Pitching celebs


So I'm working on a novel that I hope will sell bunches but if it doesn't, I'm trying to think of other ways to make money through writing and I happen to have an idea for a humor/how-to book involving a celebrity that I'd like to ghostwrite, of course. This celebrity has a literary agent -- her memoir came out not too long ago -- should I pitch the idea to the literary agent? Or her manager? And if the agent doesn't take unsolicited queries, is that an end for me? Or can I get around that, as this is about another client of his?

I guarantee you the celebrity does not have a literary agent. I guarantee you that her ghostwriter does. You need the celebrity to sign on before anything else so you have to talk with the manager. This will be an INCREDIBLY hard sell if you don't have a track record and you just come a cold calling.

You'd do well to keep working your way down the list of ideas before investing too much in this one.

Email CC

At Publishers Marketplace Daniel Lazar writes in her profile:

"** If you email: a) NO ATTACHMENTS; b) if you copy me and every other agent in the industry, save us the time. Reject yourself."

Now, that sounds a lot like Miss Snarkliness herself, but it conflicts directly with your statement that everyone assumes a query is being sent to the world.

Is Writer's House high-falutin enough to demand (and get) exclusive queries or am I nitwit?

Pat 'fer Yapper

You're passing through Nitwitville but you don't get to take up residence because it's clear you don't understand what Dan is referring to, what the TRUE nitwits do (a good thing).

What Dan Lazar says on (ahem) his site means do NOT send a query as a cc. Send each agent a separate email. With their name and ONLY their name in the TO box. (And Writers House asks only that you query their agents one at a time, not their agents exclusively).

We ALL laugh about the cc emails we get cause they are instant rejection. INSTANT.

You might think twice about patting down Killer Yapp. He's been reading too much noir fiction and he's liable to bite just for the sake of the story line.

Just passing through Nitwitville

Dear Miss Snark,

I attended a conference and pitched my book to an editor of large publishing house. She requested a hard copy of the first three and a synopsis. I sent it along with an SASE.

She emailed me and asked me to send the full via the mail. I emailed back I'd send it along and did, but I forgot to send an SASE with it. Do I email her and apologize for forgetting the SASE or leave it alone?

This is my first novel and the first time I've sent it anywhere. Will I be given the Green-guy-idiot-pass this once or am I screwed?

Send the SASE with a letter. Stuff happens. Do NOT send a mailer for the entire manuscript, send only a #10 SASE. Email her that you've done this. And keep querying agents. This will give you something to do rather than obsess about this.

How Important are Conferences

Dear Miss Snark,

I've read on various agent blogs that a good way for first time novelists to get a "foot in the door" is to go to conferences. Pitch to an agent there, network, etc. and perhaps they'll request a partial or recognize your name when the query appears out of the slush pile.

How important are these conferences? I live in BFE and it would cost nearly $1000 bucks or more to attend most of these things (including hotel and travel). And if I did manage to spring for one conference...well, it's only one conference and most likely one agent. Seems like a costly gamble.

What's your advice?

The more email I get from y'all the more convinced I am you don't think we read the slush pile: that it just sits here and when we get bored we sit around nipping from gin flasks, ripping out SASEs, writing "no dice" and sending them back.

CLUE: I read every single letter in the slush pile. EVERY ONE. So do ALL of the agents I know well, and probably the rest of them too. Yes, people arrive in ways other than the slush but pound for pound the slush pile produced more clients for me than ANYTHING ELSE, including conferences.

Conferences can be good for a lot of things, primarily meeting other authors, making friends, and getting a chance to actually see with your own four eyes that agents are human beings (editors...that's a different story of course).

You don't need a conference to get an agent.
You need to write really really well.

I read the slush pile...most of it's crap. Don't write crap.

Pub Credits...cause this topic is ENDLESS fun

Yet some more dumb questions (the others weren’t from me, these are!) on publishing credits…

I know y’all run our names through Google when you receive our deathless prose lest we were lying about having actually published a book, or worse, it *was* published, by RipOffPOD Publishing House. Now, when you run *my* name through Google one is inundated with various published accounts…only a few of which were paid gigs.

One of them was a short-story anthology published by the local branch of a national authors organization. Not only did I not get paid, I *paid* money to be in it. The good news is we’ve sold 500 copies so far. Also, no one will never know by the Internet that I paid for the privilege. What I’m afraid of is someone will see it (it comes up in the first few pages of Google searches) and wonder why I didn’t include it. Can/should I claim this in a query letter?

