10.11.2006

Action (with) JACKSON

Dear Miss Snark,

I attend a face-to-face writers' group a couple of days a month. One of the members who is senior to me shared with us the means by which he knows whether his manuscript was read all the way through: he sticks a $5 bill between certain pages. He asserted that the bills always came back. " 'I read your entire manuscript . . .' Yeah, right!" he said.

Of course I know what I think about that tactic (and the one-upside-down page thing, and the single hair between certain pages), and what it demonstrates of the writer's opinion of the person he or she is submitting to, but I don't run the group and I didn't want to cause a scene by pointing out how ill-advised such behavior would be.

So, though I refrained from scratching my snark-itch there, I wonder if you have some thoughts on the topic and if the other Snarklings had heard of, seen, or even (gasp!) tried other techniques to "check up on" the agent or editor.

Off now to nurse my much-chewed tongue.



Everyone knows it's a TWENTY dollar bill that makes the difference.
Cheapskate.

79 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...

If I received a manuscript with a bill in it, no matter how large, I'd send it back with the bill and pass on the thing. Well, if it were so great I knew I'd hate myself later, I'd probably offer to represent, but it would be asking for problems.

I was a corporate recruiter for a while, and, unfailingly, people who did things like that were problem children from the start. But then, I am cynical, lol.

susan said...

People still have the ms returned?? I thought that went out when the last typewriter hit the landfill.

Anonymous said...

If he's that cynical about the chances of his work being read, let alone accepted, why on earth does he continue sending it out? If nobody's getting past the first few pages, can't he learn something from that?

If I received something like that, I'd be inclined to pocket the five-dollar bill and replace it with a hair or an upside-down page from another manuscript.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if he spent more time on his writing and less time on Machavelian schemes the editors / agents would actually read his work all the way through?
These sort of tricks seem odd to me, as if by catching the agent or editor in this white lie the writer can say, "I didn't get a fair read," rather than, "They didn't read it all the way through because my writing sucked enough that they knew when to cut their losses."

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is, why does it matter? Whether the agent read the whole manuscript or not, he or she still said no. That's all that makes any difference.

Anonymous said...

Why go to the group if you are afraid to speak up? Share your thoughts. Someone might actually learn from and appreciate your wisdom. Isn't that what groups like that are for? If someone gets offended by you, maybe they should quit the group. Stand up, speak out! -JTC

The Unpretentious Writer said...

So I shouldn't bother with the personalized, autographed glossy of George Clooney then?

Anonymous said...

I certainly wouldn't tell everyone at a writers' group that various editors had thought my work so poxy that they hadn't even wanted to rifle through the rest of the m/s to see what happened at the end...

Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

I've seen manuscripts with these kinds of things; a page out of place and such. The money is just weird, like a bill just, oops, slipped in the MS. If the agent says they read, then they read it. It takes too much energy to lie about stuff like that.

Shouga Tea said...

Susan...I'm sure it's a higher priority to return when there's a bribing insult at stake.
I personally might just send that one page alone, scrawled over in blood and pin-fine diatribes. Oops. That's a desperate writer kind of schtick; maybe not.
No, actually, I like it.
Anonymous V: I think that counts as humanitarian effort, not tricksyness.

Shouga Tea said...

And by Anonymous V, I of course mean The Unpretentious Writer. [gaah.]

Termagant 2 said...

In fairness to the author while deploring the duplicity, I've often wondered whether submissions get read, even a line or two.

I've gotten back several submissions in such pristine form it looked as though it was untouched by human hands, save mine own.

I've thought of printing my submissions out on cheaper paper, which smears the print a bit when handled, so as to avoid the Untouched Look if it's actually been read. Never had the guts to do it, though.

This is something to be said against e-submissions: you never know if they so much as glanced at the thing, only whether they got the e-mail. Hmm...

T2

Sherry D said...

The 'senior' writer is an idiot. Obviously, his writing is bad enough in the first few pages that the reader never gets any further before sticking her finger down her throat with one hand and reaching for the form rejection with the other.

Anonymous said...

What would it mean if the manuscript came back without the $5 and a big no?

Losers.

Elektra said...

I think I'd have to write the rejection on Monopoly money and switch out the two. Or maybe five rejections on five one dollar bills, placed on the five worst pages of the MS.

cudd said...

