Excellent news

Victoria Straus reports that Martha Ivery is going to jail.


Speaking of horreurs

Miss Snark:

I was reading your blog about the woman who sent in an 800,000 word manuscript with no SASE and I was wondering, does the MS have to be THAT long for you to consider it? That's a hell of a lot of padding, and my book is padded enough as it is. If I add another 100,000 words, somebody is likely to get wise. Would 700,000 words do? I am glad I don't have to send an SASE. My book is so big it would take a trunk like the one they used to use on the old Stanley Steamers.

Also, I appreciated the notes about the gift package. I wondered what it takes to get an editor's attention. I usually send out a tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap ripped off from the Ramada Inn Express the last time I was there (only used once), and a couple of cigars. Having worked in the business world I learned a long time ago that performance doesn't get you anything but fired, and you know what I mean, Miss Snark, or you would not be self-employed. What people are looking for is bull-uh-something. Nobody cares whether you can write or not (and they sure as hell don't care if I can. They publish my stuff anyway.) I will try your suggestions when I query you.

Many thanks for considering my query.

Yes, I know the perfect place for this one.


Dear Miss Snark,
Do you use the Flesch Reading stuff in Word? Should we? I've looked through the archives and can't find anything on this subject. Thanks.

Nope. I trust my beady four eyes.
On the other hand, I don't work much with early reader and middle grade reader books where vocabulary levels are a real concern.

And I also think vocabulary isn't always the best measure of the complexity of a work. For that I offer this:

The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Quelle horreur!!!!!

Words fail me

cruelty thy name is BILL

Holy Show Bat Man

The latest two installments of The Bat Segundo Show, a literary podcast featuring interviews with today's contemporary writers, are now up. We talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones as well as acclaimed novelist Mary Gaitskill.

To our considerable horror, Mr. Segundo has embraced this MySpace thing. We're not sure how he did this, given that he is clueless about technology and has no real idea about how social networking sites work. We suspect Jorge might have had a hand in this development. But Mr. Segundo has found salubrious guidance of late with a doctor who may or may not be a quack, although his tequila drinking continues at unhealthy levels of consumption.

The main Segundo site can be found here:

Here are the details for the next two shows.

Show #80
Author: Edward P. Jones

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Feeling oppressed by MySpace.

Subjects Discussed: Jones’s instinct for precision, specifics, city streets, details within minor characters, family lineage within fiction, Squirrel Nuts, penny candy, handicapped characters, gifted students, avoiding recurrent motifs and repeating stories, characters who appear in Lost in the City and All Aunt Hagar’s Children, selecting historical settings, Washington D.C. as magnetic nexus point, throwing the reader off guard, flash-forwards, mathematical metaphors, how Jones became an English major, double metaphors, having a writing philosophy, violence in fiction, crossword puzzles, making stories read like novels, miracles, and neighborhoods.


JONES: If you have a portrait painted of your family and they’re at the center of the portrait, there’s no use having cartoonish figures in the background. What’s in the background, what’s set aside should be as rich in detail as the family in the foreground right there in the center of the portrait. And I suppose that’s part of it. It’s all a matter of trying to make the reader believe that what he or she is reading is real, actually happened — even though, of course, it all came out of my imagination.

Show #81
Author: Mary Gaitskill

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Feeling triumphant over hepatitis.

Subjects Discussed: Emotional mood and writing, Marin County, horticultural details, decomposition and decay, dichotomous characters and the gray areas of life, unusual character relationships, the conscious design of Veronica’s environments, office environments, the modeling world, maintaining a consistent vision over ten years, rumination vs. urgency in the writing process, Gaitskill’s placid demeanor, distractions, word processors, Francine Prose’s review, ordinary vs. extraordinary narrative, sympathy and didacticism, the text as sympathetic medium between writer and reader, responding to Benjamin Strong’s assertion that Gaitskill isn’t interested in the novel as social or political commentary, ideology, ambiguity, Ayn Rand, favoritism towards optimistic novels, shock value in literature vs. shock value in television, misfits, Irini Spanidou’s championing of truth, and auctorial perception.


