9.26.2006

When a query letter is not needed

Dear Miss Snark,

Say, for instance, I'm David Sedaris. This is, of course, before I've made the bestseller lists, all the lovely moolah and the devotion of the New Yorker. How does a writer like that sell his work to an agent?



Ah, that would be when you were working at Macys? or cleaning houses? or perhaps just writing one of the 20plus essays that got airplay on This American Life?

I doubt David Sedaris queried many literary agents. I think we were pretty much panting after him.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

Darling Snarkista, I don't know how you do this without throwing yourself off the roof. What don't people get about WRITE WELL? Why don't they see that writing well IS the golden ticket and that if it weren't the golden ticket, being published wouldn't mean a damn thing?

Grr.

I'm quoting the coaster on my desk here (the mirrored coaster with the poodle silhouette), "Plus je vois l'homme, plus j'aime mon chien."

xo,
Poodle Girl

Maya said...

"This American Life" still reruns the Christmas episode of the Santaland Diaries where Sedaris describes working as an elf at Macy's during the holidays.

And, no matter how often I hear it, I still laugh myself silly.

Every year, I look forward to the reruns of that episode and the one in which Sarah Vowell describes her parents and sister coming to New York from the midwest to celebrate Thanksgiving. Both are classics.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastically naive response. Having some interesting essays on NPR does not guarantee book sales. Any idiosyncratic writer would need to approach several agents before finding one who "got" him, who'd be willing to take a risk.

I can just see some poor shmuck reading your blog and thinking, "So I'll get stuff on the radio -- and then agents will be panting after me!"

I don't really take issue with your ill-informed bloviating -- that's what blogs are for, I suppose. But I do think you're doing a disservice to aspiring writers, by presenting yourself as an authority on publishing. As far as I can see, you're a floundering twit who spends all day on the internet.

Jocasta said...

Sedaris has a self-deprecating humor, unlike most of us boring pompous people; a Greek heritage (I've lived in Greece for four years, loved it but hell it must be a HEAVY heritage to carry!), unlike most of us;he is a radio contributor, unlike most of us; he is a failed artist (in visual art)... well ok now, LIKE most of us, visual art or not... but still, agents were probably panting after him while we ordinary people must, alas, be panting after them...

Stacy said...

Dear anonymous

Miss Snark can look after herself, so I won't bother to defend her (but really - floundering twit is a bit much!). I will say that being known counts for more than you appear to realize - and I don't mean being a celebrity. Publishers are generally smart, well-read people who like to hang with smart, well-read people, and if they hear somebody on the radio who sounds smart, who has thoughts on marketable topics, then any commissioning editor worth his or her salt will seek that person out. Seriously, that happens a lot more than you think.

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> As far as I can see, you're a floundering twit who spends all day on the internet.

I think the fact that you are visiting and posting on a blog written by someone you consider to be a "floundering twit" makes you a bit of a loser, really.

If I see blogs I think are written by "floundering twits" then I move on without comment. Life is too short to get bogged down in crap.

Miss Snark is human. Sometime she errs. Most of the time she imparts very useful information for which the vast majority of her readers are grateful.

type, monkey, type said...

I wonder if twit-anon is A Gent.

Anonymous said...

"Having some interesting essays on NPR does not guarantee book sales."

Fine. But having an audience who listens to your essays on NPR, and requests that they be replayed several times over indicates that there is likely to be a segment of the market willing to buy a collection of your essays in book form.

I have yet to meet anyone in the publishing industry who can guarantee book sales. If we could do that, we'd all be richer than Midas.

MichaelPH said...

I prematurely published the last comment...to Anonymous #2 David Sedaris has had 20+ commentaries on NPR, he didn't "just get stuff on the radio" you twit.

As far as I can see, you're a floundering twit who spends all day on the internet.

Hmm, looking in the mirror, I presume.

Anonymous said...

What don't people get about WRITE WELL?

Well, that's an interesting question. The answer is mostly because they want to get published MORE than they want to write well, so they are not willing to take the time it takes to learn to write well. Instead, they are hoping for quick success.

I recently critiqued a book for someone at a conference who wanted to sell their book very badly. When I suggested that it needed work and wasn't ready YET, that maybe taking some more time and making it better, the writer went on to tell me about all its good points and how it "picks up later in the book" and how, really, he wanted to publish the danged thing because he was sick of writing.

I cringed. When the desire to publish becomes greater than the desire to write well, you end up with half baked work that won't sell and an author who just refuses to get it.

