Dear Ms. Snark,

I work in publishing, in the editorial department of one of the major houses. I realize that most people say this is the worst thing an author can do - spend their day reading other people's (frequently dreadful) work. But I believe I can both write and read for a career (at least until I grow up and decide what I really want to do with my life.)

I've finished my romance novel, and am beginning to send out querys - my question is, do I mention that I work in publishing? Attempt to include a sort of cute and snarky sentence about it? Do I leave it off all together? Does my job present a potential conflict of interest, or is it of help to an agent?

No, it's not a conflict of interest unless you want to acquire the rights to your own book. If you do, call me, I'll buy lunch-easy sale!

You definitely want to mention it. There are lots of editors who write novels: David Ebershoff, Jason Pinter and Starling Lawrence leap to mind. In addition, you'll know how the process works which is a big plus as far as I'm concerned.


HawkOwl said...

He's both a writer and an editor and he misspelled "queries"??

Anonymous said...

It's kind of like having a copy of the other teams playbook in advance (Raiders vs Suckaneers). Dang it! I did it again. -JTC

Manic Mom said...

That's the first thing I noticed too--


Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Can I use the word "twit?"

Einstein couldn't spell. By your implied definition, he was stupid. Somehow, this seems very "twitish" of you.

Being spelling impaired doesn't mean one is stupid, an unfit writer, or a liar. It means they didn't proof read. Or it means they have learning disabilites. Or it means that they were sipping coffee while they were typing.

I'm a tad tired of the spelling police. I vowed I'd bite the next one I met. That's you!

Nut said...

(Shrugs) At least we don't have to share space in the slush pile. Wellcome to the... ummm... darker(?) side, fellow writer.

HawkOwl said...

Sha'el, I don't know who you're addressing, but since no one has made statements resembling the ones you're taking exception to, it seems to me you're putting words in someone's mouth to justify your soapbox.

Some of us expressed surprise that a writer-and-editor misspelled something as easy as "queries." All the rest was introduced by you.

If you're gonna go on a rant, just go on a rant. You don't need to force a segue to somebody else's unrelated comments.

Feisty said...

Ah, have at it, sha'el.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Why should it surprise you that they misspelled "queries?" I've yet to meet anyone who is a consistently flawless speller. My father comes as close to that as anyone. He is a published author. He writes about Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Chemistry. He writes long hand, and his prose is usually flawless by the time it hits the page. Even he can occasionally misspell.

Why in the context of this Blog is it necessary to point out the flaws in another's spelling? Isn't that rude?

I admit to being sensitive to this issue. I cannot consistently spell correctly. It has nothing to do with my professional ability, intelligence, or good sense. It has everything to do with an inherited neurological disorder. So, yes, I have an emotional stake in this discussion.

I believe I would find it rude even if I were a flawless speller. What do members of the "spelling police" hope to accomplish by pointing out spelling flaws in Internet posts?

What is accomplished is to demean the person who posts and to self-elevate the critic. I'm sure you didn't mean to do this. It is the effect nevertheless. Did you want this new author to feel bad? Or was it that you didn’t have anything else to contribute and just wanted to say something – anything? I really don’t know. I’m not sure I care.

I care that on this blog and elsewhere around the Internet writing community there are many who in unhelpful ways pick at spelling. I don’t think this person posted to have a brief paragraph critiqued. They posted to get a helpful answer to their question.

I'm not going to argue with you. This is how I feel. It's my day to be Miss Manners’ un-appointed assistant. And this is my etiquette statement for today. Feel free to argue back., but sooner or later something will go out from your pen or keyboard that is misspelled. What will you wish us to do with it when we see it?

Oh, and one last thought: That others join in our folly doesn’t elevate it above the level of folly.

Damn! I’m almost as Snarky as Miss Snark!

Anonymous said...

