Nitwit of the Day

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I have written nonfiction, historical fiction, stage plays and several screenplays, two of which have entered into preproduction with Nivelli International Films.

My latest work NIGHTMARE AT UCH SHARIF is a suspense horror drama that begins with the excavation of an ancient Sumerian relic, a bronze box containing twelve tablets. Nicole Simmons, an expert on the subject is hired and flown to the ancient city of Uch Sharif to decipher the tablets. A series of supernatural events are set in motion the moment she sets foot in Uch Sharif. She discovers the dark secret of the Rizwi Family concealed in an ancient painting in the guest bedroom of their home. Noor Bibi, a distant ancestor opened the gateway five hundred years ago to win the affections of her lover with the help of Azazeel, the prince of darkness. But the ritual fails. Nicole discovers the real reason for her employment, but a bit too late - Azazee's wrath has been unleashed.

The movie gives a keen insight into the nature of the JINN, vicious spirits made of fire, below the level of angels and demons. They can assume any form, human or animal, and exhaust their victims through sexual intercourse. JINNS find their origin in the Sumerian mythology and have intrigued our imagination since.

NIGHTMARE AT UCH SHARIF is the fusion of Eastern lore and the Western knowledge, it's a story of love and betrayal, of demonic assaults and Divine interventions; it's a story that transcends time and dimensions.

Should this catch your interest, please contact me at your convenience at:

(101 Nitwit Drive in Nitwitville)

It transcends something alright.

How many things can you find wrong in this query?
I'll spot you the fact that someone queried Miss Snark-that's too obvious a mistake to count.


Be Miss Snark!


I have an inquiry about a book. To make an extremely long story short, my mother has been crafting a book for over a decade.

All i am asking is for a direction to help her go through the publishing process. She had an Agency by the name of, "Lee shore" but she became disheartened after their editors took a look at it. I dont know if their even a legitmate agency, being that im not familar with the field. They had a high interest in it, but my mother felt that they didnt specialize in romance. I suppose shes was looking for something a little more prestigious and more informative on her
book. Is their any advice or any agencies i should look at to get her book rolling?

Miss Snark is overcome by the idea of crafting a book and must retire with her cluegun...err...glue gun and Augusten Burroughs edition scissors.

Here's your chance to Be Miss Snark.

All replies in the comments section appreciated.

What the hell is taking you so damn long?

Dear Miss Snark:

20 queries went out, and 7 rejections came back within a few days. Then, I received a request for a partial. And now, it's been 6 weeks, and the rejections continue to dribble in, but there are 7 queries out there.

Do you (as representitive for all agents, snarky and otherwise) know immediately if a query interests you to ask for more? If you don't handle its genre, I realize that it's easy to send out a quick "later, dude." But if something IS something you represent, is a delay anything more than "I'm hip-deep in queries and I'll get to ya when I get to ya", or sometimes do you need to mull things over for a few weeks?

If you've sent some pages, and it takes me awhile to respond, it's either cause I'm too surly to read with anything other than rejection on my mind; I'm really busy; or yes, I'm trying to figure out if I want to read more.

It's the third one you're interested in probably. I can fall in love with BAD work just as easily as Danielle Steele fans can. I've learned to recognize this failing so sometimes I'll set a query aside for a second read just to make sure it holds up. (Usually it doesn't.) That can delay things.

If I'm reading a non fiction idea, I am looking around to see if the project has some oomph. That can take a while too.

If I'm reading a partial, all bets are off. Sometimes I can read those in 30 minutess and sometimes it takes a month. The 30 minute ones are NOT EVER the ones I'm most excited about. They tend to be the ones that arrive while I'm waiting around for something else to happen and I read it cause it's right there in front of my long, quivering, cooking -niffing snout (oh wait, that's KY's snout, mine is the nose with the pince-nez).

I also tend to read partials in batches. I read 15 last weekend. Some had been here since (gulp) early May.

Plus, remember that reading the slush pile or the incoming submissions is important but it's not urgent. It always takes second or third place behind doing deals, swilling gin, reading the new James Lee Burke or other things I love.

Is Miss Snark Headed for Oz?

Dear Miss Snark,

I have truly been enjoying the bits of poetry that you have been sharing on your blog. At my young blog about writing and art, I have also been posting selections of poetry to inspire discussion and share poetic works which I enjoy.

My question for you is this: do you request permission from the authors of the poems you have reprinted on your website? (no) After posting a few poems at my blog site, I began to wonder if perhaps I was not infringing on someone?s copyright, even though I provide complete and consistent credit to the authors. (yes)

After reviewing some information available online on the subjects of copyright and fair use, I'm inclined to think that perhaps it is not ok for me to publish the work of others in their entirety on my blog, even if I provide credit and say nice things about them. (true)

While I know you are not a lawyer or legal advisor, could you please toss in your two cents on the subject, provided you have the time and the inclination?

