Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Friday, April 29, 2016

Upping the Ante writing contest!

You guyz have gotten entirely too good at these writing contests. Time to move up a division. (Sorry Carolynn, not doing essays!)

Read the rules carefully this time: there are changes!

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Start with this phrase:  "And then she saw"

3. End with the phrase: "stunned her."

4. Use these three prompt words: cat   hat   splat

5. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: cat/catering is fine but hat/heat is not.

6. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

7. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

8 International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

9. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

10. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

10a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on a your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail on the post with results ...just leave me out of it.)

11. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

12. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

 13. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

14. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: 9am Saturday 4/30/16

Contest closes: 9am Sunday 5/1/16

If you're wondering how much time you have before the contest closes

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Yours truly, Bonnie (no, not THAT Bonnie!)

As I understand it, an agent interested in my query might very well check out my web presence before deciding whether to request a full or otherwise encourage a working relationship. Unfortunately, there is another writer with my same name in my same state who is all over the web with both lousy poetry and in-your-face political views that are (to say the least) not mine. I'd love for the agents I'm querying to know this person is not me, but including a line in my query distancing myself from her seems incredibly tacky. How much of a problem is this, really, and what can I do about it?

When I google a writer, I use the link you provide.

For you that would be:

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Bonnie Bestseller

I do not type your name into The Google to see what comes up.

I'm not interested in finding out how many Bonnies there are;  I'm interested in you.

The fewer Bonnies I have to sort through to find you, my Bonnie, the better.

Given that your surname is an exact match to this other, lesser Bonnie, you can also include something underneath your website:
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Bonnie Bestseller
(There are two BonnieBestsellers in Freedonia. I'm the .net. She's the .nuts)
Now, there are other ways around this and the easiest one is to simply add a name to your author name.

BonnieNYTBestseller for example.

The reason my beloved client Stephanie Evans is Stephanie Jaye Evans?

The "other" Stephanie Evans was a stripper who'd appeared on Howard Stern doing things that I think may have actually required CGI special effects.

But even if I should stumble on the Other Lesser Bonnie instead of you The Right Bonnie, most likely I'd recognize that you are two separate people.  Your query will be well written and enticing. Her website will not.

I've been at this long enough (as we all have) to understand that there are multiple people with the same name.

In fact, just recently I was preparing a list of comp titles for an author and came across a book by James Baldwin. The bio on Amazon linked this book to the James Baldwin who wrote Fire On the Mountain, but that seemed very odd to me, given the subject of the book being proposed as a comp. Sure enough, different authors. A little bit of research was all it took, but you'll notice: I knew to look.

One of my authors actually had a page on his website for the "other" guys with his name. It was pretty interesting. You might not want to do that if Other Bonnie is also a writer, and not a very good one, of course.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What does 'not right for my list' mean anyway?

Okay, so I received this response from an agent, which came in less than 24 hours of having sent a query and 5 pages of my memoir to her.

"Many thanks for querying me. This certainly sounds like an interesting premise for a book, but I'm sorry to say it's not quite right for my list at this time. I appreciate your trying me though and hope you find the right home for your work very soon. Please feel free to try one of my colleagues with your project."

Thrilling-until I read it was "not right for her list at this time". I've heard this a few times. Would you please explain what that means? How does a book not fit a list? Does she mean maybe later she would be interested?

Also, she suggests I try one of her colleagues. Upon checking the company website, I see no one else lists memoirs as a genre they represent. Why would she say this? Or...maybe this is a canned response?

First, don't read anything more into the speed of the reply than you just queried when she was working through her inbox.. I've replied to people within MINUTES and it was for both positive and negative outcomes.

And yes, this is a form rejection.

But as to your question, what does "not right for her list at this time" mean: you have a list too. It's all the books you own. My guess is you probably own quite a few. But you don't own every book you've ever looked at or heard about. You probably don't even own every book you've thought "hmmm...sounds good" when you read about it or saw it.

Same with my list which in this case is novels I've asked to represent. Some novels appeal to me. Some don't. That really doesn't have a strong correlation with "good" or "publishable." I have some VERY good novels on my list that haven't found a home. I've seen some novels published (not mine of course) that I thought were dreck. And I haven't taken on every novel that sounded good in my incoming queries either.

What you don't know from this response is whether the book isn't appealing to her, or you've got a query that doesn't do its job. Make sure your query has enough of the plot (YES you need a plot in a memoir!) to be enticing, and you haven't described your female characters as blond bombshells, or feisty (or other gender specific words that annoy the snot out of us right now). A quick trip through QueryShark might help if you haven't been there before.

And I will say this: memoir is very tricky. It's a crowded category and the competition isn't diminishing. The biggest problems I see with memoir queries is what they don't have: significance for the reader. An interesting life doesn't always make an interesting story. You need a third act, and you particularly need it if you're not famous.

We've talked about memoir here a couple of times.

A general post on querying memoir

A post on what to leave out of a memoir

A longish post on significance and platform (yes, platform helps in a memoir)

This might be a good time to invest in a writing conference as well. A chance to actually talk to an agent may help you identify some problems you don't see, or get insight into what's not working in your query or project. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Please tell me you didn't pay money for this service

 Hi Janet, Dewey Cheatham here.  I don't think we've "met" so I should say at once that I'm getting in touch here with my consultant's hat on because I hope you'll take a look at something I think is really terrific and in your wheel house.  AUTHOR's TITLE, (description) knocked me out when I saw a first draft a while back, and it has gotten better and better ever since.