I can't spel werth crap eether. I blame it on Mikrosof Werd. Do you thank I cood soo Gates? -JTC

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Just because I’m in the mood to be really snarky:

“Sha'el, I don't know who you're addressing, but since no one has made statements resembling the ones you're taking exception to, it seems to me you're putting words in someone's mouth to justify your soapbox.”


Sha’el. I don’t know whom you’re addressing, but since no one has made statements resembling those to which you’re taking exception, it seems to me that you’re putting words in someone’s mouth to justify your statements. (The sentence is still wordy, but it no longer has me justifying a box, and the prepositional phrase is now correct. Also, since “who” is the object of the word “addressing,” the correct usage is “whom.”)

No one likes to be corrected especially when the issue is relatively small. Do they?

I believe my point is made, and I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Princess. 'Twit' is reserved for British writers, as is 'git', 'prat' and 'fuckwit'.

Bugger all

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Anon.:

My favorite Brit only expression ... Okay, so maybe this isn't my favorite ... Let's say I really like this one:

"All fur coat and no knickers"

That works so much better than, "She has no substance" or "she's pretty but she's mentally deficient."

There's also the phrase "knee trembler," but it's on the naughty side, and I wouldn't repeat it here. It's expressive though!

domynoe said...

I tend to be a massive typo-queen, and don't notice unless someone mentions it. Po one's nerfect, ya know. ;)

BitchySmurf said...

Huh. I don't see any problem with editors being writers. But the big NYC publishing house I work at has in its contract that it owns all ideas for books you have while in their employ (I'm assuming this is meant for editorial pitch meetings, but would it not also apply to your novel?).

What do I know, I work in contracts...

Jo Bourne said...

America is blessed with its fair share of native twits. Frequently we award them professional credentials, multi-book contracts, and political office.

Just Me said...

Tangent here, but I completely disagree with the idea that it's bad for writers to edit.

I did freelance editing for eleven years or so. When I finally started writing, my first novel sold straight out of the gate - I don't have any unpublished 'practice' novels hanging around, the way a lot of people do. I don't think this is coincidence. I think the editing taught me to be very aware of language and structure, of what works and doesn't work, of what the writer's tools are and of the many ways you can use them. I learned a lot from all my authors - the good ones and the not-so-good - and I'm grateful to them for it. For some people, at least, editing can be an excellent way to serve your apprenticeship (and get paid for it, too!).

It is true, though, that I couldn't edit and write at the same time. I did just enough editing to live on, because whenever I was working on an edit I had to ditch my own book.

Nut said...

(Puts glasses on the edge of the nose, and writes down: "All fur coat and no knickers", "knee trembler")

Thanks, sha'el! This stuff is priceless.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

My dear Nut,

My pleasure.

Check out http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/

NoGroupHug said...

So, if I'm reading this correctly, it is NOT ok to point out that someone made a spelling or grammar mistake.... but it IS ok to point out (or rant) that someone pointed out that mistake? I assume this must be part of the 'group hug, everyone is wonderful' mentality so popular today. I just find it quite odd, is all.

Nut said...

Sha'el, thanks again. The site's a riot. Bookmarked it.

Now I gotta make sure that my mate-a huge ogre, who can sorta read, doesn't come across it.

P.S. My banana tree grows right across the street from a public school. I'll just use some of those frazes on those snooty teachers, if you don't mind.

Thanks again.

Chickenbutt said...

A knee trembler is how Frank McCourt was conceived. (Angela's Ashes)

Rebecca said...

Being English, I'm pretty sure "All fur coat and no knickers" refers to a woman who has money but no class. Not an attack, just a clarification.


Anonymous said...

*hits self on head*

Yes, I misspelled "queries." Yes, I'm both a writer and an editor. I guess that's why I have copyeditors!

bitchysmurf, now I'm getting worried. I always assumed that clause was to keep us from taking our great non-fiction idea to another house when we switched jobs - I doubt it applies to our own ideas for novels. But I'll check with our contracts department. Thanks for pointing that out!

