Proper order of steed and chariot

Dear Miss Snark

I'm doing a proofreading favor for a multi-published author who was my writing inspiration when I was younger. The job will take about 20 hours of my time. This author has won the top awards in her genre, which is also my genre. If and when my book finds an agent (I've had some serious interest) and a publisher, there's nothing I'd like more than to have this author blurb my book. However, I don't know her personally - I'm just doing this job through a recommendation.

I don't want to inconvenience the author but it seems like an opportunity I can't pass up. How do I ask for a blurb? I was thinking of something along the lines of: "If I get a publisher, please would you blurb my book?" Then she doesn't even have to read the book until it's sold (indicating, presumably, that it's worth her time), and I get to throw around her name during my agent search, and my agent gets to throw around her name while finding a publisher.

So - how do I word the request? Alternatively, I could ask her to blurb the book right now so I can quote her, but that might be asking too much.

You don't.
You don't have an agent, you don't have a publisher.
Most authors won't even consider looking at a book till it's got a deal attached. I specifically forbid my authors from reading unpublished work like this.

Do your job.

Do it REALLY well.

IF you get an agent and a publisher, you can put this author on your list of people to ask for blurbs, reminding her of the favor you did for her with proofing.

If you want some names to throw around during submissions get some pub credits.


Anonymous said...

You're proofreading her novel for free?
She's either a lazy-ass, a user, or too cheap to pay for proofreading.
And you're expecting a return favor out of this?

Shannon said...

I think I would jump at the chance to get a draft copy of a book by a favorite author. As far as the work goes, I think it would depend on how clean a draft I was given. There's a difference between fixing grammar and spelling errors on every page and lending a fresh pair of eyes to a book the author thinks is clean.

Anonymous said...

I had an editor assigned to me by a publisher. The editor also worked freelance and wanted a recommendation. That did not make me appreciative. --Withholding my name on purpose.

Dave said...

Can anyone guess the reason for this very astute statement:

Quote: "I specifically forbid my authors from reading unpublished work like this."

It's because Miss Snark doesn't want the lawsuit for accidental plagerism of an idea, or the lawsuit for just the accusation.

The human mind is a strange thing and it can unconsiously remember a good scene.

Consider too, Hollywood scripts are always being contested for not being original. That's why scriptwriting is such a bitchy business. When producers and actors talk about having a script for ten or even twenty years, the not-so-legitimate legal buzzards take advantage.

I would encourage Miss Snark to add to this comment about reading unpublished novels.

ORION said...

Actually anonymous, this is not that unusual. I met an author at a conference who found out I had just done a passage across the Pacific in a small sailboat. She asked me to look at her newest work to check for sailing facts/ impressions. I was happy to do it and learned a LOT about the editing process. People do this all the time. When I got an agent I wrote her letting her know. She OFFERED to read my novel -- She would not have been able to until I was represented.
And that is how I got my blurb.
Authors know about this - when you are represented and have this kind of connection you do not have to ask - they will offer.

Anonymous said...

It is one thing to ask for someone to check facts, as in asking the local CSI or police detective or prosecutor for info, or as mentioned, sailing facts. That is research. It is indeed done all the time, and it is that particular contribution that is acknowledged in the front of the book.
On the other hand, to ask someone to read through your novel to "proofread" is asking for free work. And for a multi-published (and I'll assume successful) author to ask someone to do this gratis, is abuse of status. Of course you'll have a lot of desperate want-to-be authors sucking up to read your manuscript. How "honored" they'll be that you asked them! Their time is so much less valuable than yours, because you're working on your next novel while the author doing your scutwork has put aside hers to do your....scutwork.
Proofreading is a skill and a good proofreader is worth his fee. Better still, do it yourself and turn in a clean manuscript.

Kit Whitfield said...

From the author's point of view, there's a great deal of potential awkwardness here, which is worth considering.

Statistically speaking, the odds are that any given novel will be bad. (Not yours, obviously, but there are far more novels than good novels on there in the unpublished ether.) The author will be aware of this. Hence, asking her to look at your novel, especially when you can't cite an agent or publisher's opinion to vouch for its quality, will probably send the following thought sequence through her head:

'Oh no, this nice person wants me to read their novel. It may well be bad! Or maybe it just won't be to my taste! And then she'll want my opinion, and a blurb, and I'll want to say no, and that'll be horribly awkward because she did a good job on my novel and I really am grateful, but I don't want to blurb a book I don't like ... Oh no!'

And possibly:

'Oh no, not this again.'

Because if the author is very successful, it's quite likely that she gets asked for favours a lot. Many people who ask for favours lack social graces (again, not you, I'm sure), and it can make people quite resistant to the whole idea.

Do the job on her book, and do it well. Be friendly and polite, and by all means tell her what a pleasure it was for you to work on a novel by someone you admire so much. Then, when you find a publisher for your work, you can mention this author to your PR people. The publisher can then approach her, and unless she's forgetful (possible, but you'll just have to risk it), her thought process will be:

'Oh yes, that's that nice young person who proofread Novel X. Well sure, I'll look at this. After all, the publisher can be a buffer if I don't want to blurb it, but I may as well check it out.'

Much more positive.

Asking now will embarrass the author, and she really can't do much for you at this stage. Just sit tight. It may be useful later, but right now, focus on getting an agent. Who knows, you may have a publisher soon, and then you can bring it up.

Anonymous said...

The editor in question wasn't nearly as skilled as was expected and tampered with the story. My recommendation of that editor would not have been fair to other authors. --Still withholding my name on purpose.

ec said...

dave quoted Miss Snark: "I specifically forbid my authors from reading unpublished work like this. . . "

...and then added:

It's because Miss Snark doesn't want the lawsuit for accidental plagerism of an idea, or the lawsuit for just the accusation.

The human mind is a strange thing and it can unconsiously remember a good scene.

dave, you may not have intended it as such, but this makes a damn fine argument against reading fanfic.