I recall reading a certain editor's excellent comments on that--among other useful rejection matters--and their mentioning that they make notes to put things back exactly how they found them. Post was here:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html

BuffySquirrel said...

Is he trying to sell his ms to these people or testing their honesty? Because this reminds me of the people who place coins around their homes to test if the servants are cleaning properly. Oh, and to discover if they're thieves. The dutiful servant will find the coin then return it to their employer.

Any agent or editor receiving the ms has to know the bill didn't get there by accident. I wouldn't be surprised if they take pleasure in putting it back exactly where they found it, knowing what the idiot who sent it will think.

Bernita said...

All fair points.
Exactly, second Anon, seems to have a conspiracy mind-set and no appreciation of how easily and quickly an agent/editor can decide whether an MS warrants further attention.

Dave said...

Of course the $5 bill comes back.
What a cheesy, lame-assed bribe attempt.

I hate to admit this publically, but I can be bought and bribed. However, YOU can't afford the price.

Do the words "good writing trumps all" mean anything?

I Said said...

Well it was real easy to tell with Sterling House (Yes, I know now!)that it hadn't been read when the "personal" phone call and suggestions revealed that the agent didn't even know about a character introduced early and rather important to the plot throughout the book.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember where I read it now, but I did once read something from an editor who said that she makes a POINT of putting that hair/bill/upside-down page back exactly as found. Yes, she read the ms all the way through, but why humour an asshole?

Philippa said...

I've always wondered what you're supposed to do when your manuscript comes back with the £5/hair/inverted page still in place. Do you phone up the editor and say "Ha! Caught you out!" And then what? How exactly is this knowledge going to help you? It's not as though you can do anything about it. Maybe the guy in your group should channel a bit more of his creativity into the actual writing.

slobbit said...

Thanks for the answer, Miss Snark.

To anonymous-JTC -- I have contacted the group leader about it privately, and I don't intend to let the "advice" stand. I'll calmly refute it at the next session. Blame my inaction at the moment on a lifetime of over-correction for implusive behavior.

I read slush for a start-up ezine, and my thoughts in order were: so he obviously didn't have a hook, and he's showing (not telling!) that he thinks the editor/agent is a thief and/or idiot.

*shakes head*

slobbit said...

Thanks for the answer, Miss Snark.

To anonymous-JTC -- I have contacted the group leader about it privately, and I don't intend to let the "advice" stand. I'll calmly refute it at the next session. Blame my inaction at the moment on a lifetime of over-correction for implusive behavior.

I read slush for a start-up ezine, and my thoughts in order were: so he obviously didn't have a hook, and he's showing (not telling!) that he thinks the editor/agent is a thief and/or idiot.

*shakes head*

verification word: wloes

judy said...

I think that's an exercise in bitterness.

papillon said...

sometimes i feel like the writers commenting on this blog are jockeying to be the trustees in our communal prison.

don't forget whose side you're on, cons.

when you know the grass and sky are on the other side of the wall, sometimes you do stupid, desperate things to help you feel closer. if you're lucky, you don't get smacked down for it.

me, i'm just doing my time and trying not to drop the soap.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to second the person who said that you ought to be able to comment freely within your critique group. If you can't share your true opinion with regard to this bill maneuver, how can you expect to give and receive honest critique?

Kim Stagliano said...

What an amateur! No, no, you put small dose of Anthrax on the 12th to the last page. And if the agent dies, and you read about his death on PM, you know he read through. You end up with a very bloody foot, of course, and you spend the rest of your days missing your nose, but dammit, you know you got your MS read and isn't that all he really wants?

Kim

bonniers said...

I'm the science fiction editor at Daikaijuzine. Before I started reading our unsolicited submissions, I was sure that agents and editors were cheating when they didn't read the whole manuscript. Now, I know that most of the time you can tell on the first page. Sometimes you can tell on the first frigging sentence.

And I don't even get the unfilterd stuff. The Left Minister of the Honorable Slush takes care of the real junk before I ever see it.

Stuart said...

At a confrence I went to, several agents and editor laughed about this practice and each had different and humorous ways to quietly respond to said tactics.

If page 50 is turned upside down, one agent or editor(a/e) would turn it, read it, then return it to its original place, while another a/e would turn it, but then reverse page 51.

Senior writer is a nitwit. :)

type, monkey, type said...

T2

Hate to say it, but they probably didn't get past your cover letter, or your first sentence. No offence. Happens to the best of us.