Yes, I'm a criminal copyright violater. Yes, I confess it freely. The good folks over at FSG have every right to call me up and say "Hey Snark for Brains, we control the copyright to Seamus Heaney's Beowulf and you've posted more lines that are covered in fair use. Knock it off". And I'd probably whine, moan, bitch, moan, screech, yap, complain and moan... and remove it.

So, knowing I'm bound for publishing prison, how do I justify this? Well, I don't. It's wrong. I shouldn't do it. The fact that maybe someone will see the poems, and it will prompt them to buy the book, or ask for it to be added to the collection at the library isn't enough. It's still wrong. Don't do it.

Plus ca change...so they say

A newly constructed
barrow stood waiting, on a wide headland
close to the waves, its entryway secured.

Into it the keeper of the hoard had carried
all the goods and golden ware
worth preserving. His words were few:

"Now, earth, hold what earls once held
and heroes can no more; it was mined from you first
by honourable men. My own people

have been ruined in war; one by one
they went down to death, looked their last
on sweet life in the hall. I am left with nobody

to bear a sword or burnish plated goblets,
put a sheen on the cup. The companies have departed.

The hard helmet, hasped with gold,
will be stripped of its hoops; and the helmet-shiner
who should polish the metal of the war-mask sleeps;

the coat of mail that came through all fights,
through shield-collapse and cut of sword,
decays with the warrior. Nor may webbed mail

range far and wide on the warlord's back
beside his mustered troops. No trembling harp,
no tuned timber, no tumbling hawk
swerving through the hall, no swift horse
pawing the courtyard. Pillage and slaughter
have emptied the earth of entire peoples."

And so he mourned as he moved about the world,
deserted and alone, lamenting his unhappiness
day and night, until death's flood
brimmed up in his heart.

lines 2242-2270
(trans: Seamus Heaney)


Book Festivals

Lifted wholesale from PW today is a list of upcoming book festivals

Fall 2006 Book Festivals

Publishers of all sizes will be busy this fall sending their authors and editors to partake of the fall book festivals celebrating books, authors, families and reading. Our annual list, which covers September through November, is jam-packed with 39, which includes the brand-new Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival. Contact information for publishers wishing to participate is provided below; check festival Web sites for complete author lists and more details on participants, activities and educational programs.

Atlanta, Ga., September 1-3

First year. Authors: One hundred authors, including Robert Olen Butler, Pearl Cleage, Michael Connelly, Brian Corrigan, Nathalie Dupree, John T. Edge, Connie May Fowler, David Fulmer, Alan Gratz, Edward P. Jones, Danny Schnitzlein, Karin Slaughter. Activities: Keynote address by Arianna Huffington; opening day Children's Parade led by the Cat in the Hat; poetry slams for adults and children; programming at ten different stages includes The Cook’s Warehouse featuring cooking demonstrations by culinary celebrities; Antiquarian Book Fair; children’s stage.

San Luis Obispo, Calif., September 9
(805) 546-1392
email: info@ccbookfestival.org

Seventh year. Authors: Cecil Castellucci, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Carolyn Marsden & Virginia Loh, Robert Scheer, Mark London Williams. Activities: readings, workshops and lectures; kids’ storytime and crafts; book sales and signings; non-competitive essay writing challenge for adults and children.

Aurora, Ill., September 16-17
) 844-3640

Fourth year. Authors: More than 50, including Tasha Alexander, Raymond Benson, Max Allan Collins, J.A. Konrath, Dennis Lehane, Joyce Carol Oates, James Rollins. Activities: book signings; panel discussions; a how-to tent; children’s area.

Abilene, Tex., September 19-23
(605) 688-6113
email: sdsu.sdhc@sdstate.edu

Fourth year. Authors: Jennifer Armstrong, Jessica Barksdale Inclán, J.A. Jance, Ted Kooser, Kent Nerburn, Marilynne Robinson, Juan Williams. Activities: Reception honoring Pulitzer winners Marilynne Robinson and Ted Kooser; panel discussions with authors; silent auctions; talks on history, poetry, fiction and tribal writing.

Fairfax, Va., September 27-October 5
(703) 993-3986
email: fftb@gmu.edu

Eighth year. Authors: Chimamanda Adichie, Dave Eggers, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Francine Prose, Deborah Tannen, Roger Wilkins. Activities: Presentation of the new Fall for the Book Prize to Dave Eggers; a Poetry Café; staged readings.

Missoula, Mont., September 28-30
email: kim.anderson@umontana.edu

Seventh year. Authors: Mary Clearman Blew, James Lee Burke, Ivan Doig, David James Duncan, Gary Ferguson, Greg Keeler, William Kittredge, David Long, David Quammen, Annick Smith, Richard Wheeler. Activities: Celebrating the annual One Book Montana selection, Ivan Doig’s This House of Sky; symposium on Montana poetry, featuring Montana’s first Poet Laureate, Sandra Alcosser; readings and presentations from the Environmental Writing Institute; Montana Book Awards banquet; live performance and airing of Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Expected attendance: More than 5,000.

