11.18.2006

Jenna Glatzer, you've got an offer!

The founder of Absolute Write has announced she's self publishing her first issue. (I think they call it "pregnancy" in people, but we avoid saying that word here at Snark Central.)

We've also heard that such publications can be downright expensive. Never fear though, Miss Snark is here with very helpful instructions.

You know how those big ass rich sports franchises make further millions on "naming rights"?
Well.....


Jenna "The Write Stuff" Glatzer should auction off the naming rights to the upcoming spring edition of "Miss Write".

With a certified check here in my hot little hand for "Miss Awefull Write" who wouldn't want to be named for Miss Snark?


Considering the next one in line is a poodle with attitude and a wad of unmarked bills "Awefull" is sounding a whole lot better than "Killer Yapp Glatzer".

Going! going!... ow! ow! ow! why are daggers flying through the air at my head??

It isn't easy being...mean

Put down the gin.
Set down your popcorn.
Remove impressionable toddlers from the room.
Small dogs too.


then...and only then...
you may click here




Bella Stander is a menace to tidy keyboards
but just you wait...we'll have our revenge.

The Killer Yapp PAC

oh dear dog, I wondered why Killer Yapp was on the phone with Karl Rove.
He does plan to rule the world-one Rabbitania locale at a time.





Thanks to Margaret for the linkage

Crapometer-not quite the industry bible you think

Dearest Miss Snark,

Like thousands of other Snarklings, I long to enter the approaching Crapometer. Even if my hook doesn't grab you, I would at least enjoy the chance to discover what doesn't work about it. I have December 15 circled with a gin pail ring on my calendar. (uhh....I think I said around or after, didn't I??)

However...

The novel I want to enter in the C-o-M is destined for the April '07 NYC Pitch and Shop Conference, where I will have the opportunity to *shudder* verbally pitch to four acquiring editors at Really Big Publishing Houses (Berkley, Tor, S&S, Doubleday, etc.). I hope to learn a lot there, and possibly net myself a full request, maybe even an agent, as Algonkian offers agent introductions for those who manage to generate editor enthusiasm at the conference.

My paranoid nitwit question, then, is this: if, by chance, my hook should prove sharp enough to snag, and pages are requested, will this affect the upcoming conference? I know there are a lot of connections in publishing, and biz folks read industry blogs like yours all the time. Will an editor see this (again, hedging on the slim chance I get that far) and think, "Oh, you've already shared with Miss Snark and her dedication. I'm not going to look at this."?

Or, as is likely, will they have forgotten it, as it will be just one more excerpt in the ocean?

Thank you!
Your devoted Snarkling who really, really wants your opinion :-)


I absolutely flat out guarantee you that no editor or agent reads the Crapometer. They have their own slush pile to plow through. The Crapometer is almost exclusively read by writers and Killer Yapp looking for new ideas to vanquish the Evil Army of the Squirrel.

Even if I'm wrong, which I'm not, no one will care if you've run your work through the CoM. They won't remember, they won't care, they won't read it. Rock solid guarantee.

But...really?

In the bottom margin of a form rejection letter, an editor from the X-Review added this verbatim: "Thanks for the Submission! I enjoyed reading it and hope you submit more!"

The exclamation points are the editor's.

Now, my question: am I correct is assuming that the editor would only write this to someone whose work they really did throughout enjoy and it's not just some off-hand comment in hope I will not hold any malice toward the editor? I mean, they don't write that kind of stuff to every submission they get, no matter how bad it is, right?

I never do hold malice, but this is the first rejection I've ever gotten from a magazine that had a hand written note of encouragement on it. I am just excited and want to know if I feel encouraged for the right reason.

If it's true that the X-Review editor really did like my work, those two sentences of have made my year.



Editors and Agents do not encourage bad writers to submit anything especially "more". Ever. You may take this exactly the way you hope: encouragement. Good job.

Why did it take them so long to figure THIS out

for those of you on PCs, you gotta get

This!

Sadly, the chief perpetrator of posts requiring beverage alerts, and Miss Snark herself of course, are on Macs, but our day will come.




Thanks to the chef at bibliobuffet for this little treat

Miss Snark is not informed on this

Dear Dame Snark,

I've noticed that the speculative fiction winning the big awards these days seem to be thinly disguised literary pieces. I keep reading stories about silent characters who softly reflect on their lives as they sip tea. At some point, something mildly otherworldly happens to qualify the story as sf or fantasy. Then it ends. But the stories I love to read (and write) have Action! Suspense! Adventure! They're heaped in either technology or magic but anchored with realistic and complex characters. Not pulp by any means, but far more exciting than "literary" work.

