snark.

ello said...

I think I am the nitwit cause I don't know what the heck she is bitching about?! I love this blog because it gives great insights with a biting sense of humor, Thank you Miss. Snark! There are hundreds and hundreds of books she could purchase that would answer her questions. THere are classes and conferences in every city and all over the web that would get her this information. Everytime Miss. Snark gracefully rips - I mean answers questions, I race to my computer to avidly read the biting pearls of wisdom that she doles out. Perhaps I have a thick skin, or perhaps this particular nitwit hasn't graduated from Junior high school yet, but I just don't see what she is so bent out of shape about.

I'd rather be called a nitwit by Miss. Snark anyday then make a stupid mistake querying agents and losing my chances of being published!

Courtyard Sqaush said...

I thought it was funny ... bitch.

Bookview said...

I suppose it helps to remember that a whole lot of editors and agents live and operate in New York City, not Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Understanding and accepting a little New York attitude instead of expecting a sweet, ego-stroking, hand-holding nanny is part of the game.

lottery ticket said...

At the risk of offending the next Dan Brown (as if the world needed another one), perhaps Miss Paged-off needs to review the usage of your vs. you're. I think this line was my personal favorite:
"I doubt the integrity of you're site's claim"

Elektra said...

And if you want to sell your book, sit in on a third grade graamar lesson.

Cheryl Mills said...

Um...I thought you did answer the question.

Take it easy there, newbie. Miss Snark doesn't even answer all the questions she gets. Be honored.

Matt D. said...

This is the funniest thing I read today, right after that thing about the Grandma putting the hit out on her grandkids for $100. Haha.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

You with your scam agents and your lunches and your snotty remarks and your so-called humor. This is all a waste of my time. I'd appreciate if you'd get back to business as usual and answer my questions in precisely the manner I'd like them answered. As a random stranger asking you for a favor, I'm entitled to get what I want out of your blog. TIA.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark --

All has been done as you have said. Questions have been answered. History stands. The future is being written by his pen.

Yet two questions remain. Yours.

First, am I ‘anon1’? When your blog author posts my comment on the "Nitwit of the Day" thread you will know. Why hasn’t it posted? The comment is 'four letter word' free. But, because I am kind, as you say I will post it here as well, for your convenience.

Now for your second question – am I the next J.K Rowling or Dan Brown? I don't know. Neither did they, before they found out. But I do know there are more of them out there. Sweating over their keyboards, filing their rejection letters, trying not to give up hope. We are a hearty bunch, Miss Snark. You’ve proven that.


---- My post from the “Nitwit of the Day” thread-----

Hello All --

The 'anon 1' was not the response of the nitwit. However, it was the response of one who may very well be a nitwit.

I am aghast. And I am ashamed. The kitchen is hot. I get it.

We claim to be aspiring authors who believe we have something to say. What is the benefit of acting like hellions? Do we believe the pen in mightier than the sword or not? Books change the world because they can change people’s minds. Swords oppress... even those the sword claims to protect. We all know the old adage -- live by the sword, die by the sword. So I ask -- which do you wish to be? A world changer or an oppressor.

Beware of the choice.


T2 and djt -- thank you.

kj said...

You ask so much!

You mean I hafta get your title right, which is so hard, since it's not, yanno(copyright MS 2006), in the name of the blog?

And I'm supposed to have figured out that if you answer my questions,you might be...snarky?

Well, I'm taking my pompons and going home.

Elektra said...

I do not want to be the next J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown (especially not the latter). I want othre people to be the next Elektra.

whitemouse said...

And if you wish to have fun at the expense of one who may be the next J.K Rowling or Dan Brown...

Don't be silly. We want to have fun at the expense of the self-deluding egomaniac who thinks s/he may the next J. K. Rowling or Dan Brown.

Ig said...

That one's quite the spitfire. I'm impressed. Ask for a full! It could be your future, Miss Snark. And mine. Well, not really mine. But somebody's. And when somebody has a future, it is your job to respectfully and honestly integriticize their important power-laden stuff. If you don't, you're not only doing a historic disservice to your readers; you're pooing on the integrity of the world.

RivalM said...

I can't stand it any longer. I've been lurking here for a while, and this is the silliest thing I've seen yet by a nitwit.

I've never been published, never submitted a query letter, and never even thought about sending an mss directly to an editor, but even I know what '5 pages' means.

For crying out loud, how hard is it to go to SFWA, or EE, or any of a hundred zillion sites to find the answers to this stuff? I did, that's how I know that '5 pages' means '5 pages.'

This 'writer' is just lazy, imho, wanting one-stop, no-hassle shopping. Ha. Shoulda gone someplace less snarky. Keep it up, MS, nitwits won't learn unleass they've been beaten about the head mas que mucho.

cribcage said...

This isn't the first time Miss Snark has insisted that newcomers should know what to expect when they see the word "snark," so maybe someone should point out that according to Oxford American, a snark is "an imaginary animal (used to refer to someone or something that is difficult to track down)."

Yes, I realize that the blogosphere has coined the term for clever condescension. But I think it's disingenuous to make fun of nitwits — particularly those who confuse "your" and "you're" — and then express surprise when they don't comprehend Internet slang.

Anonymous said...