Baltimore, Md., September 29-October 1

Eleventh year. Authors: More than 225, including Taylor Branch, Kevin Clash, J. California Cooper, Hill Harper, Sebastian Junger, Cooper Lawrence, Joseph C. Phillips. Activities: poetry readings, cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, live music; new activities at the Literary Salon, Food for Thought Stage, Karibu Stage, Creative Café, Children’s Bookstore Stage, CityLit Stage and the Baltimore Theatre Alliance Readers’ Theatre Tent.

Washington, D.C., September 30
(888) 714-4696
email: bookfest@loc.gov

Sixth year. Authors: More than 70, including Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, Taylor Branch, Andrew Clements, Michael Connelly, Joan Didion, John Hope Franklin, Dana Gioia, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Donald Hall, Khaled Hosseini, Elmer Kelton, Stephenie Meyer, Richard Peck, Louis Sachar, Lisa Scottoline, Alexander McCall Smith, Spider Robinson. Activities: Themed pavilions (fiction & fantasy, mysteries & thrillers, teens & children, poetry, etc.); storybook and television characters. Expected attendance: 85,000.

Costa Mesa, Calif., September 30
email: michelle@kidsbookfestival.com

Third year. Authors: TBA. Activities: Multiple stages for author and illustrator presentations; entertainment; panel discussions; face painting; clowns; musicians; readings; drawings.

Santa Barbara, Calif., September 30
email: marcia@sbchamber.org

Eighth year. Authors: Robert Crais, Ann Louise Bardach, Philip F. Deaver, Shirley Lim, Helena Maria Viramontes. Activities: The 2006 Ross Macdonald Award presented to Robert Crais; the Fourth Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature presented to Helena Maria Viramontes; the first Glenna Luschei Distinguished Poet Fellowship presented to Jane Hirshfield; Santa Barbara Reads! annual community reading selection My California: Journeys by Great Writers; panels on media, mystery, writing in multiple genres, and multicultural stories. Expected attendance: 5,000.


Collingswood, N.J., October 2-7

email: jean@collingswoodbookfestival.com

Fourth annual. Authors: Lloyd Allen, Robert Amoroso, Sam Carchidi, DyAnne DiSalvo, Melissa Jacobs, Ellen Meister, Camille Paglia, Josh Piven, Lorraine Ranalli, Jordan Sonnenblick, Gordon T. Ward. Activities: Discussion of Old School by Tobias Wolff, selected as the Collingswood Town Book; book appraisals; new and used book sales; book-related merchandise; entertainment.

Amelia Island, Fla., October 5-8

(904) 491-8176

Sixth year. Authors: More than 35, including Bill Belleville, Steve Berry, Susan Cerulean, Sheila Curran, Donna Woolfolk Cross, Tim Dorsey, Cassandra King, Pamela Mueller. Activities: Gala featuring Cassandra King; writer workshops and panels; Readers’ Day, with author talks, readings, and signings; Lunch with Authors; a Children’s Chapter Tent.

Lincoln, Ne., October 6-7

(402) 465-2349
email: mdumanis@anebrwesleyan.edu
Fifteenth year. Authors: Garry Alkire, Meghan Daum, Amelia Maria de la Luz Montes, Sean Doolittle, Charles Fort, Richard Graham, Mary Jackson, Eric Konigsberg, Robert McEwen, Timothy Schaffert, Mary Helen Stefaniak, Teresa Svoboda, Liza Ward. Activities: Writing workshops for high school students; talks on the graphic novel and comics; creative storytelling activities for children; one free book to every child who attends; exhibits; book sales; music.

New York, N.Y., October 6-8

Seventh year. Authors: TBA. Activities: TBA.

San Francisco, Calif. October 6-14

Fifth year. Authors: Over 300, including Andrew Sean Greer, Daniel Handler, Frank Portman, K.M. Soehnlein, Amy Tan, Michelle Tea. Activities: Opening night with Bay Area musicians reading from literature that either inspired them or made its way into their work; Stephen Elliot’s Progressive Reading Series; a Word for Word dramatic reading of an Andrew Sean Greer short story; closing night Lit Crawl through more than 30 venues. Expected attendance: more than 10,000.

Charlotte, N.C., October 9-November 8

(704) 336-2725

Sixteenth year. Authors: Mitch Albom, David Baldacci, Augusten Burroughs, Gene Cheek, Pearl Cleage, Bryan Collier, Mark Ethridge, Russell Greenfield, MD, Gail Carson Levine, Doug Marlette, Sonia Nazario, Jane & Michael Stern, Dr. Andrew Weil, Amy Tan. Activities: Book Brunch; a Press Night; “Evenings With” Amy Tan, Andrew Weil, Jane & Michael Stern, Sonia Nazario, Doug Marlette, Tommy Hays, Margaret Maron, Augusten Burroughs, Pearl Cleage, Mark de Castrique; WordPlay Saturday.

Nashville, Tenn., October 13-15

(615) 770-0006
email: paul@humanitiestennessee.org

Eighteenth year. Authors: More than 200, including: Edward P. Jones, Garrison Keillor, Gail Carson Levine,Laura Lippman, Barry Lopez, David Maraniss, Laura Numeroff, Lee Smith, Paul Zelinsky. Activities: Events on the Café Stage, the Poetry and Drama Stage and the Children's Stage.