Please tell me, O High Priestess of Words, what is the state of today's speculative fiction? Will high action win out in the end? Or must I learn to write riveting prose about contemplating the wild stalks growing on the edge of a rippling lake if I'm ever to be published?


You're asking the wrong person. The only thing speculative in the fiction I read is whether someone will set their hair on fire or kill someone in chapter one or wait too long and do it in chapter two.

I don't read anything remotely resembling speculative fiction as far as I know. I'm cleansing my palate for Against The Day (St. Marks, Monday, midnight, be there!) right now, but normally you can see what I read by looking at my Library Thing list on the right.


If anyone cares to weigh in on this, have at it.

Just write well

Dear Lady of all Things Snark, Benevolent Monarch of Snarkania, Whose Name Causes Nitwits to Tremble, (okay, I'll stop now...) (KY tilts his head wondering where that odd sucking sound originated)

The recent post on NaNoWriMo prompted me to ask this. Do agents receive an influx of queries in the months following NaNoWriMo or is it about the same volume of mail? If it's the former, would it be wise to query during those months or are agents expecting most submissions to be NaNoWriMo drafts?


The queries spike about two weeks AFTER NaNoWRIMo ends.
Not by a lot but there are always more in the stack, and they mention NaNoWRIMo as the impetus for the query.


You can't time your submissions. If it's not NaNoWRIMo, it's writing conferences, or a mention on Media Bistro, or an article in the paper; it's always something

Good writing finds it's way to the top of the pile even if it has to elbow a lot of other stuff out of the way first.

Hey NaNoWRIMo--You're Doing the Right Thing!!!

Pulled from the comments column of the preceding post!

I'm cross posting this response that I made on A.C. Crispin's post here in case folks don't click over and read the latest comments:

Ms. Crispin, I was forwarded your email by one of the volunteers that you sent it to and she was kind enough to include a link to this page. My name and contact info is available on the Contact Us page at NaNoWriMo.org and I am the moderator of the forums (a full staff member). If you sent it to the admin address, it may be mired in with all the other webmaster emails.

I would love to have some input on how to help us educate and empower our writers. Not all are new to writing (in fact we have quite a few published authors in our midst). Many gain an incredible sense of 'possibility' during the challenge and once they've written a book and found that they do have a voice, they want to share it.

I am not aware of a 'significant percentage' of our writers falling prey to scams, but that doesn't mean that it isn't happening. If you have some specifics on what's been happening (PublishAmerica, Noble House Press or some other questionable scheme), I'd like to know.

We currently have the following in place:

* When any writer signs up for the site or clicks through to renew their participation we mention quite clearly about Literary Predators in our Terms for the site.

* Within the forums there are numerous threads already available regarding resources (including at least eighteen pre-existing links to your Writer Beware alone before this blast) in multiple forums, including one that I requested be drafted at the beginning of the season and stickied to the "Marketing & Self Promotion" forum.

* The forums are available all year round, so conversations and resources are available for continued support and reference.

* At the end of NaNoWriMo we launch a page called "Now What" which will include resources, advice and of course cautions about scams.

* Currently on our Young Writer's Project (ywp.nanowrimo.org) site we have a large resource page (Amber's Virtual Library) that includes some frank and easily understandable information about scams and cautions about contracts/publishing for our younger writers.

* Additional text and resources adapted from Amber's page have been made available to our regional volunteers to share with their groups either through the forums and/or via email.

* Each year LuLu.com has extended an offer for a free book to all winners, my hope is the POD/Self-Publishing route such as this mitigates writers paying to see their work in print. The LuLu.com forums have additional support and advice about writing scams and their community appears to operate with similar vigilance to warn their peers.

* We scrub the forum to keep predators of all kinds away from writers – they are not allowed to solicit writers on the site nor post in the forums.

* And of course since your emails and postings the forum conversation on the topic has amped up.

Our writers hold you and your organization in great esteem, as you are consistently mentioned along with Preditors and Editors each year as the best resources for writers ready to begin their submission process. Now that you've seen what steps we currently employ, can you tell us how else we can help writers empower themselves (without scaring them off of writing, off course)?

11.17.2006

Hey NaNoWRIMo, do the right thing here, ok?

Ann Crispin makes a damn good point on her blog entry here.

If you're doing the National Novel Writing month thing, read it.
If you know someone who is, print it out, give it to them, make them read it.


If you're involved in running NaNoWRIMo, how about you read it too.
And then do it.

Snarkling Assistance Needed!!

