Miss Snark off to see Santa!

Miss Snark has packed her trunk, summoned the chariot, stowed the gin in a cleverly concealed reticule and, with Killer Yapp in a pink leather jacket, is now off to the North Pole. Santa is reviewing query letters and has called for the assistance of The One Who Takes No Guff. Miss Snark of course too.

I've turned word verification and no-anon on in the comments, and moderation off, so the comments trail isn't paralyzed in my absence.

Barring Reindeer Love, a subway strike, or other acts of Dog, I'll be back on Monday.

Sans SASE?

I've made the goofs of goofs yesterday. I mailed a query without an SASE. 99 percent of the time I do include it. I was distracted by people, the phone, and the television news. How bad will this hurt me? I put my email below my signature, if she's intrigued will she email me?

You might drop her an email or a call to say "I forgot but I'm sending it now".

You can point her to this blog posting for verification now too. Like using a speeding ticket to get out of a murder charge. Gee....what a concept!

Money can't buy love..and a few other things either

I have a strange question. I have a decent manuscript about contemporary issues, and a legitimate agent at a well-known agency. I haven't asked her this straight-out, because I think I know the answer already.

Would it be uncouth for her to let publishers know that I intend to spend six-figures of my own cash to promote it and take a six-month leave of absence from my profession to promote it full time? Or would that strike them as unethical and smell too much like POD?

It's certainly not unethical or besmirched by the stench of hucksterism.

However, you have to sell the book first. Then you meet with your publicist and together figure out what you do to work WITH her/him to promote the book. Yes it is absolutely true you'll have to do a lot of your own pr. It's also absolutely true that no publicist at a publisher likes to hear that. You want to have your publisher's publicity team working with you, not thinking you're a bull in a china shop.

Meet with them. Write up a list of things that they'd like to do. See which ones the publisher will pay for. You buy the rest.

And remember, throwing lots of money at a publicity campaign is often not as effective as a you think it will be. You can BUY advertising and marketing support. You can buy a publicist's time, but you cannot buy publicity. You can generate it, you can support it, but you cannot buy it.

Existential crisis at the cabana

uh..excuse me, but what's the deal with cabana boys? young,poor guys doing a mundane service for peanuts...these guys are desirable to women because of what? their firm bodies? why not personal trainers or young men at a car wash, or studs who dance for women at strip clubs? is this an Eastern stereotype of some sort? or what you find along the Del Boca Vista coast--what is it i'm missing here with the cabana thing? thanks for bringing me up to speed.

Always happy to wax enthusiastic about cabana boys.

The key element you're missing here is location. Cabana boys are at the beach. They are NOT in New York. They are not at the gym forcing you to think evil thoughts about that last cig and gin the night before. They are not thumbing copies of "Down and Out in Paris and London" at the car wash when you realize you have no cash for the tip jar. They are not prancing naked in New Jersey by night and querying Miss Snark with tell-all memoirs by day.

Nooo...cabana boys are at the beach where they are kind enough to bring her pails of gin for which she is grateful to exchange wads of cash.

Cabana boys frolic in the surf and rescue Miss Snark from sharks.

(KY: "Cabana boys understand that it is very possible to be muy macho and wear a pink scarf.")

Cabana boys are the very embodiment of "magical realism" and thus entirely tax deductible.

pimp my font

What format do you like to see manuscripts come in with; Chicago or AP? Does it depend on the house you are submitting to?

I don't ask people to follow a particular manual of style on queries, or submissions. Just industry basics like page numbers, easy to read fonts and double spacing. You'd think making it simple would mean everyone could do it but noooo.

Anyway, back to manuals of style. I don't ask for this and editors will read the same form I get BUT when we sell something, and deliver the final manuscript THEN out comes the list of what you have to do. Each publisher has their own requirements. They're spelled out in the contract.

Churling..the new Olympic sport

Miss Snark,
what is your snarky take on agents who write their own books?

I'm not referring to merely books on writing or the industry, but works of fiction.

Am I churlish to worry that they'll be focusing more on selling their next MS than mine?

I checked out one agency, a boutique from the looks of it, that looked promising until I compared their client list with their associate agents: two of the agents were clients.And there are other agents out there with the writing bug.

My initial reaction is, "Whoa. It takes me a lot of time to create a good, marketable (one hopes, anyway) book, not to mention the time it would take to shop it myself if I were my own agent.

So? Churlish or not, on my part?

Well, I'd be the worst kind of hypocrite if I said writing for fun was the hallmark of an agent who didn't focus on her work, given I write this blog.

Agenting is not a zero sum game. If an agent writes and sells her own novels it doesn't mean less for you. It's more like she'll have more empathy for you, more experience to draw on, and more sales and contacts in the industry.

It's hard to trust that is true before you have an agent, a contract and a finished book, but it is.

On the other hand, do NOT get me started about book reviewers on staff at national magazines or newspapers who also write novels. I have a complete rant about that involving power point slides.


Killer Yapp Takes a Bite

Miss Snark, does Prada not do dog collars? Not that the pink isn't fabulous on you, but KY (especially with that nickname) could use something a tad less effeminate.

Killer Yapp is the Vin Diesel of poodles on Central Park West. He takes guff from no one --man or Rottweiler. You try looking chic in pink. It requires attitude plus. Besides, KY likes to look festive because he gets more cookies, and after all cookies ARE what life is all about even when you are the toughest guy on the Ave.

The Lowells speak only to Cabots, the Cabots only to God

I have an acquaintance whose agent has given up subbing her manuscript after only 8 submissions because the agent says she has "run out of contacts."

Four of those tries resulted in revision requests, but each time, the revision was ultimately turned down at the acquisitions committee level; I haven't read this person's work, but it would seem to me that that level of response from the editors would indicate there's something worth considering about this project.

Am I crazy to think that 8 is not very many tries?

From a current Writer's Market, I identified well over 70 publishers who say they accept manuscripts of this particular genre, and while I realize that the subtle distinctions between houses mean that that number would have to be whittled down quite a bit, 8 tries still seems like a very small number to me.

Is it too simplistic to feel that it's part of an agent's job to MAKE contacts?

Wow, that agent must be really effective if s/he can sell things with only 8 contacts. I wonder if she's interested in sharing her secrets.

Writer's Market lists publishers by subject category so it's entirely possible MOST of those 70 houses aren't good places to sell THIS particular book. (Some houses only do reprints, or only do paperbacks, or only do three books a season and offer no money..yadda yadda yadda).

Knowing nothing but what you've said, my initial reaction is "wtf".
If I only pitched to people I knew I'd starve. KY too..and then the Humane Society gets involved, not to mention the Ninja Poodles of Central Park West, and really..it's just easier to suck it up and call strangers to pitch projects.