Minneapolis, Minn., October 14

email: info@raintaxi.com

Sixth year. Authors: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mark Z. Danielewski, Shannon Hale, Linda Medley, Julie Powell, Mary Roach, Bapsi Sidwa, John Yau. Activities: Author readings and talks; book arts demonstrations by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts; annual used book sale and literary magazine fair.

Los Angeles, Calif., October 14-15; Chicago, Ill., November 11–12

(713) 236-1036

Tenth year in L.A., eighth in Chicago. Authors: TBA. Activities: Author readings and signings in themed “villages” which include music, dancing and capoeira performances.

New York, N.Y., October 15

email: greatread@nytimes.com

Second year. Authors: More than 120, including James Ellroy, Sara Gruen, Oscar Hijeulos, Susan Isaacs, Eleanor Lipman, Malika Oufkir, Adriana Trigiani. Activities: panel discussions moderated by Times journalists; The Great Read in the Park Brunch; The Great Read in the Park Tea; The Gently Used, Greatly Loved Book Sale; on-site bookstore; children's area with costumed characters, readings and live entertainment.
Los Angeles, Calif., October 17

(323) 848-6400

Fifth year. Authors: Tommy Chong, Jackie Collins, Katherine Forrest, Denise Hamilton, Hill Harper, Mike Mignola. Activities: TBA. Expected attendance: more than 25,000.

Madison, Wis., October 18-22

(608) 262-0706
email: alison@wisconsinbookfestival.org

Fifth year. Authors: Michael Chabon, Jane Hamilton, Ted Kooser, Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky, Marjane Satrapi, Chris Ware. Activities: More than 100 readings, lectures, book discussions, writing workshops, live interviews, and children's events.

Charleston, W. Va., October 21-22

(304) 343-4646
email: pam.may@kanawha.lib.wv.us

Sixth year. Authors: Jennifer Chaiverini, Cornelius Eady, Wil Haygood, George Ella Lyon, Bobbie Ann Mason, James P. Moore, Nancy Pearl, Jennifer Walls. Activities: Meet the author events, workshops and panel discussions; Festival Marketplace; children’s area; used book sale.
Salt Lake City, Utah, October 26-28

(801) 359-9670
email: batt@utahhumanities.org

Ninth year. Authors: Mary Amato, Richard L. Bushman, Chris Crowe, George Bilgere, Ken Jennings, The Northwest Band of the Shoshone Nation, Janet Tashjian, Luis Alberto Urrea, Laurence Yep, Dave Sim and Gerhard. Activities: Slam poetry workshop and performance; writing and media presentations; singing by the Northwest Band of the Shoshone Nation; workshops and activities for the whole family.
Austin, Tex., October 27-29

(512) 477-4055

Eleventh year. Authors: Thomas Cahill, Maureen Dowd, John Grogan, Maria Dahvana Headley, Roger and

Sally Horchow, Neil MacFarquhar, Frank McCourt, Jay McInerney, Maria Elena Salinas, Amy Sedaris, Tavis Smiley, Helen Thomas, Gore Vidal. Activities: 2006 Bookend Award given to Louis Sachar; Spanish language programming; Bon Appetit, Y'all; Authors Cocktail Party with Ken Burns; Author's Party; First Edition Literary Gala; TBF On the Road; children’s live entertainment, costumed characters.

Baton Rouge, La., October 28

(225) 219-9503
email: rwilson@state.lib.la.us

Fifth year. Authors: More than 80, including Roy Blount, Jr., Richard Campanella, Andrei Codrescu, Lynn Emery, Patty Friedmann, David Fulmer, Ellen Gilchrist. Activities: Pre-festival Writing Wordshops and Authors' Party; free book appraisals; book signing sessions; Young Readers' Pavilion; Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award Ceremonies honoring Sharon Arms Doucet.
New Orleans, La., October 28

(318) 446-6774
email: nolabookfair@gmail.com

Fifth year. Authors: Kyle Bravo, CrimethInc, Hope D'Amico, Abram Himelstein, Sarah Inman. Activities: Author readings on a school bus and in a space walk; Dunk the Author dunking booth; Squat after-party at a secret location.
St. Petersburg, Fla., October 28

(800) 333-7505, ext. 2358

Fourteenth year. Authors: Jonathan Alter, Gail Langer Karwoski, Bob Morris, Charles J. Shields, Meg Tilly, Doug Wilhelm, Mark Yost. Activities: A Novel Night author reception; guest lectures, panel discussions, writer’s workshops, book signings; a Book Market; Children’s Story Land; Big Top Story Tent; Kids Create Tent.


