oh dear dog, please tell me this is a joke

Tell me why this is a bad bad bad idea.
Then, I'll agree.

All Sobol, all the time

I wonder if the folks over at the New York lottery office might be interested in this. It's illegal to run a lottery in New York state without posting a bond of some kind. I wonder who decides when a contest is a lottery? I volunteer!

Sobol is not Sobel

There's been a lot of commentary, and I've gotten a lot of emails, about the name choice for this so-called prize.

I can't find a reason for it. Maybe it's the guy's mother's name.


What I do know is that it's NOT Nat Sobel who is a reputable agent (Barry Eisler's in fact) and a good guy.

Before you conspiracy buffs start hitching up the bandwagon, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts the Sobol guys didn't intentionally try to confuse anyone. Conspiracies require thought, planning, knowledge. I don't see any of that on the basics let alone the subtleties of the Sobol website. I just count myself lucky they didn't call it the Misssnerk Prize

More on Sobol

Miss Snark,

why do you assume they (Sobol) must read the entire novel? Why not read it like slush and turn it down after a few pages? I would think that ALL contests do this - they can spot a non-winner right off the bat and just stop reading. Why would Sobol be forced to read whole novels, and who would ever know if they didn't?Do you think St. Martin's PI contest actually reads the entire novels that they receive? What am I missing?

Ahh...you're missing Sobol's own words on the web site: "Every entry will receive at least two readings, including those which do not pass beyond the first stage, and every writer will receive an evaluation." and "Manuscripts will be judged on plot, characters, writing style, setting, opening, dialog, and originality, with equal weight given to each."

St Martins does run a contest f0r Malice Domestic. They SPECIFICALLY say they do not offer comments. Here's the link to the contest rules and the exclusion is at the very end of the page.

I wonder why those guys at Sobol didn't ask the folks at Minotaur about how to make a contest run smoothly? Minotaur's only been doing it for...yanno.. longer. Maybe it's the same reason they didn't ask any agents about how to run a slush pile, or write an agency agreement.

These guys at Sobol are RIPE for a lawsuit from an unhappy writer. People were eager to jump on the bandwagon and sue Random House for the buying James Frey's "non fiction". Can you imagine what happens if someone pays $85 for two critiques and get's back "wtf " or "this is a mess".

I'm actually starting to feel sorry for these guys. They're about ready to find out that good intentions do indeed pave the road to hell.

Any more questions?


The Sobol Prize is more than a crock of shit

Let's just overlook the fact they list their address two different ways on the "Sobol Award" site.

I mean, gee, it's a mistake anyone could make right? I mean, really, don't you get your address wrong on your website at least once?

Leaving location location location aside, let's crunch some numbers:

We're told in "how the manuscripts will be judged" that "The manuscript readers will follow a careful and progressive evaluation process".

They give themselves 90 days to read the entries.

If they get the max of 50,000 thats 556 manuscripts a day to be carefully evaluated.

If they get 10,000 it's 112 each and every day. Regardless of size or quality. No weekends, holidays or sick days. I can tell you that reading bad novels is the most tiring thing in the world. For substantiation of this conclusion you have only to read the comments trail of the Crapometer. Look at how many comments said "I had to stop reading".

The problem is they HAVE to read these. If they don't, if it becomes just a lottery or a sweepstakes, they've got a host of legal problems, none of which I'm qualified to comment on but the Bar Association is all over it.

Let's assume they get the 10,000 manuscripts, and need to read 112 a day.
They've got 4 people listed on the panel of judges right now.
I'm not even going to assume those are the actual readers cause that would be ludicrous.
No, the readers, those industry professionals who are "book editors, librarians and store staff" are unnamed, and unnumbered at present. Do they really think they can find enough people to read 112 manuscripts a day? Even at one a day, that's 112 people. One a week is 784 people. Even if they ARE paying these people, they have to find them. I haven't seen any ads for "Sobol Readers" around. Have you? Do they really think they can find 112 readers in less than three months? 784? Man, I'd be interested to see what kind of recruiting operation they're running if they think that. 112 professional readers is a nightmare to organize. Ask anyone who's run a writing conference. 784? Ask anyone who's run a labor union.