Yasamin said...

Oh my god imagine how much money he's potentially spending on failed submissions?? what if the $$ doesnt come back but the manu does? what if they think he's bribing and that immediately gets the manu canned? stupid move.

I agree with anon #4 you gotta speak up!

overdog said...

"Dear Nitwit Author,

"I read your manuscript and loved it. I would have purchased it, but I found a $5 bill in the pages. Since authors who try tricks like this tend to be a pain in the ass, I've decided against it. Good luck elsewhere.

Regards, Smart Editor."

michaelgav said...

I'm still amazed that people expect most submissions to be read all the way through... It seems from the comments that even a fair percentage of Miss Snark's faithful readers believe this.

When you sit down to watch TV, how much of a program do you have to see to know it's not for you? Twenty seconds is usually enough for me (the TV equivalent of the first paragraph). If I see it's about 19th Century smelting techniques (National Geographic channel) or cooking with squid ink (Food TV), or anything with Howard Stern or Anna Nicole or Paris or Joan Rivers, I don't need to stay ten seconds longer, and neither do you.

(I'm not saying these programs suck. They just don't fit my list. Perhaps another viewer will give them the time and enthusiasm they deserve.)

Why would anyone think an agent stays with a submission a minute longer than absolutely necessary?

These people have the same number of hours in their week as everyone else, but they work 100 percent on commission. I would think time management was pretty damn important to them.

From my perspective, bad news early is good news. If an agent bounces my manuscript back the moment she knows it doesn't work for her, I figure I'll hear back a lot faster than if she read all ten pages, or all 50 on a partial, or all 400 on a full.

Judging from her remarks during the Crapometer, Miss Snark stays with a submission a lot longer than I would have thought.

Maybe she's a nicer person than she lets on.

Kanani said...

Unless it's George Clooney's itinerary, his cell phone number and a handwritten note from him asking Miss Snark to Lake Como, I doubt even a TWENTY dollar bill would make the difference.

Everyone here will just have to aspire to better bribes.

Maya said...

I agree with the Anonymous who said the fact that the manuscript is being rejected is the real issue, not playing silly one-up-manship games.

Also suspect that this guy's critiques will be geared to showing off how brilliant he is instead of to giving helpful feedback to his critique partners.

I once dropped out of a critique group where two members were intent on playing power games. It got old fast.

Ken Boy said...

Who cares whether they read it all? You know the important thing - it was rejected.

Anonymous said...

$5? Aren't those the bills Miss Snark uses to light her hair?

Delilah said...

The only word for this is: Pitiful.

Virginia Miss said...

Why would a writer want to work with someone who would take his money???

If the agent or editor interpreted the money or whatever as a 'test,' it might put them off working with a writer who would play those kinds of games.

Besides, it doesn't matter if someone reads your work. All that matters is whether they make you an offer. If not, move on and query someone else. It's that simple.

Bernita said...

papillon,if something is stupid, it's stupid.
Encouraging idiot tricks like this and like writing "requested" when it's not, give us all a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Geez...add to pre-submission checklist - all pages upright and facing forward - suction with vac to make sure no hairs have fallen from head/face/pits/legs into ms or envelope.

Sometimes these things do happen and are purely accidental. Please don't condemn us all, Miss Snark!
CM

S William said...

Why would someone place such a burden of worry upon their own shoulders? Sheesh. Double sheesh, and wowsers.

Malia said...

I don't know about any of y'all but when my ms comes back it is quite obvious that its been read. It leaves all nice and neat with freshly printed pages and comes back ruffled, dog eared, etc. Even if it didn't look that way -- I agree with Ken Boy. It was rejected, whether it was a decision the editor made on page 1 or page 450...that's all you need to know. Rejected is rejected!

FYI to the individual who thinks getting a ms back is part of the dark ages -- some publishing houses refuse to shred. It's in their guidelines. ;)

bebe said...

I too fail to see the point of this exercise.

Termagant 2 said...

Type, Monkey -- the MS I referred to was a requested partial. So the agency had already had the query letter & wanted to see more.

Now if they didn't read it, I call that a waste of their time as well as mine. I'll never know, and I did sell the book on my own, so I'm writing something else, like we all should, and forget the hairs, the $5 bills, and all such chicanery.

