8.21.2006

The 3rd Irregular Crapometer!

Your comments on how to do this were very helpful and it also gave me something to think about when people asked REALLY stupid questions at the book signing I attended tonight.



It struck me that it might be useful to see BOTH cover/query letters AND first pages together. I'm firmly convinced you have either a good query letter or a good first page but never both. Let's see if that holds up.

I can't critique all gazillion entries. The last writing contest almost killed me and KY was left to answer the phone for two days while I recuperated in a sensory deprivation tank in an undisclosed location.

It may be illuminating to see how the actual slush pile works.

Therefore:

Entries are to be a cover letter and first page. It should be from a work of fiction or memoir. Non fiction is acquired differently, so this crapometer will not be helpful for you. It will also not be helpful if you write children's picture books, or early reader books. It WILL be helpful if you write middle grade, or YA books.

Entries are a maximum of 750 words. You can divide it any way you choose, but if your query letter is too brief, there's a chance I won't even read your pages. The word count will be observed carefully but not cruelly. If you clock in at 751 I won't disqualify you; 800 however, yes. YOU are responsible for your word count. I use MS Word to count.

Entries must be sent in the body of the email. No attachments. Subject line: 3rd Irregular Crapometer Entry (or something similar enough that I know how to classify it)

Entries will be acknowledged and given a number in a return email. Hang on to that number, it's how you will be selected and posted on the blog.

I will do 100 entries. By "do" I mean I will read 100 entries in the same way I read my slush pile. I will post the entry and my comments. Several entries will be chosen for "partials" which in this case will mean a further 750 words or so. ONLY those selected will get more than the "slush pile review".

I fully expect we'll get more than 100 entries. To accommodate time zones, we will limit it to a 12 hour open period. I will give you advance notice. It will be at the end of August. Early and late entries are disqualified.

We will choose 100 from the incoming pile by some random number generator method, the details of which are in the hands of Card Shark Snarque and his devoted poodle Hope Springs.
His decision is not up for review or second guessing.

I STRONGLY urge you to take out all the italic and bold you use. I beg you to take out all the auto formatting you use. Fixing those just ate up time.

Cover letters must include "Dear Miss Snark" and some sort of closing: "love and kisses", "cheers", "you stink" something. You don't have to sign your name.

Your first page should be the first page you send with your query. If you haven't learned how much I hate prologues and epigraphs before this, well, you will now.

For the sake of the exercise, I will NOT auto strike any entries for "I don't take stuff in this genre". However, just a reminder: I'm clue free about SFF and most of romance.

Any questions?

56 comments:

Elektra said...

*crosses fingers and googles gourmet dog biscuits in case a bribe is in order (very difficult to do with crossed fingers)*

December Quinn said...

Wheee! No questions, just a wheee!

Rachel said...

Just to clarify: Everything we send you will be in the BODY (i.e. no attachments) of ONE email, so we'll have the cover letter, maybe a couple lines between to break, and then the text of the first page, right?

Anonymous said...

Considering that this is for your blog, are there any restrictions on foul language and content. My opening scene isn't definitely not PG13, but it isn't x rated either. It does have some sexual content. Would that be inappropriate for the Crapometer?

Miss Snark said...

Thanks Rachel, yes.
I've updated the post to reflect that.

December Quinn said...

Oh, wait--do you want credits in the query? Can we leave that out entirely, or shorten it to "I have published (list of credits)"?

I'm crossing my fingers, too, Elektra!

Miss Snark said...

Miss Snark is rather fond of foul language and has been known to swear like a sailor. Please do not ever mention this to Grandmother Snark should your paths cross.

I'd really prefer nothing pornographic given we do have tender eyes reading this (ohhell, they're probably the ones writing it!)...

send your stuff, whatever it may be.

Miss Snark said...

Re credits: it will be more beneficial to you if you tell me what they are in terms of the publication. You don't have to if you don't want to.

However "I've been published in The New Yorker" generates more sit up and bark than does "I've been published by the Snarkosaurus Co-op Newsletter".

It's your call.

December Quinn said...

I'm just worried about word count. :-)

I'll throw 'em in, why not. Thanks!

Rachel said...

You said you'd be reading these as though they were in your slush pile. Does that mean you won't ask for 'partials' on submissions that are SFF or romance? You said you wouldn't penalize for them, but there's a difference between that and asking for more. I'll be submitting SFF either way, just wanted a clarification. Thanks so much for being willing to do this for all of us! You are definitely Most Awefull in my book!

Miss Snark said...

No auto dings means I'll read it just like I'd read something for a genre I do represent.

The heads up was that I won't be as attuned to "in jokes" references, allusions, or what's been done 10,000 times. I've probably read less than 100 SF books in my life and most of those were ...ahem years ago... back when I was a young slide rule wielding calculus student on the five (lPlutonian) year plan at MIT (Manhattan Institute of Tonguelashing).

Talia Mana said...

Great thanks for doing this. 100 entries is very generous. I will have a play with my memoir and work out the most appropriate first page, given it has an introduction.

