A Tribute to Nicholas Pekearo

I've mentioned the two auxiliary officers who were killed in Greenwich Village on March 14. One, Nicholas Pekearo, was a writer and a devoted reader. A young man who volunteered his time to make our city a good place to live. In other words, one of those guys you never hear about until he's dead before his time, and it's too late to thank him for stepping up.

There's a benefit concert on May 9, here in New York, for a cause this man believed in.

A Tribute to Nicholas Pekearo

Benefit Concert for PROTECT featuring Jesse Dayton, a hard rocking, good time guy from Austin, TX.

Don Hill's 511 Greenwich St., New York, NY

May 9, 2007 : doors open at 9PM

cover : $20.00 (100% donated to PROTECT)

Complete details can be found here

To blog or not to blog

I have a paranormal mystery novel at the submission stage - thoroughly critiqued, polished to the best I can get it, and quite original IMO. Of course, agents and publishers may see it differently, but that's another subject.

I am thinking about starting a blog on the subject matter of the story: the paranormal and the divide between those who believe and those who don't. (Not quite, but close enough. I'm trying to be a little cagey about the core issues, as I think the idea is original enough to consider it in my best interests to keep it close to my chest.)

On the issue of blogging writers you have said:

"Do I look for writers by reading their blogs? No I find writers the old fashioned way: they fall into my mailbox with nice letters. However, if someone queries me and says "Dearest Miss Snark, I have a blog that gets 1000 unique hits a day" and "my blog is about my writing" of course I'd pay attention."

Does this apply to subject matter not directly related to writing or publishing? I think, if done properly, the blog could attract some attention and get some good traffic. But is it really a useful tool when the writer is unpublished to try and sway the prospective agent/publisher that the subject matter generates a lot of interest?

There are many good writers blogs out there and I'm sure the world doesn't need another. But if you had one that dealt with intriguing core issues covered in your story, and it was interesting enough to attract a lot of, well, interest, is it a good marketijng tool?

Key phrase: interesting and done well

In case you're wondering, it's not all that easy to keep a good blog. I see a lot of crappy ones out there and a few that are downright damaging to an author's public face.

I also don't troll the blogosphere for writers but when I google hot prospects, you bet I look at their websites or blogs.

Here are the things I think make a blog work well for a writer building an online presence:

1. pictures
like here

2. hilarious
like here

3. informative
like here

4. slice of life outside the usual
like here

5. very very focused
like here

And really almost all of those blogs are all of those things and they're well written.

Starting a blog just cause you've heard it's a good idea is the wrong starting point. The right starting point is do you have anything to say, and do you have enough of it to say one new thing every day for a year.

And just cause you have a blog doesn't mean anyone will ever read it. I'm stunned by the number of people who read this blog now, but when I started there were about six of us and three of them were poodles. I was very fortunate to receive mentions by GalleyCat and Publisher's Lunch within several weeks of launching but that was almost two years ago when blogging was still relatively new. I think I was one of fewer than ten publishing professionals keeping a blog at that time. Now there are hundreds.

A dead blog isn't a plus.


Backlist soup

Dear Miss Snark:
Have you ever had a situation where you signed an author only to find he/she has an backlist of unpublished novels? I'm not talking a plethora of drawer books, but solid, decent titles that didn't find homes because the market turned or they just weren't breakout enough. How do you handle this? Do you deal with one at a time, or perhaps pitch a few, looking for a multiple book deal? What if you don't love the books as much as the one you signed the author on?

sorry, lots of questions, I know. I'm just looking for a glimmer of hope, here.

thanks in advance, juicy soup bone to KY.

KY says thanks for the mastodon soup: yummy!

Miss Snark says: I'm pretty sure every client I've EVER signed has a bunch of novels they think are good and that didn't sell. Generally the back list comes out for consideration when we're trying to find book two. I read them one at a time. So far the record is six: six reads to find the one I thought I could sell.

And I've had clients fire me cause I didn't like what they had up their sleeve too. Not fun, but from their standpoint, the right decision.

And I've sold books I didn't love.