So the paged-off one's book is about a bunch of young wizards being chased by a albino who's into flagellation and homicide?

We've got a winner! Someone notify Scholastic!

Next time send paged-off to that blog with the Bye Bye Barbara musical. The image of Miss Snark and KY's entrance to that Elvis song, Trouble, should be a warning to all to don't mess with the lady!


AANON said...

Dear Dog in Kennel!

Anon has provided me with the perfect response to e-mail all those lame ass agents who reject my queries! Yes!

One Girl's Opinion said...

It must be exhausting to take yourself so seriously!

Ken Boy said...

I am a hellion. At this very moment, I am engaged in ballyhoo.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Seriously. Between this whiner and the ones on EE, we need to somehow invent a cyber-pacifier to shut them up. Waaaaaaaa.

Get the hell over it. And stop talkin' to your momma before you post. She gives you ideas of grandeur that make us laugh. Next Rowling and Brown, indeed. HA!

Feemus said...


"snark" is by no means a coinage of the internet or the "blogosphere."

From the OED (and you'll notice that the earliest instances are from about a hundred years before Al Gore gave us the internet):


. intr. and trans. To find fault (with), to nag.
1882 Jamieson's Sc. Dict. IV. 314/2 To Snark,..to fret, grumble, or find fault with one.

1904 E. NESBIT Ph{oe}nix & Carpet x. 185 He remembered how Anthea had refrained from snarking him about tearing the carpet.



Irritable, short-tempered, ‘narky’.
1906 E. NESBIT Railway Children ii. 49 Don't be snarky, Peter. It isn't our fault.

1913 J. VAIZEY College Girl xxiv. 326 ‘Why should you think I am “snarky”?’ ‘Because{em}you are! You're not a bit sociable and friendly.’

1953 E. COXHEAD Midlanders x. 247 I've known you were the soul of kindness, under that snarky way.

a1974 R. CROSSMAN Diaries (1976) II. 627 We also have to overcome something else{em}the stream of anti-government propaganda, smearing, snarky, derisive, which comes out of Fleet Street.

Hence snarkily adv.; snarkiness; snarkish a.
1912 R. FRY Let. 16 Mar. (1972) I. 355 So sorry I seem so snarkish just now.

1960 Economist 28 May 859/2 In some of his comments on bureaucracy there is a relapse into snarkiness.

1967 Listener 20 July 91/3 Viewers' letters are not just read out. They are commented upon by Kenneth Robinson (usually rather snarkily).

Helen here again:
I'm not trying to act as an apologist for Miss Snark here, but that letter was clearly nutso. It's a blog for crying out loud. Miss Snark isn't your doctor or your agent or your bartender. She's under no obligation to behave as though she were in a professional environment. And to suggest that the future of the world is at stake because someone had a little fun at your expense? Well, that's just silly.

And just because you don't know a word doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, or that it's some newfangled techno-neologism created by the evil minds at blogger.com to exclude and humiliate you. Sometimes it just means that you don't know all the words.

I, for one, don't know the word "vestibule."

And I'm comfortable with that.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand - and that isn't much - if your skin is so thin as to be hurt by this blog, you may not be able to survive the nit-n-grit of the publishing industry.

Sarah said...

In agreement with Cheryl's comment above, I thought Miss Snark did answer the question. Holy overreaction. I wonder if being declared Nitwit of the Day was what provoked it.

Cudd said...

Some tips for the Nitwit on making an effective argument:

Eloquence without a good foundation is like watching an overweight drunk man attempt ballet.

1) Until you are a famous author, do not throw your weight around like one.
2) Make sure you're ready to accept criticism/sarcasm before asking a question that can invite it.
3) If you're trying to make a point, stick to the subject.
4) Don't make claims you can't back up (so hungry we'd risk chopping our hands off???)
5) Don't assume history--or anything else so huge and vague--is on your side.

Oh, and I don't think any respectable writer should want to become the next Dan Brown. He got his fame and money by pissing people off, not by being an exceptional writer. The DaVinci Code wasn't even half so good as the book it followed, unless you have a liking for 2-dimensional characters, childish riddles, and forced catalysts.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Sheesh! The Agent is asking for five pages, not the name of your favorite haircutter who it's impossible to get in with without an 'in'.

Here ya go:

First page: Title Page

Second page: Acknowledgements. Keep this short because you don't want to be accused of name dropping.

Third Page: Your soulful dedication to your mother, your dog, your spouse, your children. End with something profound, but keep it spare so you look more writerly.

Fourth Page: Frontispiece - don't forget to italicize and be certain you credit the poet at the end.

Fifth Page: the single page empty except where you type, centered neatly:


There now. What's the big deal? Have a cookie.

Anonymous said...


Disingenuous to make fun of nitwits? Come now.

The arguable etymology of the word snark aside, if the gentle poster had bothered to read much of this blog before submitting his/her question, s/he may have noticed a pattern in the tone of responses and therefore had a clue that his/her question would be answered in a similar manner.

Not to have familiarized his/herself with this blog to obtain said clue is unfortunate. To have familiarized his/herself with the blog and then to expect different treatment is just plain silly. To to be irked when such treatment is not received is nitwitted. To then berate Miss Snark for not changing her spots to suit the poster's "needs" is presumptious and self-serving.


