Millennial syntax

As a random, lurking snarkling, I thought you might be interested in this news article.

Frankly, I think I'd have to gouge my eyes out if books came written like that.

Much love and many gin pails,

You're going to need Killer Yapp for your seeing eye dog soon. Take a look (while you can) at Londonstani.

Here are the first six lines straight from the book:

---Serve him right he got his muthafuckin face fuck'd , shudn't b callin me a Paki, innit.

After spittin his words out Hardjit stopped for a second, like he expected us to write em down or someshit. Then he sticks in an exclamation mark by kickin the white kid in the face again. --Shudn't b callin us Pakis, innit, u dirrty gora.

Gen X writing style

Miss Snark:

I've seen multiple books and Internet sites reference something they call the "so-called Gen-X writer and his style." The first time I saw this was in Noah Lukeman's book The First Five Pages. He called "the so-called Gen-X" writer's style "too minimalist." I have no idea what that means. Is there something especially indentifiable (and poor) in the writing style of Gen-Xers?

I've never heard of something called a Gen-X writer's style.

Any generalization that equates the writing style of Jonathan Safran Foer, Allegra Goodman, and Stephen Elliot is nuts.

Here's a clip from the NBCC blog with more "under 40" writers. See if this generalization applies to any of the people listed there.

Bond, Just Bond

I'm a protosnarkling, having enjoyed your blog immensely, but briefly. I'm not up on the latest kowtow, so kowtow, and kudos.

I can't resist, even after emptying my second vodka pail, commenting on something that is bugging me apeshit. Re: Snarkometer #56, in which
of the first 20 words, 4 of them are spent relaying full names. I'm sorry, but if I have characters named Quinn and Amos, do I really need to know their full names right off? Is there really any danger of running into another Quinn with which to confuse me in the first in 300 words? And if so, is this not an even worse thing?

I'm saying, if Kafka can write a pretty good book where the main character's name is a single letter, does this not mean that a simple "Quinn did this" is good enough, at least for the first 20 words? Not that #56 is solely at fault, but damn near every one of them does it.

Anticipating your wisdom

Sean (surname withheld)

I've never even noticed it.

Playing with names is an interesting device in books (Spenser of course comes to mind; Bill Pronzini's works; Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier; many others I'm sure y'all will remind us about) but I certainly don't think it would be considered gimmicky to only use one in a synopsis.


1001 Books to Read Before You Die

If you write a book called 1001 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE...is that book on the list?

I'd buy it and find out but I'm too busy fending off the Grim Reaper.

(also lifted from Max)

Online writing contest

Here's info for an online writing contest that just might be worth your while.

(Lifted from Max, one of my fave guys to read)


If you're not reading Ann and Victoria's blog regularly, you're missing good information.

And I don't just mean starting out writers looking to avoid scams, but things like this about iUniverse. I've lumped all those POD places together as one big vat of bubbling sludge, but from what I read there, I was wrong (not the first time in this millenium).


New Bat Segundo Show: Colson Whitehead

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

Show #48 runs 46 minutes and 40 seconds and features novelist Colson Whitehead. Bat Segundo has returned to hosting duties, but this week, he faces the obstacle of three cheap tenors. Unrelated to any of this, a substantial chunk of our crew has a chronic case of the hiccups. They could not even be scared into clarity. The considerable postproduction work in editing out our crew's respiratory reflexes caused this week's delay. We apologize for this and we have installed an Alhambra drinking water machine at the studio's south wall.

The main Segundo site can be found here:

Here are the details for the latest show.

Author: Colson Whitehead

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Dismayed by advertising jingle trios and interruptions; more than vaguely litigious.

Subjects Discussed: Living in San Francisco, working at CNET, writing on the clock, the importance of names, Theodore Judah, microhistories, the influence of 9/11 upon Apex, metaphors, toes, writing about work, James Wood, didacticism, masculinity, the influence of pop culture, Generation X novels, Sven Birkets, whether the reader or the author has the obligation to make connections, the value of reviews, self-criticism, avoiding cliches, Altamont, compulsive writing, research, translating cultural experience into fiction, comic books, and brokering a detente with Richard Ford.

