Electronic releases

Dear Miss Snark

I was intrigued to come across this website with a detailed list of terms and conditions for submissions (can't get link to work here)

A little over the top? I'm not good at reading legalese so it kind of puts me off submitting in case there's something weird in there and I'm accidentally signing over my firstborn. Or maybe I just need a good whack with the clue stick.

I have no idea what prompted Inkwell to put that on their website but I bet it's a pretty good story. That list is only for electronic submissions. If it troubles you (and I read it and it seemed ok to me) send your submission by mail. They don't ask you to print it out, sign and notarize it, and include it with your submission.

Inkwell is one of the most respected agencies in town. They're not trying to pull a fast one. I think it's more that they are protecting their own clients many of whom could be targets for "you made a lot of money and I want some of it" lawsuits.

Crapometer for synopses

Dear Miss Snark,

I've searched your blog and archives for discussions about how to write a synopsis. I saw only the hooks, queries, and cover letters. Did you ever do a crap-o-meter for synopsis (sorry, I don't know how to make this plural)?

Can you recommend a general format for fiction? I've seen several variations on different writing sites. Does it always have to be written in the present tense, told in omniscent view?

Oh Miss Snark is crushed beyond measure that you missed the synopsis snarkfest that led to one of the great "famous last words" laugh of all times.

You can find the synopsis crapometer by clicking on crapometer-synopsis post label

To find the incredibly fabulous "famous last words" you'll need to click here


Slush pile

I see you've been doing simultaneous queries again.

Rodentia...the planet next to Rabbitania

Dear Miss Snark,

I have a question about the title for my new book. It’s a lovingly crafted story about the mutant pet mice I owned when I was a child. Their names were Memphis and Dallas. They shared a beautiful pink tail that connected their cute little furry butts. The book is my heartwarming narrative of how they dealt with adversity. For example, at first they cancelled each other out on the treadmill by trying to run in opposite directions, but over time they learned to take turns. Do you think I should title my poignant memoir A Tail of Two Cities?

No no. Of Mice, Amen will allow you to tap into the heartwarming market more easily and avoid any unfortunate comparison to that hack Dickens.

It's not the New Yorker but...

Miss Snark,

My short story was published online on the emag Johnny America. No payment was involved, just posting on the site. Now, here's the question: Am I a published author? Can I include this in my query letters?

Clearly you should have had an agent do this deal cause they DO dangle the option of payment and you need an agent to kick ass and make sure your "Payment, if there is any, will come in the form of peculiar or amusing objects of negilible monetary value; a doodle of a mongoose on a coffee-stained napkin, for example" is received promptly.

This is a pretty funny site. If you sent me a query letter and mentioned it I wouldn't think you were a nitwit.

No wonder Bill E has computer access

Ok, maybe I've been in the 212 too long, but will someone please explain to me why these goats are on the furniture, on the back deck....and NOT in the barn/pasture/goat pen????

KY contemplates stardom

Killer Yapp: Miss Snark! Miss Snark!

MS: KY, what is it, I thought you were reading query letters?

KY: Not! Right! For! Me!

MS: One too many squirrelley letters today, huh?

KY: Yes! Yes! Career change!

MS: You want to get a new job?

KY: TV Star!

MS: I'll call CAA and see who represents the dog.

KY: No! No! Letterman!

MS: um...KY, I think he just signed a multi year, multi million dollar deal. Besides...he's bald. You'd have to shave your head.

KY: Never mind!

KY would like a tiara, please

Oh wow, I think I won!

I guess the squirrels couldn't reach the voting machine levers!

This is very cool.
Considering it required the votes from many of you, thank you!
I appreciate the vote of confidence.

and thanks Dave for running the poll!!


HRH Miss Snark,
Would it be more helpful or harmful to mention my novel's promotional website, still in its beta, in queries? If you're curious (URL redacted)

(Mr. Sulu, full power to all shields.)

I'm going to do you what I think is a big favor and not print your URL. It's the kind of website that brings out the snark in Snarklings and I'm not sure...no, I KNOW you're not ready for that.

You've posted a terrible hook, a plea for agents, and pictures of yourself that are clearly taken by an amateur. If it had a good hook, a simple email address and pictures of you naked...err..I mean, not standing by your car, it would be more compelling.