Sam said...

If you do come across the next Dan Brown, would you steer him or her twoards plumbing rather than writing please? It would be a kindness for real writers everywhere.

I see you're on the right track here...

Simon Haynes said...

Grammatical dog poops in the query letter leave a sour taste in the mouth.

Anonymous said...

Smany writers on this blog (and even Miss Snark sometimes) take themselves so seriously. Lighten up.

To get in a snit over opinions on the extent to which rudeness can destabilize society--well. Immaturity is a valued perspective. So is NYC attitude.

Watercolorz said...

I may be kind. I may even be a kind nitwit. I am certainly not as learned as you when it comes to the world of publishing. And if you wish to have fun at the expense of one who may be the next J.K Rowling or Dan Brown, so be it. The loss is not mine. There are others who will honesty answer my questions.

Okay how many monkeys were needed to come up with this missive?

Good dog, I am pulling out the Bombay Sapphire, this calls for a top shelf gin pail to get through this thread. ~W

Anonymous said...

The next Dan Brown? The writer needs to figure out that 'you're ' is 'you are' and not 'your'.

michaelgav said...

To the poster: Aspiring to be the next Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling is a way of tipping everyone off that you're priorities are screwed up. Kind of like entering politics by running for president, or declining your first job offer out of college because they didn't make you an executive.

Repeat after me: It's the writing. Not the best sellers, not changing the world... the WRITING.

About a year ago a writer I respect asked to see some pages. I sent her ten from the chapter I was working on at the time. She emailed me back to explain what "send some pages" really meant, with a subtle undertone of snark. So I sent the first ten, but by then was tarred with a well-deserved nitwit designation. (She somehow managed to resist referring me to her agent.)

I felt like a dope for a few days, but so what? That wasn't an entirely unfamiliar feeling -- I'd grown accustomed to it over four decades. But I was concentrating on the WRITING at that time, not the presentation or the marketing.

Unlike information technology, publishing is a mature industry with well-established protocols. I didn't know what they were, so I made a fool of myself once or twice.

Welcome to the club.

December Quinn said...

"Snark" isn't Internet slang, as far as I know. I certainly knew what it meant when I found MS, as I'm sure a lot of people here did.

Either way, you don't have to know what it means to know what Miss Snark is all about-just, yanno(TM), spend ten minutes reading the freaking blog before sending in a question.

Yes, you poor, sensitive little next-JK-Rowling. Perhaps you really are that talented and destined to be that big, despite your poor spelling and grammar, despite the fact that you don't even seem to know in what genre you're writing. I certanly wish you luck.

But threatening Miss Snark with your future fame and fortune is a bit silly, isn't it, considering you don't know who she is? For all you know, she could end up as your actual agent. Although I'm pretty sure your name would be an automatic reject for her at this point.

"There are others who will honesty[sic] answer my question"...

Uh, Miss Snark did answer your question, you ungrateful twit.

I bet you're (not your) the type of person who sends nasty letters back in response to your rejections.

Bernita said...

One suspects English not the writer's first language?

lottery ticket said...

"But I do know there are more of them out there."

Oh dear dog! Last night I was only slightly troubled by the prospect of another Dan Brown. But now our friend assures us that they do exist. And that there are more than one.
It's not 8am yet and already I must reach for the gin pail.

Anonymous said...

Anyone could be the next best-selling author (Dan Brown, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, etc).

But thinking about that before it actually happens shows such people aren't grounded in reality. There's over 100000 books published yearly in the United States alone and only a handful of those authors are going to be really well-known.

If you think you could be the next big thing, it will only make you disappointed when it doesn't happen.

And if you wish to have fun at the expense of one who may be the next J.K Rowling or Dan Brown, so be it. The loss is not mine. There are others who will honesty answer my questions.

Being snarky is Miss Snark's trademark. That doesn't mean her answers are any less honest.

slobbit said...

"some of us are even willing to risk having our writing hands chopped off . . ."

". . . like foxes, trapped by the steel-jawed leg-hold trap of life, so earnestly striving to break free, so frantic in our need, we have already given up our ability for rational thought as offering to the Great Publication Gods, and, having failed, now must proceed to the lesser literary organs."

Or maybe Paged Off is exploring more unusual dayjobs while awaiting the grammatically lenient publisher to come knocking and make him/her the next Dan Brown. Or should we say Upton Sinclair?

FreeSpirit said...

This post reminds me of a Friends episode. The one where Ross is reading Rachel's 18-page letter (front and back!!!!) Apparently Rachel had a little problem with YOUR vs. YOUR'RE as well. (Yeah, when I'm not writting, I'm a Friends geek.) Hey, Paged Off...what do you think SNARK means?

Maya said...

I had to shake my head because I've been blogging on common newbie mistakes this week and, yesterday, I wrote about it/it's, their/they're/there and your/you're.

Julia said...

Miss Snark, your comments are gentle compared to the stacks and of form rejections I've accumulated.

MM said...

Well, I am a Southern Girl who appreciates a wicked New York attitude. On occassion, when I cop said attitude here, I get labeled rather harshly myself.

S. W. Vaughn said...


Sheesh...now even agents need agents.