 I'm attaching a short synopsis that will tell you more, along with the ms itself to save us all time, and the author bio so you can see his impressive bona fides.  I've also been trying to come up with a comparable [sic] or two that will  convey the very special pleasure this story offers (comp explanation)

 The final point to be made is that TITLE  has never been submitted to any editor/publisher and you're part of a limited group of agents to whom I'm sending it.  I feel so strongly about the excellence of this work that I'm not putting any fancy time limits or constrictions on the submission.  Take a look, please, and tell me what you think.  

First thought: who the hell are you and why are you sending me someone else's work?

Second thought:  you're wasting my time. You've clearly ignored my submission guidelines about  attachments (I don't open them) and no submissions from third parties. Those guidelines aren't for "other people". They're for everyone. Particularly people I've never heard of.

Third thought: geeze louise, I hope  the author didn't pay you any money for this "service". That vast silence you hear is no one paying attention to you. Positioning yourself as a "consultant" doesn't move you to the head of the line. It moves you to the auto-rejection bin.

In other words 0-3.
That's an out, retire the team, everyone goes home, see ya later.

If you are a writer and someone offers to "help you" pitch your novel by sending queries for you SAY NO.  No matter how enticing they make it sound. No matter how "connected" they claim to be. Anyone who claims this is effective is WRONG.

I don't think this "consultant" is actively trying to line his own pockets at the expense of authors. I think he's simply clueless. It's not a scam, it's just useless. Unfortunately the only person who loses out here is the writer who thinks his book isn't getting any love when that's not the case at all.

And for the contrarians among you (and yes I know there are many) who say "well, jeeze SharkForBrains, just read the damn thing already" let's all remember this:

1. I have no idea if the author has agreed to let Dewey Cheatham pitch his ms.
2. This "query" wasn't written by the author and doesn't actually tell me anything about the book.
3. Someone who is so uninformed as to allow this is a writer who will require a LOT of extra work. Guess how much I want to sign up for that?
4. I don't even want to hazard a guess at what kind of fee structure a consultant like this sets up. A bonus if the agent replies? A percentage of the deal if the agent sells the book? This kind of thing bothers me a lot, and frankly I don't want to be part of it.

Just about the only time I'd actually take one more step and read some of this is if it was a non-fiction book on a topic I was perishing to work on.  Off the top of my head I can't think of a topic like that but I'm sure there must be one.  For a novel? No way.

Querying EVERY AGENT IN THE WORLD is easy: send a query. Wait for a reply. You don't need anyone to grease the skids, perform an introduction, move you to the head of the line, wrap you in some kind of embrace of familiarity.

I read queries from total strangers every day. I sign authors because I love their books not because some consultant read it first and vetted it for me.

This is a very simple game. Throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball.

Monday, April 25, 2016

What to do when there are two

About a month ago, I got an offer of rep. I alerted every agent who had my query/partial/full. Then my initial offer fell through.

During that turbulent week, Agent 1 from Fabulous Agency requested my full, rejected it with some very, very kind words. When they heard about my offer of rep mishap, they even offered to show my MS to some of her fellow agents at said Fabulous agency (which, honestly, I had no idea was even an option). Did I mention they were really, really nice?

Agent X (different agency) offered a very kind R&R. I asked Agent 1 if they'd be interested in the revised version of the MS and they said yes. On cloud nine right now.

Fast-forward to this week, and I'm still waiting on the okay on my new outline I sent to Agent X so that I can really get into the major changes in my revision. Meanwhile, I have this shiny new MS I'm itching to query. So I entered a Twitter pitching contest and Agent 2 (!!!) from Fabulous Agency requested a partial from this other MS.

Now, I have no idea what to do. Agent 1 was so kind and generous, and though they're not reading anything of mine right now and the R&R didn't come from them, they did agree to read the revised version of my initial MS. But at the same time, I don't want to miss this chance with Agent 2.

Since they're both from the same agency, I have no idea how to proceed. Do I e-mail Agent 2, explain the situation, and ask them if it's okay if I send them the new MS partial? Do I just do nothing and hope Agent X will okay my revision outline and then send the revised version of my first MS to Agent 1?

Like I said, Agent 1 was really, REALLY nice, and I don't want to make a huge faux-pas. But I also don't want to miss out on an opportunity with Agent 2.

It's completely understandable that you're confused about what to do. Interactions with agents have become so fraught with hysterical warnings -- "do this" "never do that" and "oh my god, you did WHAT?? You'll be on the blacklist forever!"-- that it's a wonder authors heads aren't spinning and there's an uptick in calls for exorcists.

So first things first: you can not screw up if you're polite and straightforward.

[If an agent is dismissive of you for being polite and straightforward, that agent needs to loosen her girdle and get a fucking drink. You may quote me on that as needed.]

You say to the agent who requested your work in the Twitter contest that you have an R&R in the pipeline for Agent 1.

It's up to the agents to sort stuff out on their end. Your job is to write well, and not be an asshat.

So far you seem to be 2 for 2 on this.

This is actually the overarching guideline for all these kinds of weird situations that pop up in the query process: be polite, be straightforward.  Resist the temptation to game the system or strategize.  REALLY resist the voices who tell you that's the only way to handle this. I can assure you that is terrible advice, and worse, it will bite you in the asterisk later.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week in Review 4/24/16

Welcome to the week that was (and what a week it was!)