Furthermore, one thing I can guarantee you about store staff and librarians. Good people all, and probably have resounding good taste. Thing is, they've probably never read the stuff in a slush pile in their lives. Remember how many of you commented on the quality of the slush in the Crapometer? Well, that's what they're going to get. Why? Cause the only people who can enter are unpublished novelists. Unpublished. So, even if you fire your agent for the chance at the SOBol brass ring, if you've published a novel you're out. If you've published with iUniverse, you're out. They are targeting the very people LEAST likely to produce a publishable novel.

And they're going to have 112 people reading a novel a day just for the first round. Good luck with that.

I was willing to cut SOBol some slack on this contest because I was outraged at the requirement you sign with a literary agency that ISN'T in order to qualify for the final rounds. I think my exact words were "have at it".

No more.

This is just outright wrong.

I don't care how many big name people have attached their names to this. They should be ashamed of themselves. And yea, Brigitte Weeks, and Greg Tobin, I mean YOU. If you really think you are going to be "a unique nation wide talent screener for fiction writers" you would have done well to actually consult with someone who IS looking for fiction writers on a daily basis, and IS finding talent on a daily basis: the membership of AAR is a good place to start. So are the agents listed on Publishers Marketplace. And if you really want to scrape the bottom of the barrel, hell you could have emailed Miss Snark.

If an author is good enough to win, s/he's good enough for a legitimate agency to take on.

Now, I can hear people saying "well, there's a big awards dinner" and anyone who wins will certainly be on the fast track to have their manuscript considered by a major publisher.
I'll stipulate that's correct just for the sake of arguement. Say you've got six offers. Now comes the fun part. You're represented by an agency who's never conducted an auction. You choose one offer from the six. You're represented by an agency that has never negotiated a deal. You sign the contract and your editor leaves, or the publisher folds, or they cancel the contract cause they changed their minds. You're represented by an agency who has no clue what to do when the fecal roster hits the circulation device.

I find the implicit hostility this contest exhibits towards agents to be deeply puzzling. They won't let us represent the winners, they won't let us read the manuscripts, and they won't even let our clients enter. Do you suppose it was dreamed up by someone who was rejected by every agency in town?

The Sobol Prize is more than a crock of shit. It's Bookner Reborn.
Save your money.

How to approach an author and not be a nitwit

Dear Miss Snark,

Is it terrible etiquette to ask an author at a book signing about his struggling pre-publication years? Will I be escorted quickly to the nearest exit? Will I be blacklisted if I hand him my card containing information about my P.O.D. novel? Authors read and I think he'll like my work. Then he'll tell his agent he's discovered a talented new author.


(hoping not to be) nitwit of the day

Authors love to tell their "before I was famous" stories. We ALL do. The trick is to phrase it like you're actually interested in hearing HIS story, not garnering support for your current ..ahem..."pre-published" condition. You want to avoid even the semblence of asking about someone's health only in to enumerate your own aches and pains.

You can hand an author your card with the title of the book. You cannot ask him to buy it, blurb it, forward it to his agent or in any way engage him in communication that asks him to do anything.

Oddly enough the author is not at the reading to help you. He's there to sell books. All communication with him will be improved if you are holding a copy of his novel, paid for, and you tell him you've read it and liked it. And you actually have.

For a truly famous author, you have to have three first editions, well thumbed, underlined and know all the characters.

For those of you who think this is a clever strategy, it's not. Authors are crazed beyond reason at readings. They are nervous. They are hoping people show up. They are hoping people buy books. They don't want to do anything but live through the next hour without bursting into flame.

Authors are much more likely to discover you at YOUR reading, or from a shelf talker at your local bookstore. Invest in making yourself look like a real author not a hustling sycophant.


Agent Kristin isn't wrong..but neither is Miss Snark

Dear Miss Snark,

what do you think of wonderful agent Kristin's take on technology:

Example #1: Accepting email queries.

I have many friends who just can’t get on board with this because they still love, for various reasons, the paper format. Perhaps it’s easier on the eyes to read or perhaps they think writers take more care with the writing of the letter if they will go to the length of paying $0.39 for the stamp or whatever.

I know many of my agent friends will hate me for this but I can’t help but think that’s just unnecessary old school.

If you’re an agent looking to build a client list, then it’s a numbers game and the faster you can get to a good project, the more likely you’ll be to land it. I know I’ve taken on many a good client because I was timely in my response via email.

I’m using technology to my advantage.

In fact, I’ve taken on one client in my career who couldn’t use email and wasn’t interested in learning.

Never again. My clients also need to be technologically savvy because that’s how I operate.