There's no getting them past that point. They do not understand what makes a book work. They do not understand how the many elements of fiction must fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. And sometimes they just don't know what the elements of fiction are and how they work. And there seems to be no telling them.

These are people who I say have "hit the wall". They have a story on paper. They've revised a few times, which amounts to little more than some proofreading and tightening of sentences. What they haven't done and what they don't understand is how to develop the book, the characters, the plot, the setting, the tone, the atmosphere, the pacing, etc.

I don't know how you can teach that. I think you only learn it from writing until you get it. The light has to go on somewhere, but often it does not.

Elektra said...

If ever there was an oxymoron, it's "Miss Snark, disservice to aspiring writings".

Anonymous said...

When I looked up bloviate, the meaning was:

"Puffing oneself up by using terms like 'bloviate.'"

Poodle Girl

Maria said...

Dear Anonymous (the disgruntled one):

Miss Snark does not imply that being on the radio will get you instantly published. She also doesn't imply that writing well will automatically result in being published. What she does say, over and over, is that writing well is the ONE thing the writer can control and is the thing on which all writers should focus.

The tricks (radio, 20 dollar bills, sending in personalized notes, etc) don't help and may harm. She does not deny that celebrity status can result in near instant publication (after hiring a ghost writer.)

Seems to me like she has also mentioned that it might be necessary to approach several agents regardless of how well one writes--just as you suggested.

Could it be that she does know what she's talking about? And that she is giving good advice? Could it be that you haven't read much of the blog?

Anonymous said...

"But I do think you're doing a disservice to aspiring writers, by presenting yourself as an authority on publishing. As far as I can see, you're a floundering twit who spends all day on the internet.."

Methinks someone has received too many rejection letters from agents and has become bitter and angry.

Meg said...

Anonymous#2,

If you don't enjoy this blog, don't come here. You don't have enough confidence in your own blasting to sign your name so what's the point?

diane s said...

They have a point: where to find out how to get published in non-fic humorous essays?- know that's not what you usually deal with on this blog but plenty of writers would want to know more I'm sure...

Is NPR a good platform for a writer? is it hard to break into that market? (I'm British, forgive me!)

Just trying to see the usefulness of the question...

Bella Stander said...

anonymous:
It is we Snarklings who spend all day on the Internet. If you'll check the time and date stamps for Miss Snark's posts, you'll see that most--if not all--are outside Mon-Fri, 9a-5p.

And you're the bloviator. You conflated agent interest with book sales. So nyah nyah on you. (Though I rather think that nationwide airplay on NPR helps sell books; else why would Terry Gross be inundated with pitches from authors and publicists?)

blaironaleash said...

HELLO SARAH! Nice to see you again, love!

Kim said...

Dear Anon #2,

Get a life. Then you will be far too busy to bother with the floundering twit and her twitlings (which is what I guess snarklings would be considered.)

My, my, I sense a wee bit of anger here. Why might that be? One too many floundering twits reject something of YOURS mayhap? And if it's such a blog of ill-information, why are you here? Either you are (A)a first time visitor, and don't really have a clue what help this blog truly offers. Or you are (B) a return visitor and why would you keep coming back to something so filled with misinformation? I'd say that would make YOU a twit instead, wouldn't it?


Oh, and one other thing - the rant might have a wee bit more meaning if you had the stones to sign your name. But, since you chose to remain anonymous...

Rllgthunder said...

Hmmm....bloviator? Is that a kinky inflatable doll that looks like a state governor?

Chumplet said...

Anon #2, I strongly suggest that you duck.

archer said...

I remember hearing Sedaris's Macy's Elf broadcast on my car radio. I had never heard his name. When he said "I'm going to have you killed," I nearly drove of the Garden State Parkway.

acd said...

diane: NPR stands for National Public Radio, which is pretty much cream of the crop and the source of some of the highest culture available in mass media. It's definitely considered elite.

What don't people get about WRITE WELL?

I sort of blame the high number of bad books that get published. It gives us a mindset of "Well, my book's mediocre, but it's sure no worse than that Harlequin I read last week" or "My dialogue may not sing, but Robin Cook's just blows."

I don't know what to do about that or even if I'm right. Take it with a grain of salt.

GutterBall said...

...ill-informed bloviating....

Well, someone's got a word-a-day calendar. Anyone have any suggestions where he/she can stick it?

Anonymous said...

Um, Anon #2

WTF?

slobbit said...

"I doubt David Sedaris queried many literary agents. I think we were pretty much panting after him."

All in vain, my dear.