Hey Miss Snark,

So the holidays are coming up, and I'm trying to remember all the books you had strongly recommended for the snarklings to either improve our writing ability or simply broaden our horizons for the definition of a good book. I know I'll be making several long trips over the break and could definitely use some reading material for when I'm not the one
driving, and I imagine there will be others in similar situations.

Any chance we could get such a list on site?


Well, the chances I'm going to dive into the Snarkives to reread my deathless prose are nill, unless Santa promises Mr. Clooney in my stocking.

However, if any of the Snarklings care to dive in and post a comment or email a couple of the titles, I will be glad to compile and post them. I'll even leave it on the FAQ so it will be easier to find/reference for anyone who needs giftage suggestions.

Meanwhile, it's stopped raining in New York, it's the end of a long week, and KY has reminded me it's opening day for the new James Bond movie. We are in the elevator and on our way!

11.16.2006

Like yanno..Hamlet, but darker


Dear Miss Snark,

A writer friend is currently making final revisions on (I believe) a beautiful novel about a Japanese mail-order bride in 1917 in Hawaii (not a romance). My friend is of Japanese heritage and was born and raised in Hawaii. My question is, how would you respond to a writer comparing her book to famous movies. For instance, my friend said, “I guess I'd call it a cross between the films, "Picture Bride" and "The Color Purple."

Would including a comment like that in an agent query be a mistake? Would comparing it to other classic novels be better?



How about you just include five beautiful pages of writing and let me figure out what to call it.

More people shoot themselves in the font by over reaching for comparisons that are just plain nuts (books are not movies) or out moded (classic novels).

I know everyone tells you you need a log line but honest to dog try to come up with something that doesn't depend on whether I've seen a particular movie or read a classic book. And you better hope I liked the movie or book. People who tell me they have something just like Hannibal Lecter just raised the bar another six feet cause those books scare the crap out of me.

Killer Yapp Gets the Chair

Dear Miss Snark,

I recently landed my dream agent after sending her my 800,000 word manuscript without a SASE, calling her repeatedly to demand representation, and never taking no for an answer. She finally relented, I signed a contract, and hey, life was good.

I think what finally convinced her was the gift basket I sent, which contained a nine volt battery, chewing gum (sugar free of course), a comb, and some dental floss.

Anyway, I happened to be in New York last week and decided to swing by to say hello to her. I found her sitting at her desk with a poodle on the floor next to her. Her shoes had heels that I swear were a foot long, and she was drinking gin like it was water. Worse yet, she was blogging instead of harassing publishers about my masterpiece. And the final insult was that there were submissions and manuscripts OTHER THAN MINE clearly visible in her office.

Should I terminate my contract with her, or is this how all literary agents operate?


KY is never on the floor. KY is at his desk and on the phone. Who do you think deals with those bitches over at ...ack!!! Lightning!

What Miss Snark meant to say was yes, you should terminate yourself at once. The very idea of blogging on company time is just really beyond the ..err...pail.


Miss Snark is befuddled

Dear Miss Snark,
Is this for real?



Well, I slithered on over just to take a look and I can't quite figure out how they make money.
They tell you that agents pay for their services (if you're an agent who uses that, I'd be interested in hearing from you).

The weird thing is unless you know who they cull slush for, you can't benefit by NOT querying the same people.

I don't understand this.

If anyone has a clue or two, speak up.

Bella Stander's Response to OJ

I like this one.

The OJ Book

Dear Miss Snark,

You know whereof you speak. Platform prevails. ReganBooks – HarperCollins – stands to make a bundle off an infamous murder because – well – O. J. has a great platform. The entire industry should feel shame.


OJ has noteriety, not platform, and I'm not taking the blame for this one.

If you guys are having hissy fits about this book, here's a clue: DON'T BUY IT. Organize a boycott of stores that carry it. Write letters to the editor about how disgusting it is.

I'll tell you this about Judith Regan: she didn't get her own imprint, her own production company, and a vice presidency at Harper cause she loses money. Noooooo. Judith Regan is very very astute, which means she knows what people will buy.

People can publish any thing they think will sell but if it doesn't sell they will stop publishing it. You can express your outrage in a very concrete way: don't buy the book.

A New Nitwit!

Remember the guy who wasn't sure if he was willing to send a manuscript to an agent cause she might not dispose of it safely? He was pretty sure a five pound return mailer was the only safe course of action, even though it meant said agent had to stand in line at the post office.

I thought of that purse-lipped, deeply suspicious gent when I read this.


Anyone with an ounce of brains or experience on either side of the pr equation can tell you the email this dame got was a FORM LETTER. Those kinds of offers are as old as dirt and twice as boring.



