"Well written stories are vivid, uninhibited, and pungently phrased, with sudden and surprising flashes of insight"
Gerald Clarke, Capote: A Biography
Where Miss Snark vented her wrath on the hapless world of writers and crushed them to sand beneath her T.Rexual heels of stiletto snark. The blog is dark--no further updates after 5/20/2007.
I am finally (after several rewrites and workshoppings and more rewrites) ready to start querying a novel. I am concurrently spending time in a wheelchair due to a heart problem that may or may not be permanent. I have gotten used to the looks and the people talking over my head, and what people might think about my choice of wheel-friendly clothing won’t bother me when I attend a conference next month. I won’t be pitching, although I am curious about whether showing up in a chair would cause an immediate, if invisible to the naked eye, inner recoil in an agent.
In a mail/email query, I’d be lying by omission if I let a prospective agent believe I could undertake a lot of high-intensity publicity effort. At what point in the delicate minuet between the first ‘dear agent’ and the final ‘I accept’ should I tell a prospective agent that I might not be the best bet for a book tour or other strenuous promotional activities unless a portable defibrillator is on the table next to the bottled water?
I hate writing query letters. Detest. Loathe. I can do it, mind you, just I'd much rather be working on my next story or sticking needles in my eyes. Is there ever a time when we (specifically, fiction writers) no longer have to bother with query letters?
For instance, if I have an agent who has sold a previous book of mine, do I have to hit her with a query before forwarding my new masterpiece? Or a situation I'm currently in: I don't have an agent, but I have a publishing house that published a book of mine in 2006 (didn't do great, but made *some* money). Do I have to query them before sending my newest manuscript? And if so, does it have to be the standard query letter or can I just send something brief asking if
they'd like to check out my new novel?
I have diligently tried to follow the mysterious and myriad rules that writers must follow when querying agents. I know that if agent A at agency 1 rejects me, I should not query another agent there.
I just got a rejection from Agent C (separate agency) who enthusiastically suggested I query Agent B at agency 1. So now I am conflicted. Should I have assumed Agent A passed my mss to Agent B and she passed, or should I take Agent's C suggestion and query Agent B?
Thank you for your blog and the constant help you give to us nitwits.
Dear Miss Snark,
I'm still pinching myself; the unbelievable has happened and at any moment, Rod Serling will come out and tell me that I'm dead or something.
Anyways, I've landed an agent in record time and have politely notified other agents currently reviewing partials and fulls. My question is: Should I notify agents in the e-query stage that I've signed? I'm getting bombarded with requests, and believe it or not, I actually feel bad rejecting them.
I've earned hundreds of rejections over the years. I certainly can take it, but can I dish it out?
Hopefully, I won't have to endure the sting of an editor's rejection--that would really hurt.
Dear Miss Snark,
About five minutes ago I finished my novel. Cheers. Smiles are on the house.
I don’t know what to do. Call my mom, the pope, the girl in high school who broke my heart – tell her to watch out, I’m going to be famous?
Or do I keep the secret. Get down to brass tacks and edit (please note, I didn’t say brass tax- I’ve been taken to school already for that one).
It took me two years to write 65,000 words. Without you it would be 120,000. I have a bonsai tree. I want to put query letters in the mail tomorrow. I’ve edited all along the way. I’ve removed the double verbs when it was possible, I took the word “that” out about a thousand times where it didn’t belong. I’ve been up and down this thing countless times. I know where it curves in and where it curves out.
I’ve read a number of times an author needs to sit on it for a month.
Should I? This thing has possessed me for two years. I’m ready to cut my Siamese twin. Do I let her hang to my skin another month? What do I do in between? I’m not ready to write number two – I need a break from those people.
Dear Miss Snark,
Having written no less than four apparently inappropriate missives to you, it is with extreme trepidation that I make yet another attempt to request advice. I have found my genre! It is poetic prose, which I am led to believe is quite out of fashion these days. Is there any point in mentioning this category in my query letters if no one is publishing it? Or am I misinformed?
After many consecutive rejections written on the outside of my unopened query letter envelop, I have decided on a different approach to querying.
My plan is to kidnap George Clooney, duct tape some caviar-flavored Scooby Snacks and a couple of bottles of prime Mountain-made Gin to his chest. After writing my query letter across his butt in Sharpie, mail him to the agent most likely to read and respond to my query. So that no physical harm would come to him, I will include a Sharpie-removing sponge bath kit in the query package.
Now, I know you would never want to be part of such a scheme, but I thought that you might have an address or two of some worthy agent that would be interested in my query letter. Could I prevail upon you for such information?
Dear Miss Snark,
A friend and I, in an attempt to encourage ourselves to get off our duffs and submit the manuscripts we've been sitting on, thought of posting the rejection letters we are sure to receive on a blog with possibly amusing comments from one or both of us. Would agents be likely to get upset if the blog were generally available for reading by whoever happens by? That is, should we go the more-traditional route of papering our walls with such letters or using them as scratch-paper? We're aware that most of these are likely to be form letters and therefore not fascinating to anyone but us.
Dear Miss Snark,
Writing conference season (in my neck of the woods) is approaching. What is your opinion on business cards from writers? I have business cards, but it’s all the info from my day job. That information is irrelevant and not the contact info I would use with an agent anyway. Should I go to my local Kinko’s and have some cards printed up with my name and address?
