10.03.2006

Miss Snark feels her leg being yanked-updated

Miss Snark -

When receiving a proposal from an author - how common is it that you receive a small gift w/ it (one that relates to the book being proposing)? Some how to books recommend sending something, but I feel silly doing it and wonder if it seems to the agent as "brown nosing" ... I'm very interested in knowing the answer to this... please help.



WTF?

Which books say to do this?
I want chapter and verse, op cit, ibid and fuckwit.

This is stupid.
Don't do it.
Don't even think about doing it.
There is nothing that marks you as an amateur faster than this. Well...glitter and pink unicorns but those tend to arrive with novels not proposals.



Update: The original questioner wrote back. The reference is in Michael Larson's How To Write a Book Proposal. Without verifying the exact wording I don't want to say it's utter crap, but let's just leave it at this: don't do this.

34 comments:

gm said...

1:16 AM?? OMG, Miss Snark!! Please get some well-earned beauty sleep! Its fine for us here in Singapore, where we're already at half-day!!

Linda Adams said...

Even potential employers don't like that when you send a resume. Yes, it draws attention, but the wrong kind.

Anonymous said...

Really - what books??!!?? Name one.

Michele said...

I have seen this in at least one how to book, not so much as a "You have to do this", but more as a "It can't hurt and it might help" sort of thing. I've never done it, of course, because first off I don't agree with it and secondly because I've heard many many agents say NOT to do this. So I've always erred on the side of caution.

I'm not certain which book I read it in, but I think it was one written by an agent (I think it's in the book How to Write a Book Proposal by Agent Michael Larsen. I'd look it up, but I no longer have the book, so I could be wrong. Maybe someone else has seen it too).

Another thing I've seen in a how to book (also written by an agent, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, pg 25) that I don't agree with is to send your proposal/partial by Fedex and make the agent sign for it, supposedly both to make sure they got it but also to show the agent you cared enough about your work to spend the extra money.

Anonymous said...

Oh, bollocks to the gift. A nice bank cheque will do.

Signed,

A British Agent

cudd said...

Back to the dating analogy... it's kinda weird to buy gifts for someone when asking them out. They'll probably just wonder what's wrong with you that you feel gifts necessary to entice a woman/man.

Anonymous said...

I would like to send my 17 year old twins. They could arrive with manuscript in hand. Actually, the girl is quite smooth when it comes to communication. The boy,well,I'm sure he could make gin runs whenever you feel the urge;and with these two that will be often. Don't worry about him being underage. That's where his sister comes in she's had lots of experience conning men outside liquor stores to buy beer for all her friends. The boy is an aspiring rapper, he may want to use KY in his video.

Georgia Girl

Dave said...

Now that's an image to delight the mind's eye.
- A fluffy white poodle in a rap video

And as for a gift to the editor - what happened to good writing tops everything?

Rhonda Stapleton said...

LOL - I'm constantly fascinated with the various advice we writers cling to as gospel.

Kalayna-Nicole Price said...

I'd want to second check that source. I've never read a guide book that suggested giving gifts, and I know I've read tons that said not to. Maybe the person who wrote this misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear-dearie me.

When-oh-bloody WHEN are writers going to finally figure out that GOOD WRITING will sell their freakin' book?!

Prezzies to one's agent are fine. Like when she closes a deal, large or small, I'll send flowers or something from the "corporate gift" family. It's a professional thank you, not a bribe. That came AFTER we began our business relationship. She does brilliant work and manages to put up with me, and I am grateful.

But in the end it was my writing that prompted her to take me on as a client, not a blue teddy bear with "U R Tops!" sewn to its chest.

Now, dear writer, you can spend a day at the mall looking for the perfect gift or you can be at the keyboard producing the perfect words for your story.

Which one do you think your potential agent would value more?

:Jeopardy Theme plays:

Elektra said...

Georgia Girl, I'm always tempted to send you large amounts of gin for your own personal use.

Anonymous said...

How about if I send George Clooney with my query?

Kelly said...

I haven't been in the business of querying in a few years now, and Larson-Pomada is about the only rejection letter I actually remember -- but not in a good way. It consisted of a 99th-generation photocopied boilerplate letter, along with a slick marketing brochure for some of the agency's books (might HOW TO WRITE A BOOK PROPOSAL have been one of them? I can't remember) -- both sent in my own SASE. How klassy.

bonniers said...

If I recall correctly, Mr. Larsen is talking about a certain kind of nonfiction book that will be sold to an audience that expects small tokens of esteem to accompany all attemps to sell anything -- logo pens for the low end, movie tickets in the middle, bottles of wine at the high end. Including something is part of showing you know that market.

My local Starbucks is a hangout for the road warriors who visit all the biotech firms in the area. It's scary eavesdropping on what they think is normal.

roach said...

Anyone who has read this blog regularly knows that the approved gifts to accompany proposals and queries are: $20 bills and George Clooney's cell phone number.

Georgia Girl, you made me snort Mountain Dew out of my nose!

Anonymous said...

Georgia Girl, you better move fast sending those twins--mine are already on their way. LOL

Anonymous said...

Elektra,send it on.Trust me, I'll put it to good use. Today's my birthday and I'm not having anymore. Oh well,it's the thought that counts. Or is it? Cheers.

Georgia Girl

Anonymous said...