All in vain.

Bunneh said...

Well, I smell an anonymouse who's just a tad bitter. Failed writer, perhaps? Sounds like a bitter grad student to me, but most failed writers were at one time bitter grad students, so there you go.

I think it's kind of funny that Anon #2 calls the Snark a "floundering twit who spends all day on the internet," when he's the one reading a blog he doesn't even seem to enjoy. That's a spectacular waste of time, innit? And he even took the time to pen a loquacious and delightfully condescending reply (one that tries so very hard to be scathing), bloviating in his own, very small way.

Gosh, Miss S, you should be flattered that this particular timewaster decided to waste his time on you!

Termagant 2 said...

My word of the day calendar says today's word is "kittling", defined as a baby feline which Killer Yapp would either run outta Dodge or eat, en brochette.

Anon #2 of Twitling Fame, I do feel yoah pain. It hurts to revise something 3, 5, 18 times and hear "this just doesn't grab me."

And ACD's point is well taken. Some of these people are writing dreck. They're selling it. If I write better than that, and can't sell, then bitterness and/or anger are natural human responses.

Just don't live there. Put the "no grab" MS away and write something even better. Or something worse. Keep writing and learning. I don't know if I have the guts to go the distance, myself, but I have no right to complain if I don't keep learning and writing.

T2

kaytie said...

Anyone interested in getting his personal essays on This American Life ought to check out their website:

www.thislife.org

There are submission guidelines, FAQs, and MP3 downloads of the broadcasts.

It's just as difficult to get a piece on TAL as it is to get a piece in any of the major magazines, maybe moreso because your work competes with more than just other prose. The guidelines emphasize the importance of narrrative, a key component of, yep, memoir, as Mr. Sedaris proves.

A history of contributing to the show would definitely get agents excited.

pjd said...

"Miss Snark is human."

What do you know that the rest of us don't?

As to What don't people get about WRITE WELL?... I think it has more to do with being unskilled and unaware of it. If you haven't seen this study yet, then you haven't been on the internet long. Still, it's a remarkably simple concept. Apply it to the abovementioned question, and the answer is obvious:

People who write poorly often think they are writing well. They simply can't tell the difference.

Before NPR said...

From what I remember reading somewhere--feel free to Google as much as you like--Dave Sedaris had a following or at least an audience BEFORE he got on NPR. He did some sort of story telling or stand-up work in hang-outs in Chicago. He was more of a performer than a writer. So, as previously said, think about how to WRITE WELL and not how to be the next Mr. Sedaris.

judy said...

If ever there was an oxymoron, it's "Miss Snark, disservice to aspiring writings".

Well said!

I enjoy Miss Snark's disservice (anon's words, not mine) a great deal. I love her humor. I love her no nonsense take on the business, and I adore her style. I am particularly fond of how she phrases things and invents new words. But I'm a glutton for humor or almost any kind, except deadpan, and although I may disagree with Miss Snark on some things, I think she's delightful, if not brilliant.

Well, enough kiss-ass for today. (She said with tongue in cheek.)

theraspberrycordial said...

Never heard of Sedaris

Sounds like the name of a new Ford car to me

Hmmmm... maybe anon entered the crapometer and got snarkerised? (geez, I can't believe I'm defending miss snark - do I get a snarkling scout badge for that?)

flannerycat said...

to diane s.,

check NPR's webssite under "Contact Us" & follow the links for info on how to submit personal essays. humor goes over quite well. if they buy your essay, you go into your local NPR affiliate station (or however it's handled in the UK) and record it in your voice.

Wonderwood said...

Quote:

I sort of blame the high number of bad books that get published.

ACD, I agree one hundred percent. It's discouraging to read some of the books that make it on the NYT list. It definitely tells me it isn't all about the writing. I'd never read any Tony Hillerman until I bought Skeleton Man at the grocery store, just to see what was making it at the time. Man, I was like, "this guy is top shelf?" I don't have many authors that are consistently on the list, I haven't bought any Clancy in probably five years, and the last Grisham book I bought, The Broker, was a big disappointment. I like a brainless Stuart Woods book now and then, and I guess that's what sells these days. I know it's the name, mainly, but when it turns to drivel, give the new writers a chance to make a name.

Oh, yeah, back to the quote. People see what makes the commercial fiction list and try to emulate that kind of writing. I'm guilty. But since I realized I was doing this I've tried to make a change for the better, and just write good stories well.

ms minx said...