There are 675 posts about hooks and thanks to google you can see them all by clicking on the "crapometer" label on the blog.

Websites aren't bad things but when you post bad writing, you shoot yourself in the foot with all those guns you show on the other page.

You should also use the website to augment what you say in a query, not just repeat it.

Clue for the day: write well, and not just on your query and pages, but on your website too

Zilcho Pub Credits

Dear Miss Snark,

What on earth is one to do when sending out query letters, but have no publishing credits whatsoever to mention? This situation reminds me of looking for jobs after school: can't get one unless you have experience, but can't get experience if you can't get a job.

I've searched your blog under "credits" but found nothing that answered this point blank. If I missed multiple responses in the archives, I apologize. Hit me with the clue gun.

My love to the pooch.

KY says: "enough with the love talk, where's the sirloin"

MS says: you don't need pub credits. If you have them, great, but I've taken on people who've never been published ever before. And I've sold their stuff.

Write well.
That's it.

Now what

Dear Miss Snark,

What advice would you give a first-time writer whose agent leaves the agency (and the profession of agenting) right after signing you up, but before your novel has sold?

My book was transferred to the desk of another associate agent who doesn't seem enthusiastic about my manuscript, and just suggested the possibility of my hiring a freelance editor. (The original agent who'd signed me up thought it was ready to go and was preparing her sub lists and cover letter.)

At the time I was querying agents, I was lucky enough to have three other offers of representation, but I picked this one on the strength of the agency's reputation and the original agent's enthusiasm. Should I ask if they'll release me from my agency contract now, and contact one of the other agents who'd offered to represent me, or should I wait and give this new agent a chance?

I'm perfectly willing to make revisions to make my manuscript as strong as possible; it's just that I'd like to work with an agent who truly believes in it, and I'm not sure she does. Help!

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

If you had three solid offers of representation for the book in its present form, I'd be hard pressed to explain why you'd want to hire an editor to look at it.

Call the head of the agency and ask to be released from your contract.

Go to the other agents who offered originally and tell them what you told me. Make sure they know the book hasn't been shopped.

The agency can NOT keep you if you don't want to be represented. You are not a slave. If you signed an agreement that doesn't have a 30-day release clause, well, now you know why you should have one.

This advice applies only when you have solid offers waiting in the wings. It might apply in other instances, but don't take this as some sort of "must".

They ARE coming for you!

Squirrels..not just on skateboards anymore!

(thanks to rkc for the link)


It's getting worse

They're ...armed.

(pulled from the comments column--
hey, it's an ice day, I need the adrenal boost
given I'm still wearing my bunny slippers---stiletto heeled of course)

Killer Yapp - Guardian Angel!

Why KY is on high alert:

They're out there!!!

And they're coming to get us!!

They're claiming victory!

Thanks to Angie for the pix...and the slush pile break!

Attention Squirrels

Getting to Yes

Oh, Master of the Snark Side (and Hi to the Killer Yap, too),

This morning, my favorite prospective agent became my agent. How's that for the start of a Monday morning in February? This agent has rejected two previous works. However, she also asked for first look at any new work I had available. Mind you, there's a list of about ten or so agents I've contacted over the past two years who are like that. All of them have sent rejections. All of them wanted the next project to look at. (Not in a "Not for me. Remember my assistant next time you want a form rejection" way, but an "I like this, but not enough to pitch it. What else ya got?" way.)

I think it's important for those out there to remember that rejections aren't the end of the world. They are, in fact, sometimes networking opportunities. If someone's going to go through their slush pile and take the time to say, "I like your style; here's what I'm looking for," they obviously see potential.


Good intentions

Dear Miss Snark,

Last November I signed with a former acquisitions editor turned literary agent to represent my narrative nonfiction manuscript. I am her first client (she now has two). Previously I had approached agents with bigger names and garnered some interest, but no offers of representation. I was impressed by her professionalism and background in the field, and I felt she could sell my book if it was salable.

We were getting ready to send out my proposal to publishers when I learned this weekend that she was about to start a full-time office job. She has two young children to support and is taking this job to obtain benefits and a stable income while her freelance business gets off the ground. She claims that she will be able to make necessary communications with editors during breaks and her lunch hour--which will fall between 2 and 3 PM EST. She has offered to release me from my contract, but still believes strongly that she can do the job.