T2

Stacy said...

some thoughts I have had:

1. I taught English for 12 years, and I always read every word a child wrote - even though I usually had a good idea what grade they would get after the first 200 words. This was because I had to work out their EXACT grade; 2/5 for grammar and spelling, 2/5 for diction, 3/5 for fluency of style and 2/10 for content. I had to be able to explain my marking, track their improvement or lack thereof, and discuss their ability in meetings with colleagues and parents. If your book is going to be published, a development editor and a copy editor will lavish the same loving care on your manuscript, but until then, very few people actually need to read the whole thing to determine if your writing is any good.. Very, very few. the first 200 words is all they need to see.

2. What do writers think agents do with their manuscript that they expect it to come back all dog-eared and coffee-stained? If I read something once, at my desk, nobody can tell that I touched it, unless they dust it for fingerprints. People who work with manuscripts for a living learn to keep the food and beverages away from the papers.

lizzie26 said...

Geez, if someone is so stupid as to enclose money between the pages, if I were editor or agent, I'd take the money and reject the ms.

Anonymous said...

I agree that such tactics are dumb, but it brings up another point: why do agents have to lie about having read the whole ms when they obviously have not? Though it may not matter to the agent in a given case, dishonesty tends to poison the well from which we all drink.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Curious if the guy who gave the tip has anything published yet? But good for you for biting your tongue and consulting the snarklings before taking him on. He probably likes to be an expert in the group...thought he was offering a really clever tip. Poor thing.

Simonbun said...

I think that if I were an editor and some moron tried to play this game with me, I'd contact cement the $20 to the page and then mail it back.

Ah, mind games...

Ahva Rahn said...

All this only heightens my already vertigo-inducing paranoia. I have a scheduled colonoscopy on Friday; I’m now contemplating a strategically placed obstacle to make sure I get what I am paying for.

cudd said...

Miss Snark, your blog likes to eat URLs, >.<

This was a rant that an editor (I think?) wrote on the topic of rejections, how authors react, ways to avoid being rejected, and also a tidbit regarding returning manuscripts exactly the way they found them, regardless of money, hairs, and flipped pages.

The link in two parts:
http://nielsenhayden.com/
makinglight/archives/004641.html

Let's see if that works...

Homie Bear said...

When I was in grade 7 I did a similar thing to test my teacher- I inserted some smartass comments into an assignment and wrote that it was alright to write these things since the teacher would never read them anyways.
I got in big trouble and learned a valuable lesson. I was 12. How old is five-dollar-bill guy?

BuffySquirrel said...

What communal prison? What sides? What planet are you on?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Me: Bill, I can't mail your manuscript. It's full of leaves. Print out a new one. Oh, and you owe me $4.50 for the last one I sent.

Bill E. Goat: Leave the leaves. They're important.

Me: Important?

Bill E. Goat: They're a bribe, sorta. They're from my stash. Good for roughage.

Me: I don't think the people at TOR are interested in leaves for roughage. ... Maybe a muffin? Chocolate chip cookies? A cowboy? We have lots of used cowboys around. Ship one ...

Bill E: No. What do cowboys know? Nuthin! I bet they don't even know what to do with their beard...

Me: Bill, let's not go there. Okay, I'll leave the leaves, but I'm not putting my return address on this. You have a post office box?

Bill E: No, but I have an old packing crate.

Me: Okay. Mr. Bill E. Goat, Piano Case, Road 227 E at the corner of Vienne Drive. That work?

Bill E: Very elegant. It's like those British addresses ...

Anonymous said...

This man isn't a writer. He doesn't believe in himself enough to let his work speak for itself, and he doesn't believe in the human race enough to believe that most people are honest.

Quite frankly it would embarrass me so much to find a bribe between mss pages that I'd return the thing unread.

I'd probably include a note saying that in the future, he should care more about his writing and not bring a dishonest way of life to the agent or publishing company he wants to work with.

I mean... DUH.

Anonymous said...

Although I'd never resort to trickery, it does bother me when you get a long letter from an agent or editor describing their thoughts, pro and con, about the full manuscript they requested and you have to wonder: did they come to that conclusion based on ten pages, fifty pages, fifty pages and a casual skim, or from reading the whole thing? And does it always follow that reading ten pages is just as good as reading 300?

Inkwolf said...

Dear Writer,

Thannks so much for the $5 gift! And here I was so deperessed that nobody had remembered the ninth anniversary of my appendectomy. I went out for a wild time last night, got change for your 5, and tucked it into five separate g-strings. It was a blast!