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.

Thanks again for listening,

The Bat Segundo Crew

What is an Unsolicited Submission?

I saw on Jenny Bent's website that "I am no longer accepting unsolicited submissions." Here is what may be a silly question- does this mean that she is not accepting query letters, or just that she doesn't accept partials/fulls mailed to her without first sending a query letter and her then asking for a partial? Thanks for the help

Miss Snark to Miss Bent: Yo, wassup?

Miss Bent to Miss Snark:
What it means is that I don't want people mailing me with chapters or complete manuscripts if I haven't asked for them. That would be an "unsolicited submission." However, anyone and everyone is free to send me an e-mail query. I read and respond to all my e-mail queries personally, and if I ask to see material, then it becomes a "solicited submission" and it is fine to send.

Most Awefull Novels

The recent post on Books To Read Before You Die sure set y'all on fire. It was interesting to read your comments, particularly those of you who said "hey, what about this one" and mentioned some really good books.

To that end, I'm interested in hearing your nominations for O! Most Awefull Novel of the millennia (more or less) So Far.

(remember that awefull is not awful, and for those who need further explanation, dig around in the Snarkives for the post about Amulet of the Samarkand).

You can nominate three novels. They should be relatively recent, within ten years of first publication. Novels you loved, novels that made you see the world in a new way, novels that made you give up writing for a month cause you couldn't imagine writing that well.

Here are mine:

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Motherless Brooklyn by Jon Letham

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

What are yours?

College lit publication credits

All Hail Miss Snark and her entorage of Geogre Clooneies!!! (Did you know I had to google to figure out who he was and what he acted in? Yes, yes I know I have already been dubbed Nitwit of the week.) (Miss Snark faints dead away at such a horrifying revelation)

I present to Killer Yapp, Chaser of Cats, Wearer of the Pink Tam, Answerer of the Slushpile, and The Snark's Personal Companion a doggy biscut that has aged nicely for three days under the couch, and annoint Him with water from the Holy Toilet Bowl.
(Miss Snark is starting to think that a loan request is in the offing)

I have googled for a long time to find this website, looking for someone who will give solid advice to a writer who is starting to cast about for recognition for her humble works. I have recently completed a couple short stories, and am cracking my knuckles in preparation of writing cover letters. However, I have a couple of questions about listing a few credentials which I can foresee as either being semi-impressive or hilarious from an editor or agents standpoint.

I have recently graduated from college, and have previously not been recognized for my writing abilities anywhere outside of the Happy Land of Students, where everyone absolutely knows they are Among the Best at Everything. Knowing that in advance, so you can place your beverage down carefully, here are my questions:

1) Is publication in a small circulation Literary Magazine (very small, as in a few hundred circulation, distributed only on campus, completely non-profit) something to put in a cover letter? My Dad *COUGH* said it is, but after reading your blog I'm starting to have serious doubts. (Your father's judgment in this case is clouded by his love for you--not altogether a bad thing)

2) How about *COUGH COUGH* High School awards? To be specific, I won a scholastic gold key, and was a runner up for the govener's school of writing in PA. *Cringes in anticipation to answer for this one*. (cringe is right, this one is for Mom only)

3) And (possibly the clincher to the first question) is it okay to put down in a cover letter that you were published for said literary magazine if you were one of the editors on the staff? I was not the only person on the editing staff, and I never pushed my work to go in over others. But, some editors undeniably knew me. Maybe some other professional people who read your blog have a similar question? (yes, no)

(I apologize for the coughing, I only do it when I know I'm saying something that may be considered nitwittery)
(so far, so good, here have a Fishermans Friend)

I suppose these kinds of recognition do fall under "It's better than your mom saying it's good" but do they still have weight in the Real World? This might be the point where the cute, naive college student prances out of graduation and gets hit hard with a reality stick in the form of one of Miss Snark's red stillettos. I probably need it though, so thank you beforehand.

Distilling this down to the basics what you're asking is "are college publications real credits" and the answer is maybe.

Here's how you can figure out if your college/small pub credit is something to mention. Google it. Google it exactly as you write it in your cover letter. If nothing comes up, don't include it. If the quality of what comes up is marginal, don't include it.