I think Kristin Nelson is very very smart.
I know she sells good stuff for good money.

I know she's going to read this and laugh cause this isn't the first time she's stared down her elegant nose and tsk tsk tsk'd at me for not taking email queries.

Well...she's probably right but I'd use a fountain pen if I could get away with it too.

That said, she's right exactly on the money about technology. I've let go of clients who couldn't get their electronic acts together. Things move too fast now; a client not only has to be on email but must check it regularly and know how to send documents, edited documents, and all that kind of good stuff.

I don't take equeries because I read slowly. I know if I read too fast I tend only to see problems. I read something twice before I ask for a partial. I only ask for one or two a week. I get 100 letters. Takes me about 6 hours a week to go through them all. I turn them around, mostly, in a week. I know for a dead ass certain fact that's not a slow response time even in this electronic world.

I am old school in many respects. I'm ok with that, and my clients are ok with that.

Parsing for fun...well, ok not exactly fun

Dear Miss Snark: I am getting a curious variation on the form rejection theme. Agents are hand writing notes that contain the same sorts of comments you see in form rejections: Sorry, not for me. Thanks for the read, but I'm taking no new clients currently. Nice style, but I didn't feel as strongly as an agent needs to. Some have even written full paragraphs, again repeating what I've seen in form rejections. I have received individualized comments as well, but I'm curious why an agent would take time to hand write responses that would fit into an easy-to-send form rejection?

We're hand writing rejections cause the printer is tied up.
We're hand writing rejections cause we ran out of forms.
We're hand writing rejections cause we're on hold, reading the slush pile and can't find the forms.

We're hand writing them on the train away from the office; on the ferry; on the bus; waiting in airport terminal lounges on our way to Madison Wisconsin.

You can obsess over this if you have cured cancer and solved the problems of the Middle East. Not till then, ok?

No matter what form "no" takes, it's not the answer you're looking for. Parse your sentences, not our replies.

How to meet an agent and not look like a nitwit

Dear Miss Snark,

Bouchercon is coming up in a couple of weeks. I plan to be there, and I'm sure plenty of agents will be there as well.
I'm an author with three novels in hardback, two of which have gone to trade paper. My publisher is a well-known, though small, traditional publisher. I also have a separate contract (very modest) for a mass-market series to be published by one of the bigger houses. Oh, and I've won some awards for my writing, too.
Here's the thing: I am unagented, and always have been. Helpful contacts and good luck have brought me this far.
I've heard, over and over again, about how schmoozing agents at conferences makes all the difference - how chatting agents up can get your submission read. As far as I've heard, there are no pitch sessions scheduled for Bouchercon.
But - how does one introduce oneself successfully?
I know that I detest dealing with telemarketers on the phone, and the moment I discover a telemarketer has fooled me -via Caller ID- into picking up, I can't get off the line fast enough. I thank them (none-too-sweetly) and hang up.
If I approach an agent at a conference, I feel like I'm one of those despised telemarketers. And yet, everywhere you go you hear that schmoozing is the answer.
I can't even imagine how to approach an agent in a way that won't garner me a "Get away from me, you pesky fly" look.
Any hints?

"Hello, how are you? I'm laying wagers on when McNulty falls off the wagon. Would you care to place a bet? Oh, you don't watch the Wire? I'm sorry, never mind, I don't need to speak to you ever again."

"Hello, how are you? Wouldn't you agree Alan Furst is one of the best novelists writing in the espionage field? You don't? Ok, never mind."

"Hello, how are you? Don't you think Out of Sight starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez is an overlooked masterpiece and sadly deprived of an Oscar? You don't appreciate Mr. Clooney? Excuse me, I need to shun you for life."

"Hello, how are you, nice to meet you. What do you think of the plan to raise taxi farres in New York? You are chauffered whereever you go? Ok, never mind."

"Hello, how are you? Don't you think it's time for the revitalization of private eye novels?
Me too. Let's have lunch."

Knowing you are whipcrack smart I know I don't need to tell you what I've just shown you. But, never being one not to grind a point into the pavement let me just say this: you're attending a convention of people who like to read. Talk to them about what they like to read. You'll get a big list of ideas, make some friends, and come off sounding elegant and professional. You don't need to mention you're published. Most likely we can figure that out by looking at your name. Most of us will probably know it. To quote a very very good writer "Be Cool".