Miss Snark, what's your take on this?

Anonymous said...

Hey, cribcage. You still don't seem to get it, so I'll clue you in: It's your responsibility, newbie, to learn about the online community and how it works. It's nobody else's responsibility to explain it to you, or make it easy for you, or be nice to you while you fumble around trying to figure it out. Yes, some people do those things, but as gifts, not obligations.

Trying to tell us we owe it to you to explain it all and be nice to you is going to make an impression, all right. Trying to tell us we have to consider the lowest common denominator and take the inexperienced into account in all our interactions, and therefore dumb down the conversation, is just...well, arrogant is a word that comes to mind. Believe it or not, the online community doesn't exist for the sole benefit of the uninitiated.

Want to be in on the fun? Earn it. Take the time to learn what it's all about. Don't think your ignorance is something privileged.

Anonymous said...

Whether you like the DaVinci Code for what it is or not, to say that Brown's previous book is better is up for debate. It lost me when a bishop is murdered in the Bernini Fountain in Piazza Navona at ten o'clock at night. Give me a break! I lived in Rome years ago, and that piazza was jammed with people at all hours. It's worse now. Poetic license is one thing, stupidity and lack of research is another.

kitty said...

One of the best things about this blog is that knowing Miss Snark may use your questions as fodder forces you to think carefully before you ask.

That is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous snarks,
Or to take arms against a sea of snarks, and by opposing end them?
After all,
If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you snark us, do we not die?

Buffy said...


Anonymous said...

My dog, Nitwit of the Day---TWICE?

Termagant 2 said...

Please, don't anyone try to be the next whoever. Instead, just tell your story. If you tell a story well, and get us interested, we'll even forgive your 1.5" margins and confusion about your versus you're.


M.E Ellis said...

I can't stop laughing!

Funny thread, funnier comments.

Thanks to everyone here who commented - you all made my ribs ache!


Anonymous said...

Before I came to this blog, I didn't know what the word "snark" meant. My excuse: English is not my first language and that word was not one we learned in class.

Still, it took me less than five minutes that:

a) Miss Snark's answers feature a certain amount of sarcasm and acerbic wit. After I looked up the word "snark", I got the word play and appreciated it (yes, I did look it up).

b) Miss Snark is willing to answer questions but you should expect to get a mouthful of that sarcasm and wit.

English being a second language is not an excuse to being miffled by the answer to a question posted here. Nor is it an excuse for confusing "you're" and "your".

Think of Rowling or Brown what you like, but I dare say that they know their essential grammar and made sure their manuscripts were spotless in that regard. If you ever hope to follow in their foot steps, start with brushing up your grammar first. Or run a spell and grammar check. Even Word can catch this kind of mistakes.

Anon-X said...


If you make those kinds of comments, do we not spit coffee on our keyboards laughing out loud?

Specifically anonymous,


Noel Lynne Figart said...


I'm a Southerner, too.

I don't think we Steel Magnolias are necessarily less acerbic or wicked. *grin* Analyze any comment that is prefaced or ammended by, "Bless his heart".

We just... SOUND sweeter on the surface.

Anonymous Also said...

So, your dream is to be the next Rowling or Brown? Too bad - you've aimed a bit low. Neither are considered great writers, just lucky enough to have published books that were EXTREMELY well publicized and sold to people who are either easily amused or easily impressed. If getting rich is your goal, I advise you to start buying lotto tickets by the handsful - you stand an chance to match those writers financially. If you want to become a respected writer, you have a long way to go, grammatically and emotionally.

BuffySquirrel said...

As Manuscreen won't list the agents they read for, I'd instantly pass. How to know there are any at all? Or maybe there's only the 20 Worst!

jeanjeanie said...


Been away a while, only recently gaining regular 'net access again, and I just gotta say: the only thing funnier than Miss Snark is her Snarklings. Hee!

Thanks for making my morning. That is all.

Anonymous said...

That woman really shouldn't get so pissy about how her question was answered. The point of this blog is SNARK. Hello?? This blog is helpful, if you have sensitive feelings, then maybe you should toughen up. Everyone gets treated the same on this blog. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Sweetheart, come a little closer. Now, let me break this to you kindly. Snark, is the Simon Cowell of the literary blog world (wearing 4" heels, of course). Do you not think that most of us here have not been boot kicked in the ass and rejected more times than we care to count? I think so. That is why we tend to fill in on occasion, playing the roles of Paula and Randy. Me personally, no matter how bad it hurts, I'd rather be told how it is in the beginning than to be kissed on the forehead and then kicked in the ass. Snark is just doing her job. That is why we are all here. Boot camp is tough. (-:

Georgia Girl

delilah said...

Well bitch slap me!!

Sue said...

I suspect the biggest reason(s) for the bestowing of the nitwit title involved: Lack of research of this blog (and missing the bizillion times this question has come up.)

The subject of "how many pages to submit"/"following directions" has been a common topic and answered frequently, and in non-snarky terms. If the questioner had bothered to do the least bit of research HERE, they would have known the answer already.

Is there an inverse correlation between those who "do the necessary work to succeed" and those who "think they are the next Dan Brown (Stephen King, J K Rowling)?"