Thanks so much!

P.S. What do you want me to do with the prank manuscript you wrapped it in?

Rei said...

Why return the MS at all if someone tries to pull something like that? Ruthlessly adapted/borrowed from others:

"Dear Author,

I'm sending this note to you instead of your manuscript because your manuscript currently lines the bottom of my birdcage.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"
---
"Dear Author,

You and I have something in common. We're both prone to mistakes. I read your query by mistake, and you attempted to write a novel by mistake.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"
---
"Dear Author,

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"
---
"Dear Author,

I appreciate the fact that this draft was done in haste, but some of the
sentences that you are sending out in the world to do your work for you are
loitering in taverns or asleep beside the highway.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"
---
"Dear Author,

Not only is this incomprehensible, but the ink is ugly and the paper
is from the wrong kind of tree.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"
---
"Dear Author,

I'm looking forward to rejecting this exact same query again next month.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"
---
"Dear Author,

You should, without hesitation, pound your typewriter into a plowshare,
your paper into fertilizer, and enter agriculture.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"
---
"Dear Author,

Plaese porff raed.

Sincerely,
Miss Insulted, Literary Agent"

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing they say they read it so they don't have authors responding with: "Well if you'd just read to page 32, everything makes sense! Here are the pages you didn't read. Try again!"

Whomsoever said...

This is a very ... immature idea. But I do understand the impulse behind this - we get all excited when an agent doesn't reject us at the query, and asks for a partial or more chapters, and then - praise be! - wants the whole thing. And then it gets rejected. It is absolutely natural to find fault with the agent - I know I still do. But it's stupid to act on it instead of giving a sigh & reaching for the gin pail & some more stamps for the next batch of SASEs.

type, monkey, type said...

T2, I don't think it's a waste of time on either side. They wanted to see more and (lets assume) they could tell right away it wasn't for them. I don't think requesting a partial means they should give it 20 minutes of their attention. A person in a bookstore won't.

It's a pain for us, but--it's the cost of doing business. And its just one opinion (as you know since you did sell the book). Frankly, I would prefer to send every agent my entire MS so I wouldn't have to go through the multi-month long query then partial then full process. Madness, I know, especially if they don't get past my first sentence.

Now, if they didn't even look at it at all, of course it was a waste of everyone's time. And you're right--we'll never know.

Richard Lewis said...

Me, I'd send in a manuscript with *every single page* upside down!

No slush pile reader would dare play games with me!

wow ossity said...

I'm starting a new service for agents. I will, for a price, attach or otherwise affix -- ear wax, used dental floss, coffee rings, smeared cottage cheese, lipstick, birdcage droppings, cocktail napkins from upscale New York watering holes, common street debris and quarter inch wood screws to any manuscript for any agent of good standing extant on P&E as of this date.

Oss'junkyard writing shed. Hwy 8 1/2, 2 polo, MISS

McKoala said...

If I got a letter from an agent offering detailed commentary on my manuscript my first thought would be 'thank you', not 'what page did you get to?'

And I'd send the money back. With the manuscript.
This wouldn't be someone that I would feel able to trust.

Diatryma said...

A possible reply:

Thanks for the bucks
but your writing sucks.

Dave said...

AHA! spoken like a great English teacher: 2/5 + 2/5 + 3/5 + 2/10 = 8/5
A perfect score! {giggle}{wink}

I taught English for 12 years, and I always read every word a child wrote - even though I usually had a good idea what grade they would get after the first 200 words. This was because I had to work out their EXACT grade; 2/5 for grammar and spelling, 2/5 for diction, 3/5 for fluency of style and 2/10 for content.

spy scribbler said...

Okay, that's funny ... but how do you know if you stumbled upon a regular, decent person/agent, whose morality didn't allow them to accept bribes? What if they returned it, read, with the money?

shelby said...

I'm rather new to this process so I have to say I was really surprised by this suggestion, having never come across anything like it before.

I did want to say, though, that it seems like some writers have such a sense of entitlement. Like she requested a partial, therefore she owes it to me to read the whole thing. Uh--she doesn't owe you anything. And I included a SASE, she owes me a personal rejection letter. Uh, yeah, again with the not owing you anything.

I mean really--get over yourself. Put that energy into making your writing better.