In last week's review RachelErin said
Maybe I do need to give The Wire a try. I've heard so many times how amazing it is, but I have trouble with violence in TV and movies. Gives me nightmares if it's too intense. I hate missing out on great writing, though!
I don't think of The Wire as particularly violent. Yes there are some scenes with gunfire, and one particularly gruesome scene in Season One with  Brandon "laid out here for all the little yo's to see" brutalized unforgivably (for failing to give up Omar's location.)
It's entirely possible to fast forward through them and still get the gist of the show. 

Scott G just cracked me up with this:

"I think once or twice in 10+ years of equeries, I've rejected something I intended to ask for pages on."
No problem. I'll have those pages to you first thing in the morning.

 The blog post on Monday about author agency agreements
came from a WIR question from BJ Muntain
I found the information about agent/client contracts interesting. You know, there is a lot out there about publishing contracts, but I don't think I've seen all that much about agent contracts. It would be interesting to hear what is covered in these contracts, and what should be negotiated.

Lucie Witt said:
This all seems pretty straightforward, with the exception of the switching agents and unexploited rights part. I imagine that language could be tricky to understand/catch

You just want to be careful that any agency agreement says the agent doesn't get commission on things she didn't sell or offer for sale. And that her interest in the book is not life of copyright.  

Craig asked:
Is there some ultimate voice on who gets the money from Italy or do you have to fight it out in court? (1)

Over the past few weeks you gave several examples of agents behaving badly. Mostly by a refusal to communicate. It makes you want to turn your pretty head and walk away. But you can't.

Do you have to hire an attorney and send a registered return response letter? How do you make sure you get Italy and not your ex? (2)

It would be nice if you could settle it like grownups but an agent who refuses you calls and does not call back can not be expected to act like a grownup when it comes to money.

Who is the final arbiter? (3)
(1) and (2) If you license your rights to an Italian publisher, the publisher is going to pay the agent who did the deal. That's generally going to be your NEW agent's co-agent. Italian co-agent sends New Agent the money. New Agent sends a check to you.

It gets sticky if OLD agent sees the deal and says "hey Snooks, not so fast,  I have rights to that commission too. See, here's the author/agency agreement you signed that says so."

You're then left with the choice of saying "Sayonara sharkbreath" or paying up.

When I've run in to this problem (with a client who had a former agent with a draconian author/agency agreement) we actively considered the risk of selling stuff and just not saying anything to the former agent.  In the end we decided it wasn't worth the risk, or potential payout if she caught wind of it. It didn't matter cause we have enough other stuff that I have all the rights on, but this gets really sticky if you have a big best-selling book.

(3) If it gets ugly, the final arbiter is the judge in a civil case about a contract dispute. A lot of author agency agreements mandate arbitration for any disputes, and if you can get that taken out, you'll be doing yourself a favor.

Again, the key here is a very clear author/agency agreement about how long, and for what the agent is entitled to commission.

SiSi asked
Wow, thank you for this--you make it sound so simple and straightforward. I have a question similar to Jason's. An agent will examine publishing contracts, so it seems to make sense to have someone look at an agent contract before we sign anything. Who is the best person for that--any lawyer? A contract specialist? A publishing specialist? My neighbor who watches a lot of Judge Judy?

A lawyer or a contract review specialist can help. Probably not a Judge Judy fan, since those are generally resolving disputes; you want to prevent them!
If anyone needs help finding someone to look at a contract, let me know. I keep a list of names.

E.M. Goldsmith asked
I did have a question about works represented. A writer signs with agent based on full length novel. The same writer has a lot of short stories published all over the place and even more on his or her blog. After signing with agency, the author is approached for rights to turn one of these short stories into a movie. Would the agent be able to step in here and negotiate on the author's behalf even though the story was published prior to agent/author relationship? (1) What if the writer is approached prior to signing with agent? Would this be something to tell agent in query? (2) Phone call? (3)
1. Yes
2. Won't hurt.
 oh I'm sorry, was I shrieking? Unless you're a client, the rule is do not call the agency. Not for nuttin'.

The works covered by an author/agency agreement can be amended at any time. If I sign you for Sgt. Kale Takes on The Evil Lettuce Man (a picture book of course) and I can't sell it, I can take it off the list of works represented and let you self-pub it, no problemo. 
If someone asks for a novel based on a short story, we can add that.
As long as the list is current, and we both have the SAME list, it's all good.

Janice L. Grinyer asked:
"We set a limit on how much we can incur on your behalf ($250) and over what period (a year) before we need to have further authorization."

Is this limit a mutual decision between Author and Agent, or is this number based on the Agent's experience of what overhead costs might occur during the period?(1)

What number would cause an author to raise an eyebrow? (2)

(1) It's a number we've had in our contracts for 20 years! I don't think we've revisited it since it was inserted. In reality, we hardly bill clients for anything now cause almost everything is electronic.  If we need to ship books to you, or prepay an expense for you, then we bill you (or rather deduct it from your next check)

I've paid for things like websites, registering copyright, the tax forms required for overseas payments, and author photos. In each case I think the author knew the cost ahead of time and had ok'd the expense.

(2) if a number ISN'T listed you want to make sure one is. An agent shouldn't be allowed to incur unlimited costs on your behalf. That's just asking for problems. And I'm sure the number is one of the things that could be negotiated. If a client wanted to increase it, there'd be no problem. If they wanted to drop it to zero…that's kind of a hassle .

Michael Seese asked
I'd often wondered about the payment arrangement. In the days when check was king, I totally get sending the money to the agency. But now that we have EFT, I would have thought all parties would be better served if the publisher sent the agency their contracted amount and the balance to the author.

Taken to an extreme, if I'm getting a $1M advance (why dream small??) does the agency really want to mail me a check for $850,000?