I can tell you the number of total strangers I called on the phone today cause I keep track of my COLD CALLS: 20.

I hate cold calls as much as the next person giving phone, but so what. It's part of the job.

There's more going on here than meets the eye. The agent sounds like s/he's losing steam. A lot of turn downs can do that. That's a very very tough place to be.

Miss Snark,

Please check out this very interest offer from a Levine Greenberg agent, written about on www.bookloversreport.com

You can actually win a year of representation, from a well-known agency!

Would you consider something similar?

Well, no. I don't have anything to sell you.
You realize of course this is a marketing ploy for their book. What you "win" is exactly what you'd get if you submitted your writing directly--a year of agency representation at the industry standard percentage.

Nothing wrong with that of course; Miss Snark enters drawings to win free cabana boys all the time. So far no luck but I'm honing my ..um..."query letter" as we speak.


.I've edited my 115,000-word fiction manuscript enough that I can probably begin querying agents. I keep hesitating, though, mostly because I've only received feedback from critique partners and contest judges. They pretty much unanimously say the manuscript is ready to go, but I still keep dithering about it.

Over the last six months, I've been researching independent editors and book doctors, and my list is now down to one person, whose credentials and references are stellar, who has excellent industry connections, and whose own writing is exemplary.

Should I pay this person to do a read-through of my manuscript? Or should I just start submitting it to agents and use their responses as a guide to whether or not the book is publishable?

Suck it up.
Send out a query.
If you get a lot of rejections that say "not right for us"
THEN drop the dough to have a pro look at it.

The Delights of the NYC Transit "Strike"

Miss Snark loves the subway system. She treasures her Metrocard and even has a special little Coach purse just to keep it safe from marauding subway thieves and hungry poodles.

Miss Snark is NOT happy with the MTA union today.
As you may have heard on the news, last night at midnight was the deadline for a strike. Well, that hour has come and gone. The subways ARE running...but for how long.

This is the part of the strike that truly disrupts the city cause you don't know when you go someplace if you'll be able to get home. Thus, you don't go, or more accurately, you dither about going. It's the dithering that REALLY affects productivity.

Of course the MTA union knows this; it's why they're doing it. And in case NYers didn't remember this little strategy from the last strike, the union is doing a "limited strike" on busses in Queens--you can get to work just fine but then the drivers go home. So, good luck getting home folks.

As inconveniences go, this is minor but nonetheless if someone kills off an MTA Union president in their next novel I'm going to be very very pleased.

Editors Names...LAST post on this I hope!

From the comment tail on routinely sharing editors names:

O Snarky One:

Why not share editor names with your clients? When shopping my novel around, my agent told me which editors at which houses, without me asking. I wouldn't have been bothered if she'd left that detail out--just seems like a different style--but I'm wondering what the reason is for not routinely disclosing that info.

and this:
But what if a client is going to be at the same conference one of the editors will be attending? Assume, for the purposes of argument, that your client isn't the type to make a total idiot/pest of herself around the editor while at the conference. Would there be a good reason to tell your client that the editor will be there, in case the editor approaches your client to talk to her?

Y'all aren't reading carefully. What I said was "I don't routinely give out editors' names". What I did NOT say was "I don't ever". There's a big difference.

Of course if a client is going to a conference, or a place where they are going to meet editors I brief them fully. Recently I've even dragged their asses to parties to MEET editors. Last year's Bouchercon I gave one of my clients a list of names, physical descriptions and strict instructions to accost each and every one. (Of course I then sold her book to an editor who wasn't even there)

Of course if a client has history with an editor, previous books, contacts yadda yadda, I ask about that, and utilize it.

What I don't do, and what the original poster was asking about, is routinely send a list of which specific editor has rejected something. The amazing thing is NONE of my clients has ever asked (that I can remember..but it is before 9am) for more details.

The reason I do not routinely do this is cause when you start saying "Editor X at Publisher Z rejected this" it personalizes it. Authors tell me all the time (and they believe it too I think) that they don't take rejection of their work personally. Horse hockey. Of COURSE they do. And why not. There isn't anyone else's name on the page (except mine of course). They love their novel and this chowder head at XYZ said no.

Of course, it's NOT personal, and a lot of times it's not about the book at all. So, I routinely don't give out names UNLESS asked, or it's needed. I don't send them routine rejection letters either but if they ask for them, of course I do. The key thing here is that my clients know this BEFORE they sign the contract. I spell it out. Then I ask if that is ok with them. If it's NOT (and this has happened) I recommend they go elsewhere.

The original poster said her agent sliced names off email rejections. I think that's excessive but I stand by my opinion that its NOT a red flag. It is however an indicator of communication style and business practice and it's clear the questioner wasn't happy. That's the real question. Can you live with how your agent works. If you can't, you need a new agent.


Tuesday lay downs

Dear Miss Snark,
Why do books with specific lay-down dates always come out on Tuesdays?

It's not an important question; more something that piqued my curiosity.
Love the stilettos! And Killer Yapp's collar -- so stylishly
coordinated. Marvelous!

Yanno, I knew this once but I've forgotten. I think it's for some sort of accounting or reporting thing. Someone who reads this blog will know. Feel free to enlighten us, please.

And thanks for noticing Killer Yapp's new pink Chanel collar that matches my holiday shoes. We decided to risk a solid color rather than our usual Burberry plaid, but one more flying eggnog may show us the folly of our ways.

Who be doobee do

My agent refuses to tell her clients which editors she's submitting to. She will give a list of houses (RH, S&S, etc.), and in some cases, imprints, but will not share editor names. She sometimes goes so far as to chop off a signature when forwarding rejections via email.

I feel this is a disservice to me, because I'm kept from learning more about particular editors' wants and needs and taste--something that could come in handy down the road, when I'm submitting something new. I've talked to her about it, but she refuses to budge on this issue.

What's your take on this? Is this normal? Should it be acceptable?

Has this agent sold any of your work? If the answer is no, I advise you to think carefully about whether you want to continue because your idea of the information you want and hers are pretty much on opposite sides of the river, and baby, I don't see a bridge coming any time soon.

As an agent, if you told me you needed or wanted this information so you could know a particular editor's tastes and needs, or for "down the road when I'm submitting something new" you'd be out the door in five seconds flat cause it sounds like you're getting ready to either open your own agency or dump me and follow up on your own.

I too do not routinely give out editors' names. I don't slice them off rejection letters but when I send reports it's "your work is at a five way auction with Publishers ABCD and Q" or "publishers B F and D have passed, those fools".