Here's a MAJOR clue for everyone who gets "free books". Publicists pull up a list marked "fiction outlets" or "romance outlets" or "true crime outlets in Romance, Arkansas" from their ten thousand name data base and they send a form email. Or a book. Or an offer. Sometimes all three.

They are ecstatic if 10% of the places they send books even mention them, let alone say something akin to "you should buy this". The idea that a reviewer or a blogger cares about keeping a publisher happy demonstrates a very skewed idea of how publishing works. Talk to any publicist in any publishing company. They're pretty sure their job is to keep reviewers happy.

I don't know any publisher EVER who stopped sending books to a newspaper for a bad review. Michiko Kakutani sure isn't worried about that.

I think it's pretty funny that Kim Bofo thinks she can be bought for a hundred dollar gift certificate and other people can be too.

(She's right about one thing though--I'm both cheap and easy. Send over Against the Day, and I WILL discuss it. You can even save yourself the cost of a gift certificate.)

The fact that I bought the last book I raved about doesn't mean comments about the books I didn't buy myself are less objective. I've never traded cash for a Jack Reacher novel; the Merc buys them for me. I pay to be a member. Sort out the objectivity there.

What about when the author is your friend and gives you a copy? Or you buy a copy of your friend's book at Amazon?

Confuzzled?

Miss Snark will step in to save the day: How about we just read what you have to say. If you look and sound like a shill for crap, we'll only assume you've been paid off rather than you're a bad writer or an idiot with no taste. You can make the same assumption about me.

Another day, another keyboard. KY! call the keyboard store!

Miss Snark:

I run a blog Cobwebs Of The Mind about writing
NO - I am not expecting you to look at my blog..sheesh

But I ran across some hilarious posters on the net...in a search for something to do with a piece I was thinking about ...
And now I am doing a series on these posters..

However I devoted one to you..on my blog...so here it is...
It is SO YOU! So Snarky! So Perfect!

It comes from a site www.despair.com (some of their stuff is pure genius)
The link to just the poster:


Link for it on the Despair site is:


for your pleasure


well, if blowing Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke out my nose is pleasurable, well yes.

this is hilarious.
and you gotta love a guy who has a blog called Help There's a Fire In My Kitchen.
Well, at least I do.

11.15.2006

National Book Award Winners

Fiction
Richard Powers, The Echo Maker

Nonfiction
Timothy Egan
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

Poetry
Nathaniel Mackey, Splay Anthem

Young People's Literature
M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party

More info here
As usual, all good things start with Michael Cader

More on platform

Culled from today's deal announcements on Publishers Lunch:

NON-FICTION: REFERENCE
Apprentice contestant and attorney Stacy Schneider's HE HAD IT COMING: How to Outsmart Your Husband and Win Your Divorce without a Lawyer, a guide that empowers women before and during the divorce process, to Terra Chalberg at Simon Spotlight Entertainment, by Frank Weimann at The Literary Group (NA).


NON-FICTION: SPORTS
Deadspin editor Will Leitch's THE BALLAD OF RON MEXICO: Why ESPN, yellow bracelets, fantasy leagues, and yes, bloggers, have ruined sports for real fans and how we can get them back, a humorous call to arms in which the ringmaster of the influential sports blog punctures today's out of control jockocracy and offers a blueprint how to put the fun back into our games, to David Hirshey at Harper, in a pre-empt, by Kate Lee of ICM.


NON-FICTION: GENERAL/OTHER
Journalist and filmmaker Sanjiv Bhattacharya's TO BE A GOD: A Journey into American Polygamy, a humorous and compelling study of America's definitions of faith through the stories and facts regarding abuse, incest, forced marriage, and religious fervor within Mormon Fundamentalism, to Hannah Morrill at Simon & Schuster, in a very nice deal, by Frank Weimann at the Literary Group International.


NON-FICTION: REFERENCE
IndieBride.com "IndieEtiquette" columnist Elise Mac Adam's SOMETHING NEW: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone in Between, a modern guide to wedding etiquette, including case studies that show how careful manipulation of etiquette can spare all kinds of heartache, to Emily Westlake at Simon Spotlight Entertainment, by Lauren Galit at LKG Agency.




This is the kind of thing people are talking about when they say you need platform.

Remember flyover country?

well, these guys are looking for stories from all 50 states.
They need some from odd places like California, and some really odd places like Minnesota.
Pay is non existent of course, but yanno, it's fun, why not.

Let me know if you win.
I'll shimmy in Sheboygan with ya, or watoosie in Winnemucca, or frug in Fargo, or twist in Truth or Consequences, NM. Our very own version of Dancing with the Snarks!

Let me know if you can see this link

I'm not sure if you need a subscription to Publishers Marketplace to see this link.
If you can't see it, let me know and I'll pull snippets for a post later in the day.