I used to write a regular column for a community newspaper. Never saw a dime from it, but my columns are all over cyberspace. I wouldn’t ordinarily claim this, but it *is* where I honed my writing ability for years. Still, it will pop up. Should I ignore this?

There was a short-lived offshoot to the community newspaper that I wrote for for about six months (then it died). I was supposed to get paid for all my columns. I did for three, and three I didn’t. You won’t find it on the Net ‘cuz it didn’t last long. Can/should I claim it?

I used to write book reviews for an on-line newspaper back before most people had Internet connections. No money, but I got to choose and keep the books I reviewed. So it was sorta payment, I guess. Does this count?

When I google you it's mostly to see if when you say "I'm published" you mean a vanity press (be it pod or web feed--it's not the technology that damns you, it's the lack of editorial discretion).

If other stuff turns up it's not as though I'm cross referencing your query letter to make sure you told me every last thing.

You can refer to these adventures in one sentence "I've been writing professionally for several years; this is my first novel".

Sending Queries by Fed Ex

Hi Miss Snark,

I just finished reading The First Five Pages by literary agent Noah Lukeman and enjoyed it. His chapters, examples and exercises were entertaining and will help me fine-tune some stuff in my writing. However, I read this in the first chapter and thought “Eh? What would Miss Snark say about that?” You can tell by the price of postage, this book was published a few years ago. : )

Regarding query letters:

“The second is to send your letter by FedEx (or some other guaranteed-signature delivery method) instead of by regular mail. Spend $11 instead of 33 cents. If it comes by FedEx, someone’s forced to sign for it, and thus it usually gets opened on the spot. This doesn’t guarantee it will get read—and the agent or editor may even get annoyed—but at least he’ll be aware of it. And he just might read it with greater care, because he knows you cared enough about it to spend the money.”

I’ve read on several agent blogs that this is a mistake and usually guarantees a rejection because of the trouble the agent has to go through. Plus the expense! If I sent out 30 query letters in this way, it would cost me a fortune in mailing expenses. Lukeman states earlier in the chapter it’s better to select two or three agents to query instead of twenty or thirty. While that would cut down on expenses, it certainly narrows the field of opportunity. I’m inclined to bypass both bits of advice and send out my queries to several agents via the cheap seat US Post Office.

This is utter crap.
Perhaps the copyright date is 1993, back when FedEx was more of a big deal but these days people use it in NYC instead of a messenger services.

The real reason it's crap though is that "someone has to sign for it" and that means me. Which means you've interrupted me. When I see the address label isn't a publisher or a client, guess where it goes? Yup. The slush pile. Unopened. Unread.

The second reason it's stupid is that it sends the subliminal message that you think HOW something arrives is somehow more important that what it says. That means you're a nitwit. I try to avoid having nitwits for clients.

Don't do this.


Verily, I say unto thee

It's abundantly clear that adverbialy speaking, y'all need some help.

Kinda like a rubber band on your wrist for "um".

thanks to Molly for the heads up

Miss Snark gets her atlas


I happen to know the person that runs this blog, and I think you can adequately bribe her to go to the set with some rope and chloroform.



Dear Who?

Oh, do I need some Snarky help on this one!

I read a book. A particular book, in which the main character reminded me of my own hero. Since the author had been kind enough to thank his agent, I dropped her an e-mail and pitched my book to her.

She replied she'd love to read the first 50 pages. Oh, and could I include a #10 envelope for reply; she'd recycle my pages if she didn't like them. (which we all know she will, 'cause she liked the other guy's book)

I mailed the pages. I mailed the #10 envelope. I've heard through the grapevine that she can be slow to respond, so I was shocked when I found my envelope in my mailbox this morning.

Inside, was a rejection letter... written to another person.

Their letter, my envelope.

So. The agent apparently hasn't made any decision about my manuscript -- or maybe she sent it to the guy whose letter I got -- but she also has no way to mail me a rejection, should it be necessary (which it won't be, 'cause she repped the book I read).

Obviously, the kind thing to do is send the letter to its rightful owner. But what do I tell the agent? Do I offer to check my pocket lint for the change to send another SASE? Do I forget her entirely because even though this error fits with the sensibility of my character -- not to mention the book I liked so much that she repped -- if she can't be more careful, she's not the agent for me?