Gaitskill: When I’m reading another writer, even if I feel they’re technically accomplished, if I feel they have an ordinary mind, I am often — I wouldn’t say I totally lose interest. But it’s something that I don’t like to see in a writer. It’s almost like you can write about anything in an extraordinary way, not in a showy way. But to write about something extraordinary, I think, is usually to see it clearly.

To subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste 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 or, if you're the kind of person who prefers swinging a bat over clicking on one, we do have a user-friendly interface with many listening options.

Thanks again for listening,

The Bat Segundo Crew


Tizz the Season

Miss Snark is your agent. She is not your friend because:

1. you have enough friends. you only get one agent (at a time).

2. You can not invite her to your wedding/kids' parties/holiday festivities and she won't be insulted.

3. You can't call her on Sunday to discuss your marital woes.

4. You can't call her on any day of the week to discuss your mother.

5. Miss Snark is going to hear people say disparaging things about you and not send her seconds with a summons to the field of honor.

You'll notice none of these things are "miss snark is not your friend because she doesn't like you".

I think it's insane that I actually though I'd write "but I do like my clients, I do". Of COURSE I do, and your agent will like you, or does like you. But we are your AGENTS and our role in your life is different than that of a friend.

I can't understand why people get in a tizzy about this. Do you tizz if your dentist doesn't ask where you got your shoes? Do you tizz if your college professor posts office hours and asks you not call her at home on Sunday absent an emergency? Of course you don't.

I fully expect long standing, profitable, warm and cordial relationships with each and every one of my clients. I don't expect them to invite me to their birthday parties and I'm not offended if they don't. I am however, hostile as hell, if they fail to acknowledge me in the books I've sold for them.

And you thought Miss Snark was tough!!!

I love the new Gawker publishing insider!

This post applies to agents too.

Have you ever noticed that the only ones who say "we are just the best of friends" are authors?

I don't think I've ever heard an agent say anything like that about an author. And if you have, I'll be glad to hear about it.

Writing Recipes for Publication

Not that Miss Snark will ever use this info, given the large, white, fire burning appliance was removed and replaced with a file cabinet to store take out menus in alpha and geo order, but some of you brave culinary souls will find this writing recipes for publication of use.

Miss Snark looks forward to your publication party. She'll even bring her ambulatory doggie bag.

as usual, stolen from a post at the toolbox!


Crock of Shit alert


NEW YORK (November 15, 2006) The 2007 New York Book Festival has issued a call for entries to its annual program celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the world's publishing capital.

The 2007 New York Book Festival will consider published, self-published and independent publisher non-fiction, fiction, children's books, teenage, how-to, audio/spoken word, comics, e-books, wild card (anything goes!), science fiction, romance and biography/autobiography works.

A panel of judges will determine the winners based on the following criteria:
1) The story-telling ability of the author;
2) The potential of the work to win wider recognition.
Entries can be in English, Spanish, French or Italian. Our grand prize for the 2007 New York Book Festival Author of the Year is $1500 and a flight to New York for the awards.

ENTRIES: Please classify your book and enter it in the following categories. Multiple entries must be accompanied by a separate fee for each book.
1) General Non-fiction
2) General Fiction
3) Children's books
4) E-books
5) Comics
6) Wild Card
7) Unpublished Stories
8) Teenage
9) Science fiction
10) Romance
11) Biography/Autobiography
12) Audio/spoken word

FESTIVAL RULES: New York Book Festival submissions cannot be returned. Each entry must contain the official entry form, including your e-mail address and contact telephone number. All shipping and handling costs must be borne by entrants.

NOTIFICATION AND DEADLINES: We will notify each entry of the receipt of their package via e-mail and will announce the winning entries on this web site shortly after the entry deadline.

Deadline submissions in each category must be postmarked by the close of business on April 25, 2007. Winners in each category will be notified by e-mail. Please note that judges read and consider submissions on an ongoing basis, comparing early entries with later submissions.