I understand that there are the aforementioned occasional fees. But I put my career in your hands, so even the cheapest guy in the world (meaning, me) would not say, "You want me to send a check $50 for postage? That's outrageous!"

Actually Michael, I would LOVE to send you a check for $850,000. I think the only person who'd love it more than me would be you. 

And of course if your contract is for $1M advance, you're going to see four payments, not one:

1. On signing (25%)
2. On D&A (25%)
3. On initial publication (25%)
4. On ppbk pub -or 12 months post initial pub- (25%)

For amounts that size, we'll send it to you however you want: check, ACH, wire transfer.
From the publisher however, we still like checks. I really REALLY like knowing we got the money and when it went in the bank.

We do wire transfers for funds from overseas, and it's not as efficient as you think. We look at the bank records online and all we see is the wire transfer amount, and maybe the issuing bank. Well The First National Bank of Bimini may have accounts from all 12 publishers in Bimini, all of whom we have deals with. Which one is this for.

We have to wait for the paperwork to catch up with then bank. Which makes me slightly nuts since once YOUR money is in MY account, I want to be writing you a check and getting you paid.

So, when possible we ask for checks. But you can have it in bitcoins if you want, but I'm charging you a handling fee if it's pennies and I have to count them!

And you don't' send us a check for $50 for postage. We deduct it from your remittance:

$850,000/4= $212,500

On signing payment: $212,500 less $50 postage, and $1000 handling fee for payment in pennies, your net is: $211,450.

For those of you who like just the math:

Gross amount due: $212,500.00
Less: postage        ($50.00)
Less: handling fee ($1000.00)
Net to you:             $211,450.00

Claire said:
Michael, I'm guessing the publishers would feel it's really not their job to be divvying up the royalties between the author and agent, according to a contract to which they are not a party. They pay the author according to his/her instructions, which in most cases would be "Send the cheque to my agent". Then agent and author can duke it out.
The publishing contract between the publisher and the author actually has a clause that specifies the agent receives the dough. It's called the agency clause and every agent has their own version.

The publisher also includes language that says the money they pay the agent is payment for the author so if the agent is laggardly, the author has to deal with the agent not the publisher. The publisher will divide the payments but they're not about to get into collecting your money for you from the agent!

Sara asked:
    One question, not about the content of the agreement itself but the information the client provides to enter into the agreement. The standard agent-author contract used by my (former) agent's agency required the author's name and signature, plus the author's SSN, ostensibly so it could be readily entered on contracts when needed. Is this something that's typically requested up front? It makes sense, but knowing the author's SSN is also unnecessary at that point.... I wasn't sure what to think at the time (I ultimately provided it). I'm curious if this is standard practice.

I think it is standard practice. We request a W9 from all our clients when they sign on with FPLM. We are careful about keeping the information secure of course. If clients have security concerns, we work with them. Some clients have given me their tax ID numbers verbally. Some in three different emails and in reverse order, and some ask that it not be stored electronically.

I do whatever the client wants on this.

Joseph Snoe asked:
Does the contract bind the Agent or agency to do anything (e.g., Agent agrees to submit manuscript to at least twenty of the top thirty publishers?) or is the Creator writer at the mercy of the Agent’s goodwill? (1)

Does the Agent or agency in the contract warrant it will abide by all AAR Canon of Ethics? (2)

Will any agent or agency warrant it will represent the Creator writer ’s next two or three books even if the first one or two does not sell well? (3)

Does the agent contract give theCreator writer  or his representative the right to inspect the agency records related to his books? (4)

Does the contract assure the Creator writer the specific agent will in fact be the submission agent or editor or negotiator (as opposed to an assistant)? (5)

(1) - (5) No.

I think if a potential client asked me for these kinds of warranties, I'd step back from representation. At some point in this process the client has to believe what I'm saying. I'm signing a project I think I can sell. Therefore I will try to sell it (1).

I am a member of AAR and I value that membership, therefore I do my best to adhere to the Canon of Ethics. (2)

If this book doesn't sell, I'm not going to promise I'll work on the next three books. I intend to work with you, but I'm not going to promise something I don't know I can deliver. I want you to trust me; I'm not going to lie to you even if you want me to.(3)

We give you a complete breakdown of the payments on every check you receive. I will literally have NO information in my office that you will not also have. And since you are not a CPA, you're not bound by a Canon of Ethics and there's no way on Gods green earth I'm giving you access to our bookkeeping which would allow you to see other clients' income.

If a potential client insisted on this, I'd rescind the offer of representation. That said, if you think that's a problem, ask to have the payments divided at the publisher from the get-go. (4)

and (5) you don't get to tell me how to do my job. That's just gonna be the way it is.

Someone who needs to micro-manage at this level would not be a good match for me. We generally find this out the hard way. I had a potential client ask for 27 changes to the author agency agreement, including that it not be in letter form. And that our client account be a trust account, not just a separate bank account. I loved his book, but knew this would be a relationship that would not survive even one small stumble. Fortunately he realized it too, and said "no thanks."

There's a big difference between being prepared and knowledgeable, and suspecting your agent will pull a fast one unless the contract says she can't.

This was actually a plot point in a Dick Francis novel. The stud fee contract listed every possible thing that could go wrong from aardvark attacks to zebra mauling. Of course what DID go wrong was something not listed, but the insurance company had to pay because the cause wasn't one of the many many listed ones.

In the case of author agency agreements, I like to think my clients and I know what the basic agreement is: don't fuck up in any meaningful way. I'm sure it gives lawyers the hives, but there it is.