Putting your best foot forward sometimes means you don't tell anyone you used to wear (shudder) Birkenstocks.


Online writing exercises

Some of you might want to check out The Desk Drawer. I saw it mentioned on Word A Day and surfed over.

It's not a critique group, it's online writing exercises.

They don't charge money, you have to contribute regularly to have your work seen, and it seems pretty straightforward to me.

Now we see where Barbara Bauer finds her clients

There's been quite a bit about literary agents posting on ebay, and agents/authors on Craigslist. A very sharp eyed Snarkling found this:


Back in 1996 I wrote a book and submitted it to TWELVE publishers WITHOUT an AGENT and they almost NEVER look at work not submitted by an agent.

out of those twelve letters TWO VERY LARGE companies took note of the book and asked me to rewrite it for one of them.

The editor of HHARLEQUIN ROMANCE 'called me personally' and told met that he wanted to see ANYTHING that I wrote in the future and that this book had a bit too much soft porn in it. (love scenes) AT THAT time it was soft porn, NOW they have the BLAZE harder type graphic books out on the racks.

I got a divorce that year and it ripped up my mind and life and I have not written since.
Don't have the time or creative mind due to stress and finances currently.

This is a book about
SOULMATES and is a love story, (soulmates - ALL THE HOT RAGE today)

Back then very few really knew the word and TODAY 'EVERBODY' is seeking to find their SOULMATE !
and has adventure, mystery and other misc in it. I am NOT a trained or educated writer yet they took interest inmy stuff due to dialogue mostly I think. I would like to drag that OL' BOOK out and have someone go over it and they would onlyhave to do VERY LITTLE work on it to get it into shape for publishers again. HARCOURT BRACE & JANOVICH told me to 'REWRITE THE ENDING' so that I did not give the MYSTERY OF it away before they ending, ( very small bit of work) and resend it to them and I just never did (dumb I know) but now I am ready to work with someone who is willing to go over it and get a PERCENTAGE of the profits IF it is published. Interested ? EAMIL ME !

AGENT NEEDED ALSO ! for resubmiting.

I will send it out again when it is goneover without and agent though so EDITORS, HELP ME!

VERY EAST REDO of the end of the book and some editing. I do not have the computer disc of it so it would have to be put on CD or into computer format again by this writer editor person.

Pardon typos, as I don't have good eyes or my glasses right now ;)

SERIOUS ONLY and again PERCENTAGE OF PROFITS IF it is published. I would be looking to work with someone in the future for other projects that have been STORED in my HEAD for years now.... if we are compatible for such projects.


Also a TV SERIES like The Ghost Whisperer and MEDIUM.
PARDON typos, have very tired eyes, bad eyes and left my glasses somehwere... ;)

Let's make a DEAL !

Compensation: PERCENTAGE OF PROFITS when & if published
no -- Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
no -- Please, no phone calls about this job!
no -- Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Before you leap all over me snarling "well, you have to think outside the box these days" let me remind you that if you want to think creatively, have at it, just spell all the words right, get the names of the publishers right and understand that "graphic" means three different things in publishing terms, none of which are lurid sex.

This is the exact kind of thinking that leads people to scam artists. They "know" (quotes used correctly thank you) it's easy to get published, they just need a little help with the details.

What's truly sad about this is that Craigslist charges people money for help wanted ads (where this ad appeared). This poor soul actually coughed up dough to post this.

Books to Read Before You Die

I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird after Capote came out and there was a flurry of publicity about Harper Lee. I'd read it years ago of course, but it definately was even better the second time around.

It's the lead title on the list of Books To Read Before You Die compiled from librarians in England I think. Here's the link to the full list of 30. I'll give everyone a pass on reading the Bible cause very few people I know have read it all cover to cover, so of the remaining 29, how many have you read? (MS-10) How many had you never heard of previously? (MS-3)

I guess I'd better plan to not die soon, I've got a lot of reading to catch up on.


The Monk Stood Beside a Wheelbarrow

by Jane Hirshfield ( from After published by HarperCollins)

The monk stood beside a wheelbarrow, weeping.

