Body wanted

Some of you have emailed or posted comments about how to "get started" as either an agent or n the publishing world. Internning is a great way; Mr. Beller needs one.

Lifted from the GalleyCats , here's the link to Mr. Beller's Neighborhood.


E v P query; P being postal of course

If an agent takes both email and written queries and doesn't specify a preference, would a five to ten second call to find out their preference be appropriate? I fear encountering a situation like you mentioned earlier in which an agent listed that they took e-queries, but didn't actually read them.

Please please please do not call to ask this.
Send an e-query.
If you don't hear back, send a written query unless the agent says they only read e-queries.
There is no such thing as a five second phone call.
I've gotten these calls. Almost inevitably the author is so nervous they sound like a junior high boy asking a girl to the dance OR , worse, emboldened by actualy getting Miss Snark upon the blower, they PITCH.

I fly solo which means I answer my own phone. I let you ring to voice mail if I know you're not on my call list today (ie your area code is Winnemuca). The ones that really chap my chatanooga choo choo are the ones that come in as "private caller" and I answer thinking it might be Mr Clooney. Or Grandmother Snark. Or the gin delivery truck driver needing bail money. And worse upon worse is when I've put someone else on hold to answer this and then you pitch. You're unhappy when I cut you off. I'm unhappy. My other caller is unhappy. This is not the start of something good.

I know this can seem like some sort of Byzantine world of nonsensical rules and crazy agents who don't want to talk to the very people who provide the work they sell. Pause for a moment and consider it only takes 1/10 of my queriers in any given week to add up to a lot of phone calls. We do this not cause we want to make it difficult for you but because we want to spend our time doing what you REALLY want us to be good at: selling stuff.

If worse comes to absolute worst, you can email to ask which is better. At least then Mr Clooney won't get a busy signal when he calls.

Humor in Query Letters

Not that I have such a book, but I'm curious: Is jest allowed in a humorous work's query letter, or will it always be taken seriously (and thus interpreted as a sign of a delusional author)? I've seen people labeled as nitwits on the blog for making statements in query letters that I thought were meant as faux pretentiousness for satirical reasons. What if it's over the top? For example, would something like the following be taken seriously:

ATTACK OF THE FIFTY FOOT POODLE has received glowing endorsements. Dave Barry said, "We're sorry, we're not home right now. If you would please leave your name and number, we'll call back as soon as possible."

John Cleese said, "Who
are you, and why do you keep calling me?"

Terry Pratchett said, "Beep! Beep!

(little note at end: "Certified 100% real jest by the USJA.")

Humor is very very difficult to do well in a query letter. However, your example above would work because of the Dave Barry thing. Clearly that's a joke. Even the normally sober sided and humor impaired Miss Snark recognizes that.

In the Snarkives is a post about humorous queries. A writer sent me a very funny parody of a query. I posted it next to an actual query. It was pretty hard to tell the difference. In fact the parody writer didn't know that I got the joke and was a bit taken aback (or so he said on his blog).

Sardonic and sarcastic and deadpan humor are the hardest to convey. I know this first hand from the blog. I'd advise letting your pages convey the humor and playing it straight in the query.

Miss Snark Considers the Mail Bag

ah yes, the mail. Today's trophies include:

1. box of cookies. Ok, yum. Wait. Too bad it's a good query letter cause now what happens if I ask for more. Is a box of cookies rolling through the door every time we have communication? What will she expect same from me? Decision: not quite right.

2. Plush toy bear. Nice. Wait. What the fuck am I going to do with this? It will be just my luck that Killer Yapp will eat the eyes, and choke to death. Or worse, some maurading author will do the same. Decision: not quite right

3. Lovely flower vase and flowers. Oh too bad, it tipped over on my carpet and created a wet spot the size of Lake Louise. Right on the day we have people coming in for a visit. "Hi, welcome, no that isn't from the dog". Decision: no, not quite right for me, and Killer Yapp wants a piece of your ass.

Bottom line: leave the bribes for the guys at Page Six. All you do is ruin any chance you have for serious consideration. Bribes work against you. Good writing works in your favor. Get it?

Film rights

Hi Miss Snark!

I've just been offered a contract with an RWA-recognized publisher (a small one, but still...) Very exciting.

The contract asks for movie rights. I know the chances of my book becoming a movie are pretty much nil. Believe me, I haven't ever even thought of the book becoming a movie, never dreamed about it, nothing. I write books, not movies.

But it strikes me as strange that they want those rights. Is it? Is this something I should be concerned with?

My other publisher is tiny tiny, and there was no mention of movie rights in those contracts.