While Donnaeve labeled this as off-topic, she was too modest:
OFF TOPIC - I wanted to share something that happened yesterday. The CEO of Kensington posted an ARC of DIXIE DUPREE on his FB Page. Apparently he's going to read it. As part of that post, he also said it was "getting wonderful reviews and a great buzz." (Yay!) A few mins later he tagged me in a comment, and mentioned a particular individual who'd just left a comment on the post. He said "XXXX is a huge fan." I didn't know who the person was, so I Googled him. He's an exec at Random House Penguin (Kensington's Distributor).

It's entirely on topic (if you meant the scope of the blog, not just one particular post)

The reason this is cool for Donna is not just that people are reading and loving her book. That is terrific indeed. The reason it's more than terrific is she's getting what's called "in house buzz" and it's a HUGE help for a debut novel.

When not just the acquiring editor but the marketing and publicity folks and the other execs love the book it helps build the book's profile in-house. Donna is one of 30-50 books being published that season, and one of HUNDREDS that Random House will distribute. Everything that gets her attention is a Very Big Deal.

So HUZZAH!!!!!!!!

John Frain noticed some terminology:
But still! Theme parks and merchandising! I think my protagonist is gonna start carrying around a good luck charm in the form of a Disney character.

Don't laugh! Merchandising is a HUGE cash cow for a very few products and retaining those rights are essential to making film deals. I think Allie Brosh could have raked in a tidy sum if she'd licensed the Alot to someone:

And speaking of novels we all love alot a lot, John Frain's novel has taken a turn for the worse:
But I'm only guessing. I haven't even figured out how to revive my protagonist when I accidentally allowed the bad guy to kill her in chapter 16. Damn.

And it turns out that "doing the waiting for Frain dance" has a video.

Lucie Witt said
I get why OP might ask a question like this. We're in a post 50 Shades of Grey world - books with horrible grammar/writing can be bestsellers.
I've never understood why the grammar at least doesn't get fixed in some of these books. Maybe it's a tight production deadline that doesn't allow for copyediting (if a publisher copyedits a book the author needs to review the edits. It adds weeks if not months to the process.)

And I love love love this from luciakaku
Prescriptivism makes me twitch now. I occasionally jump into grammar debates on FB with, "Actually, that's prescriptive grammar. English doesn't give a rat's twat whether you split infinitives. Which is why Star Trek boldly goes wherever it wants, and no one gets confused, just uppity."

During the WIR Stacie asked the question that led to Wednesday's blog post:
    If you're a first-time author, how would you know whether your agent is dispersing funds to you promptly? Does the publisher alert you when the check goes out?
I gave a rundown on how the money goes out to you and when.

CarolynnWith2Ns asked:
Okay, so I'm going to sound really, really stupid but are authors handled as independent contractors, in other words do they receive a 1099.
May you request taxes withheld or does your accounting firm, Dewey, Cheathem and Howe, do that for you?
This is not a stupid question. If you want to try for stupid you'll have to take another shot. Something along the lines of "where do you keep your ice" would be a good start.

Yes, you the author get a 1099 from us the agent. It reflects the GROSS amount you earned, that is the amount BEFORE commission and expenses. You keep track of money that was deducted from your check, then claim it as an expense. If you have an accountant or tax preparer they will help you do this correctly.

We can't withhold taxes for you. The only taxes we can withhold are employment taxes, and you are not an employee.

Most agents probably can't do your taxes for you but I've been known to walk clients through a Schedule C once or ten times.

This isn't complicated, it's a matter of keeping good records.

SiSi asked:
Since taxes are still on my mind, how are taxes handled through the payments? Is anything withheld or is it up to the writer to keep track of all payments? Or is that something the agent also helps with? 

We do NOT withhold any kind of tax from your payments. When I send a client a largish check I remind them to take 25-30% of it and salt it away cause Uncle Sam will want it, most likely sooner rather than later.

If it's a smallish check (like under $1000) I'm not so concerned, but coming up with $35K when you need to is often a little bit harder, than $250.

Colin Smith asked:
So far, I've not made a single penny from my writing, so I've not really felt justified in trying to claim anything tax-wise for it. Not even for pens and paper. Am I missing out? Or is it really not worth the trouble until I sell a story, or start paying for an agent's bar tab? 

For that, I'd have to send you to your accountant. Every business I've owned has had income of some sort from pretty early on. It may not have exceeded expenses for awhile, but there was always something to put in the income line.

If there's literally NO income at all, I'm just not confident to answer.

And the sooner you start picking up my bar tab the happier my bartender will be.

Colin Smith said:
One rather important take-away from this: DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. Even if you get a big-dollar advance. You won't see all the money at once, and taxes may not be taken from it. Knowing how much my family lives by our family budget, I don't think we'll be ready to live off of advances and book royalties for a while. If ever! :) 

This is superlative advice. And let's all remember the very dark truth that most books don't earn out. That $200K advance may be the ONLY money you see from your book (or any book.)

Once that money is gone, it's spent. You want to make sure you're not scrambling for income at the same time I'm scrambling to find you a new publishing deal.

One of the things I have to beat into the heads of my young colleagues is anyone can sell a book. I've seen incredibly incompetent agents sell books. Keeping an author published: that's the hard part. It's one of those new challenges we're all having Lots of Fun with.

Jenz said:
I can't speak to what book publishers do, but I just made a short story sale to a market (my first pro-level sale) who specifies in their contract that they do not withhold any taxes, you're responsible for figuring that out on your own. I expected that, but it's interesting that they make a point of including it in the contract. 