God or Buddha nowhere to be seen --
these tears were fully human,
bitter, broken,
falling onto the wheelbarrow's rusty side.

They gathered at its bottom,
where the metal drank them in to make more rust.

You cannot know what you do in this life, what you have done.

The monk stood weeping.
I knew I also had a place on this hard earth.

Commission on Gift Books

Dear Miss Snark,

An agent is interested in representing my illustrated humorous gift book. However, she is asking 25% instead of the usual agently 15%, saying that this is normal for gift books. I know you do fiction, but have you heard anything like this? She is a licensing agent, really, and has only done a few books (all gift, I guess).

Miss Snark is clue free about this so she called her colleagues and threw herself upon their mercy.


Cathy Fowler at the Redwood Agency (via Kristin Nelson) says

If you have a regular agent you should just pay the 15%. No reason to pay more. There are plenty of literary agents who handle gift titles. If it is connected to some other merchandising product though then it might be best to keep all with the merch agent and pay the higher % for the book.

Jenny Bent at Trident Media:

I've never heard of a book agent doing this, however I do know that licensing agents do take a larger percentage for their work.

Ben Salmon at Rights Unlimited:

Alas, I'm afraid I can't be a major help. I have not directly represented a gift book, though I did work on one peripherally, back in the day. In that case, the standard 15% commission applied.

My gut says that 25% is not standard. It makes me uncomfortable, unless I'm missing something here. I would never even THINK to ask for more than standard commission on a gift book. It wouldn't be a shocker, either, if I took one on (I'm not opposed to them, just haven't fallen in love with one yet). Imagine someone asking you to rep a gift book featuring pictures of poodles wearing Village People outfits. You might make an exception to your no gift book policy. I feel the same way about dachshunds... (insert sound of Miss Snark having heart failure)

That said, we really are talking about the same publishers, more or less. While there are smaller houses that specialize in only gift books (just like there are houses that specialize in Haitian lesbian literary fiction), there's at least an editor or two at most of the major houses who can acquire gift books, if not an imprint dedicated to them. Maybe the editor doesn't specialize in them, but they can be done if the publisher thinks they can sell enough copies. There are also publishers who excel in gift books that we pitch regular projects to, like Sourcebooks, Adams, Workman, Running Press, Quirk Books, the now defunct Chamberlain Bros. (Penguin Group), even a freaking editor at TOR and that's just off the top of my head without even finishing my first cup of coffee this morning. Unless I was involved in the actual packaging of the project (trust me, I make a better agent than book packager anyway), I see no difference between working on and shopping around a gift book than the rest of what's on my list. If this licensing agent gal is super amazing, maybe she's worth a quarter of the gross money, but I'd be surprised if this author couldn't find an agent who'd be happy to rep a gift book for standard commission.

Down Princess, bad bad girl

Dear Miss Snark:

I was Ladies Home Journal last night (I swear, I only subscribe for "Can This Marriage Be Saved?") - when I read this interview with Fergie. As in The Duchess. She says, "Did you know I'm going to have my own radio show? Maybe on Sirius. And my own TV show! And I've just signed a deal with St. Martins Press to write a historical novel - the next Gone with the Wind. I sold it without one chapter written! It's all in my head. My heroine is Lady Margaret, with red hair, and it takes place in the south of Ireland in 1759. I am Lady Margaret at the end of the day. It will be Pride and Prejudice meets 24!"

Should I just start calling myself Princess April?

Well, if Nicole Ritchie can have a book, why not Her Royal Gelatin too. Actually I'm quite in favor of this cause yanno (tm/pp) someone will need to actually WRITE the damn thing and one of my colleagues specializes in ghost writers (not the suspense kind) so who knows, maybe she'll get a deal out of this.

And no, you can't do that Princess April because I've read your books and I like them a lot and if you stop writing them yourself I'm going to square off with you, circle you like a yapping poodle and pummel you write back to your writing desk.

Why You Should Read a Poem

Dear Miss Snark,

It's so funny that you brought up Emily Dickinson. My sister emailed me Friday morning, commenting that on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" show, they had claimed that ALL of Dickinson's poems could be sung to the tune of "Yellow Rose of Texas."