Hook as in right hook

I have a novel called THOUSAND DOLLAR ADULT. It is about a woman who cannot box worth a flip, so she becomes a literary agent. All is well until she starts developing homicidal impulses toward some turkey in California who keeps sending her nitwit queries stuffed in with stale cookie crumbs. Tormented by her inner demons and her envy of Muhammad Ali, she stalks the would-be novelist and blows his brains out, not with a .357 magnum, but with a surprise attack right hook from her old boxing days. And he thought she invited him to dinner to discuss his book. What a sap.

The agent is put on trial, meaning she has to pay lawyers for years and years and years (the crime took place in California, after all and they are in no hurry.) She doesn’t mind the prospect of death row, but the legal fees are killing her ahead of schedule. Fortunately while the idiot prosecutor is not watching, the defense attorneys stack the jury with other literary agents. Then at the climax of the story the agents in the jury box all stand up as a group and shout “Not Guilty!” (I stole this from the movie HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE.)

That despite twenty eye-witnesses, a signed confession, numerous character witnesses who testified for the prosecution, and an old Wal-Mart security video showing her giving the janitor a shellacking.

Finally she gets back to her office in New York, only to be confronted by the result of a long absence: The Slush Pile From Hell.

My only concern is that this story could never happen in reality and that no literary agent will take it seriously.

What say you?

Bring it on.

Thank yous

Dear Miss Snark,

Three related questions:

First, I've heard it said not to send anything to one's agent as a thank-you other than a nice, handwritten card -- stressing that this is a job, and as the agent is not in fact being "nice" but just doing a job, anything else is overkill. I've read stories of wilting flower bouquets and uneaten fruit baskets, and although I'm pretty sure you'd make an exception for a gin pail or George Clooney's home number, what, in your opinion, do other agents tend to think on this matter? I'd feel like a little bit of a nitwit if I called my agent and said, "so what would you like me to send you to say thanks?" (But if you can think of a tactful way to do just that, I'd be game!)

Second, when in the process does one send whatever it is one has deemed appropriate? When the contract is signed? When the book goes on sale? When Miss Snark plugs the ARC on her blog? All of the above?

And third, I've noticed I tend to say "thanks!" in most of my e-mails to my agent. I'm not trying to be suck-up-ish, I just think I have an awesome agent who does her job very well, and she deserves to know I appreciate her hard work. But how does one know when enough becomes too much, the agent's eyes start rolling, and George is summoned to start the IV gin drip?

Thanks (see, there I go again!) so much.

1. I've received an assortment of things, most recently the entire inventory of a saloon which comes in quite handy on the days it's raining too hard to slink over to the Bathtub Bar and Still.

Flowers are almost always lovely, bottles of hooch as well. You can ask the agent's other clients what they sent. But really and truly, giftage is not a requirement of the deal.

2. Mostly I get the swag when contracts are signed. That's kind of a big deal moment, and we all feel like celebrating a lot, particularly if it was a long process.

3. It's never ever wrong to say thank you to your agent in an email (well, ok "you stink, you're fired, thanks for nothing" is the exception). Even Miss Snark's cold cruel heart is slightly thawed by "thank you, you're the best" in emails.

Takes a lickin' and keeps on bitchin'

The topic that will not die

dunce cap for the publicist

Dear Miss Snark,

It's springtime, the season of birds, bees, and cologne/weightlifting/highheels/shortskirts... et cetera.

Some highlights from The Romance Revolution:

~ 55% of women and 41% of men have said "I love you" in the hopes it would lead to sex.

~ 64% of men and 72% of women "want more romance" in their lives.

~ 86% of those surveyed believe it's "cool to be romantic".

In honor of the season, (publisher redacted) will issue its annual Romance Report this Wednesday, whose findings tell us what we already know: America is a nation of romantics. This year's report, The Romance Revolution, took the romantic pulse of American men and women, interviewing about their hopes and perceptions on the state of America's art of love.

Because of your blog coverage of Romance Lit, I've attached the report's press release, scheduled to go on the newswires tomorrow. I hope this brings a little springtime steam to your page, and if you want any more information on the report, drop me a line and I'll get right back to you.

Con Amour, I'm sure.

yea right.
My coverage of Romance Lit?
I may end up with a noise complaint from the neighbors I'm laughing so hard at that one.