First, this kind of stuff happens. It's not a sign of disorganization or cluelessness. It just happens. You do NOT mail the letter to the author. You call the editor. You say "a letter to so and so was sent to me by mistake. Shall I mail it back to you?" If her assistant answers the phone (and don't assume the person who answers the phone IS her assistant) ask the assistant cause chances are it's her mistake and giving her a chance to fix it without the agent actually knowing is a good deed.

If you call and leave a message and you don't hear back in a week, mail the letter back with a letter of your own saying "this was sent to me by mistake".

You don't need to send a new SASE. At this point, she owes you a stamp...at least.

I swear I'm not making this up

Talk about clue guns!

(thanks to TS for the heads up)


cover art2

I've been chewing on cover art lately.
This one is perfect: My name above the fold, and gin.
Ok, it's green...but what the heck, it's a nice green.

(thanks to the BiblioBuffet for the treat!)



Dear Miss Snark,

Please do an entry on why NOT to cold-call an editor.

I'm sure this guy was a nice non-homicidal type in real life, but he turned into a fumbling, venom-spewing illiterate mess once I picked up the phone. Ugh ugh ugh.

You didn't buy his book cause he told you how good it was?? How very short sighted of you!

I get those too. Like the guy who called me at midnight thinking he'd get the answering machine. Surprise! Snark Central runs 24/7 more often than not and Killer Yapp loves to speak on the phone.

My recent favorite was the secretary of some nitwit who was given the assignment to feel out agents for their interest in his novel. After I stopped laughing long enough to tell her this just wasn't done, I realized she had to keep calling everyone on the list cause the nitwit she worked for told her to.

Stay off the phone.

Ready! Aim!......cluegun!

Dear Ms. Snark,

What is the proper way to query a book that ends on a cliffhanger? Would an agent prefer any sort of progress made on the other novels in the series, or is a first installment, if it's interesting and well done, enough to get represenation?

You're joking right?
Ending a book on a cliffhanger?
Are you NUTS?

Just don't.

The closest you can come is something like Janet Evanovich did with one of her books when she didn't name the guy who said "take it off", but that was a little teaser, and it was SEVERAL books into a successful series.

You query me with something like this and I can end the suspense really quickly about whether it's right for me.

If you get your eyes checked you'll notice you're not the only person in the world

Dear Miss Snark,

Because of a book she sold on a related theme, I queried an agent at a large firm (by email, pursuant to the firm's guidelines). She quickly replied, asking for the manuscript of my novel. I sent it immediately. Six months went by and I no longer had any expectations of this agent other than, maybe, some useful explanation as to why my book "wasn't for her." I emailed to check the status of my submission. Nothing. Three more months went by. I emailed again. Nothing. And then yesterday (nine and a half months after I sent my manuscript), I received this letter, not in my SASE:

"Thank you for sending me material for XXX. Unfortunately, you have come to us at a time when we are inundated with requests for assistance and representation. The need to allocate our time effectively forces us to decline participation in many worthy projects, and I regret that must be the decision in the case of XXX as well. I do appreciate your thinking of us, and wish you the best of luck with your book."

I don't believe this agent read my manuscript, although that's beside the point. I think she's merely "closing the book" on our interaction, just as I was trying to do by my email status query. But I am outraged by this agent's behavior. She didn't have to ask for my manuscript; she didn't even have to reply to my original query. But she did, and then she sat on the book for 9 months. There's neither an explanation nor an apology for the delay, and I think she at least owes me that, if not more.

The question is: when an agent requests a full manuscript from a writer, what is her obligation?

A decision. That's it. No explanation required.
If you think you're entitled to more than that, please do us all a favor and self publish.


Dear Miss Snark,

I may get the cluegun today with my question. Do you need to inform agents about multiple query letters? I sent a query letter to my dream agency (their response time is four weeks and they want a one month exclusive to review your ms. if they request it). I hadn't planned to send other query letters until I receive my response. Some agents want sample pages along with query letters and I'm not sure how that affects the exclusivity request.

My gut says, "Just wait. Your dream agency is worth it." And then my bored and fidgety self says, "I hate waiting. Waiting is hell! Let's stir up some action." Besides psychotherapy, do you have any advice for the newbie?

You don't have to inform anyone it's a multiple submission at the query stage (UNLESS the agency website specifically says you do). We assume you're querying widely.

And the best way to deal with nerves is to get cracking on sending more query letters.
And don't get me started on the lunacy of picking a "dream agency". That's like falling in love with Mr. Clooney and failing to consider that perhaps other choices, closer to hand, and more realistic are the better choice.

Dear Dog in Heaven, I believe Grandmother Snark has hijacked the blog.