A little bit indignant, I immediately countered with, "Nuh uh, you can't sing 'I'm Nobody' to that tune; it doesn't fit."

My sister called me and felt that I was taking it a little too seriously (and personally), and I replied, "I'm sorry. But don't you be messin' with Emily Dickinson. I'm just sayin'. Is all."

Pick on Robert Browning all you want (if you can), rant about Al Purdy and Bukowski and all the Beat poets, spend weeks trying to shred anything that e e cummings didn't punctuate, but leave the Belle of Amherst alone.

Some things are best left unsullied, dagnabbit. ;)

A few years ago, when a certain quiz show was popular on TV, she called me to ask me if I knew the answer to a poetry question, and not only did I know the answer, I could quote the poem. That was the first time I realized my own sister -- a certified genius -- didn't have a clue who Sylvia Plath was or why her work was so important to so many people. Dear sister just hasn't been exposed to this stuff (she was a math major).

*Most* people haven't been exposed to this stuff. When my high school class was organizing its 20th reunion, a Yahoogroup was bursting with clever emails and posts. They started trying to outwit each other with clever haiku. But that seemed to be the only poetic form they knew. I introduced them to acrostics, limericks, and sonnets. Sonnets, for crying out loud. (OK, a couple of my old classmates were masters of hilarious blank verse, but they were not the norm.)

A few weeks ago, I went to a convenience store in a neighboring town (because my rural town has no 24-hour emporium of any kind), and the clerk at the counter asked me to help her with an essay that she was writing for her GED classes. English is her second language. Her biggest problem in the essay was vocabulary -- she hadn't been acquainted with the word "attain," for example, although she knew the words "obtain" and "contain." I asked her if she had a thesaurus, the single most useful tool in a writer's arsenal, and she said no, so I dug up a spare dog-eared Roget's for her. Then I asked her if, in her GED classes, she was reading ANY poetry. The answer again was no.

All I can think is, how can anyone expect to know and adequately manipulate a language if they are never, ever exposed to the best examples of it?

I took her a dog-eared copy of Norton's Anthology of Poetry. I had to go to a used book store for that, because you couldn't pry my college-days copy from my cold, dead fingers.

I guess what I'm saying -- nearly incoherently -- is that I love the poetry you've posted lately. I love that you advised the Snarkling to read Lord Byron and Emily Dickinson. I would probably just tell him/her to get a Norton's Anthology for a good dose of Blake and Eliot and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, too, but you really can't go wrong with Lord Byron and Emily Dickinson. You are one smart & tasteful Miss Snark.

But of course, you must surely already know that.

(Well, I know Grandmother Snark loves me but I still like to hear her say it; thank you!)

Whistle a Happy Tune

Hello Miss Snark,

The more research I have done on publishers and agents, the more anxious I have become to insure that I don't waste their time because of ignorance. There really is a great deal to learn about the submission process!

I am preparing to submit queries for my first work, a prequel to a four book, fantasy series. I decided to submit the prequel first because I read that agents/publishers are much more willing to take a chance on an unpublished author with a standalone work than on one with a series.

Have I made a wise choice by submitting a standalone work first? Should I spend a paragraph talking about the series that follows or should I even mention it at all?

You're worried about the wrong thing in the first paragraph. It's not a waste of my time if you query like a nitwit, its a waste of YOURS and your money. Despite all our self serving statements to the contrary, agents are not deities and our time isn't worth any more (or less!) than yours. You want to get this right so you can present your book in the best possible light to an agent. You want to get this right for YOU not for me. Miss Snark may be bald but she's not Yul Brynner and you are not Deborah Kerr.

The people that waste my time are the ones that never think they are; the ones with no clue that the submission process IS something to be learned.

That said, query on the prequel as a standalone. You can mention you envision a series but don't spend any of your limited word allotment in a cover letter saying much more than that. It won't be important unless the first book gets launched.

Next Stop El Dorado...but how far is it?

Dear Miss Snark,

You are fabulous. A (liver-scented) kiss to Killer Yapp.

My question deals with non-fiction, but I hope you can help nonetheless.