As I'm a newbie to this (I live in a country where you submit direct to publishers and many editors are kind enough to chat on the phone) can i clarify: by cover letter you mean a query letter, right?

Miss Snark said...

Cover letter is the letter accompanying your pages. I think of "query" as the whole package but "query letter" and "cover letter" get used interchangeably.

McKoala said...

I can't believe that you are going to do this to yourself again! Delighted, though, obviously. Looking forward to it - and hoping that you have already booked your two-week brain break afterwards...

Tori Scott said...

Too cool! Now to figure out which book I want to enter in the Crapometer.

Thanks for doing this, MS.

Boo Boo said...

WhooHoo!
And after that brief exclamation of joy, the questions start pouring in. When you post the time window you will be talking about eastern time right? I'm in the pacific time zone, so I'll acutally have to brush off my math skills for this one. Argggg. And what if my clock says 12:00 am and I send my stuff but it is actually 11:59pm your time (or 2:59am) will my crap-o-query be disqualified?

librisfb said...

Miss Snark, I would send a Nancy Pearl Action Figure as a thank you if I only knew where to send it! Thanks for doing this...I'm going to be on vacation (and in between Internet connections) at the end of August but I'll email my entry to a relative and make them forward it to you if need be. Where there's a crapometer there's a way. Now...time to get to work on that query letter...

Marva said...

I haven't played this game before, so I'll ask the clueless question: When you say GO! will you provide an email address? It seems that others are privy to this information, however I am not.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Question here:

Who should participate? (Well, I'd like to, but is this contest for me? Need help sorting out even the basic things like this!)

I've posted my query and opening on EE's blog and gotten feedback. And since learning from those and making improvements, I've gotten requests for partials. Yay me. Still no agent (boo-hoo).

I'm trying to turn my attention to my second novel (the planning phase--meaning I'm writing whatever comes to mind on the new characters/problems and hoping someday for a molecular re-arrangement into excellent novel. Mucking around is a style of creativity that seems to work for me).

So do I want to continue to massage the first novel, with help from Miss Snark (whom I suspect has seen it as a submission)? Or do I do my best (and final for now) edit, keep submitting and move on to the next novel?

All about time management. Most bang for the buck and all that. And also there's a little part of me that doesn't want to waste your time or take up a space that someone else (also) desperately wants.

Knowing I will always need help, should I submit to the Crap-o-meter?

Any thoughts on this? (Besides that I'm a nitwit?!)


word verification: yfyjno--yes, for your...just no? obviously ambivalent.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to second that "wheee" and add just a quick plea from a snarkling outside the US: if entries are only accepted within a 12-hour period, please can we have a couple of days' notice of the date, so we don't wake up one morning to discover you ran the contest while we were asleep?! Thanks Miss Snark!

Sherry Decker said...

I've decided to not send anything, but I'm curious to read some of the stuff. This is my malicious side sneaking through, of course. It does that sometimes.

Miss Snark said...

Re: Time Zones.
Yes, I will post using Eastern Dayligh Time. If you're worried about missing the deadline by a minute or two, send earlier.

And time is calculated based on when I receive it.

Miss Snark said...

Re: notice.
Yes, I'll let you know ahead of time.
It may not be a couple days though. I can tell you now it's at the end of the month.

Re: email
It's on the bio.

It's miss . snark At gmail . com

no spaces

write it down now

Miss Snark said...

Reminder: this isn't a contest. No prizes. No winners. It's an exercise.

As to whether you should send something, that's your call. Other Snarklings can tell you if it was valuable when they did it, OR you can look at the previous Crapometers and read the comments section

Miss Snark said...

How to say Crapometer.

I say Crap O'Meter,
you say crapometer (crap-omm-eter);
it's all ok as long as you don't throw tomatos/tomatoes, potatos/potatoes.

Terry said...

You say "no formatting." Does that mean a single-spaced page with double spaces between paragraphs for our manuscript page 1 is acceptable? Or would you rather have tabbed paragraph indents?

Oh, don't we obsess over every tiny detail? But I'd prefer to make your life as painless as possible, given the time and energy you're putting into this exercise.

Now, if only my browser would get over it's feud with blogspot and refresh properly so I don't miss the 'ready, set, go'.

Green said...

Hi Miss Snark,
Just wanted to say thank you again for doing this for us!! I am currently working on my query. I'm not worried about the prose because I've written, re-written, and re-vamped it again! I look forward to participating, as I've never done so before!

Anonymous said...

Wow, 100 - that's a lot, and very much appreciated by those that get picked I am sure.

I was just wondering what your turnaround time is going to be on that many submission.

Maria said...

You are generous beyond reason. :>) My hat is off to you.

xiqay said...

Dear Miss Snark,

Your Crap-o-meter is valuable. No doubt about it. And I've read every posting from the prior ones. Just personally wondering if I'm spending too much time on the wrong thing (blogs) and not enough on what really counts (more writing).

Thanks for reminding me--some questions can only be answered by the nitwit who posts them.

Wouldn't want to walk a kil-o-meter in your stilettos. But looking forward to the snarkiness of the crap-o-meter.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Holy Nellie! I hope I get mine in on time!