To distinguish up front between Anonymous #2 and #4. The following is in response to #4. RE:Well, that's an interesting question...etc.):

Thanks for your insight. I agree. And, I wonder about someone who wants to publish a piece simply to get it off their hands because they are sick of writing, editing and/or looking at it. Aren't they going to be embarrassed to have something half-assed in print?! Aren't they interested in a career?

I'm wondering how many others were reading your anecdote and thinking that even though the art of writing well can be elusive, the desire to write well is absolutely unambiguous. Either you want to or you don't. Desire trumps all. It just does. If you are a writer...

Daisy said...

To be fair to the questioner, I took the question to be more along the lines of "how do you characterize humorous personal essays to present them to an agent", which strikes me as a fairly reasonable question.

Anonymous said...

So, what if you go on the telly and set your hair on fire while tap dancing nude? Book deal or no book deal?

Anonymous said...

Tmack said:

Thanks for your insight. I agree. And, I wonder about someone who wants to publish a piece simply to get it off their hands because they are sick of writing, editing and/or looking at it. Aren't they going to be embarrassed to have something half-assed in print?! Aren't they interested in a career?

Well, Tmack, I think they want to publish more than they want to write. This desire to see one's name in print is a deadly disease and worse for some than for others.

They don't CARE about the quality. It's good enough. They don't care about how it will reflect on them down the road. They just want to see their name in lights. They don't want to do the hard work, which is to develop a book that is worth publishing. They just want you to love their words.

Fortunately, folks like that are easy to spot. Usually, they're desperate. We can only hope that they catch on to the idea that writing is a craft that takes time to learn and even more time to bring to print.

I think there's a real allure to being an author. It's seen by many as a very prestigious career. Many people want the prestige more than the reality.

Sonarbabe said...

"Floundering twit", eh? Me thinks you be one of those who actually tried to write a query to uranitwit@wtf.com

As a romance writer who targets Harlequin's Blaze line, I have to admit, I sort of bristled at ACD's comment about Harlequin. I know what you meant, however, and I agree. There is a bunch of crap being published these days, but cut me a little slack, okay? ;) Romance writers gotta live too, yanno. (tm/pp)

Janet Black said...

anoynmous said: "I do think you're doing a disservice to aspiring writers, by presenting yourself as an authority on publishing."

I've never read anything by Miss Snark, claiming she is an 'expert on publishing.' She gives expert advise regarding dealing with agents. You are the floundering twit here.

Anonymous said...

Aaargh, PJD - your link to that fascinating study being unskilled and unaware of it, says far more than I ever really wanted to know about my - choke! - writing.

I think I'll crawl under my bed now, and never come out.....

Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the above comments re 'floundering twit', but I really take exception to the poster's anonymity being called into question on the blog of an anonymous agent - a blog where many of the devoted readers/commentors post anonymously.

Please, folks. The twit's comments were laughable. The fact that he made them anonymously HERE is not.
chj

acd said...

I'm sorry, sonarbabe: it wasn't an attack on Harlequin so much as using the first book series that popped to mind that probably hadn't won a Pulitzer recently. Be comforted that it's high-profile enough to come to mind as successful!

anon q. obviator said...

okay, everyone, i think we've all had enough.

stop ganging up on "bloviate."

used correctly, it's an excellent word and does a very good job of seeming to raise the level of discourse.

as real, semi- and pseudo-literary types, you all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Chris said...

At least the obnoxious anonymous didn't try to be punny by saying "blogviate."

Maya said...

For those poor Snarklings not familiar with "This American Life," you can go to the website and download audio broadcasts for free.

Go to:
www.thisamericanlife.com

On the left hand side is a link to the archives. Here are three of the most popular shows, including David Sedaris' story about being a Christmas elf at Macy's. Each has been re-broadcast many times. Keep in mind that each broadcast is an hour-long show and these are just single acts on that show:

Episode 47: 12/20/96
Christmas & Commerce (David Sedaris' part-time job as an elf)

Episode 174: 12/29/00
Birthdays, Anniversaries & Milestones (Sarah Vowell's Family Thanksgiving in New York)

Episode 247: 9/19/03
What is This Thing? (Sarah Vowell's tribute to Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)

Enjoy!!

pjd said...

"So, what if you go on the telly and set your hair on fire while tap dancing nude? Book deal or no book deal?"

Um... wouldn't you need tap shoes to tap dance? And would that, technically, be considered "nude"?

What I love about this blog is that it really makes me ponder the deep questions.

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> Well, that's an interesting question. The answer is mostly because they want to get published MORE than they want to write well, so they are not willing to take the time it takes to learn to write well. Instead, they are hoping for quick success.