Congrats on the sale! And yes, some contracts do spell out IN DETAIL that you are not an employee, and on and on. I see it most particularly in contracts my authors sign when they are providing content to a website.

I did have the interesting experience of speaking to an unemployment officer once when one of our authors was laid off from his day job and filed for unemployment benefits. He had to list the income he received from his book deal on one of his reports, and the Dept of Labor was very quick to tell us we were going to be charged for this.

Of course, I filed an appeal, and then we had a hearing! It was all done by phone (thank goodness, since the author didn't live anywhere near NYC!) and lasted about an hour. I had to answer questions about what an agency does, how the money is disbursed and whether the author could be considered an employee or independent contractor. An author is neither of those by the way. The 1099-M form you get from us specifies the money is royalties, not wages, salaries or payment for work.

In hindsight it was an interesting experience. At the time it was nerve-wracking as hell.

an off topic but important point from Joseph Snoe
I receive royalty checks in April and October with support saying what the publisher says is my book’s sales experience. (I always wonder about them since my publisher says we had modest sales while consistently ranks the book in the top 10,000 (it’s ranked number 6608 this very moment).
Amazon rankings aren't about numbers, they're about placement. If you sell 10 books, you could still be #1 on Amazon if every other title in your category sold nine or fewer.

Alternatively, you can sell a million books and be #20, if you're competing with James Patterson and Lee Child.

You can have a relatively good Amazon number (and 6608 is good) and still not being seeing wheelbarrows of cash on your royalty statement.

I used The Wire to explain my point but I think SiSi's comment really nailed what I was trying to say:
In general, I try to distinguish between "bad grammar" and "grammatical mistakes." Bad grammar is perfectly fine if it fits the character, drives the story, or even just makes a point. For the most part this doesn't bother me at all. (Sometimes this stylistic choice can be overdone, but that's a bigger writing mistake, not a grammatical error.)
Grammatical mistakes that pop up in otherwise standard grammar and word usage, that are clearly not intended by the writer, drive me crazy. I don't correct them in printed material, but I certainly notice them. When I used to work at a bookstore and got uncorrected proofs, I always had to take a deep calming breath before sitting down to read them!

Lennon Faris said:
My all time favorite line from any of the flash fiction here was "YOUR NOT SAM". A 'typo' that shows the situation - that character wasn't editing bc he saw something (we don't know what) that scared the sh** out of him. I still think about that line and it creeps me out. I truly wish I could remember who and when wrote that, so if anyone does...
And yes, it was creepy as hell wasn't it.

And I was glad to see this from Lucie Witt:
Janet and many of the Reiders have long advocated for reading your work out loud to catch mistakes. My desk drawer books have either been shelved before I'm at that point or I just didn't think reading it out loud was necessary.

I'm now a convert.

I'm reading my R&R out loud before resubmitting it and I cannot believe how many typos I'm catching. I'm also finding the grammar mistakes I frequently make (comma splices, I hate you) jump out when I'm reading out loud.

Best of all is how it makes you hear your characters' voices. I'm fixing sentences that were fine as they were but sing with a small tweak. Sometimes that means purposefully disregarding the rules of grammar, like the Stringer Bell quotes here.

Anyways, if grammar and voice worry you, read your WIP out loud. I'm mad I waited so long to take that advice.

And this from Cheryl, is sadly not the first time I've heard of this kind of thing:
I once had a beta reader suck all the life out of my first person story by "correcting" everything (straight out of Strunk and White, no less). She turned my modern comic noir fantasy into a bad pastiche of a Victorian parlour novel.

She also felt the need to change the narrator's dialect (which is my own dialect) to hers.

Thank god for the "reject all changes" button.
I know of an author who had a copy editor who clearly did not get the style and tone of the book being edited. He thought it was some sort of academic treatise.  I'm not sure the author ever recovered completely.  The copy editor was replaced, the book survived, but oh man, Not Fun.

On Friday I talked about my love for the Best Of series published by HMH.

CarolynnWith2Ns is just determined to go back to Carkoon!
Because I am already, one of Carkoon's exile's in residence, let me suggest that today's post screams for a Flash Essay Contest. With prompts, or a subject, or whatever, it might be a blast.

And in what has to be the best example of the reason to get everything right is so your reader has confidence you intended "the wrong", BJ Muntain said:
Jason: I know we're not supposed to comment on typos, but I'm going to assume that it's intentional, because 'word-smiting' is the best description of writing and editing as I've ever heard.

And Lucie Witt told us this lovely Prince story:
Small side story about dearly departed Prince. One of our most underfunded libraries shared last night back in 2001 they were going to close. Prince gave them the money to stay open under the condition they didn't say where it came from while he was alive. Such an amazing artist and person.

And then the sentence that just stopped me cold in the comments, as I'm sure it did the rest of you, from Jason Magnason.
My father committed suicide when I was eleven, on the last day of school; it was field day.
It's not just the fact of the sentence, which is  indeed chilling. The beauty of this sentence is that it is is very lean, very elegant. It doesn't do anything other than make you feel something very intensely. It's not over-written.

So often writers add adjectives thinking they're making things sound better, more descriptive, but forgetting that adjectives are like salt. A few good grains make the pasta perfect. Too much and you're tossing the noodles and starting over.

Jennifer R. Donohue brought us some good news:
You've all read Query Shark, right? The archives, everything? Me too. So, today I was doing some book ordering, from the Forecast catalog Baker & Taylor puts out, and in the SciFi section I glossed over a book's description and then went back to it, thinking "wow, that sounds really, really familiar. I wonder why? Where did I see it?" I couldn't think of it (my brain lately...) so I went to the trusty Google, and there we have it, Query Shark 2013, WaypointKangaroo, a query which got it right in the first go 'round with Madame Sharque. It's coming out in June!