I had a client not too long ago who was increasingly unhappy that her work hadn't sold. She asked me where it was. I told her, in the ABCD and Q terms. Unbeknownst to me, she turned around and called every one of those publishers, asked for the editor in chief, asked where her manuscript was, and when they couldn't tell her (BIG surprise) she called ME up, accused me of lying, fired me by fax and flounced off to self publishing land.

I was utterly humiliated of course. It took me about a week to crawl back to my desk, fire up the phone and call the editors. They just howled. Seems this kind of thing happens often enough that they've seen it several times before, were reassuring that they didn't blame me for this crazy lady calling them, and let's all drown our sorrows with drinkies real soon.

The bottom line is this: your agent isn't going to change. You either live with it or switch agents. To me this is not the huge red flag that you might think it would be but you're the one that has to live with it.

Issuing Orders

I walked into my local BORDERS today, and asked a very nice clerk if I could talk to someone about ordering my book which is out very soon. She came back after a few minutes and handed me a Borders Brochure and said I could contact them and/or bring my book when it comes out to so-and-so at the store and she'll take a look. She also wanted to take my name.I politely thanked her, didn't give my name, and moved on

Jeez! Is this what corporate greysuits have done to bookstores? I've proably dropped a couple of grand at this one store in the last several years, but never mind. I suppose this is what becomes of PublishAmerica spitting out "Confederate Sonnets" and such and then these cranks walk off the street and badger Borders. My experience at Barnes and Noble was much better, ie, they ordered the book! Did I give up too soon? I guess I thought, well, my publisher is a big NY house, what the hell, they'll probably have a few copies on the shelf anyway. What are your thoughts on running into the corporate mentality at your "local bookstore", Miss Snark?

Wait a second here.
You think Borders is a local store? helloooo. Borders is a chain, with corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor Michigan. Unless you live in Ann Arbor, Borders ain't your local store.

If they haven't taken a national position on your book (ie it's in every store) the regional buyer or the local buyer can still order it if asked.

So, when the clerk gave you the info and asked for your name, you turned up your nose cause "she didn't know you who you were"?? Did you know her?

I must tell you that every single person who says "don't you know who I am" is a second rate phony. The people you DO know- like face famous folks- regularly introduce themselves as if you've never seen them before.

You may not be a second rate phony but you are acting like one. Stop it.

One of the absolute WORST things you can do as an author is act like a snot to any person who works in a bookstore. Not the custodial staff, not the cash wrap clerk, not the coffee server, no one.

These are the people who are going to sell your book, who are going to reorder it if it sells out (or NOT), host your author events (or not) and HANDSELL your book and put it on Staff Picks (OR NOT).

If a bookstore person does anything short of run you over with a Mack truck you suck it up, smile and say "thanks for stocking my book".


Hello Miss Snark,
I enjoy your witty take on the publishing industry and believe you'll have George Clooney someday, however the use of "yanno" is uh...not good. I understand not wanting to put "you know" because it's awfully sterile, but "yanno" reads like piano and that's even worse than you know, ya know?

No, I don't know, yanno.
You understand this is stylistic choice, right?
that I know "yanno" isn't like..IN the dictionary?
Know whut? Neither is Snark, sux, nitwittery or getafriggin' life here.

If Miss Snark offends your sensibilities, well, there's an easy choice here.
Or do you think we should install grammar filters so you don't get porn OR tawdry phraseology.

Get a grip.

Agent fees

Culled from the comment tail:
Question is how to manage the slush pile without resources an agent can use so good writing gets filtered to the top.No pay no gain?

Let's all take a moment to think about this logically.
Paying for a critique or early consideration does NOT mean good writing filters to the top.
It means people who PAY get filtered to the top.
You honestly don't think those two are the same thing do you?

And if an agent hires "a reader"? You really want to pay to have someone OTHER than an agent consider your work?

This isn't digging ditches, it's not changing diapers, it's not even teaching fractions to hormone drenched tweens. It's READING for fuks sake. It's not that hard. Suck it up. We all do.

People who want to charge you money for reading fees are taking advantage of you. Don't do it.

Miss Snark has a Rival!!!

It has come to my attention that Miss Anna Louise Genoese (that upstart!!) has had the temerity to dream about Mr Clooney, and further to dream she marries him, and WORSE to blog about it right in Miss Snark's face.

Well!! Miss Genoese this is WAR!

Mr Clooney is mine, you dictionary wielding, thesaurus snapping editor you.

My second, Killer Yapp, will be calling on you soon with details.

Preditors and Editors

From the comments tail on the first Peekaboo post comes this complaint about P&E in a comment from the P&E folks:

"Here's an interesting thing about the Predators site. We can't find ANY contact information. Can you?

So, here we have someone that purports to be an industry watchdog, that gives no contact information, or ability to discuss what they promulgate... doesn't that give you cause to question what THEY are saying?

(We have had one author say they found a contact email, and we suggested that they ask Preditors 'why?', but they never got a response.. so... we suggest that you make up your own mind based on the professionalism of our interaction, with us, as real people, not some 'shadow' person/entity that is unaccountable.

We've been at this for years, and we haven't changed our name or ran, we've stayed and fought, and the only real person that loses is the first time author that can't get the time of day from most agencies. Now, back to business."

Ok, let's start with the basics.
First, an email address for P&E is listed in under "email". Plain letters. Right there. I've used it myself, and I looked it up five minutes ago before I posted it to make sure it was still there.

Second, I've had multiple conversations with P&E under my business name. All were to update or correct information. ALL were handled swiftly and smoothly.

I've had more than one conversation with them as Miss Snark, and that too was prompt and courteous.

Yes I'm sure they make mistakes because yanno, they're human. So what.
If you think they've got incorrect info about your agency, write and tell them.
I've spot checked my own listing, colleagues and random folks. It looks pretty reliable to me.

These guys, along with others provide an INVALUABLE service.
Every agent should embrace them fervently, because the liars, cheaters, scammers, and worst..hobbyists, disgrace our profession.

More Peekaboo

What if they (agents) say that, due to client confidentiality, they'll only reveal a sales/client list when and if they make you an offer (which of course you don't have to accept)? Same dif or slightly different situation?

It is utter crap.
Who an agent represents isn't proprietary info, it's not personal, it's not some trade secret.

Most of us publish it on our websites, publish it in Publishers Marketplace, and cheer when PW calls to discuss our hot deals.

Any agent who won't give you the information that demonstrates they ARE working, deal making agents should be looked at VERY skeptically.

Some agents may be new and hesitant about revealing that. I was new once too, but clients signed with me before I had a single sale, believed I was going to make sales, and were right.

Before I had sales I said "I'm a new agent. I've done this that and the other in the publishing industry. I will work very hard to sell your work because I need to make sales. I know these editors, and have these other publishing references. I offer a contract that can be revoked by you for any reason with 30 days notice. If you want to be with an agent who is hungry for success and sales and has a lot of time right now to devote to you, I qualify."