TO ENTER: Entry forms are available online at http://newyorkbookfestival.com or may be faxed/e-mailed to you by calling our office at 323-660-1776. You may also register over the phone with a credit card. Applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee via check, money order, credit card payment or PayPal online payment of $50 in U.S. dollars for each submission. Multiple submissions are permitted but each entry must be accompanied by a separate form and entry fee.

Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC. We're sorry, but entries must be mailed and cannot be delivered in person or by messenger services to the JM Northern Media offices.

Entry packages should include one copy of the book; any relevant marketing material; a copy of your official entry form; and the entry fee or receipt from online payment. Entries should be mailed to:
JM Northern Media LLC
The New York Book Festival
151 First Ave, #151
New York City, N.Y. 10003

AWARDS: Winners of the 2007 New York Book Festival will be honored at a gala ceremony held on May 19, 2007 in New York. You do not need to be present to accept your award or accompanying prizes.

New York Book Festival winners in each category will be admitted free to the awards ceremony. The New York Book Festival selection committee reserves the right to determine the eligibility of any project.

The New York Book Festival is produced by JM Northern Media LLC, producers of the Hollywood Book Festival, DIY Convention and DIY Book Festival, and is sponsored by Final Draft Screenplay Software, The Hollywood Creative Directory, Westside Websites and ShopperShuttle.

This is like being elected prom queen in a high school with six girls.

These kinds of "awards" are the latest crock of shit way to separate you from your money. They only need a couple suckers to make this thing profitable.

If anyone has pictures of previous "New York Book Festivals", I'll be glad to post them.
Previous winners too.

It's not listed here.

And when you google it, nothing shows up that ISN'T a reprint of the press release and or an incorrect naming of Book Expo or New York is Book Country.

I'm always rather amazed people just print this stuff without looking at it.

Web sites

Hi Miss Snark,

I love the blog; it's very helpful.

My question is this: how important is something like a web presence for a writer (of fiction)?

I'm not yet published but hope to be someday, and was curious about this. It seems like everyone and his uncle has a blog or something similar. I read on someone's blog that they DO check a potential client's website and appreciate when there is one, and at the very least, I think even you've said you Google us.

Would it look bad to wait to establish one until you're submitting things and potentially being Googled, or would it be more advisable to just do it anyway, in the newbie phase? My husband said it's counting my chickens before they're hatched, and I suppose he's right in a way, but getting a blog/site is something I've wanted to do and what's one more good reason, especially given the Internet-savvy age we now live in? It's also easier to network online if you have a homebase yourself, a problem I've run in to as I live in other blogs' comment trails.


I think it's imperative for a writer to have a web site. You don't need to keep a blog, but you MUST have a site. These days not having a site is like not having a phone.

You don't need one before you're published quite as much but it's a good idea to reserve your domain name, and get started building one. You can put a picture of your dog on it and start building a links page.

Mostly though you can get used to having one and updating it regularly.

I look at author's websites ALL the time now. This is probably one of the biggest changes in my business practices in the last two years. Previously you couldn't have dragged me to a site unless you offered cash AND pictures of Mr. Clooney. Now I'm all over them practically before the ink is dry on your query letter. (High speed access and a speedy little computer are the reasons.)

I pay particular attention to the websites for authors querying me if they've had previous books or they are changing agents.

I look for what's not mentioned as well as what is.

Mostly though you need a web presence so people can contact you. Blurb requests, review requests, library appearances, all sorts of stuff comes in electronically now. Email is always my first choice for initial contact, and that too is a change from a couple years back.

We are in the middle of an information delivery revolution here and you HAVE to be on top of it. This is the equivalent to learning to drive when cars were invented.

POD is not Vanity is not Self Publish

POD is a technology. It's a way to print books. It's quite useful for printing small quantities, particularly if there is intermittent demand. LOTS of publishers who are not vanity houses or scam mills use POD technology. University presses spring to mind, as do very small limited runs of very tightly focused books. POD is not evil.