Pub Credits surpassess SASE as the topic that will not die

Dear Miss Snark,

First, thank you for all you do to help writers. We appreciate it more than you know.

Last year a major house published one of my short stories in an anthology, and this year, it will publish another. Both of these stories are science fiction. My first novel is not sci-fi and would probably fall under the category of commercial fiction.

So, should my query mention the fact that my publishing credits are in the sci-fi genre, or just refer to them as short stories?

I'm wondering what agents think about writers who write in different genres.

You say "I have had short stories published in Mr. Spock's Guide to the Universe and Captain Kirk's Guide to Karaoke". Genre doesn't matter much. Your work has been published.

I like people who write in different genres right up until they want to start writing something I'm not good at selling.

You mean you AREN'T paying attention?

Dear Miss Snark:

I have a question that's similar to the hook post you answered earlier today. I'm not sure about the etiquette within the publishing blogosphere. I offered up my query letter for Evil Editor's Face-Lift series. As you know, Agent X is starting her hook critiques this week. I'd like her opinion as well. Should I hold my horses and see what Evil Editor has to say? Or, do I also submit to Agent X?

I assure you that all writers are not naturally nitwits, but there's something about the idea that we could screw things up before our work is even read that knocks us off our game.

Thanks for writing your blog. It's made a difference for me.


Now for your question:
Get as much feedback as you can.
None of us are reading the other's critiques very closely; it's all we can do to stay current on our own stuff. I know a lot of people ran their stuff through Mr. Evil and The Crapometer and the only people who noticed were the writers.

Sealed with a...oops

Miss Snark,
Forgive me if this has been mentioned before, but I am currently on a writers' loop where several members have mentioned receiving their SASEs from an agent(s) with their rejection written ON the envelope: "Not right for us." That's it. Nothing INSIDE the envelope.

How tacky is that and how much more time would it have taken to print out a form rejection, stick it in the envelope and retain their reputation? Is this a common practice?

I hope not, but in all fairness, you have no idea if the envelope arrived sealed. You think that sounds stupid? I get at least one a week that is already sealed cause it got wet in transit.

This falls into the category of laugh and move on.
There are a lot of agents in the world. Query widely.

Oh you clever pranksters

Dear Miss Snark:

Love you, love your blog, love your dog, etc.

I'm going to submit my mystery novel to a manuscript contest and was wondering if you would review my one-page synopsis and first ten pages and give me your feedback.

The deadline is tomorrow.

If yes, I'll send both documents in the format you prefer.

And just now via email:

How about just the synopsis?

Once was funny.
Twice makes me think maybe you weren't joking.

It's what isn't there

Dear Miss Snark,

I am intrigued by a new-ish book contest--The Parthenon Prize--that advertised in Poets & Writers Magazine. The judge is Tony Earley, a respected writer of literary fiction. The prize is $8,000, which I think is about the biggest out there, contest-wise, except for the Drue Heinz. The rules seem quite kosher, with an emphasis on ethics. But the publisher is a print-on-demand press, and I'd really like to know how you feel about that, considering everything else the contest has going for it.

Here's the link

I'd be grateful if you'd look at it, because everything else about it looks so RIGHT.

I'm otherwise entering contests that publish through university presses, from the Flannery O'Connor Prize to the Ohio State U Prize to the Prairie Schooner Brook Prize to the Sarabande/Mary McCarthy Prize...well, there are probably about a dozen of great repute (and smallish prize money). Honestly, I think I'd rather have $1000 and decent or even smallish distribution than $8000 and none. But I'd truly value your opinion here, Miss Snark. My gratitude, in advance.

They have a spiffy website don't they, very pretty. And I love Tony Earley's books, particularly Jim the Boy.

The problem isn't that they print using POD, it's that they don't have a way to get books into actual stores and libraries as far as I can tell from their (very spiffy) website. Their books are available on Amazon and the other places that list pretty much everything available from Books in Print but there's no mention of a wholesaler, or a distributor, and more telling, there's no link on their site for bookstores to buy direct from them.

If you win this contest, you can certainly use it to get attention for your book, but you'll be doing all the heavy lifting for pr and marketing if you actually want to sell books.

This isn't the crock of shit that Sobol was but it's not a contest I'd steer people to.