I NEVER said "my client list is confidential". I told people who I represented. I did NOT hand out their contact info until I secured permission to do so but now I have a list of clients with email contacts that I send to people who are talking to me about representation. If you're just querying you get the client names and book titles.

Agents who won't give you basic information and expect you to believe things on trust are using tactics more suited to snake oil sales, Brooklyn Bridge listings and speed dating conversations.

Resubmitting queries

Mom and Dad always said "No stupid questions". Guess I'll put that to the Miss Snark test.

I am looking to send out my novel manuscript to a few agents. I did this once before about 3-4 years ago and the work was rejected. For good reason- it had a lot of errors in it that I didn't know then. I have learned a lot since then and completely re-written the story. If one was not intimate with it before, they wouldn't recognize it now.

In any case, I did some looking up of agents that represent the genre I'm in and recognized a bunch of the names. Looking through my past records (buried deep in the closet), I submitted to these folks before. That got me wondering how long agents memories are. It is unlikely they will recognize my name, but I don't want to risk screwing up an opportunity. There any standards to this or is it common?

Like I said, maybe a stupid question but it'll help me sleep a bit better.

This isn't like being tossed out of baseball for playing the ponies: no life time bans allowed.

If your work was rejected at the query stage, you've got a clean slate now. Enough time has gone by no one will remember you at all.

If anyone read a partial or a full, and you're querying them again, you need to mention you've significantly reworked the ms, incorporated suggestions for change, and learned from experience.

One good thing is that enough time has gone by for me to believe you actually HAVE reworked the thing. I get "major" revisions back (usually unrequested too) in less than two months. That's not my idea of enough time to really revise something in a MAJOR way.

Your mom and dad are mostly right. There are some dumb questions in the world: "where do you keep your ice?" "do I look fat in this dress?" and "Who is the Sexiest Man Alive?"(and I don't mean that pretender Jude Law...sheesh).

Permissions timing

Miss Snark,
I recall an earlier post wherein it was stated it was the author's job to get permission to quote song lyrics, etc. before publication (or submitting?)

Just tried to do this and the weird form they have won't let me even ask until I have a publisher, # of copies to be printed and a retail price.

Just how does this work?

Permissions suck. No two ways about it. The author does have to get them, but the window is after the project is sold and before the final manuscript is delivered. That's how you know the publisher and can make an educated guess about print run and retail price.

Peek a boo, Agentbaby, where are you?

I fear I am the next nitwit of the day. I have just sent off material to an agent who requested it from my query. I queried her from information in Guide To Literary Agents. Now that there is a possibility that she might be interested I can find very little information on her. How do I get her author list? I'm afraid if I ask her for it I'll blow my chances of having her represent me if she is interested and is a good agent.

All agents are used to answering the question "who do you represent". It's absolutely standard, run of the mill. Any, and I mean this unilaterally, ANY agent who gets angry at you for asking should be avoided. If they act like you're a nitwit for asking, avoid them. If they act like you're bothering them, avoid them.

I'm not all that crazy about people calling me on the phone to ask, but if someone emails me, I have a form email that gives my client names and recent sales. I direct people to my website and to my Publishers Marketplace listing.

You do NOT qualify as nitwit of the day for asking these questions. You will qualify if you DON'T.

The best source of info is an agent's own website. If that is not forthcoming about clients, google the agent's name. If you don't get any hits other than listings, you should contact the agent directly. Politely of course. "Dear Agent with a Lousy Public Face: Can you direct me to information about who you represent and the projects you've recently sold. Thank you very much for your time, Sincerely Snarkling With Smarts".

If an agent is new to agenting, s/he will say so. Ask them about previous publishing experience.

If an agent can not or will not answer "who do you represent" and "what have you sold", avoid them.

Memoirs of a Platypus

My question is: what exactly should be included in a query for a personal memoir? A cover letter obviously, and I believe I've read that sample pages should be included as well. What about a synopsis? And if so, is this the one exception to your "NEVER write the synopsis in first person" rule? Thanks so much.

oh yes, the platypus of the publishing world: memoir. Non fiction that is written and sold like fiction--the "normal" rules don't always apply here.

yes you need a cover letter, and yes you need sample pages.

You'll need a synopsis at some point so it's better to start work on it now cause they are (as we've seen from various comments here) a snarl to write.

Memoir synopsis may be the exception to the first person rule (ya ya I still think chick lit should be in third, but there are people who disagree). Personally I think third person lends distance and objectivity to the synopsis and that is a good thing in a first person memoir.

You might write it both ways and see which sounds better.

I actually wrote the synopsis to the memoir on my list right now cause the author's version was crap. I wrote it in third person using Mr. Pitt and Ms Jolie to refer to the "characters". It works.

The crucial thing I want to know about a memoir is WHY this memoir is important to read, and WHAT does it say about a larger world than just the subject of the memoir.

Memoir is one of the few places that good writing doesn't trump all: you have to have something new to say for a memoir to fly. It can't be "this is my life, it was hard, I survived, you can too" kind of thing.

Crapometer Escapes!

As a woman down the road from Crawford (in the Texas Hill Country) I thought you might want to know I'm pretty sure I saw the crapometer pulled over by the side of the road just north of Luckenbach by the highway patrol. The good news is it seemed to be toeing the line rather well.

As one of the many synopsis writers preparing to submit to ... the stiletto... let me know if any bail money is needed. I'm sure we could raise it with very little trouble.

Texas Highway Patrol called last night to say the Crapometer has slithered through the bars of the holding cell, stolen a box of doughnuts, the contents of the petty cash drawer, and was last seen fleeing up the street to the Greyhound bus station. An all points bulletin for the escaped fugitive has been issued.

Since there are only a few days left before the Crapometer is due back here in lovely New York City, I'm hoping if you've SEEN it, you'll let me know so we can alert the bounty hunters. I fear this may be job more suited for Ranger than Stephanie; the crapometer should be considered extremely dangerous, particularly if you approach it with bad grammar.

376 points on the Scrabble board for YOU

A recent blog entry on names reminded me of a question that has been swirling around in my mind for quite some time. (If you could slide the gin pail a bit toward me I'd be much obliged.)

I have a last name that consists of 17 letters, which also is not a last name that people find easy to pronounce and I don't think anyone will ever remember anything about it other than "the one with the ass-long last name." I always thought of playing around with a short version of it or perhaps changing it ... but I wanted to ask if it's that big a deal, or if it really will affect me in some way?

well, after seeing your name on the from on my email, I will say this: it's long, it doesn't trip off the tongue, BUT it's visually memorable.