Vanity presses can use POD technology OR they can use webfeed technology. Vanity presses are essentially printers with some support staff. They'll help you print up nice editions of whatever you want. You pay for this. It's called vanity because they don't acquire the book. Acquire means there is an editorial staff choosing particular books to publish. Vanity houses do not maintain lists, issue catalogs or sell books in bookstores. Vanity presses are not evil

Self publishers can use POD technology or webfeed technology. Self publishers are not vanity presses in the everyday sense of the word. They are "vanity" in the sense that there isn't an acquisition but the two phrases are used to mean different things in publishing. Lots of people self publish for a lot of reasons. Self publishing is not evil.

POD/scam mills are companies set up to persuade you, the author, that printing your book with their company is the equivalent to having it acquired by a publisher. They charge you money. Unlike a respectable vanity press, they don't copy edit or produce high quality products. They are out to make money on volume. They prey on author's insecurities and lack of knowledge. POD/scam mills are the scum of the earth.

Whether a company is the scum of the earth depends on how they run their business, not how they print their books.

There are several POD companies that do not try to persuade you that you have but to print up books with them to be on your way to fame and glory. Lulu and CafePress come to mind. There are others I'm sure.

There will be a quiz.

Does fiction mean me?

When "literary" web and print journals say they accept fiction, does that usually include Sci-fi and Fantasy too? Or do they just usually mean, normal everyday type of fiction?

When people want science fiction they generally use those words. On the other hand it won't kill some of those guys to read some good alternative world stuff every once in a while. The New Yorker managed to publish Stephen King and he's the very antithesis of normal everyday fiction.

Dating a Literary Agent

Dear Miss Snark,

I recently asked out a literary agent. She made me send her a date query, of all things, including a cover letter and a synopsis of what we’d do on the date. I even had to include a self-addressed stamped envelope for her reply. I did all that and she agreed to go out with me.

I picked her up Friday evening and took her to a really nice restaurant. Things went well at first, but then she started correcting my grammar, pointing out typos on the menu, and complaining about the gin slush. Right after dinner she made me take her home because it was a “partial date”. She said all first dates with literary agents are “partials”. She said she’d think things over and if she likes me well enough we can go out on a “full date”.

Can you tell me what I should expect on a “full date” with a literary agent?

We keep video archives.

Miss Snark, unlike that other Queen, is amused

Dear Miss Snark,

I've been reading your blog for days now and find it remarkably entertaining and informative. So much so that I really shouldn't be reading it because it's been days and I've been neglective personal hygiene.

I had two questions about humor writing, and you seem to have a great sense of humor so I thought I'd ask.

1. If you looked at something funny, or something that is at least supposed to be funny, is it just important that it be funny and entertaining, or does it have to fit somewhere pretty neatly?

I ask this because a lot of agents and other writers seem to look at my stuff and say, "This is funny, but what IS it?" Meaning it's not literary funny, or science fiction funny or thriller funny, it's just meant to be funny.

2. After reading a number of the things you've written about the writing you've received, would you be willing to look at the first couple paragraphs from my book and tell me if it works? Just a hundred words or something to see.

As far as the second question, if the answer is no I understand. It's just that while I read things in your blog I'm not up yet on the various ways you get material, either by submissions at your agency or sometimes people send in things it seems, or there are contests and whatnot. Anyway, it's not a query, in any way at all, so don't think it's a query. I know not to query through email.

Fan of snark,

Miss Snark is genuinely amused.
The idea of just merrily sending questions off and thinking it's not a query cause you haven't called it a query reminds Miss Snark of a question her colleagues appear to be asking you already: "what is it".

However, merriment aside, let's see what we can offer you today at the Clue Emporium.

1. Novels that are funny can be called "novels". They can also be called comic novels but I never do because I'd rather people discover something is funny on their own.

If an agent is asking you "what is it" this is not a good sign. You need to know what it is and call it that. Or at least try. Say it with me: "my novel".