Sushi Fan said...

I got a pizza stain on a returned ms once. Ew.

HawkOwl said...

There was a show on 19th century smelting techniques and I missed it? Damn. I'll have to check if it's on again.

Eric said...

Though much different at heart, this reminds me of a short I read in Reader's Digest as a child many, many moons ago.

Kid goes off to college, calls home for money, mom says read the Bible I gave you and suggests certain verses.

Kid calls back a few days later...still needs money. Mom asks if he read his Bible. Kid says yeah, but nothing came of it.

This goes on for weeks until he returns home for break, bringing home his Bible as instructed by mother. Over dinner she opens his Bible and takes back the several hundred dollar bills she had tucked throughout.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

The Unpretentious Writer said...
So I shouldn't bother with the personalized, autographed glossy of George Clooney then?


A search of ebay completed auctions shows that Looney Clooney autographs go for as little as one cent. Ya, I'd skip that one as a bribe.

I'm still trying to figure out how to ship a cowboy to Anna G. First I have to find a cute one. That's much harder than you think, especially if you want one with a bit o' brains too. If they had brains, they'd be goat-herds, wouldn't they?

I found out most airlines frown on shipping people as air freight. He'd be a bit smelly if he sat in some rail yard in New Jersey for two weeks .... Shipping is a big problem.

I'm too cheap to just buy him an ticket. It would be a waste of money. He'd either cash it in and get drunk, or he'd get lost. Cowboys! (She says, throwing up her hands)

Jason said...

Why is it that y'all are thinking this is a bribe, or a test of the honesty of an agent? It doesn't have to be.

If I send an ms in, and it gets rejected, I should know that chances are I won't get a detailed commentary. But I'd like to know, since I'm interested in getting better, and selling my book, "Where'd I lose you?" Just for me.

It's like a commentary built in, no effort required.

"Hmm. I seem to have lost them again at the end of chapter 3. I guess that dialogue is a little too contrived there, after all."

But whatever. Probably they expect you to buy their book for a $5 bribe, or they think you're cheating them out of a fair read. That's more sensible.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Richard Lewis said...
Me, I'd send in a manuscript with *every single page* upside down!

No slush pile reader would dare play games with me!


One slush pile reader tells me that on average half of all manuscripts come out the the envelope upside down. She just throws them away,unless there's a cookie involved.

Anonymous said...

Back when I was still an agent (in the late 90s, early 00s) my method of reading unsolicited mss. was to skim the cover letter (not that important), skim the synopsis (not that important either) and read the first few pages (very important) and the last page (possibly important). At this point the ms. went in either:

a) Reject immediately with form letter (98% of them went here)
b) Read more myself (and still probably reject 90% of those that made it to this stage)
c) Pass to one of the other agents to read because even though I didn't respond to the work I thought they might

When I thought I needed to read more, I would usually read the whole thing. Of the 2-3,000 mss. we received every year, I would personally look at around 1,500, but only read perhaps 30 all the way through. (Naturally I would also be reading many more complete manuscripts from existing clients, invited submissions or those referred to me by my comrades in the agency.)

So you could park a wardrobe between page 100 and 101, let alone a $5 bill and I wouldn't have got to it if the first few pages didn't make me want to read more.

That's why everyone tells beginning authors to make sure the beginning of their novel is the best it can be. It matters to everyone who might read the book in future, from agent to editor to chain buyer to bookstore staff to reader.

Reading the synopsis and the first few pages might sound like not enough reading to base a decision on, but it mirrors the behaviour of the ultimate arbiter of a book's success: readers in a bookstore.

There are always tales of books that are rejected 40-50-x times by agents probably using a similar triage system to the one I employed. But it is worth remembering that for every one of those CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES type stories there would be at least 10,000 mss. that got rejected and stayed rejected.

angieg said...

This whole concept is just so bizarre. Who cares where an agent stopped reading? If they don't believe in the work, then they're not the right person to represent you anyway.

That guy needs to spend less time overthinking the submissions process and more time on his writing.

Jason said...

Whoever does this thing, all I'm saying is it's their perogative. It's simply not a scam to try to collect that information, as useless as you think it is. He may also like to wash his hands more than the average fellow.

Now, some seem to think it's worth the time to criticize it, which probably takes more time than tucking the token in the first place. I don't know where they expect to get the return on their time investment.

The ironing is delicious.