Oh, and I like the idea of signing in using the word verification thingy.

BarbJ said...

Not only kind but modest as well.

Seriously, Nitwit and FUB (if different), you need to decide if you want to be in the writing business. No one is going to coo sweetly and assure you you're the greatest since - Rowling and Brown? I can't write it - since Dickens or Twain except scammers.

Yes, I know. You wondered about the five pages because you wanted to pick your best. The real world doesn't work that way. If the first five aren't good enough, rewrite them.

As an aside, I've noticed those who boast of their kindness are usually vicious beasts. They just try to be a little more subtle about it - and fail, as the snarklings have noted.

Long reign Miss Snark and her astute snarklings. I've learned a lot, enough to come in from play and listen while the adults talk.

peoplepc said...

Hey, Anonymous, why do you say J. K. Rowling is not a good writer? Because she hit success? I think she is definitely talented, but many authors are talented. The difference is, she was in the right place at the right time. However, this does not mean she cannot be a good writer!

Beth said...

nlp (anonymous) said:

We are a hearty bunch

Surely you meant to say "hardy."

Anonymous said...

Oh dear.

Lady, I'm going to steal a line from some smart person's comment of some time back:
"Miss Snark is not your friend."
"Miss Snark is not your friend."

You participate here, you expect to be snarked by her and/or her devotion. No exceptions made.

I know that the stoning is funny to everyone but the frog, and I sympathize, but over here it's for your own good. If it's undeserved you can always respond in a rational manner, and make your point. I've done that. If it is deserved you lick your wounds, learn something important [for free] and toughen up. It's good practice for the newbie writer.

This business is not for softies. And be grateful to the commentors who pointed out the problems with your prose. There are dozens of scam artists calling themselves agents out there just waiting to defraud the unready, the ill-informed and the delusional.

Forever anon.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Yes, it is in an agent's best interest to find the next best-selling author. Snarky's blog isn't about that, dear heart.

It's about ... umm what is it about? Oh, yes! Educating authors.

Writers are storytellers. The point of the craft is to entertain. This is true even for "serious" non-fiction. The extensively footnoted, well-researched discussion of 19th Century Premillennialism doesn't fulfill its purpose unless it is also a good reading experience. It must entertain to inform. Fiction is even more dependent on entertaining.

So, if our purpose is to entertain, explain to me why you take yourself so seriously?

Because you want to be rich and famous? Well, dear soul, let's hope you reach your goal. Until you do, take the education and learn the lessons, no matter how phrased.

Restrain your spirit. You're more likely to succeed if you do.

Now, we all want an editor or agent to read our manuscripts. We want them to read the whole thing. Right? And you doubt that they can tell much about the quality in five pages?

Spend some time on a critique site. Try the Crap-O-Meter or the SF and Fantasy Writers oriented sites. As much as one would like to think otherwise, one can often tell quality from the very first sentence, or at least the very first paragraph.

We live in a society that eschews rules. Yet, business functions best within rules. Other than the laws that govern all businesses, there are the "best practices" each business adopts. You want to do business with an agent or publisher? Going your own way doesn't work.

And let me tell you, sweets, there are terminally rude agents out there, and there are idiot editors and assistants. But, you've entered their world. They often tell you what they want. Follow their rules. Or find another publisher, agent, editor, who can live with the unpredictable, volatile, and self-centered -- if you can.

They're not there to be your friend. They're there to make money. Making money has its rules. Follow them.

And, dear scribe, you can always do what this newbie-wannabe-published-writer does. At some point I admit to being clueless. I tell them I don't know what I'm doing! Hey, nothing like a little honesty from a Goat-herd, bookseller, writer. If I don't understand something about their instructions, I email them and ask. I learned this the hard way.

So, now, do you wish to learn the hard way? Or, do you wish to take the good advice, no matter how it's phrased?

Inkwolf said...

Dang, everyone jump on the disgruntled newbie with hobnailed boots, why doncha?

(For what it's worth, I also thought the FUB was from the original writer...and that it was seriously funny to leave it in.)

But really, you do have to have a thick skin to post here, and be prepared to be sneered at.

As for people sneering at the writer's aim (plan?) to be the next Brown or Rowling: they don't have best-sellers just because they are "well-publicized." Their books are best-sellers because they are fun and interesting to read. I don't think it's setting your sights low at all to hope to write something that so many people enjoy, however non-literary it may be. I know there are literary snots, just as there are art snots. I'm a reverse snot, thank you very much. And I belong to the Gilligan's Island Fan Club to prove it.

Though I'll agree with the comment on Brown's research skills. The first thing that tipped me off that DaVinci might not be based on actual fact-based theories was his claim that Walt Disney was a guy who enjoyed a laugh and might have included a hidden meaning in his films as a prank. Anyone who's studied the history of animation can tell you that Disney was a charismatic and prudish martinet, who mainly left the creative work in the hands of others and knew how to get the very best out of his employees. "Mischeivous Prankster" is not a phrase that springs to mind if you know much about Disney apart from the Official Company-released Version.

Mazement said...

I think maybe the problem is that the "About" boxes on the upper-right of home page aren't clear enough. Maybe we need a warning to the effect that Miss Snark is not the nice kind of Snark, but is in fact a Boojum.