A few years ago, I had an essay published in an anthology. The book sold well, and the editor asked all the contributors for a) a proposal for a book on a similar topic, and b) an essay for the next anthology. Not being a total nitwit, I submitted both. The essay was published in the follow up, and we had several backs and forths on the proposal. Then, nothing, nada, I assumed the proposal had died. Then I found out the editor was on maternity leave. Then the publisher was bought by another publisher. Then another maternity leave. A couple of years after I originally submitted my proposal, I sent a friendly holiday greeting to the editor and wouldn't you know, she replied saying that she'd been thinking about my book. We reworked the proposal some more, and now another six months later, I just found out that my proposal "has been approved by our publishing board."


Now, the proposal includes the idea that there would be contributions from other writers. In fact, at this point, I don't even know how much of the book she wants me to write. So...

1. Do I need an agent now? (I think I know what the answer will be, but I have to ask)

2. What do I query with? My revised proposal, plus a note explaining the situation?

At the very least, this might be a good example for your readers of just how long this process can take, even when you write a proposal AS REQUESTED BY AN EDITOR.

You may not need an agent but you certainly at the very least need a contract review specialist before you sign anything. Since I AM an agent, I think having an agent is a good idea (silly moi, so predictable).

You can query quickly with a cover letter making sure to mention the book is accepted, and by whom. Since the project is almost sold, agents don't need to see the proposal till after they've talked to you by email or phone.

Good luck.

Getting to Know You---everyone sing!

Hello Miss Snark!

You say that one has to know their agent to send them their work. Well, how do you 'get to know' agents?

Yes from a just-finished-my-first-book-now -what-do-I-do-with-all-this-paper? 'writier',

By "get to know" I don't mean socially. I mean read their website, see what they've sold, try to get a sense of what they are looking for. The flip side of that is that you want to make sure you're querying someone who IS an agent, therefore you want to make sure there are sales listed on the website or Publishers Marketplace OR if the agent is new that they know what they are doing (ie have some sort of background in publishing).

There are lots of places to find out more about this. Just about any "how to query" list will get you started.


(ok the title alone made me laugh...Minnesotans are the NICEST people ---I can't believe they even have crime in Minnesota)

Nonetheless herewith:


Following the success of its first publishing venture, "Silence of the Loons," The Minnesota Crime Wave has announced a sequel to the criminous anthology. The new volume, to be titled "Resort to Murder," is planned for release in late summer, 2007. The anthology will be published by Nodin Press of Minneapolis, known for its fine carefully designed books in many

Eligible authors must have been professionally published in any genre and must be living in Minnesota. Stories must be set at a real Minnesota resort, although the actual name of the resort may not be used. Authors must tell the Crime Wave which Minnesota resort they intend to use as their setting to avoid duplications. All stories must contain at least one murder and will range from 1,000 to 7,500 words in length. Contracts and payment of $100
will be issued upon acceptance of each story.

Spokesbabe Ellen Hart said, "This is a great opportunity for authors in other genres who want to try crime fiction." "We'll be looking for strong motivation, suspense and interesting characters," commented William Kent Krueger. "And don't forget pace and good description," added Carl Brookins. The crime wave trio, mystery authors all, has pledged their usual strong
efforts to promote the anthology once it is released. The Minnesota Crime Wave has become known for its compelling costumed presentations to audiences at bookstores, libraries and other venues across the country.

For more information, contact The Minnesota Crime Wave at:

MinnesotaCrimeWave at yahoo.com

The Numbers Game

20 queries.
5 weeks: 3 responses.
6 weeks: 5 responses.
7 weeks: 9 responses.

Is it just that things move slowly, or:
a) there isn't enough interest even to send a "No."
b) there's some interest, so they're thinking about it, and might get back to me eventually.
c) Killer Yapp ate the query letter, fuggedibout it.

Answering queries is a low priority. However, that's not the most helpful answer since you knew that already.

Just for added perspective, here's a list of what's in my incoming stack, today, after getting rid of all the easy "nos" over the weekend.