Dear Ms Snark...snarl

Dear... Miss Snark,

Why exactly is 'Ms. Snark' snarlworthy?

I know several women of a certain age (that 'certain age' being, in some cases, no more than 30) who think that being addressed as 'Miss' is condescending and shows they're not taken seriously. On the other hand, I know women of any age who think that being addressed as 'Ms' is condescending and shows they look old and/or divorced. (Don't ask how anyone can 'look divorced'.) To say nothing of 'Mrs'! That is, apparently, condescending, sexist, chauvinist, fascist, and shows they're not taken seriously AND look old. In other words, modern etiquette has become so tough one would prefer to stay at home.

Still, even if I were to find out the agent's marital status and age, and use a complicated mathematical formula to find out the likelihood of her preferring one title over another, I could never bring myself to address any woman as 'Miss' (or indeed 'Mrs') in a business context. Not even Miss Snark. And I hate, hate, *hate* the idea of starting a query letter with, say, 'Dear Seraphina Snark'.

But what is one to do if even 'Ms' can rub an agent the wrong way? Should I save myself from etiquette migraines by restricting my queries to the plain Misters?

Thank you,

Miss Petunia Paranoid`

Dear Miss Snark has nothing to do with everyone else and everything to do with the name on the masthead of this blog. IF the name on this blog was Snarly Snark you'd be quite correct to make no assumption of gender and say Dear Mr/Ms Snark, or Dear Snarly Snark, or even should the mood strike Yo Snarl.

However. Miss Snark, the literary agent should be obvious to anyone. Thus Dear Miss Snark.

The most basic rule of etiquette in social and business situations is you call someone as they ask to be called. Thus "Dr. Laura" even if that violates every rule in Emily Post's Big Book of Clue Cards; "Captain Janeway" rather than "ma'am", "Kid Rock" rather than Mr. Rock; and of course everyone knows the New York Times is having its own special kind of fun calling P. Diddy "Mr. Diddy" and 50cent "Mr. Cent".

Call people what they want. Ms is fine if you don't know. But, if you don't know Miss Snark is Miss Snark, you're Mr/Ms Nitwit.


First rights of refusal

Dear Miss Snark
What on earth does an agent mean when she asks "for first refusal on representation for a month after receiving it." Is this just another way of asking for an exclusive reading? Help me out here because I've never heard anything phrased quite this way.

Thank you for being there to ask.

It means you can keep sending stuff to other agents for consideration but you can't sign with any of them until she says yes/no.

It's like a half-exclusive. I haven't seen this before but there's no end of the ways us agents try to keep you from signing with our competitors.

This doesn't keep your work on hold like an exclusive would, and it doesn't have the force of a legal agreement and don't forget, just cause she wants you doesn't mean you want her. Don't sign with anyone who tells you have to.

Mr. Romance

I am a guy and I just finished writing a romance novel. I tried to be very true to the genre (no making fun of the genre, nothing overtly sappy or pornographic, etc.). I figure the novel isn't as good as some in the genre, and hopefully better than others. I'm just now starting to do my research on agents that handle romance.

In your opinion, will being a guy shut me out of the genre, give me an edge as a curiosity, or not make any material difference?

The only thing that matters is how well you write. There are many romance novelists who are of the male persuasion. They can't help it; they were born that way, poor dears. Their novels may come etched in pink and have decidedly un-masculine noms de guerre, but that was a discussion by the marketing department. Here at Snark Central we think pink is the correct color for tough-talking, tammed forces of nature anyway.

Agent web sites

Dear Miss Snark---

First there was the Stone Age, followed by miscellaneous other Ages, and now presto! It's the Internet Age. Does everyone in publishing not know this? Why do some agents not have websites? Are they lost in the Bronze Age or what?

And why do some agents with websites feature nothing but themselves? Like big pictures of their chubby face, some dry dull long bio of themselves, a list of their appearances, a pitch for their books? And nothing about their authors' books. I see that, I cross their name off my list. These are either scammers or marketing idiots. (err...)

Then there are the unbridled control freaks. There's one guy who requests a list of everyone you've ever subbed to and what they said. He must be kidding, right? Or stark raving wacko. Does he require knowledge of all my blind dates, too? It's a beautiful thing that he has a chance to manifest his inappropriateness from the outset, so the author doesn't get a rude surprise after signing.

Another website I found the agents were dead, died of old age years ago. Looks like the administrative assistant keeps it going, somehow. To cash royalty checks on the backlist, I guess.