Macon, Ga., November 3-4

(478) 743-3851
email: kbrown@historicmacon.org

Seventh year. Authors: More than 50 contemporary writers with Macon connections, including Judson Mitcham and Tina McElroy Ansa. Activities: At various venues, for children, young people, college students and adults; readings; book signings; panel discussions; writing workshops; a book fair by Barnes & Noble; storytelling.
Las Vegas, Nev. November 3-4

email: info@vegasvalleybookfest.org

Fifth year. Authors: More than 30, including Dave Hickey, Ben Katchor, Dan Kennedy, Chuck Klosterman, Peter Lefcourt, Chuck Palahniuk. Activities: Readings; book discussions; workshops; spoken word performances; a literature-themed First Friday; finale keynote address by Palahniuk.
Wooster, Ohio, November 4

(330) 262-3244
email: bbfmgr@woosterbook.com

Nineteenth year. Authors: Andrea Cheng, Chip Bok, Tony Cochran, Dandi Mackall, Michael Ruhlman, Helen Thomas. Activities: Over 100 Ohio authors, illustrators, and photographers signing books and meeting their readers.
Dover, Del., November 4

(302) 739-4748, ext. 113

First year. (Formerly known for ten years as Delaware Book Fair and Authors Day.) Authors: Lisa Carey, Sebastian Junger, Phillip Margolin, Donna Jo Napoli, George Vecsey, Lara Zeises. Activities: workshops on poetry, blogs, and getting published; storybook characters; book repair and appraisal workshops.

Washington, D.C., November 4

(202) 467-4600

Tenth year. Authors: TBA. Activities: Meet and greet authors; readings; book signings; book sale; storytelling; dance workshops.

Rochester, N.Y., November 4

(585) 671-0441
email: cjohmann@rochester.rr.com

Tenth year. Authors: Forty authors and illustrators, including Susan Williams Beckhorn, Kathleen Blasi, Fred Bortz, Judy Bradbury, Linda Sue Park, Robin Pulver, Vivian Vande Velde. Activities: Readings; storytelling by the Blackstorytelling League of Rochester; crafts, word games & other activities for kids & families; Just for Teens afternoon program; writing & illustrating presentations for all ages.
Sarasota, Fla., November 4

(941) 906-1733

Ninth year. Authors: TBA. Activities: Panel discussions; book signings; children’s events; storytellers; booksellers; free giveaway books for kids. Last year’s attendance: 22,000.

Frankfort, Ky., November 11

(502) 564-8300, ext. 297

Twenty-fifth year. Authors: Wendell Berry, Gene Burch, Deborah Ford, Robert Hicks, Bobbie Ann Mason, Ann B. Ross, James Alexander Thom. Activities: A retrospective 25th-anniversary slide show; a luncheon with nationally known authors; a full day of free symposiums, including a Lewis and Clark presentation with re-enactors and a Daniel Boone symposium. Expected attendance: More than 4,000.

Storrs, Conn., November 11-12

(860) 486-1307
email: staubach@uconnvm.uconn.edu

Fifteenth year. Authors: Michael Buckley, Mordicai Gerstein, Tonya Golden, Salley Mavor, Wendell and Florence Minor, Robert Andrew Parker, Heidi Stemple, Eric Velazquez, Walter Wick, Hans Wilhelm, Jane Yolen. Activities: Storytelling; crafts; costumed characters Clifford the Big Red Dog, Brother & Sister Berenstain, Strega Nona, Tacky the Penguin, Wild Thing, Winnie the Pooh; special 15th anniversary treats and events.
Miami, Fla., November 12-19

(305) 237-3258
email: wbookfair@mdc.edu

Twenty-third year. Authors: Isabel Allende, John Berendt, Robert Olen Butler, Thomas Cahill, Da Chen, Nora Ephron, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Hamilton, Carl Hiaasen, Uzodinma Iweala, Edward P. Jones, Erik Larson, Frank McCourt. Activities: Antiquarian Annex; Children’s Alley; International Village showcasing various cultures; Ibero-American Author program featuring authors from Latin America and Spain.

Fantasy Gone Wrong

From the 7/10 issue of PW news of "Fantasy Gone Wrong" edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Brittany A. Koren (DAW: 0-7564-0380-4) $7.99

In this delightful anthology, 16 authors take traditional fantasy premises and color them ironic. The only criteria for inclusion is a whimsical sense of humor and a keen appreciation for the fantasy genre...

Knowing how many of you are fantasy readers and writers, I thought you might be interested.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled Snarking.

Life of the Mind

Some pretentious Proustian said "I live the life of the mind" the other day. It was all I could do not to bop him with my parasol and say "mind this, fuckwit".

I despise that kind of intellectual pretension. Ya sure I read Beowulf and take a stab at Joyce 's Wake once a month, and I've been known to blather on about the importance of the canon but don't think for one minute I "live the life of the mind". Nosirreeebobbypins.

A happily significant part of my life is engaged in the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and the location of the best cupcake, not to mention the softest comfiest pillow and sandals that don't make me reach for the wheelchair.

There's not much intellectual rigor attached to those activities but it sure doesn't make them less interesting, important or fun than say..reading Proust.