E.M. asked:
But back on topic, how exactly does Lee Child make his way through the Bouchercon book room?

Any way he wants to.

But Colin Smith has it right here:
 EM: I recall Janet talking about walking through the Bouchercon book room with Lee Child. I believe what impressed her was the fact that not only was he familiar with a large number of the titles on sale, but he could make recommendations. In other words, Mr. Child is very well read in his genre.

On Saturday we talked about how long you have for a requested R&R

Craig asked:
Does being the proud owner of a manuscript in need of remodeling and repainting offer any opportunity for give and take with the agent?

If you are working your way through it and see something that would make it better (beyond the notes you are working with) and change it even more radically, can you ask the agent for an opinion? Or do have to just push forward and cross your fingers and toes?
Not really.
I'm going to read your manuscript, not help you develop it. 
And the reason for that is time. Development takes an ENORMOUS amount of time, and I just don't  have that kind of time for a project at this stage.  

I'm willing to be helpful but not for as much time as you want (and need.) That's what independent editors are for; crit partners; beta readers; etc. I am reading your ms with ONE goal: is this something I can take on and sell? I am not reading to critique or edit it. I'm reading as a READER: do I like this.

Robert Ceres said:
Why I would ever be in a hurry to get in a revise and resubmit? After all, the agent probably won’t get to it for months. Why would I ever have wanted to do that?
Those mss do sit here for months, and that's why I'm always glad to take a revised ms if the author gets in touch to say "hey, while you've been dawdling, I've been working."

And this from Celia Reeves was really interesting:
 I could explain all about why it's so hard to find mistakes like typos and misspellings, because I'm a cognitive scientist and study that stuff. The bottom line, though, is that our brains are amazing at getting past the surface details to the meaning below, and therefore very bad at focusing on those surface details. The best way to catch mistakes is to use ALL the ways:
    --Read it aloud, slowly
    --Have an AI read it
    --Read it in a different format (screen, paper) than usual
    --Have someone else read it
    --Put it away for a while and read it again later
    --Reformat so every sentence is on a separate line and read the sentences in reverse order (last one first)

    Your brain will hate you for this, because it is uninterested in the details you are forcing it to pay attention to. Be stern. If you are tough and disciplined you will have a shot at eliminating most (never all) of the mistakes. When you're a NYTBSA, get your brain a glass of good wine to say thank you.

I like Jenz' comment here:
On reading aloud: if you have someone to read to, that really helps. My husband is my captive audience--he won't read my work on his own, but he'll tolerate me reading to him. Turns out he's a good gauge. If he stops me to ask a question, details are not clear enough. If he falls asleep, there's not enough tension. And if he actually turns away from his Clash of Clans game to listen, I know I've got it right.

Warning: Spousal readings may lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and manuscript clubbings. Proceed with caution.

kdjames said
There are three (or four or seven, depending who you ask) main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic [sight, sound, touch]. We all use some parts of each, but it's worth figuring out which is predominant for you. I am a highly visual learner. So much so that if you *tell* me something, I might not remember it. But if I see it written down? I remember.

yup, me too.  The only way I remember things I hear is if I can take notes.

And honest to godiva would someone please pitch me a book composed entirely of Julie M. Weathers' witticisms. We won't need to tell her or anything.
This one can lead the pack:
All right. I swan, my hair is trying to attack me today. I took out the shears and it fled in sheer terror back into submission.

and with this one:
I swan, John. Why on earth would you think I would poison anyone's dinner? Good grief. Well, I guess there was that one time I had proper Miss Janet talk about poisoning her Pinkerton agent nephew's dinner, but that was justifiable. He's just so rude.

[Let's all just remember that this Miss Janet is in Julie's NOVEL. I love my nephews and wouldn't poison them. In fact my nephews are pretty much perfect. You're welcome to disagree but you might not want to eat dinner with me if you do.]

And Her Grace the Duchess of Kneale has provided me with a very useful sentence here:
Several years ago when I started subbing to agents, I got a lot of form rejections. Then one agent, known for her high propensity for personalised rejections, told me how good my story was, but it needed editorial work on the sentence level. Yep, as E.M. put it, I was grammar-blind. I didn't realise I was making mistakes.

I've had yet to figure out how to say "this isn't publishable" to a writer, but "it needs editorial work on the sentence level" goes a long way towards it!

Have a terrific week! Although maybe not quite the week that Christina Seine is looking at:
Finally starting to get over this stupid flu. However, we are now heading into Orthodox Christian Holy Week, which is sort of like boot camp, only with candles. *waves at Brigid* It all culminates on May 1st, which is Pascha, our Easter. This coincides (for me) with homeschool grades and work samples being due, a graduating senior, prom (tonight), a homeschool curriculum fair, Mothers Day coming up, 10,000 bees freshly installed in our hives, a garden to till, a full greenhouse of wee plants to transplant, a wholesale account asking for a bunch more soapy products and wee baby chicks arriving any day now. And all I want to do is sit and work on my R&R. And a GIANT BOX of BOOKS sits by my bed from the local library's used book sale, beckoning wickedly. I need a clone army this week.