The next Dan Brown has already been discovered. See http://www.spatch.net/frontpage.cgi?entry=072105

I think the positions of "next J. K. Rowling" and "second next Dan Brown" are still open.

Manuscreen looks like a scam to me. The business model doesn't make sense...they're competing with interns for the job of wading through the slush pile. Also, they devote too much time to explaining that they're not a scam.

Cudd said...

About Dan Brown:
I'm okay with a book being entirely unrealistic, provided its entertainment value and plot/character development makes up for it. For me, he managed it with A&D, but he really fell short on DVC.

However, I never, never, NEVER want to get stuck reading a sequel that begins on the exact same premise as the first book without a very good reason for the parallel.

And really, what is Dan Brown's fascination with dead naked geezers?

(my apologies to Miss Snark for getting side-tracked from teasing the Nitwit on how much of a Nitwit she really, truly is)

Jen said...

To me, this is another example of how NOT to respond to criticism. If I sent a letter like this to an editor/agent when I get a rejection, word gets around. The best response to "You suck"? "Thank you for taking the time to read my submission." What I think after that is private. And I don't blog or bitch about it.
Restraint of tongue and pen. And keyboard.
Much as I want to be published, I'm not cutting my hands off for anyone.
This is a good reminder for me. Before you press the send button, reread, rethink and calm down.

Mark said...

Well I can tell you flat-out that if that answer got a skewering at most of the newbie writer forums, the purveyor of snark would be banned for rudeness and "disrespect to authors."

J. K. Brown said...

What's really surprising is how anyone here gets any real writing done with all this pointless banter. And to think this all could have been avoided if he had just searched the snarkkives where this question has already been answered, ad nauseam, even as recent as May 6th:


Nick said...

Miss Snark looks forward to the day when the word "Nitwit" ceases to exist. Until that happens though, she still gets a full-page color photo next to the definition for "sardonic."

dink said...

Dear She-Who-Snivels,

I think you may have inadvertently left out,

"Oh, the humanity!"

You think you might just go looking for what you're after elsewhere instead of trying to convince Miss Snark she should change her blog and POV to suit YOU?

Jeez, looezze!

Word verification is: oofudku

I swear!
hahahahhahahahah snort!

kis said...

Oh, my! Looks like I'm late to the party. I just love those questions where you can picture the author as they type it out--back like a ram-rod, fingers poised and then stabbing, face fixed in the stiff and dignified pose of true umbrage. I can even envision the trembly lip and the sheen of unshed tears on her lashes.

Really, Ms. Nitwit, you ought to have known better than to ask your question on this blog. If you're that sensitive, you might simply have googled "proper manuscript format" or "sample pages query" or something.

Or, maybe, (big maybe), you could just get over yourself. Cause the first time you send in fifty pages wrapped in three bucks worth of postage, only to receive a cold one-sentence rejection printed in 4-point font on 1/11th of a sheet of paper, its just gonna kill you.

kis said...

Oh, and I would've appreciated Ms. Nitwit's latest missive more, had it contained the words "flugle horn" or "piss-midget."

I mean, the material was just sitting there in the previous post, begging to be used.

BitchySmurf said...

I wonder if this is how PagedOff is going to answer any and all rejection letters he/she/it receives. I love how the post suggests the loss is Miss Snark's. Like, what did she lose? A nitwit? It's not like PagedOff was a client.

I wonder if PagedOff somehow expected Miss Snark to read her beautiful 5 page question and think "Egads! This is the next great author! I must sign him/her/it on the spot!"

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Doesn't our Miss Snark have better things to do and worry about than THIS?

Do one better than the next Dan Brown, Miss Snark. Find an original. (I'm still available. Original, too)

Anon Author said...

Your future Miss Snark. And mine.

Your future, Miss Snark. And mine.

Ah, what a difference punctuation makes...

Thank you, Helen Lovejoy, for being a spontaneous crit partner for nitwit. Nitwit's Crit! *smile*

I remember reading that and thinking, "Huh? Is she saying she's the future Miss Snark? Or...?" *scratches head*

Oh, comma, how lovely art thou!

April said...

The first rule of writing. Or one near the top is research research research. And I have a hard time believing NLP has spent more than ten minutes researching the question if Miss Snark's response was so "surprising". Have you read her blog before? Do you know who kp is and why you should always arive with a load of beef jerky in tow when you come here?

Secondly, better grow some thick skin. This business certainly seperates the strong from the weak, in rather harsh ways. No editor or agent will soft peddle a rejection just to protect the "gentle sensibilities" of an author.

Samuel L. Bronkowitz said...

So how many of dishing out advice and criticism like you're experts in the business and craft of writing are actually punished?

I love Miss Snark, but god some of the snarklings elevate themselves to the highest platform when they have a chance to rag on someone.

Chumplet said...

Whoa! Turn my back for a moment and all hell breaks loose! Seriousness has its place, and so does sarcasm. I know exactly where to go in order to receive both. I would be honoured to be declared nitwit of the day. At least I would have learned something.

If I want a serious answer to my serious questions, I go to a serious site or my writing group. If I want a laugh, I visit MS and EE. My questions still get answered.