Anonymous said...

I have a piece that requires some italics - can I send you plain text with the italics surrounded by the appropriate html tags?

I.e. < i > and < /i > (with no spaces)

Or would you prefer the text surrounded by some other symbol, like an asterisk, as in *this is written in italics; no, really, it is,* to denote italics?

kitty said...

I must lead a sheltered life because OMG, there really IS a Nancy Pearl! Thanks, librisfb!

Ryan Field said...

Whenever an agent offers free advice like this it's beyond generous. The results should be very interesting.

ydkww said...

I won't be submitting (not there yet), but just wanted to say this is really generous of you.

Ryan Field said...

I'd really prefer nothing pornographic given we do have tender eyes reading this (ohhell, they're probably the ones writing it!)...

OOOPS! But only when they pay for it:)

magz said...

Oh my my, you are a very brave lady MS!
I'm not submitting so as to leave a bit more room for those nubes so anxiously slavering for a chance,
tho it occured to me that perhaps you could consider splitting entry times:

1 day for those previously Uncrapped, and 1 day for those who've Crapped out before.. if it were feasible.
I look forwards muchly to reading them, and predict that your own Dawg Daze Doldrums are about to go out with a bang!

Eric said...

Whoops...being new to the game I went and shot myself in the font by missing that "12 hour window" detail. My humble apologies, Miss Snark.

Miss Snark said...

Turn around time: I'm planning three days for this. It may take four but it's not going to drag on much longer than that.

I have gin to swill, yanno.
And KY has tickets to the circus.

Bernita said...

~polishing halo, offering it to Miss Snark~

jude calvert-toulmin said...

Thanks for offering to do this, Miss Snark. I've never done anything like this before as I'm a relative newbie on this blog but I will have a bash and send you the first page of the book I've just completed, plus a query letter which I will get to work on right away. I will use my normal business email but I will have to use a pseudonym for the purposes of this exercise as there is more than a handful of stalkers, nobbers and various tosspots who would love to get hold of the first page of this book and plaster it all over the net (rolls eyes.)

Possibly getting lynched by the other Snarklings will be a joy though.

zerilian said...

NITWIT QUESTION!!!!

Just to be completely clear - 750 words means query/cover letter and first page COMBINED. Correct?

Yikes! I'm so excited! I've been working up the courage for EE so I've something close to ready. Oh so exciting.

nir said...

Wow. I don't dare submit to this but it will be interesting to read. I went yesterday and read the prior Crapometer for queries and got a lot out of it. Thanks for doing this for us!

Anonymous said...

For those with Outlook (and most other mailing programs) you can select a date and time for email delivery so you won't have to be in town, calculating EST vs the zone where your or anything!

Good luck Miss Snark with the deluge I know you see coming your way (and yes, I'll be adding to it)!!

Douglas said...

Wow! The comment window went fast.

If it's not too late, you might find some advantage in opening a throw away gmail address like 3rdirregularcrap@gmail.com rather than clogging your personal box and having to sort it all.

Just a thought.

Frainstorm said...

Can we play a guessing game until you make the big announcement? I predict you'll get 27 entries before you open for them.

Kinda like the retail stores on that Friday after Thanksgiving. It doesn't matter what time you open, people are gonna arrive after Thanksgiving dinner.

Somewhat more seriously, thanks for being so Awefull.

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose Card Shark Snarque gets a new poodle should (sadly) he outlive one he's had a while & give it the same name as the last, so his poodles are Hope Springs Eternal?

I'm truly looking forward to this contest.

Anonymous said...

So, is Crap O'Meter just for those from Ireland, and crap-omm-eter for everyone else?

Would Miss Snark be a wee lass herself?

Anonymous said...

Are contact details [address, phone numbers, etc.]:

a) Needed at all [I'm guessing no]?
b) If so, are they included in the word count?

Miss Snark said...

contact details: uh, no. Let's all remember that Miss Snark a. has your email address; and, 2. Is NOT going to use this to recruit for her list.

Anything you put in your email other than the subject line and the "yo Miss Snark, you are cool beans, here's my entry, why is Killer Yapp wearing cowboy boots" and other obviously NOT part-of-the-entry gets counted.

Anonymous said...

[twitches erraticly at the thought of writing a letter of any description with no contact details allowed]

Anonymous said...

Would I be wasting anyone's time by submitting the first page of a short story instead of a novel?

Genjii said...

Does having a prologue as a first page mean automatic disqualification? That's prologue discrimination :(

Miss Snark said...

You can send whatever you want. If you send the prologue, you will not be disqualified. You very well might be a nitwit, but you are not disqualified.

There's a lot about prologues in previous posts.

Miss Snark said...

short stories are fine

Helen Ginger said...

I hope to send in an entry, although that may be iffy since at the end of the month I'll be traveling to the remotes of Wyoming and may not have Internet service. But even if I can't send in material, I'm looking forward to reading the Crapometer. Thank you, Miss Snark, for doing this again and for expanding it to include opening pages.