Category: query, novel, first page ok, set aside to read
19 letters dated June 29, June 27, June 24, June 11, two undated, June 10, another undated, June 12, June 13, June 13, June 11, May 27, May 30, June 2, June 2, May 22, May 31, May 23

Category: Query that needs more than form rejection cause I went to the school where the guy teaches-May 29

Query that says it has an SASE but I can't find: May 31

Query from previously published author: June 9, June 12

Query from someone at writing conference: June 14

Revisions from query dated April 25

Query sent on referral by author I respect: May 30

Query dated March 21, partial received thereafter
Query dated March 1, partial received thereafter
Partial sent May 31
8 others sent December-June

Unsolicited novel, previously represented, no SASE-waiting for form rejection letter

From this I think you can conclude that when I don't respond right away it's cause there's a problem, or I'm considering it.

Remember too, your query is the only thing you're thinking about. Here, if you survive the initial weed out from 100/week, you're still on my stack today that has 26 queries and 11 partials. And I'd rather be answering Miss Snark's email than actually yanno...working.

Beverage alert du jour

I've Written a Future Best-Selling Book

I swear this is the last one I'm posting but this is too good to pass up.

(yea, MO, you're getting the bill for the keyboard...AND the lost gin)

Suck it up like a suasage buffet

Dear Miss Snark,

I've read through the Snarkive entries on PODs--four pages worth. So glad you've devoted a lot of thoughts to this topic; it's so easy as an aspiring author to get sucked into that world.

Like every author, my work is a labor of love and now that it's finished I'm sickeningly anxious to hold it in print. Friends and family are also asking to read the final product. But it is my desire to go the traditional route, shopping the work to agents, editors, publishers, etc.

I read in your entries that a Lulu ISBN is "the kiss of death" to a big-time publisher. My question is this: What if I print the work and conduct sales to family and friends through Lulu (with no ISBN) until an agent/publisher picks it up? (Yes, I'm being excessively optimistic, but hey, I'm a first-time author. I'm required to be.) Is such action a negative in any way when trying to break into the "real" world of publishing?

An extension of this question... would an agent/editor care about sales in this fashion? If it sells like wildfire on Lulu (again, excessively optimistic), is such a record worth mentioning while shopping the work?

Thanks for all of your humor and wisdom.

(reaches down and scratches behind KY's ears)
(KY, dreaming of a sausage buffet, acts like a carnivore; chaos ensues)

What would you do if Lulu wasn't available?
Or any form of POD?
You'd suck it up and redouble your efforts to have your work considered by an agent.

You can certainly print that book up at Lulu and no one will be the wiser. Without an ISBN or any kind of non-family sales/availability no one will even care. And that's an ok option for a lot of folks, and more power to them.

However, you reveal yourself in the wildfire comment. You DO want to sell enough to make a publisher take notice. First, if you're writing a novel, chances are worse than remote that will happen. Second, if it's selling to people who aren't family or friends you've just cherry picked the very market you'll need if the book gets a deal.

Impatience doesn't serve you well here. Suck it up and fill your canteen for the long march.

Where is Trevanian when you REALLY need him

Dear Miss Snark,

I just ran across this, and since I was repelling through the Snarkives and stumbled across a nitwit of the day post thought I would pass this along for future use.

Light Travels Faster Than Sound. That's Why Some People Appear Bright Until
You Hear Them Speak."

Okay, that said, my question.

My first novel, POD, yeah, $5000.00+ and a lot of screaming later I realize my mistake. Post POD, got a new editor, one that didn't moonlight for the POD house after long tortuous hours at the pickle factory. But a real editor with credentials! And oh yes, it cost me fewer pieces of eight from my treasure chest than the one from the POD house. Hmmm, can you say,

I digress.

Manuscript is much better. I queried widely to a variety of agents and I got some good responses, mostly "not for us" but done in a tactful way. Finally an agent requested more, and has not blown me off.

Sequence: Query. Please send first three chapters, did that. Wait 2-4 months. Doing that. Sent a follow-up e-mail at 90 days. Answer: "Should have something for you soon? What the puck does that mean?