Re: Rowling and Co.: There are writers and there are writers. If we want a story that's a rollicking ride with an unlikely plot, let's read Rowling and Brown. As long as they're fun to read, we read 'em.

If we want a sappy tear-jerker, howzabout Sparks or Steel.

If we want something that makes us go all existential, let's have a go at Beckett or Michener.

Everything has its place.

Ski said...

Listen, Just the fact that you've written this letter is proof that you have not been a regular visitor here. Miss Snark can be pointed, but she is never rude. Read days and weeks worth of posts and you will see someone who cares about us, wants us to be the best we can be, she celebrates our successes, and encourages us beyond our failures. She hides behind a tough N.Y. curtain, but behind the curtain is a really - really good person. She's smart, she knows what she's doing and is not afraid to tell us the truth. (Tell me that isn't worth a bunch.) But, like everyone else on the planet she's intolerant of dumb, guess what, so am I. I have learned more from this blog than I have in a decade of reading books on "how to publish your book" This place is instantaneous, dynamic, timely, and accurate. What on earth more do you want? Just because someone doesn't give you the answer you want doesn't mean that she's the ruin of every hopeful writer. I don't know Miss Snark personally, but I still consider her my friend. I take offense when outsiders come in and aren't nice to my friends. Disagree - that's ok, but don't hop on some high horse and look down on us mere mortals. Arrogance is so ugly and so uncalled for. Join in if you disagree, but for heaven's sake fold up the wings and put away the halo... we're just people here.


Anonymous said...

Mark: Well I can tell you flat-out that if that answer got a skewering at most of the newbie writer forums, the purveyor of snark would be banned for rudeness and "disrespect to authors."

Wow, Mark--or should I say Jake?--you've got a real hard-on about Absolute Write, don't you?

Here's the thing: Miss Snark's blog is Miss Snark's blog. Absolute Write is Absolute Write. Miss Snark, being a polite person, would play by AW's rules when on AW. In her own blog, she plays by her own rules. Nobody expects her to play by another site's rules when not on that site, and she wouldn't expect to play by her rules on another site with different rules. Got it?

It's not actually that complicated. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Steorling said...

I've been in a vortex of "surreal" all day so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this one. All melodrama aside, this was pretty brutal. Do the snarklings come here for information or a bloody feeding frenzy?
Firstly, there are a million nitwit questions when you're an unpublished author. I thought the aim of this site was to answer them...but more frequently it seems the point is lambasting anyone who rears their head out of their foxhole long enough to ask the knowledgeable Miss Snark for her expertise or opinion. And MS, I don't think this quizling had as much trouble with your answer as the ridicule that followed in the comments. Hey, if I'd asked a question and gotten a FUB I would be angry too! And that brings me to my other point. Obviously this anonymous comment was not written by the asker but aimed at her, so why is it still there? All else aside, she's got you on the mediated comments. I can't imagine you'll get many honest questions if all we can expect in return is dissolution into verbal abuse. I find the snarkling horde a little abrasive already, considering we're all suppose to be in the same position...groveling under Miss Snark's heels for a clue. Mayhaps it would be best to keep the meaner junkyard dogs on a leash?

docbrite said...

Samuel L. Bronkowitz wrote:

So how many of dishing out advice and criticism like you're experts in the business and craft of writing are actually punished?

Best Freudian slip EVER.

I've not dished out any advice here, but I was first punished at an early age, am now fortunate enough to make my living being punished, and hope to continue being punished until I die or become senile. I'm a glutton for punishment.

ryan said...

At least this nitwit of the day got an answer. I was declared almost a nitwit, but then had my question entirely ignored, with the (im)polite suggestion I use google to find the answer.

I would proudly wear the title of nitwirt if it meant I could have an answer.

kis said...


Much of the criticism on the earlier post was aimed at the FUB, when we all assumed it was the asker's reaction to MS's snarky answer.

Most of the criticism here is for the thin skin of the asker, and how she (or he?) will never survive this business unless she lightens up a bit. Consider this a trial by fire.

Yes, the snarklings can be abrasive. Dare I say, holier than thou? I've been guilty of that myself, from time to time.

But the questioner should have searched the snarkives for her answer, or tried to google it, or even read a random post or two here, before posing her question. If she had done even ten minutes of reading on this blog, she'd have known what she was in for.

And comment moderation is precisely why things like this turn into a bloody frenzy. By the time Snarky updates, there can be dozens, even scores of comments already in the queue, three quarters of which say basically the same thing. If those comments had gone up the moment they were posted by the snarklings, half the people here wouldn't have felt any real need to add anything.

But comment moderation isn't here to spare anyone's feelings, or even to erase the FUBs. It's probably here to prevent legal problems when snarklings--or those posing as them--personally attack and slander other people by name.

That's all MS needs is to have her blog shut down, or her identity revealed in court, because some asshole said so-and-so from such-and-such agency is a you-know-what.

Deb said...

So color me lucky--I went through the newbie phase before blogs, etc. I had face-to-face critiques with more or less kind fellow writers who gently--or snarkily--guided me in the Paths of Writing Truth.

I don't like to jump on writers who haven't had this advantage. Isn't it a cliche that the only bad question is an unasked question?