You'd be surprised how many book sellers can find a book based on "parameters" like "yanno, that blue book from the girl on tv this morning". So, a search for "yanno, that novel by the long ass name writer" should be a piece of cake...unless of course they start searching for the name Longass.

If you write well enough, you'll be in the front of the store anyway.


Equal Time for Pat Walsh

Dear Miss Snark,

Thanks for the heads up. Don't worry about the nitwit thing, I've been called a lot worse just today and it's still morning here. MS: there's something worse than being called a nitwit in this blog? I shudder to think.

I did suggest that writing to published authors could be useful to writers trying to break through publishing walls. Reason number 58 begins: "Many people in the publishing business will not like me saying this, but I think submitting a short bit of your writing directly to a published author is an effective way to gain access to agents. Clients who refer writers to their
agents feel good nurturing new talent; if it works out, they have done the agent a favor."

(A key phrase is "short bit.") I came to this belief by hearing from several authors that they were helped in some way by an already published author and were willing to help others in the same manner.

I believe an author who has been through the publishing grinder has an embedded empathy or sympathy for writers starting out and may not be as jaded as most agents and editors. I've received referrals from authors I've worked with and taken them more seriously than over the transom submissions and I would much rather have heard an author tell me that someone submitted something to him/her and they liked it than hear that the writer being passed along is his/her brother-in-law.

That said, I warn against invading an author's privacy and selecting authors who are brand name bestsellers and those who are busy on tour. An author who is uninterested is under no obligation to respond in any way and their silence should not be held against them. A writer should not ask for specific advice on their writing or a manuscript critique. Any correspondence is just a no obligation invitation to read something.

I should add a few things. The advice only holds true if you know the author's work well and think he would enjoy a piece of yours. If the writing is not good enough, then you've just wasted everyone's time. Any "tricks" like these are long shots, and while I've seen it work, I've seen it fail many, many more times. Best to stick to working on the page.

What day and time should everyone meet in Times Square? MS: oh darn, you weren't there at3pm today?

Thanks for all the kind words about my book,

Pat Walsh

Laura Lippman

I can't believe I've never mentioned Laura Lippman when talking about wonderful writers you should read. LL gets better with every book and she's at her absolute fabulous best these days. I sauntered over the the Mercantile Library to stock up on books for the subway strike and picked up By A Spider's Thread.

If you write mysteries, you should study this book closely. Her characters are compelling, she uses detail to reveal character (show not tell) and she writes so cleanly it's like drinking from a Rocky Mountain stream.

One thing I noticed is that one of her police characters says of another "she's good police". Not "she's a good cop, she's a good officer, she's a good policewoman" but "she's good police". The ONLY other place I've seen that construction is The Wire, the HBO series set in..you got it...Baltimore.

Add it to your reading list. If you don't love her work, you need a tune up to get your synapses firing properly again.

Miss Snark, amanuensis

Non-responses frost me. I've published a fair number of short stories/poems/articles and nearly 250 of my subs were finally written off as "no response" rejections. Whether submitting by email or including a SASE, I find the practice quite distressing since I'm losing time when the manuscript could be subbed elsewhere.One editor, who has never responded to my subs, put me on her list and sends me updates on her family medical problems. Excuse me?

Please tell me you're kidding.
You're not?
Ok, that's just gross.

I hope you've emailed back with a note along the lines of:

"I think you may have put me on your personal email list in error. I am a writer who queried you in your professional capacity as an editor.

My wife writes for the National Enquirer and shares my computer so I wanted to let you know the personal medical details you revealed in your last email-- your husband's erectile difficulties, your mother's sex change surgery, your own harrowing story of cranial rectal surgery-- have piqued her interest for a story.

I know you don't care for email contact since you didn't return my emails so I've given my wife your home address and private telephone number. Of course, please feel free to write her directly using any of the 65 SASEs I've sent you. Very sincerely yours, "

And don't call me Shirley

I am a man with what most people consider a woman's name. In the future I will submit a novel manuscript in the mystery/thriller/suspense category.

On behalf of all the male Kims, Shirleys and Carols out there, what is your advice on how to deal with possible confusion in the query process?
In the query letter, should I:
1) State my gender?

2) Say that I would be open to using a pseudonym?

3) Suggest a particular pseudonym?

4) Do nothing?

You should change your name to Killer Yapp. Or James Patterson. Both have well established tough guy credentials.

In your query letter sign your name: (Mr) GenderNeutral Name, Last name

You don't need to suggest a pseudonym.
No one is going to reject your work cause they don't like your name.
If the marketing department thinks you need to be renamed Howitzer Crude, they'll let you know. You and Vin Diesel can do joint appearances.

Online submission forms

The Levine Greenberg agency has an extensive and intricate on-line submission setup (which I intend to use in January), which is for both fiction and nonfiction. At the end of the query/questionnaire, there is a place to upload files of up to 50 pages. In my opinion, it looks thorough and efficient, and since it's a web site, not an individual e-mail address, it gives the agency a buffer of sorts.

What does Miss Snark think of this set-up?

Jim Levine is a great agent, a darn fine author, and a nice man. I have nothing but respect for him so if LG had determined this is how to handle their slush pile, hunky dory.

What troubles me is they are on the "we only respond to what we want to see". I'm sure they get a lot more mail than I do; they've been established longer and they do big non fiction books that I don't touch. I may not have perspective on the size of their slush pile, but I just hate to see queries unanswered.

The reason I don't like this is cause it's rude. My colleagues and I go round and round on this. Those that practice the "affirmative only" say it's like not answering telephone calls from phone solicitors. I say it's not responding to people who have a legitimate reason for calling your business.

The form does seem to remove the bite back possibilities in two ways: it's not an email, and they don't write to say "no". They only write to say "yes".

All in all though, you'd be well represented by LG if they say yes. Go for it.

Deal me in

Hi Miss Snark! I'm starting to assemble a list of agents to query. Sometimes I run across an agent that sounds good (eg I see their name in an interview, they have a website, are a member of AAR).

But when I run their name thru the deals database on Publisher's Marketplace no deals appear, or only one or two. Does this mean that they haven't sold anything, or that they don't send deals info to Publishers Marketplace? How many deals per year does a good solid agent make?

Lots of deals don't get reported in Publishers Marketplace. Lots of agents don't have PM memberships or websites either.

PM is ONE way to see what an agent is doing but it doesn't always provide a complete picture.

Some agents make a hundred deals a year, some make ten. If an agent has only two clients, they might not make any. Make no mistake about it, some very good agents only have two clients cause both are very very big name authors with lots of rights sales.

Cross reference the agents' author list with listings on Amazon. Amazon is probably the most complete list of consumer retail trade books in the world. I've never bought a book from them but I use it alllll the time.