Actually it's strange the other tiny tiny publisher doesn't mention them, cause even if you don't give them the rights, you want to mention the author retains them and what the split is.

I don't give movie rights to publishers. They aren't movie producers or deal makers. We share the proceeds with the publisher if the book gets optioned but the rights remain with the author. Usually you work with a film agent directly for this kind of stuff.

My guess is the publisher just lifted the contract verbatim out of an example book someplace and no one ever objected before. (Probably cause they didn't know).

Just give them a buzz and say you want to amend the contract to retain control of the film rights. Don't offer a split up front. You're not in the business of fixing their mistakes.

If they say they insist on keeping film rights, ask who their film agent is. If they hem and haw, or don't have one, they can't exploit the rights and you're going to be sitting in the cineplex watching someone else's book on the screen.

Not in the 212? Well, here's something fun in the 202

Library of Congress Panel Discussion on April 24: "Deft, Daring and =
Delightful: Mystery Writers Discuss Their Craft"

Five popular mystery writers, Jo Dereske, Carolyn G. Hart, Katherine Hall Page, Patricia Sprinkle, and Jacqueline Winspear, will participate in a panel discussion at the Library of Congress at noon on Monday, April 24, 2006, in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C.

The presentation will be the eighth annual Judith Austin Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Library's Humanities and Social Sciences Division, and is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required. A book signing will follow the presentation.

For more detailed information, the LOC site here has more details

Words Fail Miss Snark

Miss Snark deletes all e-queries unread. Thus, she is deeply chagrined to find she Missed Her Big Chance! Forwarded from a colleague comes this enticement:

You are too busy to consider this novel. Never mind that it is the first in a series of loosely connected titles destined to spawn a cavalcade of big-screen adaptations; you are simply too busy. You don't have time to consider this project.

Your lists are already full. The market place is clogged as is and can scarcely hold another title anyway, regardless of how good the work is. Save yourself the time and effort, don't bother asking to read this novel. It will only upset you. The prose is good but a lot of good prose gets ignored every year and you're not sure you will be able to save this piece from the same fate. You're not sure if you possess the necessary skill.

Don't get angry with yourself. It's all right. It's OK. Not everybody was meant to be a superstar in the literary world. Don't get down on yourself because you can't sell my book. Look at the bright side; you haven't asked to read the manuscript yet so failure remains that far away.


Bat Segundo survives the soup!

The latest installment of The Bat Segundo Show, a literary podcast featuring interviews with today's contemporary writers, is now up.

This week, our Young, Roving Correspondent talks with Erica Jong, while Mr. Segundo reveals the winner of the Fish Philosophical Contest and reads many of the entries that were sent in.

Show #30 runs 48 minutes and 8 seconds long and features Erica Jong, author of Seducing the Demon.

The main Segundo site can be found here:

Here are the details for this week's show.

Author: Erica Jong

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Taking care of fish-related housekeeping.

Winner of Philosophical Contest: John Barlow

Subjects Discussed: Maintaining a conversational and confessional tone, finding a voice, being known for Isadora Wing vs. poetry, Pablo Neruda, the current status of poetry, on sleeping with Martha Stewart’s husband, personal mistakes, why Jong wrote about Andy Stewart, sexism in the publishing industry, Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code, Opus Dei, reader misconceptions of Fear of Flying, the chick lit ghetto, Jennifer Weiner, Molly Jong-Fast, on the lack of serious reviews of women’s fiction, the 1970s publishing environment vs. the 2000s publishing environment, the gender gap in literary fiction and the Canadian loophole, Mary Gaitskill, Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx, Kelly Link, American vs. international reputation, literary trends over the years, writing Toni Morrison her first fan letter, and Erica Jong the closet linguist.

Please note that we've finally fixed the feeds and added a few bells and whistles to the Segundo site.

To subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste the following URL into your program:


To listen or to subscribe to the podcasts through Odeo, you can go here:

Please note: You do not have to have an iPod to listen the show! If you go to the main Segundo site, you can save the MP3 to your lovely machine by clicking on the bat picture.

Miss Snark taking a respite

Miss Snark is taking a brief respite from the rigors of being vertical for awhile.

And yes, if you were in SoHo tonight that was Killer Yapp shepherding Miss Snark into a taxi after a night of revelry and debauchery. The tough thing about friends from California is they just START the party at midnight..Miss Snark may not be an early riser but slinking into work at noon is pushing it.

And a special shout out to Agent Kristin who is bringing a breath of fresh Colorado air to Gotham this week. She may not be a resident but she wields that Metrocard like a pro.