I love this! I'm reading Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars and the image of the hopeful author sending in a zombie with a query letter, knocking on the door of the literary agency, just well, went through my zombie brain!

The Editor said...

Hey Miss Snark, long-time listener, first-time poster... I figured since I work in a library, I should see if we have this book, and we do. In the section on 'Selling Your Proposal Fast for Top Dollar,' on page 154 it says: "Consider enclosing something simple but imaginative to catch an agent's or editor's attention. When she was submitting a book on assertiveness for women, AAR member Jillian Manus once enclosed a whip with a note attached to it saying: 'Submit to your editor.'"

Of course, this suggestion is what led to me receiving a clowns-from-outer-space submission complete with water pistols and candy circus peanuts while I was at Tor.

John Klima

Anonymous said...

Now on the other hand, *after* I was offered representation, I sent the agent a box of belgian chocolate, timed to arrived the same day as my signed contract, and the agent was pleased with that.

I've also asked an editor (on a mailing list) if *AFTER* the book has been accepted, it would help with in-house publicity to send a humongous box of cookies to be left out in the coffee break room, and the editor laughed and said yes, after the contracts have been signed, everyone would remember the lovely author who sent cookies and brownies for everyone. I haven't had a chance to try that yet. :-)

MichaelPH said...

Tobias Fuke (Fyoo-kay) of Arrested Development would send glitter, soaps, and whatnot to casting directors and agents. It was meant to be hilarious....I guess some took it as real advice.

Freeze Frame said...

On a similar note: are editors and agents creeped out by authors who send photos (without being asked, I mean)? I am. Because it seems that the authors who tend to send photos are authors in bizarre costumes (think feathers, think BDSM) or authors lovingly stroking their 13 cats or whatever.

I'm interested to hear what other industry-types have to say, but my advice to authors who would send photos is: please don't. It's unsettling.

Manic Mom said...

Doesn't Miss Snark usually prefer a twenty-dollar bill?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Larsen's book nor his selling tactics. Two years ago, I sent him a nonfiction book proposal and he said that though the project was interesting, he would not consider representation unless I bought his book and put my proposal in his format. That sounded a lot like asking me to pay him to consider my work so I went on to another agent with a bigger name and a ton of sales. She called the proposal the best she'd ever seen and took me on as a client. She sold the book within a week, using my proposal.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Cookies...Brownies...I nearly licked my screen I'm so hungry right now. Trying so hard not to eat sweets. Okay: I sent a cookie bouquet (yes, there is such a thing) with book cover color theme to my publisher after we were through the editing phase. It was a big hit. Also used this same shameless technique on a few producers after book was published. Corny? Yes. But also delicious. I say save your sheckles to brown-nose media gatekeepers.

Anonymous said...

John Klima, are you talking clowns-from-outer-space as in that jaw-droppingly bad movie, Killer Clowns from Outer Space? 'Cause that one is etched into my brain in the worst way.

I wish I could stop thinking about what the submission must have been like. I really do.

Aconite

michaelgav said...

You sure that wasn't 'Gary' Larson?

Pixel Faerie said...

Ya'll won't believe this, but for press release writers, they are told to send a sample of the product, send photos, that sort of thing, along with the press release.

The reason being is that the press release is probably going to be read, not by the editor, but by college students on an internship. They have to read hundreds of these things, and usually they are on third shift and half awake... or on the cell phone with buddies. The package contents are to 'wake them up' to get them to pay attention to your press release.

And I'm sure there are many ideas floating around people's heads thinking, "I'll send a box of cookies with my cook book proposal."

I can see where this idea might get picked up from, but sometimes I wonder if some writers assume all writing rules are the same for every house, and if it is good for press release writers...

I am not saying this is what people should do. I know I can't afford to send chocolate chip cookies to every agent I want to send queries to. I am just saying I realize where some misinformation might be coming from.

Manic Mom said...

Press releases are usually about a product or an event or about a person, in which a trinket might make sense. For instance, if I were announcing a new brand of Gin, I'd include a pail with the release, for sure.

Anonymous said...

That sounded a lot like [Larsen] asking me to pay him to consider my work

Interestingly, according to the Larsen-Pomada agency's web site, they offer a coaching service to struggling writers that costs a mere $500 per hour.

This is only offered to writers who they won't represent, however, so they're not quite a fee-charging racket just yet, are they? No, no; there's nothing sleazy about trying to make a buck off desperate, oft-rejected writers at all...

The fact that vanity presses and scam agents strive to do the same thing is purely coincidental, I'm sure.

[/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

As a fairly recent refugee from the land of agenting, I advise that under no circumstances should aspiring writers send gifts to agents. Our assistants were instructed to toss out all food before anyone even saw the material. Also, sending material FedEx or UPS is a complete waste of your money. Everything gets heaved into the same slush pile. If your work is good, it'll be noticed. Just the basics, folks.

Paprika said...

I once heard an editor for a local publisher say that someone had sent her the manuscript of a gardening book inside a box full of plastic vegetables. She was very amused, but not particularly impressed.

Note to self: No plastic eggplants with manuscript submissions...

mahukey said...

Give the agent a gift once they sell your book! Like dinner, and if its Miss. Snark then try your damndest to get George Clooney to make an appearance at her office-naked.
That would be a nice thank you.

Anyone just write. I mean what a concept writing because your a writer?!

By the way, I have three manuscripts on my desk... which is shocking ...three. I ask, when did I finish writing these things?