> I recently critiqued a book for someone at a conference who wanted to sell their book very badly. When I suggested that it needed work and wasn't ready YET, that maybe taking some more time and making it better, the writer went on to tell me about all its good points and how it "picks up later in the book" and how, really, he wanted to publish the danged thing because he was sick of writing.

> I cringed. When the desire to publish becomes greater than the desire to write well, you end up with half baked work that won't sell and an author who just refuses to get it.

> There's no getting them past that point. They do not understand what makes a book work. They do not understand how the many elements of fiction must fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. And sometimes they just don't know what the elements of fiction are and how they work. And there seems to be no telling them.

> These are people who I say have "hit the wall". They have a story on paper. They've revised a few times, which amounts to little more than some proofreading and tightening of sentences. What they haven't done and what they don't understand is how to develop the book, the characters, the plot, the setting, the tone, the atmosphere, the pacing, etc.

> I don't know how you can teach that. I think you only learn it from writing until you get it. The light has to go on somewhere, but often it does not.

What a bloody marvellous post, anonymous. THAT is the problem, people who just want to be at the destination and aren't interested in the journey.

Well, the destination means bugger all anyway! It's the journey wherein lies the satisfaction!

A great post, thanks :)

(a request though, will you anonymouses PLEASE at least give yourselves some kind of individual appellation so that other posters can refer to you individually!)

jude calvert-toulmin said...

wonderwood:

> It's discouraging to read some of the books that make it on the NYT list. It definitely tells me it isn't all about the writing.

It's also about the market. There are a lot of stupid people out there. Stupid people like to read stupid books.

> People see what makes the commercial fiction list and try to emulate that kind of writing. I'm guilty.

I admire your honesty.

> But since I realized I was doing this I've tried to make a change for the better, and just write good stories well.

I think that's great, that you've moved onto wanting to write good stories well.

Attempting to emulate others, even wanting to, is the kiss of death to truly great writing.

You are an individual, no one else out there is like you. Every writer has the opportunity to express their experiences in their own individual way - it's a gift, not a curse!

chj:

> Please, folks. The twit's comments were laughable. The fact that he made them anonymously HERE is not.

I was just waiting for someone to get hoist by that particular petard! LOL! :)

diane s said...

Thanks for the NPR tips peeps! :)

diane s said...

and daisy, I agree...

Anonymous said...

I once queried an agent describing myself as "just like David Sedaris, but not funny." I guess that meant I was just scatological. Worst of all, it was a children's book agent. Why I did this, I don't know. Maybe it came from some deep desire to make a DADAist statement. God only knows.

Essay Geek said...

Be aware before you run off to submit essays to NPR, especially This I Believe, that they are very grabby about the rights. Read the caveats on their web site very carefully before you submit anything. A writer in one of my groups found out to her dismay that she had given up more rights than she thought she had just by submitting.

I covet this market, but I wouldn't submit an essay under their current conditions - but that's just me.

Sumac said...

Are there any journals or lit mags that specialize in essay/humor essay writing?

I'm currently advising a young woman who has some great material, but is a new writer and has no knowledge of the industry. I'm a fiction lady myself, so I don't really know if there are specialized places for her to send her work for publication.

--E said...

I agree with many of the snarklings who think that many bestsellers are crap.

Unfortunately, millions of readers disagree with us.

Different opinions are what make horseracing interesting, and what make publishing an inexact science. If the editors and publishers knew for sure what makes a bestseller, they would never lose money on a book.

The best I can figure is that there are different types of bestseller. The folks who read David Sedaris probably don't have much overlap with the folks who read Danielle Steel, and yet both writers have been bestsellers.

"Crap" is awfully hard to define. Is the writing itself crap, or is the story crap, or the pacing, or characterization, or-- or-- or--

PJD--thanks for that link. I'd been looking for that study recently and my google-fu was weak.

Anonymous said...

PJD, that link is absolutely fascinating. It's something I'd half-noticed many times, in different areas of life ('How can you not REALISE how BAD you are at this?!'), but I'd never really stopped to think about the underlying phenomenon and the reasons for it.

Stacy said...

This comment trail has made me think long and hard about the REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS. Like -

1. Is it possible to use the word 'bloviate and not sound like an arrogant, elitist blowhard?

2. If someone gives you 25 Sillhouette Desires and they all suck beyond the telling of it, does it mean that all the Sillhouette Desires I consumed during my adolescence were bad, bad, bad?