Then there are a couple of agencies that list publishers as their clients. Not authors. What's the deal, there? (publishers have agents too; what, you didn't know everything?) They're skulking around on lists of literary agents for authors. But this would be like hiring an attorney to defend you from his other client, a big multinational corporation. Guess who loses? Another place turned out to be a film production company. (what list are you looking at anyway?)

I'm not planning to sub to anyone who doesn't have a competent website featuring the usual relevant info plus lots of pictures of books that I suddenly want to go buy and read. Is there some reason that'd be a mistake?


You want an agent who knows how to sell your books and negotiate a good deal for you, and keep you published for years to come. None of those have anything to do with how to build or maintain a website. It's like picking a spouse based on his appearance. How you look has very little to do with how you act.

You are free of coure to make submissions to any agency using any criteria you want.
I know I won't be hearing from you again.

The Sobol Prize is STILL a crock of shit

Sobol..the "prize" that will not die!

Links came in left and right today, after Hillel Italie the reporter at Associated Press put a story on the wire about the "prize" that offers $100,000 to unpublished, unagented writers. The "prize" is of course some of the money that the other writers paid to enter.

Let's do the math:

They say they'll cap the entries at 500,000. Correction: The article says 50,000

Figure they get 50,000 at $85 a pop.
(Abacus Snark's fingers fly)
4.25 million dollars.

Nice work (still)

Maybe they only get 10,000 entries.
Nice work too (but not as nice as 8.5 million, oh well)

$100,000 (still) seems a tad paltry after you see the gross revenue doesn't it.

To get the prize money they need less that 1200 people to send money.
We had 459 people send work to the crapometer.
Gee maybe I should have charged money.

None of that is why this is a crock of shit.

It's not a contest.
It's not even a reading fee.
It's a for-profit way to separate you from $85 and use your hopes of being publishable to do it.

These people aren't crooks or scam artists.
They tell you EXACTLY what they are going to do.
They are going to take your money.
They've made it extremely easy and cost effective to do so.

They are going to require you to sign with their "literary agency" for representation to be a finalist. This literary agency as far as I can tell has no sales. Correct me if I'm wrong on that, please.

I'd have no problem with these guys running an entry fee based contest for unagented writers if they let the winners seek representation from agencies across the board. If the writer wants to sign with these guys, have at it. But the ONLY way to win is to sign your rights away ahead of time. Therein the crock wherein the shit.

(Lest you think agents aren't interested in contests, let me remind you that several agents contacted Pod-dy Mouth to read the books she selected as winners on her blog. My only regret was not thinking of it first and getting an exclusive.)

I have no doubt they will have their fill of people sending stuff.
The world is full of people who think "send $10 for the secrets to earning money at home" ads in the back of magazines are legitimate too.

If any of this information is wrong,
or if any of the people associated with this "Prize" can point out mistakes,
email me:

miss.snark at gmail com

As you can see from the comments column, mistakes will be corrected in red.

Speaking of orange ...er..."cu/mberbunds"

thanks to MM for the link!


Nitwit of the Day!

Miss Snark,

A response to entry:
"This doesn't suck completely but it needs more work than I'm willing to chaperone. This is a form rejection cause I think you're at least three to five drafts away from ready. I'm not signing up to read that many drafts and encouraging words tend to create pen pals."

If a given manuscript needs a few more drafts and is not worth more of your time, wouldn't it behoove you to tell the writer exactly that in a real-life rejection letter? Rather than regurgitating the vague "I am unable to represent you at this time" or "isn't quite what I'm
looking for" responses, wouldn't a SPECIFIC reason help to avoid the "pen pal" syndrome? Seems it would save you AND the author precious time.

(And no, I'm not a frustrated writer. Merely a layman who recognizes a whine blog when he sees one. Are you as honest with those seeking your representation outside the blogosphere? Perhaps you should be. Lest we forget, the end is a pound of their flesh and food on your table.)

Leaving aside the last paragraph for the moment, why would you think spending time on critiques, and reading the same pages five or six times, is going to save ME time?

If you think writing "a specific response" is fast or easy, you are a nitwit. And no, of course I don't give honest responses to query letters. 'This is a mess' isn't an appropriate response to someone even when it's true. That's exactly why I run this blog and the crapometer.