Otherwise, just click and read.

National Holiday Declared!


Fie on the slush pile today!
Fie on the mere idea of pedestrian work!

no no, time to don the cocktail frock, slip on the stilettos and go dancing in the fountain at the Plaza!

Mr. Clooney has been recognized as the Sexiest Man Alive!












thanks to Kitty for finding the correct version of People!

11.14.2006

This isn't about me.

Well, ok, it's always about me, but really this time it's about you.



Dear Miss Snark--


Should you ever mention that you read an agent's blog and/or website and/or online interviews? Particularly if the agents mentions something specifically that pertains to your work. Example: an agent blog says the agent is looking for a character who loves both gin and poodles, should I mention that I noticed she wanted this specific thing? Or a blog says her favorite book is The Life and Times of George Clooney should I mention that I like that book, too, even if it has nothing to do with my work (outside of being in the same genre)?

Very very tricky stuff this.

You're most likely ok with very straightforward things like "I read you are looking for dark urban fantasy featuring pink tammed poodles" or "I also liked the true crime story Poodle Passion at La Perla" or "I like what you said about the dearth of mirth in Firth in your Media Bistro interview".


Where it gets tricky is the stuff with connective tissue such as "cause": "I think you'll like this cause you like poodles"-no no no. I always cringe when I see those kinds of statements because they are often wrong wrong wrong.

More important though, none of this NONE of it has much to do with the only thing I care about at this point: can you write. Tell me what you've got, give me a sense of the conflict, cough up some pub credits if you've got them, and maybe one or two enticing things about yourself that don't include spouse, spawn, or spirtiual affiliation.

I don't care if you've pored over the blog, read everything I've ever written, and are in Grandmother Snark's fan club. This isn't about me. It's about you. This is your chance to tell me about your fabulosity. Don't hide your light under the gin pail. In fact, why you're even holding the gin pail is beyond me. Give it back.

Querying too soon...even for a good reason

Miss Snark,

Is it appropriate for a writer to query an agent if her manuscript is in revision?

I am about half way through the final revision on my manuscript, and am considering querying a particular agent with the pages requested in her guidelines. If I am fortunate enough to receive interest from her in reading the full manuscript, am I breaching a rule of querying etiquette if I tell her it will be done in a few months? I am considering querying now because she is a new agent whose interests seem a good match for my book, and I thought there may be some benefit to contacting her before her client list gets full.

What do you think?





I think you should finish the manuscript before you start querying.
Even a new agency isn't going to fill her client list in a couple months.
I reject, unread, any novel that is "almost done"; a "first draft"; or, "nearly done" .

Non fiction is different but novels need to be finished if you are a first time author. This is virtually a universal rule.

Nitwit!

Dear Miss Snark--

First off, I want to say how much I love your blog. Thank you for helping to clear up some of the misapprehensions, etc. we deal with, and in a wonderfully snarky fashion! Truly invaluable, and so much fun as well.

Second, on behalf of agents and editors and hopeful authors everywhere, would you mind noting that most email programs now give us the opportunity to preview, forward, and even reply to emails without their 'officially' being marked as read?

So that, as an author, sending a sarcastic THANKS email to an editor because
your program said the email was not read (when, in fact, the editor had forwarded theemail to her assistant with a please 'read the mss' note), is not always the best cause of action, for example?



Sending a sarcastic email to an editor you want to consider your work is nitwittery in the first degree. I can't tell you how many editors buy something only after several tries with different projects.

The last, and I mean the LAST thing you want is to have your email address put on the junkmail list.

Platform 2

Dear Miss Snark,

Recently, I got a rather bizarre rejection from a New York agent, and I'd like to hear your take on it. Here's some background: I'm a professor at a Midwestern university with a solid record of scholarly publishing in my field. As a former journalist, I've decided to try to write a trade nonfiction book in my area. I queried a few agents, several of whom asked for the proposal, which I promptly sent. A few days ago, I got a rejection letter that read, "The major New York publishers that we deal with only acquire books that have national sales potential, and in this crowded market they want books and authors who have wide media access. Unfortunately, I just don't think any of the publishers we work with would be able to take on your project." Incidentally, my book is not focused on the Midwest--it deals with a global issue on which I am a fairly well-recognized expert.

I read the letter to mean that because I am not connected to national media outlets, they are passing on the book. Is this an accurate interpretation of the letter? What of the merit of the book itself? Or was this just a nice way of saying, "Your book stinks?"

Do we who live in "flyover country" stand a chance? Or should I read between the lines and understand that my project is to blame, not the lack of "wide media access" cited in the letter?