How important are business cards? Will having them or not having them make a whit of difference? Will I seem like a pretentious poser if I have them? Will I seem like a complete nitwit if I don’t? Is this in the same category with the stamp obsession?
Lounging Labrador sends her regards and a half-chewed slipper to Killer Yapp.
Dear Miss Snark,
Well, I started researching agents today and came upon a crucial question that I don't believe has been asked before.
Now, I know better than to address something 'Dear Agent.' But this person doesn't have a listed phone number, AND their first name is androgynous- let's say Pat. Patricia? Patrick? No idea. No phone number, so I can't ask.
Is it terribly inappropriate to address it "Dear Agent Pat Bellbottom"? And if it is, how should I handle this, since there's no phone number for me to call?
Love you, love the blog.
Here's my queston -
What would you say is the more important consideration in selecting one offer from multiple offers:
quality/power of the editor
size of the advance
size/power of the publishing house
Dear Miss Snark,
What happens when a writer parts ways with his agent midstream and novel #1 is still out with an editor or two? Is the submission withdrawn? Will the writer blow his chances with those editors? Will his name and his agent's name be bandied about, humiliating everyone?
Also, is there an official cooling off period before the writer should begin querying other agents? Say, sixty seconds? Six days? Six weeks?
Though I doubt it could ever happen, I need to ask: Have you ever been dumped? By a client, that is.
Unfortunately, I need to part ways with my agent and begin the search for a new one. I get what I'm supposed to do -- letter, 30 days notice, etc.
But is there a way to soften the blow? I know, I know, I'm going to have to toughen up if I'm going to continue on this path to published, but I made the mistake of not only thinking she could sell my work, but liking her, too. Damn.
Help me be mean. In kind of a nice way, of course.
I'm in the editing process of my first novel, it's fantasy genre. I just found out I'm deploying to Afghanistan in November. When I send my manuscript out to agents, in my query letter should I let them know that I will be overseas by the time they reply back to me? I really think that my military background (US ARMY INFANTRY) helps give some of the scenes in my book credibility, but I don't want my chances to suffer because I'll be out of the US for a year. Any insight you could provide would be great.
Dear Miss Snark and KY,
I have a question on dress for a conference. My dilemma is a direct result of an act of personal Nitwittery about a month ago.
I was stung by a brown recluse spider that had taken up residence in my right shoe. I'm not going to go into all the gory details, but I narrowly missed getting three toes amputated. Aragog has NOTHING on a brown recluse fending off a home invasion of the size 8 variety!
I am off crutches now, and have been wearing leather moccasin style slippers for a few days. My Dr tells me to get used to it. No stillettos for me for a while. I can't even where sneaks because they're too constricting. I am going to a writer's conference next month and this is wreaking havoc with my planned wardrobe. I'd planned some nice, relaxed businessy type outfits for the day, and some slightlier dressier outfits for the evening events, and of course, some jeans and a nice t shirt for the rest of the time. Do I hold my head high and make the strangest fashion statement ever with brown mocs? Do I grit my teeth, try to find a decent pair of flats that won't hurt my recovery too much? Do I have a sudden relapse and go back to crutches so I can moc the right foot and sneaker the left foot? Do I just run amuck barefoot waving Frankenfoot under everyone's nose, thereby being certain to make some sort of impression? How important is appearance anyway? I hate to say this, but we (as people in general) base so much of our opinions of people that I'm worried that I'm literally shooting myself in the foot on this one. Would you, or any of the Snarklings make a snap judgement on a woman who's mostly put together except for wild foot gear?
I realize that the important thing for an unagented writer at a conference is networking. But I'm worried that if I run around looking like a refugee from Nitwits R Us, no-one will take me remotely seriously. I don't have a novel to sell yet. It needs some re-working before I'm ready to start querying again. I just happened to be traveling to the city in question for work, and my boss was kind enough to give me a few extra days on my plane ticket to attend the conference. So I figured as long as the trip was free, I might as well take advantage and attend the conference.
Am I obsessing too much over this?
Not sure how I happen to get on these lists, other than the fact that I’ve mentioned on different weblists (there ya go) that I’m a (wannabe) writer. It amazes me that people will send me countless offers to publish my manuscript without even having had a query from me, or even a sample of my writing. I’m not even close to finishing anything, as I mostly do this for fun and when I have the time (what’s that…?). Anyway, just thought you’d want to take a look (because you have so much time of your own). I didn’t see Dorrance on the top 20 worsts, but thought it would be worth a warning or notice. If not, chuck it with the rest of your junk mail and keep on snarking.
Hugs to KY.
First off, love the blog. It’s absolutely a necessity for me anymore.
This may be an idiotic question, but I’d figure you’d let me know if it was. With postage rates rising as of May 14, would you recommend to writers that we affix an extra stamp to our SASEs if we even suspect that the reply time will overlap that date? Seems like the logical thing to do, but I would guess many writers would rather not unnecessarily dip into gin funds to produce extra postage, however small that may be. Though I suspect slathering our SASE with postage may scream “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Thanks for the fount of valuable advice and having the patience to indoctrinate the clueless.