What do you think? Moonlighting can work in plenty of occupations, but can it work for a literary agent? What level of availability and instantaneous response do editors expect from agents? Naturally, I would prefer to make this decision before she has contacted publishers on my behalf, rather than after.

Since I don't have firsthand experience with this aspect of publishing culture, I thought I would try asking the recognized expert. Thank you for any insight you can provide.

It's entirely possible she'll do a fine job. Editors rarely expect instantaneous answers.

Why I think this is a bad idea is the answer to a question you didn't ask but I'm going to answer anyway.

You'll always be third. Her kids needs will come first (and I'm not saying they shouldn't). Her job will come second (and were I the one paying her that salary and bennies, I'd fully expect and demand that too). You, the client will come after. Always.

There are days, and more than a few, when the fecal matter hits the whirly bird. I've learned to plan only four hours a day at most, because the other 8 are generally taken up with things that pop up and need to be dealt with promptly. Yesterday it was negotiating a contract point that I'd thought was settled but the editor didn't. And then there were two developments with projects on submissions that meant I had to call the clients and get them started on stuff right away.

Yes I can do that after hours or on lunch hour, and yes your agent only has two clients to juggle.

Here's the other reason: a good agent is pro-active. I read the trades every day. I read them to stay abreast of news my clients can use. I probably make 10 calls or emails a day that don't turn into anything, but that doesn't mean I don't do it. One will, and you have to make those useless ones to get the right one. I also read a lot of ancillary stuff, a lot of it on the web, and sometimes that info is of great use to my clients. And I go to readings, and parties, and other industry related events to stay in the loop.

This is the piece of the job that will NEVER get done by someone only able to work part time.

This is a hard decision and one for which there is no cut and dried answer.
Your agent seems very upfront and honest in her dealings with you. I'm sure she has good intentions. Miss Snark, fan of Satan that she is, knows well what paves the road to Hell.

It only takes one no

Miss Snark,

I recently worked with an editor from a midsize publishing house; for several months we went back and forth with revisions on my novel. No contract promised, but as long as his suggestions tightened the novel, I was all for playing along. At the end of it, I had a YA novel that was "the bomb," but he called to say that he ran it past the "money people" and they turned it down. So what I want to know is: jerking my chain? Are there "money people" that stare at passionate editors with glazed eyes and slowly shake their heads no? Or was he just saying that it still wasn't good enough after I had rewritten approximately 700,000 words and created a heroine with the deep, complex qualities of an excellent stew?

The Money People can and regularly do shoot down ideas editors have put a lot of time and effort into. This stage can be called "the boss said no" "the acquisitions committee said no" "the sales team said no" "the editorial board said no".

Getting an editor to yes is good, but it's not the final step.

We've all lost deals at that stage and it's never fun. It's sort of like being the third runner up at Miss America--no crown, no chance to step in if Miss America is found to have lesbian love bunny pics in her past, not even if the first runner up does too.

However, you have a better novel now. Go sell it to someone else. Making the best seller list is the revenge of choice on "the filthy lucre-tias".

Casting spells

I thought you might get at least a gentle kick out of this.

Sent out a requested sub (a full!--your COM comments really helped me tighten it up, btw.) Went over it with a fine-toothed comb one more time first, bringing count up to too-many-to-count. Did the same for synopsis. Spent entire morning doing that.

Composed careful, brief and professional "Here's the material you requested, thanks for your interest" email. Ran spellcheck twice. Took sentence out. Re-added sentence. Re-read several times. Ran spellcheck again. Re-checked agent's original email to make sure I did everything exactly as she wanted, even down to titling the email in the exact correct order.

Hit "send."

Realized I misspelled my own first name.


Pub credis when you have none

I have just finished polishing my first novel and I am nearly ready to send out query letters. I have practically no published work outside of college publications. However, a humorous story I wrote was read on the "Coast to Coast" radio program by Art Bell. Would it be appropriate to list this under experience? Would it be too bold to include a playable audio CD of a known personality reading my work on national radio?

I am interested in your opinion as I have gotten mixed messages about what is and is not appropriate.

Well you can mention it, in that it probably did go through a selection process-much like being selected for Oprah's book club isn't quite a pub credit, but is something you'd want to include in a query letter.