2. Yes, you can certainly send 250 words to me. It's called the Crapometer. It starts in December. You'll be pleased to know there's an entire blog devoted to it. You can find the link on the blog roll over ------> there.

Sadly, there are no refunds at the Clue Emporium, so please step right up with a crisp twenty dollar bill.


Quel Dommage

Hi Miss Snark

I would like to self-publish POD a book through lulu and at a later point query agents with the manuscript for that same book with a view to representation and publication the traditional route.

I realise this is unconventional. But regardless of the actual 'point' in this, I want to check that by PODing the book, I am not damaging my chances of representation for a traditional publishing deal.

I have asked this question elsewhere, and have got replies saying yes I am, and no I'm not. When I've asked 'how' I'm damaging my chances, I haven't got any convincing reason. I don't see why an agent or a publisher who liked the manuscript would reject it on the basis that I had previously self-published it.

I wanted to check with you.

It's hardly unconventional. I see this stuff all the time. There's an entire blog devoted t0 the stuff that rolls off the POD presses. Take a look at her stats about how much of it is readable.

Mostly we don't reject stuff because it's been published POD. Mostly we reject POD stuff because it sux.

There are cases of people who have gotten picked up by agents and publishers after going the POD route. It's the equivilent of being discovered at the Automat by Woody Allen. Yea it's happened but he also finds 99.99% of his actors through a casting agent named Juliet Taylor.

As to the damage part of your question, publishers are interested in work they can sell. If you have a book that's sold 2000 in POD form to your friends and neighbors and publishers think you can sell a lot more by expanding the scope of your neighborhood to Fargo North Dakota, they'll be interested. There's no problem with selling those rights at all.

The problem comes because most people who publish novels on POD presses and sell them to their 20 friends and neighbors have maxed out the sales reach. Publishers aren't going to invest any money or time in a project that only sold 20 copies, unless there is an Act of God betwixt those sales and the present. Like you marry the Pope or something. Given you are a man, this would qualify as two Acts of God.

All of the above applies ONLY to Lulu and CafePress which essentially act as printers. If you get snared up by those snake oil salesfrauds describing themselves as publishers, but are in fact POD vanity mills, you better look at the contract to see if you actually have any rights left after you pay them a wad of money. THAT is the path to madness and will damge your chances of having that book published.

Oh my!

Dear Ms. Snark,
Wow, Miss Snark is more popular than the entire NBCC Board of Directors!

I tried to post the following short expression of my gratitude on the site but couldn't seem to do it without opening a Blogger account. Please feel free to use or ignore this as you like:

Miss Snark is More Powerful Than the NBCC Board of Directors!

Wow! I've had hundreds of responses to last week's lovely post on Critical Mass, the blog for the NBCC board, about my discovery that Mitch Albom is writing at a third-grade level. But the number of visitors from Miss Snark had hit hit four digits before I even logged on this morning. Miss Snark's fans have helped to make One-Minute Book Reviews one of the 10 most popular WordPress blogs in the world for Tuesday, Nov. 28 (out of a total half million blogs) http://botd.wordpress.com/?lang=en

Perhaps Miss Snark should give awards the way the NBCC does -- the Snark Awards? -- to boost the sales of worthy authors who didn't make the short list for other prizes? In any case, thanks a million to all of you.

Jan Harayda

Literary Press and Magazine Directory

Despite the horrendous oversight in not including Miss Snark among the advice givers (harumph) herewith the Literary Press and Magazine Directory.

I haven't seen it yet but if Claire likes it, it's good for me.

I wonder if they'll have a copy lying about this weekend at Lit Mag Lollapalooza?

Blind Submission

Here's a pretty fun contest.

To qualify you can't be published or represented BUT they aren't asking you to sign with anyone. They just don't want to poach. (Maybe the Sobol people should read these Terms and Conditions and take detailed notes).

And the book sounds pretty interesting too.


Greetings, O Stiletto-Heeled Terror of Wannabes and Crapmeisters Everywhere...