3. If I had to watch someone tap dancing naked, who would I choose?


I'm leaning towards Margues Houston, Jason Statham,and Marky Mark from his Calvin Klein underwear era for #3, but no answers for the others!

bebe said...

Why is it that the only people I ever see complaining about the bad writing that gets published are aspiring authors? It smacks of what anon#4 so eloquently outlined--the desire to be published outweighing the desire to write well. If writing is your passion, what the hell are you doing agonizing over the bestseller lists? The books on there, good or bad (they can easily be either), are probably not what you're looking to emulate or even read--they're also not even a miniscule fraction of the books out there. And without them, publishers wouldn't be able to afford to publish the vast quantity of other stuff they publish. So?

There are lots of people who work really hard to make the *stuff that would sell no matter how bad it was* good. Many of those same people may be considering your work sometime as well. So not everything's your cup of tea. If it's selling, someone likes it. If you don't like it, don't read it (same good advice anon#2 should take regarding blogs). Your most powerful vote is with your dollar. But why whine about it? It has absolutely NO effect whatsoever on the cold hard fact that the better YOUR writing is, and the harder YOU work and are willing to work and love to work, the better chance you have of being published. Also, being published is awesome but not a magic bullet. If you can manage to make the work its own reward for you, your work will be better, and many more rewards will follow as a result. And, even if you are one of those VERY few people whose books are like a free money machine, you should still want it to be good. Because you love writing and you love good books. Right?

blaironaleash said...

'anon q. obviator said... '

Sarah! What did I just say?

Anonymous said...

That link about people being unaware of their own incompetence is dead right. I work as a copyeditor, and the only writers who ever get their knickers in a twist about being edited are the really bad ones. They don't understand that their work has corrected/hugely improved, because they wouldn't know good writing if it bit them on the behind.

Kathleen said...

wonderwood - to be fair, you should not start with the later Hillerman. They are really bad. I just finished Skeleton Man, and if that was his first one he would never have gotten published. Its terrible. The early ones are good though - really.

BuffySquirrel said...

I think if all you had on were the tap shoes, you would probably be considered nude for most purposes.

I miss those guys who used to dance with balloons, myself.

Anonymous said...

so it doesn't count if my daughter went to Sadaris' high school and I drive by his house every day?

wgtkvebo said...

It helps, however, if you spell his name right.

Anonymous said...

Friends, Mis Snark is not anonymous. She is pseudonymous. In an Internet community where many people are better known by their handles than by their legal names, it is a significant difference.

Aconite

boo boo said...

Everyone seems a bit harsh towards folks who have a hard time being critiqued/edited/disembowled (is that spelled right? No don't tell me.) Writing is something that your soul must work up to. Your resolve must develop, your skin toughen, your desire grow, your love of words grow, and your insecurities slowly shrink. I carried around an add for a distence course in writing for 18 months and didn't do a thing. It took my husband finding the same add and his devotion and encouragement before I was willing to even try a class. It took a two year class before I got to the point that I wanted a helpful critique of my work wrather then blind praise, and it took five years of regular writing before I realized that I am a writer published or not I am because I have finally gotten to the point where it is so important to me, so much a part of who I am, that I the night owl and lover of sleep am willing to arise at 5:00am so that I can write before my beautiful sons open their eyes and jump start the day into high gear. So a gently reminder. You don't know where a writer is in theier journey. You might be talking to that tender soul who just got up the nerve for a critique after years of dreaming. Help them learn, help them grow, be honest, but also kind.

Anonymous said...

A couple of people got the idea of my question. (Not my best effort I must say.) Of course, on reading David Sedaris, chances are an agent would take it on. How to make a synopsis of that writing so an agent would bother to read the chapters, that's what I was after. Note: as much as I admire Miss Snark, I haven't seen anything that might help. Perhaps some clever dicks out there might like to make it clear for the rest of us?

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> There are a lot of stupid people out there. Stupid people like to read stupid books.


I've been thinking a lot about how stupid that comment is. (I'm allowed to call that comment stupid because it was made by me.) This whole comment trail got me thinking about why books which I would consider to be trash get published and read, and it made me realise that I was becoming a horrid little book snob, so I have written a short article for my blog entitled "The Book Snob / Big Macs and Quail Brains" about how successfully writing for a certain section of the market is a craft, whatever the genre. Any comments welcome.

Oh, and I think I've cured myself of my book snobbery now, thank heavens, but nothing will stop me kissing Thomas Hardy's picture goodnight every time I log off MS word.