Don't include a CD. For starters, no one will want to hear it, and second, don't send things agents don't ask for. These little extras are the bane of my existence. I know people mean well, but I throw them out unused, unread, unopened. Don't waste your time or your money.

Comment problem

This new version of Blogger tells me there are five unmoderated comments, but doesn't show them to me when I click the button to "moderate comments".

If you've commented TODAY and your comment hasn't shown up, please email me at
miss (dot) snark (at) gmail (dot) com
and tell me which post you commented on (by title is fine) and which version of blogger you use, and which internet browser you use.

Or you can ignore this.

Weather forecast: sleet.
Miss Snark's mood: icy

Feeling foolish about your new computer?

well, this isn't going to make you feel better, but it will make you laugh

Miss Marion, this one's for you

This is so sweet, and so funny I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.


Eat your heart out Barbara Cartland

Dear Miss Snark,

I’ve noticed a lot of novels include gratuitous sex scenes that have nothing to do with the story. I figure people must like to read that stuff, and so I’m anxious to add a few sex scenes to the novel I’m writing. And I really want those passages to be detailed and authentic. Unfortunately, I’m such a loser no woman has ever agreed to have, um, intimate relations with me, and so I don’t have any personal experiences to draw upon.

Do you have any advice for me?

Not just any advice, I have really GOOOOD advice.


Miss Snarkalicious,

Can editors tell when writers use an editing program like Stylewriter? Does it hurt or help the submission process?

I'm guessing no, since I have no idea what it is, nor do I care.

I only care WHAT you write, not how, when, where, with whom, or why you do it.

I do not care if you write in car, on a star, on a raft, down a shaft, with a goat, on a boat. I do not care one whit I don't. Just knit your wit before you print, and send me something that isn't ....fecal matter.

**What Fresh Hell is This

You bought that new washable keyboard...right?

*How many writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?*

stolen from the hopefully not cold dead fingers of Kristy Kiernan,
by way of the comments list, posted to DorothyL
and probably a partridge in a pear tree involved as well.

* 1 to devise a breakdown of the steps necessary to change the bulb

* 1 to stare at the bulb hoping it will change itself

* 1 to explain why changing the bulb is futile, because the next one is just going to go bad too, and without co-op we‚re all doomed to darkness anyway

* 1 to call their agent and publicist to make sure changing the bulb won't harm their reputation

* 1 to hold out for a bigger, better replacement bulb

* 1 to post "What's the best way to change a bulb?" on Backspace and wait for 36 answers

* 1 to extol the virtues of the old bulb, the golden glow of the light it gave, its soft, barely perceptible buzz when viable, the startling ping when it expired, the breadth of our loss, the depth of our grief

* 1 to edit the previous writer's bit whilst quoting Elmore Leonard

* 1 to bring the tequila

* 1 to bring the beer

* 1 to bring the wine

* And 1 to look around, call it a conference, and make it a yearly event

So, that'd be 13? Yes, it takes 13 writers to change a bulb.

But..but...I want you to know it's GOOD without reading actual words

OK, so I know you don't say any of the following in a query (and I know I did in the first query I ever sent):

* My mom loves it.
* My kids say it's better than Harry Potter.
* My old high school creative writing teacher thinks it's brilliant.
* My wife says, "This novel proves you're a genius, now go mow the lawn."

But what if the beta readers include a couple of recognized experts in the field your novel is based on? Like people who've written non-fiction books about the subject or the head of a relevant department at a major museum? What if, to check that you got scenic details right, you checked with a photographer known for his pictures of the place where your work is set?

Do you mention any of that? I mean, I know that the play's the thing, so the story has to be able to sell itself, but will name-dropping expert beta readers help, or are they no different than Cousin Joe, who proved to me my manuscript is good because he only reads crap and hates all things classic, and couldn't get past my first paragraph?

Donning my armor to protect myself against the dreaded clue stick.

What part of no is hard to understand?
No, no and really no.

I don't CARE if those guys liked it. I don't know if they also thought the DaVinci Code should have won the Pulitzer. You can put all that crap in if you want, but I don't read it. I barely read your cover letter cause most of you (yes YOU) can't write an enticing cover letter to save your life. I read your pages.