Thanks for any pearls of wisdom about this!


This isn't a bizarre rejection letter at all.
I write one form or another of this every day of the week.
It has nothing to do with the midwest, and everything to do with platform.

I'm sure you've heard of platform since you're not a novice, but for those who haven't, it refers to the other-than-the-usual ways you'll be able to get visibility for the book. A syndicated newspaper column like Maureen Dowd or Dave Barry is platform plus. A radio show like Dr. Laura is platform plus plus.

A nationally recognized expert is step one to getting platform. You need to have an established speaking career, a blog or a website with hundreds of thousands of hits a day and a devoted readership (ie NOT a porn site) or some other way to be visible to people on a regular basis.

Lots of people in the Midwest have platform. Lots of people in New York don't.

This isn't personal. I can't sell non fiction unless the author has platform plus.

No wonder you think agents are weird

Dear Mrs. Snarkarita Clooney,

In response to a query, I received the following (redacted to protect the not so innocent) reply:

Sounds like insanity, what say you?




Dear xxxx,

On behalf of xxxx., I am writing to respond to your email (below) and to thank you for considering our agency. Your book does look promising. Towards that end, we are prepared to ease into a proper and full evaluation by reading material on the conditions as follows - and please note that we do not charge you for this service.

By e-mail, please send us:

1. The 1st 20 pages and the last 20 pages, double spaced, your name and page number on each page, MS Word doc or Mac rtf format, as attachments,

2. A synopsis,

3. Your bio,

4. The history of your submission (what other agents, publishers or editors you have submitted your work to and their responses in full, if possible),

5. Your written guarantee that you will refrain from showing or otherwise soliciting other opinions and/or agency agreements while we look at your work (approx. 3 weeks).

Over to you,

Sincerely,

xxxx




uhhh...they want to read the first and the last but not the middle?
ok, it's a strategy I guess, but not one I've ever used.

And telling you they don't charge?
Why would you think they did? No reputable agent does. Why do they feel the need to mention it?

Calling their evaluation a service is a bizarre turn of phrase. It's not a service. You aren't getting a critique. You're getting a yes/no. Here at Snark Central we call that "a decision".

The history of the submission? With responses? Geeze. Who cares? I mean, unless this project has been seriously shopped by an agent who repped you, who cares what form letters you got previously?

And of course, exclusives stink, even three week ones.

Just for some perspective, I was ratting around in my slush pile this weekend and found six things I wanted partials on. I emailed the writers and asked to see more pages. I asked if anyone else was reading the material. Most of them, DUUUUUHHHHH!!, had more than one response for a partial. Duh because if I think it's good, chances are those clever imps over at Jane's and Paige's, and Kristin's and Kate's will too.

My response? Read those first, get back to the writers promptly. If I get and like the full, my NEXT response is to talk to the client about all the other stuff while inserting clever little wooing phrases about why Snark Central is the place to be.

I'm fully prepared to compete against other agencies by telling you why I'm a good match for you. I win some of those; I lose some. Making someone sign on the dotted line before they've queried widely, or before they've affirmatively chosen the agency is short signted. I only want clients who KNOW I'm the right choice for them because they've looked around and talked to other people.

This agent could be solid and effective and do a good job for you.
This response however doesn't do much to convey that.

Magazine circ doesn't matter

Miss Snark,

I have a question about magazines. I've been sending out short stories to some of the major magazines (such as the ones you find in B&N), but I don't expect I'll be published in those. While I wait for those rejections I've been looking for the next tier magazines to submit to, but I'm not certain how to find circulation information on most magazines. I vaguely recall you mentioning that it should be easy to find on their websites, but after searching some of their sites (and google, and duotrope, and your blog) I haven't been able to find any sort of circulation information. Do I have to loosen my death grip on my wallet and subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace? (no, not for this but it's a good investment for many other reasons)

When you're checking pub creds you don't immediately recognize in query letters, what are your criteria for what constitutes a reputable magazine? I know there are a lot of degrees of legitimacy between Backwater Parish Newspaper and The Atlantic Monthly, but I'm uncertain how to determine where a magazine might fall in that spectrum.


A magazine that takes ads has to publish its circulation figures in the magazine. Not every issue but periodically (I'm thinking it's once a year--someone pipe up if this is wrong). Correction: it's for postal rates, not ads (thank you Don)

The info I've seen has been in a top to bottom box, like a disclaimer almost, that shows the number of copies printed and sold in print the size of a gnat's ass.

The smaller pubs, the ones you mean, don't dervive their "legitimacy" from their circulation figures. What I look for in small pub credits is whether they have an editor selecting work and if the work seems pretty decent.