Xclamation point

An agent's blog that I read regularly is going to be doing something similar to a crapometer (imitation is the best form of flattery, after all). This agent currently has one of my queries, but I have not yet received a response on it. Should I try get my hook into her crapometer and get suggestions on making it better? Or just wait and hope for something more than a form back from her on the paper query I already sent? On the one hand, I want her to know how seriously I take writing and that I would value her opinion; on the other, I fear looking like a clueless nitwit to an agent that I would quite seriously be willing to take a shot from the cluegun for.

You'd be an utter nitwit to miss a chance to have her look at your hook. Any kind of feedback from her is worth its weight in gold. She's smart, she sells a lot, and she's not snarky about her critiques. There's no down side.

Get cracking. Polish that hook. Don't be a nitwit.


The Crapometer's Evil Twin

Evil Editor, who critiques query letters in the order received, is reportedly at work on the last query in his queue. Possibly a good time to jump in line. His den of iniquity is here.


I am sending a requested full manuscript to a small press. I will be in the very city of this small press in two weeks. Is it okay to mention this fact in my cover letter, or will it make it seem like I'm putting pressure on the situation?

Since Miss Snark is neither a small press nor a writer, she fobbed this question off on Ben Leroy, publisher of Bleak House Books, a small press (in that it's not Random House--yet) who was kind enough to put Mr. Clooney's office on hold and take my call.

Herewith his answer:

Here you go Miss Snark-

Well, that's certainly a good question. Any answer I give you is a mish mash of personal opinion and projection. So, as long as we can agree on that, and you don't come after me if it doesn't work out, here's what I think:

It certainly doesn't hurt to let people know you're going to be in town. Is it eager sounding? Sure. And I guess the fear is that you may come off like that guy from the football team who is clearly angling for a cheerleader date to the big homecoming dance. And maybe that fear is grounded in some good common sense-it's possible that your cheerleader only knows that you
play on the football team, and that her experience with football players has been a mixed bag. Plus, she's got other commitments with a math tutor, grocery shopping for Old Lady McGregor down the block, and her mother has come down with a touch of the common cold, so there'll be increased choreload around the house.

Or, maybe she not only knows you're on the football team, but that you're good, and that you've got a bright future. Maybe her parents are off on vacation, Old Lady McGregor's son is visiting from Tulsa, and her B average in math class is good enough for her. That might be just enough for her to react positively to your advances and agree to meet you at the corner ice
cream parlor for a root beer float.

I don't know how much you know about this cheerleader or what this cheerleader knows about you. But I do know that sometimes in life we have to take chances based on the facts as we understand them. Offer the information, but don't be disheartened or offended if it's met with a stony indifference. Publishers, like everybody else in the world, are very busy people who are always fighting against deadlines and focusing priorities on what they already have in house. Sometimes it's easy to step out of the office. Sometimes it ain't. Play it cool and try not to have expectations and you should be just fine."


Hello Miss Snark
I'm currently working on a proposal for a book that is gonna shake the world! I know, you've heard it before...

Anyway, I'm polishing the About the Author section and am unsure how to handle my doctoral dissertation, which is relevant to the book I'm pitching (the book is about what Darwin didn't know about human sexuality and the dissertation is about human sexual behavior in the pleistocene). I've published articles (both academic and popular), chapters in anthologies, and so on, but nothing book-length, except my dissertation. I know that technically, the dissertation is a publication, but it's not really "published," and I don't want to come across as a dweeb, in that this is to be a mass-market book. Should I include in the Author's info to help me make the case that I'm capable of the sustained work, or is it enough to just mention the Ph.D.?

Popular articles on human sexual behaviour in the Pleistocene Age. Holy Neanderthal, Batman.

If you have a Ph.D we assume you wrote some sort of dissertation. You don't need to mention it again particularly since the title probably isn't Fred Flintstone Does Fargo. Also, dissertations aren't published, they're printed. There is a difference.


Be Miss Snark

Hello Miss Snark (and Killer Yapp)

First off all I shall state that I am a recent reader of the blog and I think it is really not only helpful resource but a brilliant read as well. I am sure I can state on behalf of myself at least that I think its fantastic that you do this blog in your own time whilst working through your day job to. So THANK YOU!

Anyhow there was a point to this email and at this point I shall pause to get prepared for a hit or several with the clue gun. A much needed one at that.

I am currently working on a second draft of a novel that has two narrators whom break the fourth wall and talk directly to the reader. My attempt at a novel also currently uses a lot of characters reminiscing of events related to the stories present plot (for instance at one point character A reveals that character B she is pregnant. That in turn causes character B to reflect on her own child she had to put up for adoption in her childhood and reveal that to character A) . If and (hopefully) when I am ready to submit queries to agents slush piles how would it be best to include these events in a synopsis? The date order that the events happened or the order that events get revealed in the story? Or is that just horridly lazy writing and should just be scrapped?