You emphasize over and over how you are looking for "fresh and original" writing. "Good writing trumps all!" I mean, you're reviewing oodles of query letters, partials, and fulls, not to mention keeping up on your own reading, shopping your manuscripts, and let's not even discuss the time spent draining buckets of gin, stalking George Clooney, attending publisher parties and conferences, etc.

Isn't your razor-brain so crammed full with information and plot pitches that after awhile even John Grisham seems like unoriginal crap to you? Surely you feel like you've seen everything. So...how do recognize fresh and original when you see it? Can you give examples of what brought "fresh and original" to an old idea? How do you keep from getting "burnt out" and utterly jaded?

A Devoted Snarkling (currently up to Dec '05 Snarkives)

How many meals have you eaten this year? Even if it's just one a day, you've had more than 300. Can you still tell if something is extra yummy?

Unless you eat like Jaws (or KY) you have a sense of good/bad/indifferent right at the start.

Reading is a bit like that.

I keep from getting burned out by reading other books, watching The Wire and doing this blog.
There's an interesting article in the recent NewYork about burn out. The theory is burnout doesn't come from over work. It comes from unrealistic expectations and a reduced sense of effectiveness. (Thus social workers with a busy caseload burn out not because they are busy but because they feel their work isn't accomplishing anything in the long run.)

And your premise that I remember all this stuff is wrong. I don't remember much of anything after I've said yes/no to the query. Think of it as cache memory: cleared regularly to maintain speed.

Also, I had to stop stalking George Clooney. Restraining orders are so verbose! You'd think he could have just written "not quite right for me" on my query letter/s and returned it in the SASE (ok, it was a packing crate with me in it but really...it was stamped and addressed)

Info in cover letters

Hello Miss Snark,

I'm in the process of agent hunting. Recently a major publisher (Avon) requested a partial. Is this worth mentioning in my query to agents?


yes. But you have to mention which editor asked for it.

Priming the clue gun

Hi Miss Snark.

I have an agent who I think took me on simply because my books do well (she signed me on after my first sale and I've sold about 1.5 million books since, mainly in Europe). I've noticed that she doesn't seem very excited about my work, maybe because she loves the award winners and mine are mass market. Last year she made only 2 submissions for me. Only one was in the US, and that was a specific submission I asked her to make. She knows I'm not happy, but almost seems to brush me off - very nicely, of course. I don't understand her blase attitude when my books have a growing fan base and a lot of untapped potential.

Am I wrong in feeling dissatisfied?

Signed: Anonymous, to protect my agent, who I actually do like.

You like her? What do you say about people you don't like?

You get to be on the wrong end of the clue gun for several reasons today (but don't worry, I like you, I really like you).

First, you're unhappy. Whether that is right or wrong isn't the question. You ARE unhappy.

Second, you're not talking about this with the ONE person who is in a position to address the issue: your agent.

Third: Unless your agent tracked you down on the streets of Laredo and signed you to a contract at the wrong end of a six shooter, YOU queried her and she signed you up. Try not to think of yourself as put upon by the Fates here.

You can either discuss this with her, or not.
You can either leave the agency, or not.
You can either feel sorry for yourself or take action.

Wallowing around in "my agent doesn't like me" while cashing the royalty checks is the behavior of a clueless and self absorbed whiner. Since I'm certain that's not you I'll be expecting to hear you've taken action.

Anthology Wrangling

To the most fabulous Miss Snark,

I recently submitted a proposal for an anthology directly to a publisher who accepts unsolicited manuscripts: a respected imprint of a major NY house. After a short period of time, I also submitted the proposal to an agent (realizing that if the publisher bit, I'd still need representation to help me iron out the details), telling her about the one publisher who had seen the proposal. The agent has indicated that she's interested and is still reviewing the proposal. Now, I've heard from the publishing house that they're interested in the project but need a more concrete list of contributors who are willing to participate.