When I look at Spinetingler I notice they have submission guidelines (good), they have a staff of people (also good with the exception of a very very suspicious person named for a low slung car and an intoxicating beverage).

So, I don't care if Spinetingler has 1 million readers or one hundred. It would count as a respectable pub credit with me.

The point of pub credits is to tell me that someone other than your mom and your writing conference teacher think you're good.

Also, you can send your work anywhere you want regardless of what I think of it. The only time my opinion matters is when it comes to listing those credits in a query letter. Short of turning up in "Agents Are Pond Scum Weekly", it doesn't count against you if you've published stuff in a lot more places than you mention.

Thankfully I'd oiled and primed the Clue Blunderbuss

Dear Miss Snark,

Are you accepting clients at this time?


I accept condolences, greetings, the occasional twenty dollar bill, and a lot of grief from Killer Yapp about dawdling in the park when the squirrels need to be chased.

Clients however are unacceptable.
oh wait, that came out wrong.

Clients are wooed, read, sought, and signed.

If you are trying to ask if you may query Miss Snark, well, the instructions are to the right.
If you have trouble reading them here they are:

Send an SASE to UrAnitwit@wtf.comma

We'll get back to you if we're interested in your work.

11.13.2006

Speaking of wit knitting-Updated

Dear Ms. Snark:

If the statistics or rather the sadistics are correct, that out of 1.2 million books printed only 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies; that another 200,000 copies sold less than 1,000; 25,000 sold only 5,000 copies and fewer than 500 copies sold more than a million copies. The average sale of a book is 500 copies! What is a writer to do?

I sold more Girl Scout cookies when I was a kid ...

My question is why bother to acquire an agent at all? All this a.. kissing and so on and so forth just to give them a cut? Why? because they hold the key to the wizard's dressing room? What in the hell would make them so savvy as to know what will sell and what won't?

I am surprised that the entire book empire isn't going to crumble with what is finally set out on the shelves for the average reader to pay BIG money for. The field is slowly melting like the wicked witch of the North.

Then I hear that if an agent gets a publisher, the publisher only will push your book for 90 days unless of course it's REALLY good, then that is a statistic equivalent to winning the lottery. In other words, it just ain't gonna happen.

Publish on Demand has to be the only way out. No large wasted trees, no agents screwing with your minds and publishers recreating your work because "they know what sells." PLEASEEEE! Someone get this doo doo off my shoe with a stick!

I'm getting off this roller coaster. My first book has sold over 1020 copies in 8 months and it's a POD. I am doing a signing on a major cruise line next month, I have been on the radio in small towns and I am in some Midwest book stores. I promote my books myself. I am getting known in Europe as well as in Asia. I average three book signings a month.

I designed my own cover, I hired my own editor. No one altered a word in my book. To me THAT'S real publishing. From soup to nuts.



Find one major error in logic, and one in fact. Without counting the entertaining punctuation, and forgetting the "Ms Snark", correctly identify these two major errors, and you win the link to the book cover.


Update: everyone got the "wrong witch"
two people were close on the other: POD (print on demand) is a technology-it's NOT electronic publishing. POD uses paper just like regular publishing does. You can print your books using POD for whatever reason you want but 'saving trees' isn't accurate. In fact, a pretty logical case can be made for the fact that POD, by reducing the unit cost of a book, and making it easier for writers who would not have books through traditional means actually account for MORE trees being cut down.

I swear I thought this was a prank.
Now I only pray it is.


PS
And don't write comments to me that I'm "mean" to post this link.

Herewith the text of the conversation:

1. Email you see above

2. MS to NW: You know of course that all email to me is posted on the blog.
with links

3. NW to MS: Yes, I do and I am glad to see that, your majesty.




PPS Now imagine being on a cruise with this one. Makes you pray Willem Dafoe is on the manifest doesn't it?

Nitwittery Abounding over the Maine

Dear Miss Snark:

I just returned from a conference where I witnessed first hand why agents, publishers, publicists HATE authors and I am embarrassed for my kind. At the agents panel where about a dozen agents answered questions from the audience, a woman stood up at the mike and attacked one of the agents in the panel. She turned to a specific agent and said "Ms. Agent, I sent you a query and got a form letter back saying you were not accepting submissions at this time. If that is true, WHY ARE YOU HERE?"

The woman continued to attack the panel and argue with them about the query process. Why would she do this? She not only alienated herself from that particular agent, but the entire panel. All of the attendees at my table were cringing and I was looking for Killer Yapp to drag her away from the mike.