Miss Snark's Eyebrows Elevate

Dear Miss Snark,

Anna Genoese recently came out against putting the RWA PRO designation in one's cover letter. In case the RWA PRO has not yet come to the attention of Miss Snarkalicious and KY, PRO is awarded when one can prove one has submitted a completed manuscript to either an agent or an editor. Achieving PRO does allow certain extra perks from RWA, such as attendance at special sessions at the annual conference and access to email loops. Should one add this publishing credential to their cover letter or does it scream "Nitwit of the Day" to any publishing maven who sees it?
Thanks again for your marvelous blog!!! I read it and learn something every day.
A devoted snarkling

What the fuck?

Calling for the Clue Gun!

Let's get this straight right away: a publishing credential means something has been published. Not submitted. Not looked at. Not ogled. Not asked for. Not even critiqued by a less snarky agent than Miss S.

This is NOT not not a publishing credential.

If you put "I've earned RWA PRO status cause I've been asked for full manuscripts by an editor or agent" my response is "so what".

What is RWA trying to do here? I'm not a member; I don't do romance; I'm clue free about the thinking behind this nitwittery. Feel free to clue me in!

I'm with Miss Genoese on this one. She's a smart cookie.

Miss Snark's 2nd Writing Competition Awards

Little did I dream that this would suck up a week of time and the attention of three formerly sane people. Four if you count Killer Yapp but he doesn't like to be demoted from poodle to person.

It was amazing to see what y'all generated with a short amount of time and a lot of imagination. There was no way to award prizes based solely on numerical scores, so those prizes (the Snarkling Choice Awards) are separate. Herewith Miss Snark's Selections:

Two special awards were called for:

Best new category: Snark Noir (8)

Best subtle joke: A Thousand Monkeys (18)

Honorable mentions go to:

Fashion Show (44)
Flying (9)
Good News (31)
Incident on 43rd Street (38)
Lady Killer (10)
Las Vegas (27)
Librarian Drill Instructor (83)
Manny (56)
Nancy Pearl Action Figure (72)
The Curse of the Terrapin (58)
Torch Song (33)
Writers Conference (47)

Cat Burglar (71)
Lady Eugenia Bunion Snark (62)
Literary Boot Camp (21)
Try Out Hitters (41)
Will of the Wisp (52)

The winner of Miss Snark's 2nd Writing Madness is:
#12 G-Query (and yes this one gets a prize!)

Snarkling Choice Awards

Y'all are getting a little testy there in the comments column. Perhaps I was not clear. The award for Favorites of the DQ, and Favorites of the Perfect are in ADDITION to Miss Snark's Selections. Not instead of. As if! (Plus as you will recall, demand for this category percolated up from the comments column so quit busting Miss Snark's chops for something that was YOUR idea--sheesh).

Herewith the winners of the First Ever Snarklings Choice Award:

Favorite Entry Disqualified for Word Count:
#62 and #105 are tied,
and #1 is so close it's a photo finish.

Favorite Entry Among those with Perfect Scores:
#52 in landslide

Miss Snark's New Favorite Phrase Award

Some great great phrases surfaced in the writing competition:

An inside joke between me and myself (65)
Books don't cook themselves, you know (12)
Chateau D'Ill Repute (48)
Honestly, how can anyone screw up cooking a turtle (48)
Hot galleycat porn (89)
I go back to 'terrapin central' aka 'the waiting game' (25)
Me mum was a good navy man (71)
This is a library..show me fierce (86)
and an honorable mention status to: Cherubim, Seraphim, Terrapin and Bunion (111)

And the winner of Miss Snark's New Favorite Phrase, joining the ranks of serial scrubber, and Rabbitania is:

Bisexual vacuum cleaner (88)

Normally of course, there is a large cash prize attached to this award but you'll just have to suck it up this time since Miss Snark is saving up for impending litigation.

Bat Segundo is Suing Miss Snark for Six Figures

Small wonder given the incredible things that have been said about poor ol Bat in the last week!

He's joined the circus (108) been banned on 17 worlds (4) is a bunion remedy (1), a cabana boy supremo (47) a circus clown (94) a crime fighter (15) a dog (40) a drill team (50), head of the English Department (13), a hostile mammal who eats cats (45) literary boot camp sergeant (21), soup ingredients --twice! (80, 95), teen heart throb (99), trapeze artist --also twice! (9, 84), a walking stick (90), a tagger (109) and ..most actionable..a cage fighter (29).

Of all these (and there are many other very clever entries as well) the Prize for Most Horrifying Use of Bat Segundo's Good Name is Awarded to:

#54 for Spawn of Snark

Normally of course a large cash prize comes with the award, but Miss Snark is saving up to bribe the judge and jury.