It took 37 hours to run 100 letters through the crapometer. I get 100 letters a week at my agency. I'm not paid by the hour. I'm not paid to help you. I'm not paid to be your writing coach and I'm sure as hell not paid to be nice to you.

If you think that is whining, so be it. You're not the first person who doesn't understand much about how this industry works.

Please dog, let this be deadpan humor

Dear Miss Snark.

I have read parts of your blog from time to time. What I would like to know is if you provide literary representation. If you are, I would love to query. I find having someone with a no bullshit attitude like yours is strangely comforting and empowering. Especially when battling such a competitive agent/publishers market.

Let me know.

You might want to read the blog posts directly below this.
Is it clear yet?

Let me know.

PS The funny smell drifting your way is the scent of powder used in the clue-cannon.


Is Fan Fiction a pub credit?

Dear Miss Snark:

I'm preparing my query letter. I have several non-fiction publications, but no fiction. I have written two novel length fanfiction pieces that received a large number of positive reviews. Would it be appropriate to include the web address and pen name in the letter? Or would this be a form of literary suicide? Is this equivalent to putting fiction on a blog? I wouldn't even consider mentioning them other than creating a blog seems to be a popular method of building readership.
Thank you for your time.


I'm not exactly sure what fan fiction is but the only writing credential I'm interested in is what has been acquired and published by someone other than your mom.

Posting your work on a blog and telling me it got good reviews does not qualify.

Self publishing and telling me you have good Amazon reviews does not qualify.
iUniverse doesn't count
Lulu doesn't count

Self publishing and having Pod-dy Mouth like it counts for half.

Being published by a small publisher qualifies.
E-books count if I can check out how they acquire (that's why you tell me who published your work)
E-zines with posted submission guidelines count (Spinetingler for example)

See the pattern?

Sock Puppets

"Surely you made that up!"

Back in the early days of the blog I'd surf around the net to see what people were saying about me. One of the recurring themes I found both hilarious and strange was "she comments on her own blog anonymously" and "she makes up letters". I wondered what kind of total nitwit would do that, let alone what double nitwit would think I had to make up anything.

Wellllllllllll, come to find out there's a term, sock puppet, for aliases people use who comment on their own blogs, or defend themselves on their own blogs. One of the bloggers affiliated with The New Republic just got canned for it, and there have been others.

Now, I don't know what kind of readers those people have but I have a goat, a princess, Bunions, roller derby queens and people who think ducks can talk. With readers like that, sock puppets are pale imitations of interesting.

I may edit the letters I post for focus (ie one topic at a time, effusive compliments appreciated but removed)

I delete some comments posted to the comment trail.

Comments I make are posted as Miss Snark.

Comments made by Killer Yapp are posted as Killer Yapp.

Questions answered on the blog come from ya'll, either as email or comments.

Links are stolen, as is the poetry.

Everything else is mine.

Miss Snark, surely you jest

Hi Miss Snark,

You’ve often said on your blog that good writing trumps everything else. Come on!!! You don’t really believe that, do you? If Britney Spears were to write a novel, no matter how crappy, wouldn’t you have multiple orgasms at the prospect of representing it? If the book sucked, couldn’t a publisher hire a talented snarkling to revise it?

Switching to a serious mode, does having a national platform trump good writing for some books?


Neither Britney Spears nor her minions are reading this blog so what works for her is not good advice for you.

Nor is Donald Trump reading this.

This audience is normal everyday people (well, excluding those Bunion girls, and those shady killer babes, the odd agent and publishing professional, Bill E. Goat and assorted principessi, ...well, ok, you get the idea) .

"Good writing trumps everything" means if you're getting form rejection letters its not cause you sent it in the wrong font.

Anon, anon, ah no

Hey there Miss Snark, I have a question for you today.

I have just finished writing my first ever novel, and have been doing research on this getting-published business before I go out and try to get this novel out there, and end up getting scammed. However, now I feel like I've reached a dead end. You see, my book is a very controversial one and it also a very personal one. For these reasons, I want to publish my under a pseudonym, and be able to keep my real identity completely secret. I know that this (writing under a pseudonym) can obviously be done, but my problem is that I'm unsure of how secret my real name can actually remain. Lately, I've been researching this matter, and it seems like if an author has a pseudonym, it'll take no time for the world to find out the truth. Basically, I want to know if writing under a secret name is something that can actually be kept a good secret. I want to know how much agents and publishers respect an author's wishes to remain anonymous.