If Aunt Minnie likes what I like, she's got good taste. If E. Felix Buttonweazer III doesn't like what I like, he's a nitwit, even if he does have a Pulitzer.

Hook, pub credits, bio.
Leave the stroking to the monkey.

Pass the idiot

Dear Ms. Snark,

Recently an army of writers attacked my manuscript. One of them mentioned that I had a tendency to use a ton of passive verbs. I checked my manuscript at several Internet locations, and found that my passivity rate hovered about 32%. After two weeks of sleepless nights, I managed to removed over 300 occurrences of was/were, should/could, etc. Needless to say, I felt darn excited.

But alas, I decided to check passivity rate among some popular published authors. I scrounged up full chapter excerpts and plugged them into the good, ol' passivity reader, and found that most of the authors had verb passivity rates over 25%, with most coming in around 32%.

Did I just waste 50 hours of my valuable time turning simple, easy to read sentences, into complex piles 'o junk?

Chapter 1 of Daughter of the Blood, by Anne Bishop, comes in at 32% passivity. The first chapter of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury lands home with a 31% passivity rate. I even found the Wizard of OZ, and a Stephen King excerpt, to have a 56% passive verb percentage.


Please help us understand. Are passive verbs bad? If so, why are most published books crammed full with 33% passive verb sentences?

Passive verbs are what they are.
Like handguns, they're only dangerous if you don't know how to use them or you fire them off in a crowded sentence cause you don't know any better.

I don't run your pages through a passive voice meter or any other kind of litmus test. I read it. If it sounds slow and turgid, I don't analyze why, I say "this sux" and send you a form letter.

I find it hilarious that you picked the first chapter of The Sound and The Fury for comparison. Have you read it? Faulkner I mean. I'm going to assume you've read your own work. Did you remember it's in the first person point of view of "an idiot" ?

Perhaps you meant to be humorous (or if you were Bella Stander-humerous). We could be amused but at this point, passive is our position of choice.

I gotcher toil riiiiiight here

Dear Miss Snark,

I have been searching for a literary agent to represent me and a controversial non-fiction history work. I wonder if you function in that area, as I saw you listing your field as agriculture. Perhaps you can steer me in the correct direction.

That's the thing about us lilies of the field. We neither toil nor spin. Emphais on that toil thing.

We're on Beta Blogger or something

I think you have to sign in differently to comment.
I think you'll figure it out.

When I signed in today I found 27 comments from two months ago. I think they were holding from people who'd used the new blogger. I just deleted them. Not without wondering if I was going nuts first of course cause the first one (Hi Bonnie!) said something about Christmas.


How many times have I said this?

Dear Miss Snark,

I posed this question to the "Pub-Forum" mailing list and one of the responses was to ask you.

I am a new writer. I have written my first novel and now am writing my second one.

I have been searching for an agent since last September. This past Tuesday, I received word from an agent that, after reading the first three chapters of my manuscript, this agent would like to see the rest of the book *and* offer me a contract to represent this one book. Now, on the one hand, it's great, finally, to find that one other person to take a chance on you. On the other hand, I was initially taken aback that the agent, having read only three chapters, is willing to go to bat for me having not seen the remainder of the book.

Not really knowing that this agent meant for me to (a) send the entire manuscript AND (b) sign the contract, I replied that I'll send the entire manuscript and, if this agent really likes it and thinks she can sell it, I will inform the other agents to whom I have sent queries/chapters that I have found my agent. I received an e-mail from this agent basically stating that she would not read the rest of the book without me signing an exclusive agreement with her. I have read about exclusivity and, perhaps, this is how it works. I just don't know.

Just in case you missed it the other 767 times I've said it:


I believe they are a bad business practice and are clear demonstrations an agent thinks their time is more valuable than yours. I think it's the sign that an agent is lazy and not willing to make a persuasive case for signing with them. Harsh, but true.

If you send me something and I want you as a client, I don't get you because I refused to let anyone else look at the ms. I get you because I was persuasive about the merits of Snark Central. Now, amazingly enough, this is not all that tough a case for me to make. I may not be persuasive to you but I can certainly make a strong case, and if you want to sign with someone who was more persuasive, you'll figure that out BEFORE we come to a parting of the ways, not after.