People who get all holier than thou about what they read, and how above the fray they are are the worst sort of intellects. They're dishonest. The life of the mind is in no way disconnected from the corporeal world, and all you need to do to know this is stand in front of Jackson Pollock painting and feel the frisson of energy. You don't have to understand to feel it, but it's important to understand that not FEELING it means you don't understand it.

Life of the mind, my ass.


Sobol Award? Give me a break

This is a crock of shit.
Sorry Brigitte, but calling it a contest doesn't make it one.
What you're doing here is called "reading fees".
AAR frowns on that..but you probably don't need to worry about that now...maybe not ever.

You'll take on any kind of fiction huh?
I don't know a single agent other than a scam artist who says that. Not one.

If you'd like to take that as a challenge, send me the website of an agency that says some form of "we look at all kinds of fiction including genres" and I'll post it with an apology. Two limitations: it can't be your own, and it can't be a scammer. All disputes can be adjudicated by Victoria, Ann or Dave. (You might not know who those folks are yet. There are links to their sites on the right hand side of this blog.) Or the Snarklings (those are the people who read this blog). They're pretty smart. One of them found you and gave me the heads up with a giant howl of laughter.

The other clue that it's not an award is the "prize". A year of representation. A prize you can't decline if you "win". We have words for prizes like that here in NYC. It rhymes with Scooby and it's full of doo doo too.

Just to make this really really clear for you: reading manuscripts and choosing manuscripts to represent is what I do all day, every day. It costs a writer thirty nine cents to send me a letter and thirty nine cents to receive a reply. We don't call offers of representation "awards". We think of more like..yanno...a business.

You've got one too many things going on here Brigitte. Run a contest for an award with a prize-go for it. Limit the entries to unagented people-have at it . I'll even release any of my clients from our agreement if they want to enter because unlike you, my contracts are 30 day notice by either party, and lots of us operate on a handshake and goodwill. The contest and prize are no problemo. It's the representation thingie that makes you walk and talk like a scam artist. I don't know if you are...but you know that cliche about the duck? Well, it's a cliche for a reason.

If you're the same Brigitte Weeks who used to write for Book World, and Guideposts, what the HELL are you doing here??

Foot Shooting 101

I've been baying at the moon about how much I hate to hear from people "mid-query"--the time between "yes do send me that partial/full" and "let's dance/go home unhappy".

I'm reminded of those howls today cause I have three nudges in my mail box this morning and a Snarkling sent me a link to someone else who wants you to quit shooting yourself in the foot.

Being pushy is an art form and most people don't do it well. If you just can't stand to not know, ask specifically "when should I email you if I haven't heard from you". Do NOT just email cause you're "pro-active". That's not a persuasive tactic from where I sit.

Just a reminder: don't email me to tell me you're going on vacation. After the temperature hit 98 yesterday in Central Park, it's tantamount to a neener-neener call. Don't email me to tell me someone else is looking at this unless I asked for an exclusive; I assume I'm not your one and only...yet; Don't email me to tell me you've got another eager blurber on the line; I don't care. Don't email unless you've gotten an offer of representation, you've signed with someone else, or very very seriously reworked the pages I'll soon be reading.

You want a piece o'me?

All Hail the Mighty Snark (with Respectful Regards to Killer Yap)!

I'm a children's author with a couple of books under my belt, and I was recently approached by the local education authority about doing some school visits and, if that works out, possibly conducting creative writing workshops for gifted and talented pupils in the area on a regular basis. This came about through the aegis of a friend who works for local government and had passed on my name and details.

I have just had a very positive meeting with the lady in charge of this kind of thing, and although I had made it clear that I was willing to visit schools for free, she did bring up the possibility of payment for doing the work. My question: if some money does materialise, should I have them send it to my agent so that she can remove her 15% commission, even though this work is not strictly related to my writing and has not so far required her involvement?

Double check with your agent. The answer is probably no but I don't know what's in your specific contract with her.

I don't take a commission on anything but what I sell, or cause to be sold. Thus, no commission on speaking engagements.


Xanax...not just for breakfast anymore

Dearest Miss Snark of My Heart:

Is it true that the major houses in New York work at a snail's pace over the summer with respect to acquisitions?

My MS (a novel) was submitted by a reputable NY agent and has been at several houses for more than two months. Should I assume these editors are sitting on the beach dictating my rejection letters? Or is there still hope?

Secondly, is there a ballpark figure as to how many publishers (large and small) an agent will generally submit a mystery/thriller novel to before he or she calls it quits?

Thanking you in advance,

I am
Very truly yours,

Tired of Waiting (on Tables)

P.S. My cat has a bone to pick with Killer Yapp for his recent post (KY Offers a Clue), but I told him if he's looking for an apology, he's probably snarking up the wrong tree.

Dear WaitStaff:

1. yes, just like they do all year long.

2. no. Editors have a wardrobe of form rejection letters (no dictation required) based either on the first letter of your last name, or the number of gin martinis served at lunch.