Also, I wish to know if agents get more "turned off" by writers who choose to write under false names. I know that since I want to keep my identity a secret, I would never do things like book signings or personal interviews or none of that stuff, making it a lot harder to publicize my book. So basically; would my using a pseudonym make it even harder for me to get an agent?

First, if you s tell me you aren't available for any kind of promotion, we're done. "I did my part, you do the rest" isn't a practical business strategy in any field except sperm banks.

Second, if you won't tell me who you are, I can't vet any of this "controversial book" and if you think I'm going to fall into the trap of "didn't ask, not my fault" you are nuts.

Third, I'm disinclined to believe anything is both personal and controversial. Generally that's a sign of delusion. I prefer to buy my delusions in the swimming costume department of Bloomingadales.

Remember to breathe and tie your shoes

Just a suggestion: Maybe you should have a caption at the top of the blog that says, "Read the damn FAQ before you send me anything." Because honestly, as a newbie I didn't know you don't accept queries through the site and I don't think it's as obvious as you seem to think it is.

This is the reason there is a warning sign on handheld paint removers that says "do not use as a hair dryer" and on ladders that says "place only on a flat surface". People do the nitwittiest things in the world then get all indignant cause "you didn't tell me that using a 1200 degree paint remover might burn my scalp. It looks like a hair dryer to me!".

"Do Not Query Miss Snark" is as obvious as it can be to anyone who has paid one whit of attention to anything I've ever said; anything any of the standard industry reference guides say; anything your common sense tells you.

Did the absence of submission guidelines offer a clue?

Did the word uranitwit offer a clue?

Did the email "url" of wtf.sol offer a clue?

If it is not obvious after all that, designating anything you send as junk mail seems offensive only cause it's a good defense.

Step off your righteous indignation ladder.

September 11, 2006

Look to this day, for it is Life, the very life of Life;
In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence...
the bliss of Growth, the glory of Action, the splendour of Beauty.

For Yesterday is but a dream,
and Tomorrow only a vision;
It is Today well lived that makes Yesterday a dream of Happiness
and Tomorrow a vision of Hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.


Just a reminder

Don't query Miss Snark.
Not for the crapometer. It's over
Not for your novel.
Not for anything that you want to sell including your kidney.


If you just can't imagine why this is the case, consult the FAQ for this blog. There's a link on the blog roll.

In case you think this is just for everyone else and not for you; take heed.

If you query me with your novel, I mark your email address as junk mail.
I'll never hear from you again with that address.

Any questions?

Thank you Miss Abacus

A word of thanks to Amy, our very own Miss Abacus for the idea of the random numbers and generating them for the Crapometer.

It made the selection process much more fair across all the time zones to have random numbers. It was a great idea, and executed with swift elegance. Can't ask for much more than that now can you?

Three (randomly selected) cheers!
Go Girl!
Snark On!

Your mileage and why it varies

Dear Miss Snark,

Recently I attended a critique group hosted by an editor for a (Big Fuzzy) publishing conglomerate.

One of the stories edited began with the protag waking up. This editor suggested the writer scrap that and start with the end of the dream the protag was having. From there, the editor said, the writer could move on to the waking up part.

WTF? Do you guys communicate with each other over there?


I know this just stuns you but there are lots of people who like things that Miss Snark finds to be total crap. I need only say "Bridges of Madison County" to illustrate that point in full.

My crapometer is my opinion. Sadly, it does not have the force of law or even federal regulation. The world would be a better place of course were it so, but sadly, no.

When those form rejection letters say things like "query other agents cause opinions vary" they aren't saying it just to make you feel better.

oh dear dog

Just when you thought it was safe to resurface....Ozysnarkius

Other than "Most Aweful One" this may be my favorite salutation ever.

Is This What You See in Your Slush Pile Miss Snark?

Thank you!!! It was an awesome experience.

I have a question for the blog. Was the quality of the work sent in for the crapometer similar to what you see in your own slush pile?

The work I see in my slush pile is generally more polished because people have actually decided "I'm ready to send". From the comments, I concluded quite a few people sent stuff to the Crapometer that they knew wasn't ready. I have no problem with that. I learn a lot by reading what doesn't work.

My goal was to illustrate how I read things when they come in and I think (again from reading the comments) that y'all got a sense of that.

The goal for people submitting stuff was to get their work critiqued. I think we accomplished that too.

Two birds, one stone...ouch!