Yes, this is THE stupidest thing I've heard all damn day

Do you think it's beneficial to write to published authors about one's unpublished novel--sending sample pages/asking for feedback? A recent book on getting published suggested this approach as opposed to querying agents cold.

I think this is the stupidest damn thing I've heard all day--and that's saying something cause today the papers are full of the upcoming subway strike.

Why anyone would think this is a good idea is beyond me. Do they think published novelists moonlight as editors? Or that perhaps published authors consider offering feedback a light novelty, a break from more onerous tasks like...writing, having wild passionate sex or reading Miss Snark's blog?

It's wretched enough when people you're connected to ask you for favors. Total strangers asking is beyond the pale.

Don't do it.

What nitwit advised this anyway?

I guess you're worth it

I'm curious to know how you and other agents decide how much a manuscript might be worth in dollars. Do you have a figure in mind before you send out a submission? If so, how do you make that determination?

I read Publishers Weekly and get the Lunch Weekly from Publishers Lunch, and there are some published writers in my circle who give me a rough idea of how much their books have sold for. But it's hard for me to grasp how you know when to tell an editor they're not offering enough on a book.

Why do some debut literary novels go for six figures and others of a similar ilk go for $10,000 and it's the same publishing house?

Is it all a guessing game for agents?
(short answer: yes)

Thank you for the real education through your blog. One day I bet you'll sell a best-of collection of your postings as a book. And I hope you get the six figures you deserve!

The six figures Miss Snark wants are an action figure of Mr Clooney and his right hand in marriage.

I have a ballpark idea of what I want for things. It's easy to figure cause it's based on how many copies you think the thing will sell. Advances are functions of royalties, and royalties are based on sales.

I make them offer first. Then I run some math for them and show they are lowballing us.
Then we negotiate.
Then we mudwrestle.
Then we ok a deal memo.

Snarky editors

How kind are editors when passing on a submission? Are some more scathing than others? More to the point, have you ever sold a manuscript after one editor has written (with no particular effort at kindness) that he/she thought it was just plain lousy?

Editors can be as tired, burned out and snarky as anyone else. Generally however they reserve scathing commentary for cocktail parties and emails to Jossip.com and Gawker.com, cause they have to deal with us on an ongoing basis.

More likely is that I'll hear "we can't sell this worth spit" and then turn around and sell it to someone who thinks they not only can, they will sell it right off the cuspidorian floor.

Nitwit of the Day-once removed

From the comments section surfaces this gem:

Mark Terry at This Writing Life has an interesting blog entry on synopses today with samples. A writer sent an e-query to Terry's agent to Terry's e-address hoping, apparently, that Terry would forward it on. (How weird is that?)

He didn't. He e-mailed it back and posted the e-mail and a critique of the synopsis on his blog.I don't know which Ms Kraas at Kraas Literary Agency is Mark Terry's agent, but neither accepts e-queries and a note at the Kraas Literary Agency Web site clearly states, "The agency will not be accepting submissions from Thanksgiving 2005 until January 2, 2006."

I'm not quite sure what the unnamed writer was hoping to accomplish, but I'm sure s/he wasn't expecting a public critique.

Well ya, it's VERY weird. Also stupid.

Add to list of "didn't think it needed to be said": when you are sending queries, confine your queries to actual agents.

Coolest thing since cupcakes

One of the devotion of Snarklings offers up this enticing morsel for Miss Snark's delicate maw

Fantasy writer Lawrence Watt-Evans releases new novel on web in installment plan .
Read the page to see how he did it and why.

I think this is the coolest idea since cupcakes. This is a great way to bypass the ever increasing sales requirement at big publishers AND bypass the problems of self publishing in paper.

His analogy of a street musician is quite apt for us New Yorkers. If you suck, you starve. If you really suck of course, people pay you to stop playing.

I'd be very interested to see if this system works for lesser-established writers and how soon some nitwit is going to demand an accountant review the books.

Thanks HC, this was great.

Enticing? Think again

Makes sense.If I sent you something saying her read my blog tho for example in the comments would you?Paper would just be you know, an extra step farther away from it.www.thelewdangel.com

Let's see.
Two misspelled words;
No punctuation to speak of;
and, "lewd angel" for a url.

What do YOU think?

Un words?

Can we please nominate the word 'motorcade' as un-word of 2005? I shudder every time I hear it.

Hey, "motorcade" is in my dictionary...what's wrong with it?

But then again "crapometer" "snarkolicious" and "nitwittery" are too.

Why Miss Snark does not take E queries

Though I can see Miss Snark's point most of the time, the reluctance to consider e-queries is one thing I just don't get. To me, it sounds like someone saying they would only consider a letter written with quill and inkwell after the typewriter was invented, or who kept their coach and horses a while after noisy, intrusive, new-fangled engine-driven vehicles were available. I totally understand why you wouldn't want something written as informally e-jokey as most emails are, but if it's a nice-written appropriately formal e-letter - why e-not?

I recently had drinks with a colleague who does take e-queries. I asked how many she got a day. Answer: 50. Amount of time spent reading each one: 3 seconds or less. Auto form rejection sent to 49/50.

I don't know about other agents, but if you send me a letter, I'll read it, AND the sample pages. Elapsed time: longer than 3 seconds I assure you.

Also, I need to see your writing. Your query letter/cover letter is not how I evaluate whether I want to read something. If you send an e-query, you'll have to send pages, or I'll just have to email you and say "send pages" to everyone.

And email format is NOT NOT NOT the same as page format.
Look at this post.

Three line paragraphs. Short staccato sentences. Lot's of white space. It's more like a power point presentation than a paragraph.

I do this for a reason: it's easier to read on the screen. Reading big blocks of text on a screen is harder than reading it on the page, particularly if you're just trying to get a sense of whether it's what you're looking for.

And email programs don't always send material in the same form or font you wrote it in. About half the mail Miss Snark gets here on this blog have to have the font size increased. Lots of others have weird ass hieroglyphics cause you used a font the Snarkomputer doesn't consider worthy of recognizing.

And of course, there are the nitwits who poison the well:
the ones who don't take no for an answer and want to engage in dialogue
the ones who write back very very angry letters with threats.

Email makes it easy to respond quickly. That's not such a good thing from my perspective on this slush pile.

Lots of agents take e-queries. If you think Miss Snark is behind the times, so be it. Don't query her.

Perception Smerception

I heard from the amorphous, anonymous "they" that publishers and agents think less of you if you ask they recycle the manuscript and only send a #10 SASE. Something about not caring enough about your own work to want the 'script back; consequently, why should they care about it? This alleged advice could be pre-home laserjet paper by the ream at Costco's, or it could be crazy yak droppings, so I turn to you, Miss Snark: is there the slightest shred of truth to this?