A-F/1 gm
Dear Writer, I'll have to pass on this great masterpiece because I don't think we can do it justice (translation: you want more money than I think it's worth)

G-M/2 gms
Dear Agent: We love this author but the budget is just so tight right now. (Translation: This submission is the second part of a two book deal and I'm sorry I acquired the first one so we're going to offer you something embarrassingly small so you'll get in a huff and sell it someplace else (we pray to dog).)

Dear Writer: You're very talented; there's much to admire here, but I didn't fall in love with this (enough to have a bare knuckle brawl with the executive editor who wants me to sign more lesbian haitian vampire novels cause she heard they were hot at BEA).

Dear Agent: Thanks for thinking of me on this one. I'm so sorry I have to pass. (Translation: Were you sloshed on gin when you acquired this? Is it your mom? Sister? oh ... wait... prospective boyfriend with a large trust fund who thought he'd pound out that novel he's been mulling over since he read A Separate Peace at Hill School and just knew he could do better. You and I both know that he fails to measure up both in these sheets...and in those other ones too.)

Dear Writer: I'd love to buy this, I think it's a great novel but I'm quitting my job next week (cause I hate this boss and this company and this entire industry and youmight as well be unhappy too cause misery loves company.)

W-Z /holding cell at the Tombs
Dear Agent: Have you seen the great work they do over at Lulu.com? I think this project would be perfect for that.

3. Yes of course, two months is nothing. Unless your agent is really pushing hard for a fast read, editors don't move very quickly on full mss. Besides, it's summer, we're reading trashy novels, not anything ...er... well, work-related might be the best phrase here.

4. 34

PS Your cat wears Army boots when you aren't watching.

Miss Snark Should Be Less Xenophobic

Given that geography and proximity, as you've noted, aren't really things one should worry about when querying an agent, might you elaborate about why not living in the states is detrimental to a prospective author? In an age of e-mail and globalization, shouldn't it not matter? Shouldn't the manuscript stand on its own no matter the geographic origin of the author?

"Should" is not a word with much meaning when you are discussing how things work around here. I should care about the homeless; I should give more to charity; I shouldn't discard the hopes and dreams of Aussies/Kiwis/Tazmanian Devils/Transylvanian werewolves, not to mention the odd Canuck here and there, unread.

Well take me off your "should list" cause I'm just telling you what I do. I don't offer it up for philosophical dissection, although you're welcome to do so in the comments trail.

The truth is, for me, it's a pain in the ass to have clients who are far away, outside the reaches of the US Postal System and hard to reach at 9am when I want to yap at them.

I should be a better person. I'm not. Live with it.

Now, as to why geography doesn't matter in your agent search, the question was "is it important to have an agent in New York". That's not the same question or even the flip side of the question "does living outside the USA help/hurt your chances of snagging a US based agent".

Now, to be clear, not all agents feel this way, AND I have clients who live in furrin lands. I know I don't like it cause I'm dealing with it and it makes me cranky. I also said earlier, and I'll say again, I would sign someone living in Precious Ramatswe, Botswana if they wrote as well as Alexander McCall Smith.

And that should just about cover it.

Over Due (diligence) Fines

Dear Miss Snark,

Before I query an agent, I research the firm in several sources, read the website, learn some of the more prominent clients, etc. My question is, how do I phrase this knowledge in my query letter?

You mentioned that you want to know a prospective client has done more than pull your name out of the phone book, but it always sounds dippy when I state my reasons for applying to a given firm. "Dear Agent Fabuloso, I want you to represent my unpublished tome, 'cause if you're good enough for Grisham, you'll probably do for me."

The agent knows who her clients are, and it's usually fairly public knowledge, so I don't need to remind her of this data. And I don't want to imply that Grisham recommended that I contact his agent, or that I think I'm the next John Grisham, or whatever.

How would you incorporate your research into an unsolicited query to an agent? (And why is it so hard for someone who fancies herself a writer to compose a simple one page letter without sounding like a ninny?)

Unclear and unrepresented in the heartlands,

Dear Heart:

Did I really say I wanted you to tell me why you are querying me? I was clearly suffering Rampant Ego Heatstroke at the time. I know why you are querying me: you're querying everyone with a pulse and probably six who are one with the pulsars since that last edition of Hermann's Munster Guide was published.

The easy answer is say why you are querying. Reasons I respond to, in no particular order, are:
1. I liked (title) by (author) and I think my book would be enjoyed by people who liked and read that one-(title and author being something I sold of course);

2. I think we have the same sense of humor;

3. You represent books I like to read and I hope I've written one of those.

The trick here is you absolutely have to be spot on accurate with the books. You can't query me telling me you like John Grisham's work cause he's not on my list. Nothing turns me OFF faster than an inept comparison.

It's ok to leave this part off. It's almost more trouble than it's worth cause I really will read just about anything you send me. How LONG I will keep reading is what matters. (For a discussion of that time frame-put down your beverage and go read today's post on POD-dyMouth )

There is a form for a query letter buried somewhere in the Snarkives and it's too close to the gin swilling hour to actually go dig around for it. You can probably find it in the index (All Saints ie Miss Adventure be Praised).