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Nogroup,

You misunderstand entirely. It's a princesses' duty to defend the weak, rebuke the foolish, define twitish behavior, and just generally have the "off with their heads" attitude, even if we are no longer allowed to actually call for the headsman.

Isn't it more groupish-behavior to let the sharks surround the poor snarkling and pick at his misspelling-bones?

And it wasn’t a group hug, though I did take the poor defenseless baby snarkling under my wings. We Pixies do have those, you know. It was more of a group scold than a group hug. I think you have trouble defining social behavior in princesses.

It wasn't a rant either. I was very calm. I'm still calm. We princesses seldom are anything but calm, even when the hunt teeth have grown in and we feel inclined to bite.

Say, are you salty? I feel the need for some well-salted meat!

Ryan Field said...

How you can do both amazes me! I run a small editorial service, and write fiction. But I couldn't possibly do both and function normally. When I edit it's simple; just structured work for someone else. But writing fiction (I'm well published in many anthologies and collections in short story genre)is different. It takes me almost an hour, after writing all day, to "get myself" back again. This is hard to explain, but when writing fiction I'm off in another world all day, and it's hard to come down when I'm finished. Can't imagine editing full and and writing, too.
Bless you.

Janny said...

Actually, I thought the "querys" was an odd thing to spot in the post of an editor, too. Those of us who edit for a living tend to edit EVERYTHING pretty meticulously...our e-mails, our posts, our to-do and grocery lists...

And being a darned-near perfect speller myself, I side with the people whose teeth are on edge seeing "querys" out there in front of dog and everybody. Just as some people "can't help" misspellings, those of us who spell correctly 99% of the time "can't help" discomfort at seeing such an obvious misspelling from a person supposedly in the business.

We're in a "words" business...so it behooves us to give the impression that we know how to use, and spell, words in public. That being said, we all make mistakes; that's why we proofread. There's a certain amount of stuff that still gets through, but "querys," it seems to me, is pretty obvious, and probably should have been corrected.

So paint me with an "anal" brush if you like...but that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.


Anonymous said...

I noticed "queries" too and surprised myself. Who cares? I have to go with Pixie Princess on this one. I think an editor can be a good writer. Why not? Is there a law that says because you are one you can't be the other? Ridiculous.

Georgia Girl

Murphatroyd said...

I'm with the princess, you go lady.
I'm a special ed teacher and a writer. I've noted that eighty percent of the population spell effortlessly and without it being any particular tribute to their intelligence, or indeed any indicator in the slightest of creative writing ability. The other twenty percent struggle. I'm one of them although nowhere near the top of this table. Some of these twenty percent are very creative individuals although once again it's no indicator of, blah, blah, what I said before. To have the spelling police shoot them down for the occasional error is a major pain, esp. as most of the time it will be a person with a spelling defect you're getting, cos you folk just don't have the same kind of difficulties. Writing is about communication. This writer communicated well. Miss Snark understood.The Princess defended masterfully.
For me, the beautiful arrangements of thoughts and language are what gets me every time. When I'm reaing a good story, I'm blind to punctuation and spelling errors, I only see what I'm supposed to, the unfolding story.
Don't get me started on the punctuation police. Organise your own breathing breaks. (within reason. of course)

Joy said...

I'm not going to argue with you. This is how I feel. It's my day to be Miss Manners’ un-appointed assistant. And this is my etiquette statement for today. Feel free to argue back., but sooner or later something will go out from your pen or keyboard that is misspelled. What will you wish us to do with it when we see it?

If you see it, ignore. I can't deal with another of your 1000-word treatises on slang/etiquette/Nuclear Physics.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Joy,

I will be happy to ignore your misspellings, should I note any.

You can't count though. Total word count of all my posts on this thread, not counting this one, is 812 words. So that means I have about two hundred more to go, right?

Anonymous said...

Can't we all just get along?