Killer Yapp was busy calling the Animal Control officer to come save him from the impending Snarkplosion I'm sure.

Of course, her behavior was shortsighted, stupid really. We can all agree on that.

But imagine this nitwit had presented herself with some degree of decorum.

It's actually a legitimate question: if an agent doesn't want new clients, or isn't taking submissions why are they at a writing conference presumably looking for clients.

First, writing conferences can book their agent roster (particularly very good, and in demand agents) a year in advance. Let's all agree a lot can happen in a year.

Second, writing conferences need the expertise of agents who are industry savvy whether they have a full client list or not.

Third, "we're not taking submissions right now" can be code for a lot of things, primarily "please don't ever write to me again cause you're a nitwit".

Agents go to conferences for a lot of reasons. They don't get paid for it so don't think of it as some sort of paid vacation. They're hoping to find good work and help people navigate this industry.

I've seen people behave badly at conference workshops. It's actually quite amusing to watch the other people in the room literally tilt to get themselves out of the nitwit's orbit.

The death of pub credit

Dear Miss Snark:

I should thank you for your well-written and informative blog but I must admit I often curse you for being so full of interesting tidbits that I spend my precious time reading it instead of writing. But whatever, I still have a question. (discipline grasshopper, discipline)

I am an aspiring fiction writer and happily I recently published my first short story in a legit, if very small, literary magazine. Apparently my piece sounded its death knell as the magazine is no more. My question is this: Since it was my first and only fiction credit, should I include it when I submit others even though a Google search will come up blank? I think of it like a first job at McDonalds, I want to keep it on my "resume" until I have something better, but is that a mistake? Should I just put my one free copy on my bookshelf and move on?

Adoring regards, (ohhh! Adoring regards, I LIKE that!!)


I actually have a client who queried me saying he was the literary kiss of death and had the funerary notices of lit mags to prove it. He had a story in the last issue of about three of them I think.

I still took him on.

He made a joke about it, and so can you. One of the great things about the net is that lots of stuff that is "dead" lives on in cyberspace. If the website is still up, refer to it. If by some miracle of marketing, a library has a copy of the mag, even better.

If there is no vestige of this magazine, you can either make a joke about it or not mention it.

Your job however is to build up your portfolio so you don't have to depend on this.

Nitwittery Abounds

Dear Miss Snark,

As someone who works w/friends at a zine, I get a few submissions a week. The work is not as stressful as something like agenting or editing, but there's a problem I've run into that I don't know how to tackle––maybe you have some advice.

There's a pretty regular submitter, "Tory." Tory first submitted a story a few months ago that wasn't good enough; form rejection. A month passes. I get the same story from Tory, completely unchanged, with the same cover letter saying "I submitted this awhile ago but was rejected...hope you like it now." Of course, I'm the only one here, so I use the same form rejection again.

Fast-forward to now, two months later. I have an e-mail from Tory in my inbox, with the same story in the same words and a more irate cover letter. I don't want to bring the guy down, but "We cannot accept your submission at this time" does not mean "We'll accept it later." I know first-hand that rejection sucks, but I can't help noticing Tory is in desperate need of a clue gun or some personal attention...or both.

How can I be diplomatic about this without giving him too much hope or reason to depair? Is there a balance? If so, where does it lie?


Wait, you asked Miss Snark for advice on how to be diplomatic???
Hang on, I think KY might be laughing too hard to actually fetch me a new keyboard after the coffee out the nose on that idea.

If you want diplomatic, you gotta go hang out with the nice girls. Hint: Here and Here.

On the other hand, if you really want Miss Snark's advice, you simply keep sending him form rejection letters. His mental health is not your responsiblity. His rendition of a temper tantrum on the floor of the grocery store at 5pm in the express checkout line right in front of the lady clutching a box of feminine hygiene products does not require anything from you other than "sorry, not right for us".



If you really really really insist on interacting with this guy, you're making a mistake. There's NO answer other than yes that will get him off your back, out of your mailbox, and away from your slush pile. This is why Dog invented the "junk email" file. His email should go on that list.

I'm reminded again and again that people do weird ass things.
I've probably done more than my share as well.
Consider it grist for your novel and move on.

11.12.2006

Miss Snark receives a query from South Park






















This is a dandy little time waster for those of you stuck on plot points, the arrival of aliens in chapter 14 or any other thing you need a break from.



Lisa is to blame for sending this to me. Let's gang up on her.

You want a good contest? Here

I've been yammering at full volume about those idiots over at Sobol-for-Brains.

In case anyone wants to see what a real contest looks like...or even, yanno, enter; here.




as usual when I need to find out what's going on I
slink over to
Sarah's whence this link was lifted.