(thanks to the "other" MS for the heads up on PoddyMouth)

Killer Yapp Offers a Clue

Dear Killer Yapp:

I'm a six year old miniature poodle, with perfect red curls and large brown eyes. Though only eighteen pounds, my legs are long-boned and lazy. They call me Kipper for short, but my full name's Yummy Kippur. I was born on Yom Kippur, is how it went.

My father (he's a writer; you know how they are) refuses to take me to a groomer; he doesn't trust any ever since one of them left a pug in the dryer too long by accident. Though I'll admit I can be short tempered at times, and if you point your finger at me I'll show long, sharp teeth you'd never have guessed existed, but I'm tired of the choppy home haircuts and the huge poof he leaves on top of my head.

My mean, old sister, a sixteen year old cat who's been whacking me in the head since they adopted me, laughs her ass off every three weeks when they groom me. And my best friend, a really butch lady scottie (who is owned by a really good literary agent, too), is constantly making fun of me. What to do?

Killer Yapp replies:

First, you need to dump the cat. I advise duct tape, leftover plastic grocery bags and a ransom note to distract the bipeds' attention. I think you can download ransom notes from catsRscum.sol but my doorman, Franq, helps me; he says he doesn't have much use for pussy either.

Next, you need to make sure your human has a phone with large buttons. Miss Snark got rid of the one she had after the Unfortunate Incident of the Anchovy Pizza Delivery but Grandmother Snark doesn't see too well and I like to visit her. (toothy grin emoticon would be here if I had one)

When you get to the phone dial this number you find on this website
Remember to order cookies while you're at it.

And Scotties are just plaid pretenders to the throne, you need to hang out with poodles.

Bark On!

Something to chew on

Dear Most Elevated Snarkness,

Reading Publishers Lunch and checking over the "deals" page, I notice there are explanations of the figures involved in "a good deal," "a nice deal," etc. But there is no explanation of what, exactly, is a "pre-empt" or how it works. My first guess would be that it has something to do with an auction, but...can you enlighten a Snarkling about what a "pre-empt" deal entails?

A pre-empt means a publisher unlocks the wallet and tosses enough green on the table to entice the author and agent to call up everyone else who might be preparing a bid and say "sorry, you snooze you lose". In other words, they preempt all other bidders by giving you enough money to quell your anxiety that you could have gotten more if you'd asked around.

It's like reaching for the dinner check before the other person has a chance to put down their fork.

Killer Yapp's offer to gnaw on the UPS man is regularly preempted by Miss Snark's proffer of a cookie.

Just in case that Tina Turner thing doesn't work out...

Miss Snark will be trying out for this.

"I want to be Tina Turner

...for just about 15 minutes"

and now I can.
Here's how.

The "I want to be Tina Turner" is a quote from Lena Horne when asked by Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes who she would like to be if she could be anyone else in the world.


More on outside the 212

Dear Miss Snark,

You've made it perfectly clear that an agent needn't reside in NYC to be effective. The flip side of that question: do you think there is any advantage in having an agent geographically close to to the author? I can't imagine what difference it would make, but I get a little thrill when an agent's address is similar to my own.

You need to get out more. Seriously.
This is akin to picking a runner in the 4th at Belmont cause you like his name.

Effectiveness is not a function of geography. There are some crap agents in the 212 and they aren't going to be any more effective if they move to Buncombe County, North Carolina.


Dear Ms. Snark,

I work in publishing, in the editorial department of one of the major houses. I realize that most people say this is the worst thing an author can do - spend their day reading other people's (frequently dreadful) work. But I believe I can both write and read for a career (at least until I grow up and decide what I really want to do with my life.)

I've finished my romance novel, and am beginning to send out querys - my question is, do I mention that I work in publishing? Attempt to include a sort of cute and snarky sentence about it? Do I leave it off all together? Does my job present a potential conflict of interest, or is it of help to an agent?

No, it's not a conflict of interest unless you want to acquire the rights to your own book. If you do, call me, I'll buy lunch-easy sale!

You definitely want to mention it. There are lots of editors who write novels: David Ebershoff, Jason Pinter and Starling Lawrence leap to mind. In addition, you'll know how the process works which is a big plus as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, Exclusives still stink

What would you say is the best way to let an agent who has requested my proposal know that it is currently with another agent? In my query I stated that it would only be shown to one at a time and I intend to keep that promise, yet I don not want to lose the interest of the second agent. What would be an appropriate way to tell him to wait, and that the proposal will be sent once I have heard from the first agent?

Thank you for your time and wisdom.........and a highly entertaining way to spend my workday.

You promised an un-asked-for exclusive?
I highly doubt you've been reading THIS blog if you did that...or maybe you were just reading the snarky posts, not the ones with big red letters that say:


Unless an agent asks for an exclusive, you don't have to promise it. Just ignore what you said in the query letter and send it to the second agent. You're not honor bound to keep a promise that no one asked for.

Agents are not shy retiring wallflower types who have a hard time asking for what they want or telling you what they expect.