Wait, I'm supposed to think about you?
Trust me, I don't think about you as a person at all; not one little bit.
You are the sum total of your font and paper choice.
I read the query. I respond.
If you include anything other than a #10 SASE in your query I hiss "nitwit"; Killer Yapp barks and the caravan rolls on.
I couldn't tell you one single name of a person who's queried me if I haven't asked for a partial or full ms from them.

Now, if you send me a partial or full and you include a BF envelope to send it back, then I do think about you--I think you ARE a nitwit, cause the letter I sent asking for this stuff says "#10 only".

As for editors, if you're sending u
nsolicited manuscripts to them, stop.
If you're sending solicited manuscripts, you can call and ask. Most places now will give you directions on their web site.
Editors care about good writing, and sales potential. And shoes.

Call Before Midnight Tonight!

A Snarkling forwards some interesting mail:

Subject: FREE HOLIDAY WRITING CONTEST--We will publish the winning book for free!

There is NO COST to enter this contest.

We are publishing the winning Holiday Book FOR FREE.


At Airleaf we are already thinking about the 2006 Holiday Season! (Bookstores start buying in June.) There is a great deal of demand and we need more Holiday books to sell.

Is your book the next "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"? Submissions can be sent in any format including a paper manuscript. They must be less than 20,000 words to be considered. Each entry will receive a free review. We will publish and sell the winning Holiday Book for free!

The deadline to enter is Tuesday February 28, 2006 Good luck to everyone!

wow, what a great free offer.
Except of course, if someone offers to do something for you free, they have to be making money in another way.

These people make money offering you "author services".
Once you send in your manuscript, they have your name, address, phone number and email.
Trust me, you'll hear from them, even if you didn't "win".

This is like filling out the card at the diner entering a drawing to win a "free family portrait" from the photography place at the mall. Yes, you might win but what you're really doing is building the company's solicitation list.

It's a cold cruel world out there and "Free Offer" usually means "hidden agenda".

Synopsis: When you have a weird weird format

I was watching an episode of Sex and the City last night, when Carrie's ex-editor came out of a liquor store with an enormous bottle of gin, pissed about a publisher dropping a talented author, and couldn't help but think of you. ;-)

Well, to the issue in question: my novel is not in linear format. Quite a good bit is told in flashback via dialogue, dreams or... well, flashback.(Hell, one entire chapter is a child telling a story to a dying man) Should the synopsis be written in a straight format, or flow in the same manner as the book?

I'm just going to take a big fat guess here and theorize that your novel is not plot driven. You'll thus need to be as creative in your synopsis as you are with the novel. You may want to use short paragraphs for each major character and the journey they go on. You'll need a start point and an end point for the synopsis that covers the plot but it can come in the paragraphs about the characters.

A synopsis is a tool. You may need to run it through the forge to temper it for your specific task, but there's no rule against that. You DO need to preface the synopsis with an explanation of how you've altered the usual format or you're going to get people scratching their heads and thinking you don't have clue one.

So, Why Isn't Everyone Doing It?

Speaking of self-publishing and POD, how come big-name writers don't do it? They could keep the profit, book stores would stock them and people would flock to it. Imagine the next Harry Potter or Stephen King as a POD ... sure, the publishing advances for them are high but surely keeping a lot higher percentage of the royalties would be better.

Good question.

The Way it Never Was

"I was on my Grandma's carpet on my tummy with my chin resting in my little hands watching TV. I watched JFK and his lovely wife in a motorcar procession. I watched in horror as the smiling man was shot. "

There's an interesting phenomenon here. People "remember" things that never happened. For instance, there's no way you could watch the assassination of JFK on television as it happened. There was no live feed TV. Collectively we remember it happening or remember seeing it happen cause we've seen it over and over on television.

Jack Ruby was shot live on television, but the cameras were in one place, stationery and plugged in to electricity. (egad, Miss Snark IS Nitwit of the day AGAIN...it was of course Lee Harvey Oswald who was shot, Jack Ruby the shooter..Miss Snark heads for the medicinal gin)

The photos we remember most from the motorcade are those from the still photographers, and if you run them in sequence they look like a movie. We've also seen the Zapruder movie but of course, that wasn't aired live on television at the time either.

Facts are tricky things and once the "docudrama" folks get images involved, what we "remember" is often times what the director didn't leave on the cutting room floor.


Other Voices, Other Agents

I do tend to make comments on mss., minimally proofreading corrections -- I can't help myself -- IF I think the ms. has some potential, even if I'm not going to take it on. And I do return full manuscripts, even though it means shlepping to the PO (sometimes it takes me a week to get there, but I get there eventually).

Well Miss Snark is glad there are some nicer agents in this cold cruel world.
She will never be one of them of course.

An example of fresh commentary

I turned on PBS for my kids on Tuesday, September 11 and got myself a cup of coffee. My husband ran back inside after starting his car and said, 'Turn on the TV, something's happening at the World Trade Center.' I left the kids to teletubbies in one room and turned on the TV in the other. We're a few hours behind New York and it took a long time for me to understand that a plane had crashed into the first tower.

I thought, 'What a fluke. What an awful flukey accident.' Then I saw the second plane approach. Dummy me. Yep, that's the defining moment.

And thank God for Public Television. They kept Mr. Rogers and Arthur and Teletubbies and Zaboomafoo and Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street on all day - their normal programming - so the kids could watch something safe while their mother fell apart in the next room.

It's that last detail...the PBS programming...that makes this compelling. Since I have no children, it never crossed my mind kids would need something safe to watch. If this was part of a writing sample it would strike me as a fresh take on something I'd heard already.

Since it happened to you, you don't have to imagine it of course, but if you are writing, the next layer after"what happens" is often where you find the things that makes your work fresh.

Nitwit of the Day...before noon yet!

How the heck do you find out who agented what? After all, I don't think I've seen the agent's name written on the copyright page, correct me if I'm wrong.

You just have to look very very hard. It's in teeny tiny letters in the upper left hand side. It says "all evidence to the contrary this book really IS the property of Dewey Cheatham and Howe Literary Agency".

See this whole blog is really just a way to lull you into thinking agents represent you. In fact, we want to own you, copyright your work and make millions so we can retire to the South of France and loll on sandy beaches toasting each other about our successes.

I mean, why settle for the acknowledgments page when you can copyright the whole damn thing if you're smart.

International postage

sh*t, sh*t, sh*t. Yes, the airmail rates are going up. And I just had someone send me 50 bucks worth of 8o cent stamps from USA. This is SO annoying. Miss Snark, will agents who don't take email queries ANSWER via email instead of an SASE?

It's possible. I do it sometimes myself, and you know how I loathe e-queries. If I'm interested in something from overseas, I ask for it all on email just cause the package is so expensive to send if you don't want it in the hold of a ship for three months.