I usually say don't do them, but that's your choice, not mine.

Beta readers

Dear Miss Snark:

I've got a draft of a novel that is about to the point where I could use another pair of eyes to critique it. So I'm thinking of printing up a couple of copies for people I know and asking them to take a look at it, let me know what sucks about the book in the hopes I can fix things and make the book suck less before I send it out. Right now I don't have much of a plan besides sending it to people who read the genre and I can trust to be honest with me. Do you have any advice on this subject?

Yea, well, don't send it to me.
Particularly if we're friends.

Friends are useful for many things but beta reads isn't one of them. For starters, your friends are hardly ever going to say "you suck" and if they do, you need new friends.

You need what is called a critique group, or a writing group, or writing colleagues. These are people who have no vested interest in your Christmas card list, being cold shouldered by your mom, or uninvited to your wedding.

You also don't want to just say "what do you think of this". You need a list of questions starting with "when did you first lose interest in the plot" and "which character made you want to hurl".

Not that they will of course, but what you're looking for here are PROBLEMS not praise. Stuff the "you're the best thing since Jack Kerouac" crapraise, and focus on what's wrong. If they say nothing, they didn't read it.

You can have your friends and family read it later, when you are copy editing for the final draft before it's published. Grandmother Snark is still the best person on Planet Earth for finding spelling misstakes.

It's Fashion Week...KY has new duds

one more thing you shouldn't even THINK of doing

Dear Miss Snark,

Over the last two and half years I have been working on a novel whose diction is high and whose ambitions are literary. For the last year, an agent I'd love to sign with has been reviewing drafts and giving detailed suggestions, but she seems to be waiting to offer representation until she sees a draft she can sell. I don't mind, because she's got a stellar record as an agent, and because I agree with her that it's not ready to go, and am delighted by the attention, despite the lack of commitment - especially since her criticism is free of charge, and brilliant.

Before writing this novel, I wrote a totally goofy one. When I finished it I set it aside, uncertain I wanted to make my publishing debut (if I happened to be so lucky) in such an idiotic voice.

Now, however, as I wait for the latest set of comments from my prospective agent (which will doubtless be a month or two in coming), I've been looking at the old book and thinking I might like to query people about it. It's been so long since I looked at it that the jokes work on me, and I think they might work on others. Perhaps my prospective agent will be interested, but I by no means want to bother her with it until she's done going over the current pages - which she may, of course, turn down anyway, or at least ask for more revisions.

Would I be stupid to query a second set of agents on a second (actually first) novel, while the jury is still out on the other manuscript? Are you allowed to have one agent for your screwball authorial self, and one for the dignified you? That is, will agents be willing to work manuscript by manuscript, or do they, by default lay claim, to all of your projects?


Oh I love this idea. An agent works with you carefully on your novel, gets you to the point of a presentable mss and THEN you tell her "oh by the way I signed with Miss Snark, but she's only going to do this other lesser novel...not that she knows that now of course".

This is one fast way to have not two agents but zero.

Do not do this.

I had someone do this to me. I worked with him on a novel I LOVED but had typos like you would not believe. I read that thing three times at least and copy edited it each time. Just as he was "revising" for the third time, he mentioned casually he'd signed with someone else. I wasn't sure whether to kill him or myself; I settled for the flask of gin.

I had my revenge though, and it was cold and sweet. The other agent was an idiot (which I could have told him), didn't sell the book, and he came back asking me to take him on. No dice.
I'd learned my lesson. He'd behaved like a clue free ungrateful bonehead once, and that's not something that is a one-time-only mistake.

Do not do this.

I have clients who write things I don't know how to sell. I still represent them but I co-agent or get good advice on who to pitch. I don't dump the clients.

Idiot Advice

Dear Snarkles,

There are a number of well-regarded authors who urge young writers to skip hiring agents and secure themselves entertainment lawyers. The reasoning is often, "Why pay anyone fifteen percent," and this sounds to me like the advice of the privileged. While I agree that if one had a relationship with an editor then there may not be a need for an agent, I imagine there are advantages to having an agent that could not be "replaced" by a lawyer, not least of which is genuine support (vague, I know, but you can't expect a fella to write coddling, can ya?). Do you have any thoughts on this? Are there more practical advantages to having an agent as opposed to a lawyer going to "war" for you?