I have decent credentials as an editor and a writer, and I have a handful of good contacts. But I'm not sure how to approach the big-name authors the publisher would like to see attached to the project. Should I attempt to reach these authors through their agents? Through their publishers or publicists? Send them a copy of my call for submissions? Is there an accepted protocol for this type of request? This is new territory for me, and I haven't seen the subject addressed in any of the books I've consulted. Your great wisdom would be much appreciated.

Many thanks.

My practice on this is to go directly to the source: the author. You write them a specific, personal email (ie, don't just send them your call for submission). You spend some time researching why they are a good choice for the anthology.

For example:

Dear Miss Snark:

You are the cat's pajamas. I read your blog a lot. I'm doing an anthology called Lingerie for Felines. I hope you'll want to be in it.

is not good.

Dear Miss Snark:

I'm editing an anthology called Hell Bent for Representation. The title is a bit of a play on words because we are looking for stories about Jenny Bent, Literary Agent. I read your blog and see that Miss Bent comments and contributes. We are looking for stories featuring Miss Bent that run 3000 words (more or less). Jason Pinter at Three Rivers Press has expressed interest, calling the idea "true crime at its sexiest". Our deadline for stories is next Tuesday. Will you consider being a contributor? Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

is more specific.

Notice I've left out any talk of money. That's cause you don't know how much money you'll have to pay people till you know what the advance is, if any.

Rachel Kramer Bussel, Cupcake Queen of the Known World, wrote an article about How To Edit Anthologies on Media Bistro's Toolbox.


I like Mitch Albom a lot...but those books of his...yeesh

This is utterly and completely hysterical.

I actually loved Janice Harayda's The Accidental Bride. I forgot how funny she was until I found her blog (thanks to this)


Dear Miss Snark,

I have been captivated by your snarkiness and would enjoy learning how to spread it. (Miss Snark does think of herself as contagion...how clever of you to notice).

Actually, I am just graduated with a theater degree and am very interested in a career as a Literary agent. I'm currently working towards an internship, and am familiarizing myself with Publisher's Market place, the top ten Agent Blogs, and as much general knowledge about publishing that I can.

What are the elements that make a prospective intern stick out from other applicants?

I appreciate your time and any advice you would be willing to give.

1. Knows my client list.
2. Has read more than one book on my list.
3. Has been to a reading in the last week and can discuss the book with a degree of insight.
4. Knows the vocabulary.
5. Likes DailyCandy.com
6. Likes dogs

You didn't ask but here's the list of what makes an intern someone I'd recommend for a paying position:

1. Shows up on time and on schedule. No mysterious illnesses, dead grandmothers, or "tests".

2. Turns her cell phone off in the office. Particularly when her ring tones are Ride of the Valkyries or Three 6 Mafia warbling It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp.

3. Understands that she's first up for every single scut job in the office; we all did it, now it's her turn.

4. Does not discuss her personal life with me, or in my hearing.

5. Understands that the unspoken part of her job is to show us new and very hip things without rolling her eyes at how old, stuffy and soooo out of touch we all are.

6. Understands that no matter how enticing, she cannot have sexual congress with clients.

7. Understands that just because I am sitting at my desk, staring into space, not talking, I am not available for chat.

8. Wears shoes. Wears underwear. Wears clothes that cover the stomach. All at the same time.

9. Understands that the clients write the stuff that makes the money and so we're nice to them. Always.

10. Understands that this is a small small industry and everyone she meets now is in a position to help her out or stand by and let her sink on her own.

New York Times Notable list

NYTimes Notables for this year.

Clearly a typo..but still damn close

thanks to Gary for the link


Slushy Confessions

Dear Miss Snark ~

Some while back, when I was much more clueless, I submitted a novel to a publishing house that accepts un-agented submissions. My manuscript was promptly rejected - but this was a good thing, as it needed some serious revisions. That done, now I am seeking an agent.

Which leads me to my question. Said revisions were quite extensive, plus I changed the title. My question is: given the book's revisions and title change, IF an agent expresses interest in it, is it kosher for me to *omit* mention of my (rejected) self-submission? Or is that considered really bad author-agent relations?

