Miss Snark Rips out her Hair and Sets it on Fire

Pursuant to Miss Snark's post on "contributing to strategy" comes this from the comment column.

As long as the writer knows this, then there shouldn't be an issue. It's a style thing, a matter of fit. Are you open to suggestions, if a writer has an editor they'd love to have it sent to? Or is that off-limits completely.I know I'd want an agent that I could ask about editors, offer suggestions and just discuss strategy, so it's good to know that's something I should be upfront about before signing on.:)

Oh yes, the infamous "I want you to send this to Carrie Ferron". Yes, she's Laura Lippman's editor. Yes she's cool and groovy. Do you know what she bought last week? Do you know what she bought last month? Do you know, most important, what she didn't? Of course you don't...YOU'RE NOT AN AGENT.

Clients get these dream editors list from Publishers Weekly or acknowledgement sections of books and then get all snarly when you say things like "this editor doesn't like serial killers"; "that editor doesn't like dismemberments"; or "s/he has to sell 40,000 in hardcover and this isn't going to do that." Even if you say that, the next response is "but can't you just send it to her/him/it and see what the response is".

Unless you are living breathing working agent "offering suggestions" is akin to sitting on Santa's lap and telling her what you want. Even if you're published. Even if you think you know a lot.

As you can see, this stuff drives me up a wall. YES, this only a matter of style. If you want to offer suggestions, and discuss strategy, ask before you sign. You'll be extremely unhappy here, but not as unhappy as I am, and that's a VERY bad thing for both of us. You worked hard on your project, find an agent you're comfy with. Miss Snark is VERY prickly, and abrasive. You can live with that...or not.


Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, I'm almost afraid to read this post - the thought of you in a bad mood? Nerve-wracking.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Um, when did Santa get the gender change? ;)

Unknown said...

Miss Snark, I have just discovered this blog, and while I am trying not to be a nitwit, it seems inevitable.

If I would like to ask you a question, should I just ask it in the comment box?

Miss Snark said...

If you want to make sure I see it, it's ok to email questions to me. Just not queries, which I KNOW you would never ever do, right.

miss snark at earthlink dot net

all lower case
no spaces

McKoala said...

Prickly and abrasive = scary for me. Are you prickly and abrasive to your clients, or are you gentle with the nervous little beginners? (I'm not talking nitwits here).

Anonymous said...

It is all about style, and making sure you and your agent's styles mesh before signing that contract, as Miss Snark advises. I like that my agent asked for suggestions (maybe because she knows I like to read PM and PW). Some she thought made good additions to her list, and she had no problem telling me I was way off base on others. All via email, so no time-consuming conversations. Much as I love Miss Snark, the silence between signing with her and signing with a publisher would make me crazy.

Anonymous said...

I think that you assume that all writers/clients are dumb and know nothing about editors, publishers, and publishing. My evil grandmother told me children should be seen and not heard. It's like that's how you feel about your clients. Sign them up and tell them to shut up.

Some of your clients might have good ideas. To close yourself off from that immediately without being open to communication is poor, IMO.

Stacy said...

Authors who won't leave you alone to do your job - a particular horrible nightmare of mine.

Right now I am sitting in my office with a stomachache, and a headache trying to join the party. I am working on one book with authors who think they know a thing or two about book-making, so they throw a fit or get snippy when I try to keep it under budget. And the other book was written by my boss's husband, who doesn't like it when you mess with his work.

Oh Lord. And it's only Monday.

Miss Snark said...

Anon, honeybuns, even my professional full time writers who have years of experience don't know much about editors other than their own.

They actually prefer to focus on their writing and let their agent do the scut work.

I don't treat, or think. of my clients as children. I think of them as professionals and specialists. Amazingly enough, they seem to prefer that I do my job, and leave them free to do theirs.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I was an agent, so do have some thoughts on different editors. Your initial post and followup just made it clear that we'd never fit as agent/author. That's fine though, it's good to know that this is something to ask about up front, rather than find out after the fact.

Miss Snark said...

oh brother. You think maybe this advice just might possibly be intended for the 99.99% of those clients who are not present or former publishing professionals, let alone agents?