Thank you. Enjoy the blog a good deal.

Do you like the new name? It is what you can expect if you remain nice.

This is the most idiotic advice I've seen since "ignore the SASE request".

First, an entertainment lawyer charges you by the hour. $375 an hour is what they charge here. Every hour you talk to them. Every time you talk to them. Every time you email them.

Now, I don't know what those boneheads who offered that advice do when they need any of the myriad things agents do that lawyers do not. All I know is that if I could get $375 an hour for soothing a client's fears about 14 rejections, the proposed change to a book title, weighing the merits of five different titles, getting reviews posted on Amazon and first serial rights, I'd make a lot more money than I do right now.

And that's not even counting all the stuff I do that doesn't involve the client: selling the book, negotiating the deal points, staving off the crazed editor who is rejecting the second book, reading the damn manuscript for typos three time.

Hell, I'm going to start charging you for reading this blog. Pony up.

PS Nice this

Stealing prose

miss snark,

Do you have a position on fanfiction? Fights between authors and fans insistent on this activity are ongoing. See Lee Goldberg versus Cathy Young.

The latter, a fanfiction writer and a columnist at Reason magazine, who like all fanficcers, defends this unauthorized use of copyrighted characters, which frankly, are used in bizarre ways, some openly perverse. A handful have translated this activity into book deals. What say you on the matter? I'm with Goldberg: it's illegal and stealing. Even if authorized, it's tacky and pathetic. Write your own and take your chances. That's the honorable way to write.

I don't care what you write.
I don't care if you use Mr. Monk in unspeakable ways or give Darth Vader a sex change operation. I don't even care if you have Jack Reacher get in touch with his feminine side and start shooting pink bullets (Oh geeze, I just heard Lee Child faint dead away). Keep your hands off John Rain of course, but even then...I don't care.

I don't care as long as you don't try to publish it, sell it or send it to me. What you do in the privacy of your own den of iniquity concerns me not one bit.

In fact, some of the fanfic stuff is probably a good writing exercise.

Where the monk leaves the monastery and the rain falls off the plane is when you take these little exercises out for a public stroll. It's one thing to be inspired by Lee Child, Barry Eisler or Laura Lippman; it's another thing entirely to start writing about Omar's backstory in Charm City.

I can't sell that stuff and I'm not much interested in derivative work. I don't read it (but I know Miss Genoese does so it must have some sort of redeeming value) and I reject it instantly so from my perspective it's a waste of time. That more than anything else is why you shouldn't bother writing it if you want your work to be published...and thus fanficced itself one of these days.

Stealing poems

'Ello, your Snarkiness,

My question may be out of place, since you're into things that sell, and fact alone probably precludes poetry. I'll take the cluegun bullet gladly if I must. (clueguns are loaded with clues, thus the name)

Still, you KNOW things. Magical things. Like copyright law, I'm betting.

So, here goes.

I am a poet (read: masochist) and was recently perusing small presses, looking for people to hit up for print copies.

I came across this site, which lists itself as a e-press:

As the link says, the "editor" scours the web, finds random poetry she likes, and posts it. She says she contacts the author and gets permission "to the best of her ability".


I was fairly concerned, so I checked out one of the "editions", as
well - say, this one:

Question: Isn't everything about this completely illegal?!

I know, as a poet, that things I show off online are
1.) easily read by plagiarists and
2.) considered "previsouly published".

And, while I'm not accusing Ms. Dumitrascu of plagiarism, since she does note the actual authors and provides links way way waaaay at the bottom, this site does concern me.

I mean, why not just start an actual PRESS? It's the same amount of effort, only you get credibility to boot. (We're mostly a hungry bunch - we submit anywhere.)

So, what do you think?
Isn't this site a huge no-no in the world of copyright law?
If so, what can be done about it?

Well, it's not copyright infringement if she does indeed have permission. Usually when people get permission they say so. By way of example look at Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac and see --reprinted with permission--

No, you can't just find poems you like and print them on a website and call yourself an e-press. A website is not an e-press, anymore than a blog is a publishing credit.

On the other hand, knowing poets, I doubt anyone's getting too crazed about this because poets, like publicists, think there is no such thing as a bad placement.