Okay. Now second book is with a good house in NYC that I have a previous acquaintance with. He also saw book above. Then, I had not heard from him in 30 days then, and queried for an update. Within an hour I got a refusal. Ouch! But with a caveat "We don't do any POD, but good writing, you have talent" Yeah! "If you do another, please feel free to submit." Done, book
two is there. Question is, the agent's website does not detail how long they take to reply to ms. So.... based on what happened last time, I am hesitant to fire off another "update request" to NYC and get ground into bug juice once again.

On the upside, what if Agent A likes Book 1 and Agent B likes book 2? Both offer contract? Yikes! I would expect this isn't typical, but must have occurred, what does an
author do then?

Well I'm glad to see we both think you are repelling.
Perchance you meant to be clever and use the word rappeling, but the jokes work better when you get the words right.

I sent you the form rejection email when this question sat unanswered in my mailbox for thirty days. Did you think that it didn't apply to you?

First, every question you ask (and I counted five) has been addressed previously.
Second, if you read this over, you'll realize you are simply dithering in your anxiety. Knock it off. Focus on your writing. Send Miss Snark concise questions about specifics and she's less likely to offer you rope and tell you to jump off a cliff.

New Life in the old book yet

Dear Miss Snark,

If a trade paperback collection of short fiction sells well (considering it’s with a small publisher) is there much chance it will be reprinted by a larger publisher later, especially if that larger publisher is interested in publishing the author’s first novel?

Yes. Some smaller publishers make a nice chunk of income from selling rights to major publishers after a book does well. The key here is "sell well" and also "well reviewed".

Here are four examples, straight off the Publishers Marketplace deal list (June 20-30,2006)

Peter Behrens's debut THE LAW OF DREAMS, a literary adventure novel set during the Irish Potato Famine of 1847, to Jane von Mehren and Jillian Quint at Random House, in a good deal, by Chip Fleischer at Steerforth (US). chip@steerforth.com

Paperback rights to Lawrence Douglas' first novel, the Booksense pick THE CATASTROPHIST, about the unraveling of a star art historian as fatherhood approaches, to Tina Pohlman at Harvest, in a pre-empt by Carole Lazare at Other Press.

Mike Davis's THE MONSTER AT OUR DOOR: The Global Threat of Avian Flu, an account of the looming avian flu pandemic that exposes the human accomplices to this "natural" disaster, to Sara Bershtel at Metropolitan, by The New Press (NA).

Angela Davis-Gardner's PLUM WINE, to Caitlin Alexander at Bantam Dell, at auction, by Liz Darhansoff at Darhansoff, Verrill, Feldman, on behalf of the University of Wisconsin Press.



Miss Snark,

So I have this famous old classic (out of copyright) novel, and I'm "editing" it to change the world in which the novel is set without changing anything else in the novel.

So it's an entirely new book, and exactly the same book--but is it really the same genre as the original? Is it fiction or nonfiction? What genre is my book?

Yours Sinsnarkly,


I'm really praying this is fiction...on so very many levels.

*Illumination here

Wait...this advice actually works?? yikes

Miss Snark,

A pail of gin is heading your way via Fed-Ex's expedited Overnight Booze Service in concert with the Juniper Berry Growers and Distillation Cartel.

A Snark-O-Meter graduate has been shortlisted for the 2006 British Crimewriters Association Debut Dagger Award.

#57 thanks you, my mother (locked in her cell) thanks you, my father (busy sketching pastel clown portraits at the mega-mall) thanks you, and I thank you.

Your advice and the reaction of the Snarklings helped me put the synopsis in shape. The novel is "finished" and heading out soon on it's adventure in the primordial publishing jungle.

Seriously, I am grateful for the time you gave to the effort, the expertise you brought to the piece, the experience, the honesty and the snark.


Otis Twelve

What's more, by dog, he won!

Hot diggety dawg, what a great piece of news!
Congrats indeed!!

Beverage alert

I have a list of email addresses, color coded, that are tagged "Beverage alert". If one pops in to my mailbox, I not only put down the coffee, I cover the keyboard. Thinking ahead like this has reduced my keyboard and screen cleaner overhead dramatically.

I wasn't paying attention this morning, just clicking along, so it's Kitty 1, keyboard 0 to start off the month of July.

Why Emailing at Midnight is a BAD idea

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