The only reason I'm asking this question is the publishing house to which I self-submitted is quite prominent, so if I got extremely lucky, my hoped-for agent might consider sending my book there. What I don't know is if trying to self-submit has already sunk this book's chance, with that publisher.

Chances are your book never made it to an editor's desk. Chances are the intern who read it is now busily sussing out the best lunch spots at another publishing house.

It won't hurt to mention this foray through the Slush Pile, particularly couched in the "just so you know" vein but you ONLY need to do it if an agent expresses interest. You can leave those pesky details till after she's fallen for your deathless prose and can't live without you on her list.

Revising without a contract

Dear Miss Snark:

What is your feeling on requests for a writer to revise a novel multiple times before a contract? Do you advise your clients to do this? Is the editor taking that particular writer for a ride? How often do you see these revision efforts pay off at the house where the revisions were requested?

Pay to play babeeee.

I don't like to do extensive revisions without a concrete expression of interest and some money i.e. a contract.

If they like it but not enough that means "no" and it's really hard to get to yes from that. Better to shop elsewhere or start again.

When I call an editor, the question is "do you want to buy this" not "what will it take for you to buy it". yes/no/show me the cash.

On the other hand I've had very very intense conversations with editors about they'll want changed if they offer and I make sure the client is ok with that before we sign up.

And this is always the client's call. If they want to revise without a contract I'll let them do it but I hardly ever advise them it's a good choice.

This is a classic example of "your mileage may vary" so don't write this down on that Stone Tablet of Snarkly Commandments.

Crystal ball-derdash

Miss Snark,

I am new to your website and I have a question perhaps you can help me. I have an idea for a series of books and the 1st book of the 6 is a draft. I have a rough outline draft for the remaining 5, I believe the series could sell very well. But, I don't know where to start. I know I should write the remaining 5 books (that's clearly the way to go) but, I wonder can a writer make sale on the premise of an idea such as my situation?

BTW the series is based on fantasy elements.

That's not the only thing based on fantasy elements.

Back in the halcyon days of yore, Miss Snark, fresh from finishing school, embarked upon her collegiate career. Young ladies in white frocks lounging on the Great Lawn watching the young gentlemen peacock about. Many among Miss Snark's coven would wax enthusiastic about the young men, even unto the names, gender, and quantity of loinfruit surely in their future.

Your idea is as nebulous as theirs.

Write one book.
Finish it.
Then we'll talk.

Love, not money

Dear Miss Snark,

So what about short stories when you’re not already Alice Munro? Agents won'’t take them and big houses won’t look at manuscripts without agents. I'’ve been shopping a collection of them (several have been published in literary journals and anthologies). I tried a small press and had my best rejection letter ever, in which the editor said how much she liked them (and seemed to actually have read them) but said she'’s not publishing short stories any more because she can'’t sell them. Try a bigger house, she said. The editor of an anthology I contributed to told me that writing a novel and signing a two-book deal is the only way. But what if I don'’t have a novel in me? What if I'’m just a short story writer? Is there any hope?

Get published in the New Yorker; you'll have agents breathing down your neck with offers of kidneys, gin, contracts and the occasional poodle.

You need to focus on getting the stories published. From that will come a collection.

You're going to be in this for love not money for a long time.

Always send the best

Dear Miss Snark:

An agent with a huge, reputable agency has reviewed my query letter and is now interested in reading three chapters of my mystery novel. The email requesting this sample arrived the same day as one from a well known mystery author (whose writing I respect) strongly advising me to rework the plot structure of said novel. Because no agent who has read a sample has asked to represent the book as it now stands, my instinct is to rework it before submitting to Super Agent. Should I wait and send the re-worked chapters, or stick with my first version and mail it off? Any advice?

I'd rather get a novel that I can sell than one I can't. If you can make it better before I read it, do it. Of course, you email Agent Huge N. Reputable and share your evil plan. You do NOT have to keep updating with progress reports. Rewrite, send, sign.