I'm done ranting now. But at the risk of coining new words, I submit:

1) Fub (verb)- to express one's disgust for a rejection

2) Snarkophobe (noun) - to develop an aversion to certain agents' blogs adj. snarkophobic - the condition of being a snarkophobe.


December Quinn said...

So how many of dishing out advice and criticism like you're experts in the business and craft of writing are actually punished?

I'm punished every day, Samuel--I have two small children.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to introduce "Yesterday's Nitwit" to Barbara Bauer. I have a feeling they could have a beautiful and clueless relationship together.

vfvexdh said...

Before anyone gets all worked up over the heartlessness of the snarklings here, go back and look at the original post and response again.

Consider the sheer rampant cluelessness:
--15,000 word count/5 pages, anyone?
--"genre pending" what's that about?
-- five pages of a printed book (what printed book?)
--and the fact that whole this issue has been dealt with exhaustively before.

Then re-read the response and comments.
She wasn't even snarked badly.
Even in the comment trail.
If she had even read a screens-worth of this blog, she should have been prepared for what she got.
And her question was answered.

The follow-up post today is virtually psychotic, and entirely out of proportion.
Maybe she was upset by the second poster, which she seems to be taking personally.
At least -- if I am parsing the sentence correctly, a difficult task -- she doubts the claim of the site to be moderated on the basis of that post.
(Are readers being lured here, thinking it's being moderated and it's not? Eeek!)
I'm unclear on the point of this.

The comment itself was crude, its target entirely ambiguous,
I assumed it was left in as "atmosphere."
(In fact, as an implicit sign of what Ms Snark is up to when she moderates.)
I had read it, furthermore, as directed at the glorious snark-person, and found it amusing that she allowed it to remain.
Her comments also indicate that she left in believing it to be directed to herself.

From there, things just get spooky weird.
Uh, where are people chopping off the hands of starving writers?
Is she assuming this happens if writers mess up a query?

Ms Snark makes"back-handed claims to help aspiring writers"?
What makes her claims "back-handed?"
I'm an aspiring writer, and I believe I have been helped by this blog.
What's the problem?

"A challenge, you ask?"
What challenge?
Miss Snark challenged you?
Did I miss something?
Should KY be meeting with her seconds?

Well, I'm pretty sure Ms Snark treats "history" with "respect," because of "the power it (history?) wields in the future."
Whatever that means.
It sounds like the dreck freshmen write on exams when they haven't read the material.
I just don't see what any of that has to do with how to send five pages with a query.

Dragonet2 said...

My editing professor in college looked like Jehovah himself, 7 foot tall, flowing white beard, curly white locks, voice that thundered and could be heard outside the building. I witnessed him shagging a blackboard eraser out the open window in frustration with the stupidity of his students, possibly aprocryphal tales have him tossing a whole chair out onto the commons.

He'd probably this twit out the window, noteooks and stuff.

kathie said...

I'm very, very tired. Maybe that's it. Or I'm dimwitted. Both???? Perhaps. But I couldn't even follow her question/complaint. WTF is her beef? I wish people would spell out the question they initially asked and are currently bitching about. Please. For the slower folks.

Anonymous said...

what's really funny about this is that the person who sent in the comment has a lot of time on their hands. Not to mention a BIG head.

Why bother the Snark? Join a group and lash out ur concerns with people who care.

To actually think that after a couple of comments people would actually take u seriously is a joke.

It's clear to me that ur pissed off and clearly to everyone else, chill woman/man and relax.

here, I send u a cyber drink and i suggest u pass out and start all over again 1st chance u get. And keep in mind, a writers life isn't easy. Their r ups & downs if u can't handle it, well, consider another career path.


Jeb said...

It was probably at the Writer Beware blog that I first read one of the great truths of identifying a scam agent or publisher. Paraphrasing:

A salesperson (or their website) is extraordinarily nice to the customer and tells the customer whatever the customer needs to hear to encourage them to slap down that credit card.

If the publisher's or agent's website is directed at the WRITER - filled with warm fuzzies about how the publisher/agent understand the frustration of the poor WRITER whose work is being thrown out unread at major publishing houses - and not directed at the book-buying editor or avid reader, that's a definite red flag that the WRITER is the customer.

This prolific, pissed off letter-writer seems to expect to be treated as a valued customer instead of as one of Legion newbies seeking enlightenment on a blog. She'll be a valued addition to the scammers' bottom line if she doesn't learn quickly that kid-glove treatment always comes with an invoice.

Daisy said...

I don't have anything to add here; I just want to see the comment count pass 100.

Roy said...

rmenlvsr said...
bee oh oh, aych oh oh.

Oh my dog. Did you just call Ms. Snark a bee-oh-aych?

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> You web site says Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author.

It's only recently that blogger.com have introduced comment modding (moderation, ie the ability to either zap posts or allow them.) It is for this reason that many experienced forum users such as myself have held off for so long before launching ourselves into the blogosphere.

Taking the option to moderate comments is a sensible move for someone whose blog or controversial internet persona is likely to attract trolls (posters out to cause trouble) or nobbers (wankers, or as you Yanks would say, jerks.)

It is generally not an option taken merely in order to be snotty or dictatorial.

It's very easy to take personal offence at things that were not meant personally, which is what I suspect you've done here.