Yes, this guy is spamming Killer Yapp.
No, it doesn't matter worth a damn to me.

What it means to YOU however is that if you write romance and your publisher tells you they have an email press campaign, you might want to see what they think that entails.

There are many many ways to be effective on line. Spam isn't one of them.

As a writer you must be prepared to advocate for your own book online. You absolutely cannot expect anyone else to do it effectively. Publishers can cover the trade outlets (like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal) and they can get review copies to newspapers but I've NEVER yet seen an effective online campaign from a major publisher.

If you go back and look at the books I've talked about on this blog you'll find two things:
1. they are books written by people who read this blog, and who've been reading it for awhile and are known to me from the comments column; and

2. they are books Snarklings, or someone I know, or a blogger I read, recommended.

In other words, a pr department telling me about a book has ZERO effectiveness here. Marketing and PR in Cyberia happens one-on-one or in places that feel like one-on-one (like the DorothyL list or Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind).

One of the great things about most blogs is people are writing about books about which they have genuine emotion-be it love or loathing. I actually read a book cause someone hated it so much (figuring I knew the guy was an idiot so I'd probably like the book--I didn't).

I tell all my authors to find blogging communities they like, and to be visible in those communities. Not every day, or even every week, but known. People buy books of people they know and like (or perhaps in Miss Snark's case--know and fear).

And tell your publisher not to spam Killer Yapp. It's interfering with his efforts to learn Catalan.

The venerable Bede? no, that's Miss Bent to you, bucko

Miss. Snark,

I recently submitted an email query to Jenny Bent and she replied in less than 24 hours asking me to send her a partial (50 pages) via email. It has been two weeks since I sent it and I got no confirmation that she got it but I am pretty sure she did. Is two weeks a bad indication that it has been rejected after such a quick response to my query? How long should I wait until I inquire if at all?

I am a first time author so I am not sure how long these things take.

First clue: there are 4000 posts on this blog. At least ten percent of them deal with timing. My guess is you've read none of them. Before you ask basic questions, at least make a stab at finding the answer. There are two direct benefits: you'll find out faster AND you won't look like a nitwit.

Second clue: Here's what Miss Bent's daily schedule is

9am arrive at office via sedan chair

9:05am receive editors lined up begging to buy projects

12:02pm first lunch with Michiko

12:42pm second lunch with Oprah

1:30pm return to office to sort through offers from morning's editor line up

1:45pm return phone calls from worthy editors

3:10pm afternoon tea with Mick Jagger who is seeking advice on a ghost writer for his long overdue bio

3:45 pm read emails in slush pile

3:46pm sort through invitations from beseeching prize committees such as Nobel and Pulitzer

3:47pm conduct six auctions simultaneously with color coded ink pens and briskly efficient team of assistants

3:52pm make five editors weep in frustration as the Next Big Book goes elsewhere

4:15pm telephone calls with clients who offer up a litany of thanks, chocccies, loinfruit (first born of course) and really good scotch

5:00pm sedan chair for trip home

7:15pm dinner with Pope who is overheard whispering ruefully "oh such sweet temptation"

9:15pm returns home to peruse manuscripts

10:00pm fall asleep in bower of rose petals

As you can see Miss Bent is extremely busy doing what they pay her for down there: selling books. And partials get 30 days even if she isn't.

What to get for a kid who already has Satan for a BF

Dear Miss Snark,

Is there a particular book you would recommend as a high school graduation gift for a young woman who still has a lot to learn about life?

I have already considered one of your recent raves, Patricia Carlin's How to Tell If Your Boyfriend Is the Antichrist, but I'm afraid that question has already been answered in this particular case.

Many thanks, and welcome back! Oh, how we missed you!

I found this one to be pretty darn useful.

I missed y'all too, and I'm glad to be back.


Return of the Nitwit!

Hi! The author (name redacted to preserve that poor sucker's identity) recommended your website. Do you have any tips for getting a literary agent? Can YOU be my literary agent? Will you be at the book expo in late May?



Major clue: When someone directs you to a website, generally it helps to read more than the title before you fire off an email.