You might also look for agents who take e-queries.


The Fog of War

Last year, a documentary by Errol Morris called The Fog of War, received an Oscar for Best Documentary.

It's an interview with Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968. The movie talks about both World War 2 and VietNam.

What made me think of this movie was our discussion about November 22, 1963.
McNamara talked about that day. His sentences get short, he's clearly emotional. He almost breaks down when he talks about walking the acreage at Arlington to pick the President's gravesite, and how he picked the most beautiful place he could find.

This man was Secretary of Defense when 50,000 Americans died in VietNam and during the bombing campaign that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. It's clear he regrets this, but only the death of JFK that, even 40 years later, moves him to tears.

For people of a certain age, it's the death of FDR. For others, the explosion of the Challenger.

What's the no-need-to-explain iconic moment for you?

Manuscript notes on the page

Miss Snark,

I have heard that The Very Lucky will receive comments on their manuscript, even if it's rejected (OK, not THAT lucky!). Do editors ever scribble their notes right on the ms? And therefore... am I risking NOT getting their precious (illegible) words of wisdom by choosing to not having the ms returned? Or does this so seldom happen that it doesn't matter?

I've never gotten a ms back with notes ON the ms. I always get editorial letters. I send individual pages back sometimes if I'm working with a client or close-to-being a client. I really really really avoid sending 16plus ounce packages cause standing in line is a frigging waste of time.

Other people may have different experiences but all experiences before 2002 and the postal reg change are not applicable now.

Postage increase on 1/8/6

Jan. 8, the cost of stamps goes up to 39 cents. What does an agent do come January, when she gets to her piles of queries after spoiling herself on ginned up eggnog...maybe she hasn't gotten to reading some queries from as far back as, uh, November? December? And the SASE has only 37 cents? Do you add a two-cent stamp? Do you toss it to Killer Yapp for dessert? And if you cut people a break, how long do you do it? One month?

Postage increases chap my saddle.

I invest in penny stamps, usually about a hundred. I'll spot you the two cents for about ten days which is my query turn around time. After that, I throw them in the mailbox and let you pay on your end, cause yanno, the increase wasn't exactly embargoed news till 1/8/6.

What REALLy annoys me are the people who put MY address on the return portion of the envelope rather than their own. This means if there is a problem with the mail it comes back to me instead of you. I usually cover it with a sticker that says "wise up bucko". I know people do this so they can keep track of who is responding but a better way is to write something on the back of the envelope.

If you're sending out query letters, use the new rate on your SASE starting 1/1/6. Do it cause you're a pro.

Here's the link to the post office rate sheet for more info.

Nitwit of the Day gets a friend

Love your blog Miss Snark. Do you take submissions at this email address? Don't hit me for asking.

As soon as you can answer the basic question about Miss Snark, have at it.

What have you sold?

ok ok, from the comments column is extracted "better wording"
What has Miss Snark sold?

(everyone's a critic today..shouldn't y'all be writing? or fondling the remote?)

What, you mean you don't know? Why on earth would you submit to an agent you know nothing about? I hope your writing is clearer than your thinking today.

Nitwit of the Day

While it's true that it might cost less or at least not more to allow for recycling the ms., I guess I'm still a little paranoid about having other people dispose of a full manuscript.

I'll have to see if it's safe and reasonable to have agents and editors dispose of the ms.

Ok, let's have a tiny little break for reality here.

First, when you hear about people prowling through the trash for "things of value" I assure you that your manuscript isn't even in their Top 100 list. They are looking first and foremost for SSNs, bank account info and proprietary info.

And just exactly how do you plan to find out if it's safe for agents and editors to discard your ms? A little quiz included with your query? A surveillance team sent to watch?

Do you honest to god think anyone is going to steal your DISCARDED manuscript from the trash? Honey, if they want to steal something, they want to steal something we LIKED, not something we rejected.

People who paw through the garbage for souvenirs want them from famous people. And even then, those people are collectors (disturbed collectors but collectors) not writers looking to pass off your august tome as their own.

Get over yourself.

Wanna date?

"1066 conveys it all to an educated person. Same with "November 22, 1963".

I'm an educated person, but that date meant nothing to me. I had to google it to discover it was the dark day in history that both C.S Lewis Aldous Huxley died. (Oh - and some American politician too.)

I know this may be heretical to many, but you can be educated without knowing the exact dates of every assassination across the world in the last 80 years. (Or perhaps the idea is that educated people would know exact dates in American history but be ignorant of the rest of the world?)C'mon - admit it. How many of the following dates would instantly 'convey all' to you:
* May 10, 1838 MS: John Wilkes Booth is born
* August 21, 1983 MS: Benigno Aquino is killed in Manila
* June 1, 2001 MS: King Berenda is killed in Nepal
* May 21, 2002 MS: Abdul Ghani Lone killed in Kashmir

All of those were political assasinations which 'rocked the world' (at least as much as Kennedy's), but I suspect that without googling, most would be unrecognisable. Why should these dates be any less recognisable to an educated person than 22nd November 1963 ?Besides, if only educated people can enjoy the book, aren't you limiting sales a bit !?

This is not home Jeopardy.. This isn't even a contest, pissing or otherwise. The CONTEXT of the comment was on a SYNOPSIS you don't have to explain 1066 or 11/22/63 in lurid detail.

Overexplaining the obvious is a huge flaw in many starting out writers, and in synopses, it eats words. In case I do need to overexplain myself: some things are self explanatory.

Miss Snark is Not Amused

Dear Miss Snark
I'm hesitant about submitting my new novel for publication because I do not want to see it remaindered. There are so many great works of literature in my local bookstore, all at knock down prices (my God, you can even get The Bible for a couple of bucks) and I don't want the same to happen to my magnum opus. I have a large opus. My question is, how can I be assured that my genius will run and run?

This is a joke, right?
If by some horrid chance it's not, please turn in your thesaurus, dictionary, and computer at the door and return to civilian life.

Where's Your Headshot Miss Snark, you ask


(courtesey of the inestimable Kitty)

Miss Snark Hangs Her Head in Shame

Ok, it was the lack of coffee, ok?
Or, that it's a Sunday, and Miss Snark revelled on Saturday and proof positive she had a good time is that she's a NITWIT on Sunday.

I accidently deleted all the good comments, and then in a fit of insanity, published the spam ones just now.

If you commented between 10pm or so, and now, it's probably not there. Please resubmit.

Miss Snark places her own lovely headshot in the nitwit of the day gallery, and turns the blog over to Killer Yapp who appears to have more common sense right now than she does.

KY here: PLUS she forgot to let the doorman give me a biscuit. She needs therapy. And a leash.