I am curious to know your thoughts on This

Well I'm just tickled to get your email. Words however fail me. If any of the Snarklings would care to offer up some advice, feel free.

You had me at..well, ok, no you didn't

There are a lot of ways to get an agent's attention at a writing conference. Here's another.


Nitwit assistants

Let's say:
You're a writer, and you're represented by a small established agency.
The agency's lone assistant (in his late 20s) is posting on a personal page not using his own real name, but does reference the agency’s name.
Some of the assistant’s postings could be taken as bespeaking a macho, not terribly enlightened attitude to women: links to "adult" sites, etc.
The personal page comes up pretty easily in a search engine – under the agency’s name. I doubt anybody else in the agency knows this is the case. The assistant may not even know it.
A lot of people in publishing are women. Will the assistant's lack of discretion hurt the agency, or its clients, or him?

No one in the industry spends much time reading myspace pages by assistants.
He'll get the message soon enough, but no one is going to think less of you for his idiocy.

"Write what you know" takes on a whole new meaning

Dear Miss Snark,
I write suspense novels and would like feedback on a couple of books I've finished. I fear, however, that if I join a writers' critique group, my story concepts might be used by someone else looking for a good plot. The very uniqueness of a suspense plot is, in my opinion, what sells a suspense novel.

Why, one of your snarklings even 'fessed up to this by commenting that the Happy Hooker Crapometer gave her some good ideas! (They weren't mine; I was afraid to participate because of above reasoning, though I certainly would have loved your feedback.)

What to do?

First, you need to realize that while plot is important it's the writing. You don't have copyright on ideas, only execution (ie writing).

If I seriously thought there was going to be a problem posting people's work in the crapometer I wouldn't have done it. People get ideas from all sorts of things including previously published work (T. Jefferson Parker acknowledges a debt to Jon Lethem in a recent novel); art; music; and, their own families. It's what you DO with the idea that counts, ESPECIALLY in suspense novels.

I find the people most paranoid about other's stealing their work are the ones least likely to be stolen.

Screenplays are a different story, but you've said novel.

Avoiding idiot agents

Dear Miss Snark,

You recently wrote "The other agent was an idiot (which I could have told him)..."

It seems to me the idiot quotient in most careers is fairly high (thirty-five percent feels about right), and I wouldn't expect literary agents as a profession to deviate dramatically from the norm.

But how the hell are first-time writers supposed to know who qualifies?

I know enough to check for prior sales, but I'm sure idiot agents make deals from time to time. You know, for less than they might have otherwise gotten, or maybe after wasting a lot of time due to poor organizational skills. But again, we wouldn't know that. All we see are the sales that further legitimize the idiots.

So here's an idea: Hows about you post (right next to the Writers Beware Ten Worst Agents list) your nominees for the Ten Biggest Idiots? Disgruntled and former clients can weigh in with their idiot-agent horror stories.

I'm sure somewhere among your two million or so hits there's a lawyer who's trying to become Grisham who would be happy to defend you once the lawsuits fly.

Or (I'm trying to be reasonable here), hows about you just email me with your list and I'll keep the whole thing quiet?

In this case, the idiocy was pretty much a matter of public record. A search of P&E would have turned up a big red flag of warning.

As to the greater question let's be clear: all of us are idiots at one time or another. There are days I'm sure I'd lead your list. Hopefully not many, hopefully fewer than most, but trust me, we'd all be on the list at one time or another.

That's why you talk to clients of an agent who's made you an offer and you don't sign with someone just cause they did offer.

A nitwit list isn't going to save you. You've got to be your own Encyclopedia Brown.

Contact info format

Dear Miss Snark –

I’ve searched the snarkives but haven’t found an answer to my question: How/when does one mention one’s website in a query? Should it be slipped innocuously in with the postal information? For example:

FirstName LastName
Street Address
City, State Zip
e-mail address

Or is there some other method? And should this be included from the get go or only with partials/fulls?

That works for me. At the query stage, follow standard business letter format. If you don't create a letterhead format, all the info under the signature is fine. The only problem is when you have eye, one, and el or oh or zero in your email address. Make SURE it's clear what's what. And try not to have your signature obscure any of the email address either. I see one of these kinds of screw ups at least once a month.