It's the 10,000 bees that give me pause.
Once upon a time, long ago, I worked for a trucking company (it's a good story, ask me at the bar.) One lovely morning, an account called with a dispatch order. Cargo: bees. "Bees?" I asked, sure I had heard him wrong. Yup. Bees. Transported by truck. This is where you REALLY hope there are no accidents along the route. And yes, you charge by volume  on that shipment, not weight.

Here are the subheader noms for the week. A very nice selection!

[This blog] a marvelous water hole for writers. Of course, lions and leopards hang out at water holes also. We'll just toss Colin their way.--Julie M. Weathers

Your agent partner doesn't need to be perfect. You don't need to hear choirs of angels every time they enter the room, though I might think twice if you hear choirs of demons. They just need to be perfect for you.--Julie M. Weathers

If I learned from half my mistakes, I'd be a genius by now. --John Frain

As Jennifer Donohue and Panda-in-Chief suggested, I would recommend tossing a ferret into the bathtub with anyone who is in any way slow to remit your money--Stephen Kozeniewski

My mind freezes up between bear and beer because I have, in fact, been attacked by a giant beer. However, that was not the story I was trying to tell. --E. M. Goldsmith

Learn the rules so you can break them properly. --Craig

Can I just say, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves"?
Pandas and punctuation.
They matter. --Panda In Chief

The publishing process has been uninterested in my personal timeline. --Mark Thurber

Sometimes I think this blog should be titled every stupid mistake I have ever made and why I shouldn’t have done it.--Robert Ceres

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The clock is ticking

About six months ago, I received a Revise and Resubmit editorial letter from an agent. As I'm still revising per her (insightful) notes, I'm worried that my window of opportunity is closing.

How much time is too much time to turn around an R&R? Should I email this agent and give her an update or just resubmit when I'm confident my MS is ready? 

Most likely, she's not worrying about you. Revise and resubs are almost always (and should be!) a many months long process.  I've had R&Rs take a year or more.

I keep track of the writers I've asked for an R&R and try to check in with them at the end of the calendar year, mostly just to make sure they're alive and kicking and they know I am too. With the advent of social media of course, that's less necessary than it was some years back.

It's not rude to drop her a VERY short note saying pretty much what you've said here "I'm still revising per your insightful notes and looking forward to getting you something (insert number of months/days/decades here.)

On the other hand, it's not rude to just keep working and resubmit when you're ready.

Do NOT worry that your window of opportunity is closing and try to rush things. Rushed manuscripts are often rejected manuscripts and that's not what either of you are aiming for.

There are no rules on how long is too long on an R&R. Every ms is different and every writer works at their own pace.

The one thing I can tell you is that when writers send back revisions in a week it's most likely too soon.

One element of the R&R that is often skipped is the lying fallow period.  I know I've harped on this before but it's essential: let you manuscript sit for at least a month after you think it's done.  Go back in four weeks. You'll be amazed what you find.

I know this is true because the blog posts I work on for a week are hands down better than the ones I slap up in a day.

And recently blog reader Lucie Witt reminded us of the value of reading your work aloud:

Janet and many of the Reiders have long advocated for reading your work out loud to catch mistakes. My desk drawer books have either been shelved before I'm at that point or I just didn't think reading it out loud was necessary.

I'm now a convert.

I'm reading my R&R out loud before resubmitting it and I cannot believe how many typos I'm catching. I'm also finding the grammar mistakes I frequently make (comma splices, I hate you) jump out when I'm reading out loud.

Best of all is how it makes you hear your characters' voices. I'm fixing sentences that were fine as they were but sing with a small tweak. Sometimes that means purposefully disregarding the rules of grammar, like the Stringer Bell quotes here. [this is a comment from Thursday's post]

Anyways, if grammar and voice worry you, read your WIP out loud. I'm mad I waited so long to take that advice.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Best of

I'm sitting at my desk early Wednesday morning, having fixed the typo in the day's blog post (thanks Jason), poured coffee, spooning raison [d'etre?]* raisin bran, and I am weeping.

I am weeping for the death of a woman I never met, whose loss I feel keenly because of her father's essay on aging. When I tell you her father is Roger Angell, you will understand instantly why this is so.

If you have never read Roger Angell's work, stop reading now, go get some, and read. Repeat until you too understand the above.

The reason I was reading this particular essay, this particular morning is that I am working my way through The Best American Essays of 2015, edited by Ariel Levy.

The Best American series is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and it is a long time favorite of mine. I don't buy every book, every year, but I try to buy the essays and the mysteries.  Sometimes if I am feeling particularly adventurous, I buy one of the categories (science, comics) I don't know much about.

The reason I mention this is because it's often easy to fall into reading the authors I know I love. Or the authors that perch on the best seller lists.  The Best series is a good way to find writing that other writers admire. You won't agree with all the choices (at least I never do) but analyzing why the editor found merit in a story is helpful too.

I've learned a lot by paying attention to what writers read and like. Making a trip through the Bouchercon book room with Lee Child is an experience I'd pay cash money to do again. Hell, the Bouchercon committee should auction that off as a fundraiser.

Now, back to the cereal, and the coffee, and the elegant writing of Roger Angell.  There are many, many worse ways to start the day.

**starting the day with a that's exactly my speed. Thanks kdjames!
Starting the day with TWO typos. Yes, it's Friday. (thanks Lisa!)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Everything you need to know about grammar you can learn from Stringer Bell

A recent question on the blog wondered how much latitude there was for grammatical errors.  I pretty much stomped up and down, waving my fins, shouting "None!"

 After reading the comments some elaboration may be in order.

The more comprehensive answer is that you have to use grammar deftly. That means when you get it "wrong" you know it's wrong.

And let's also remember that how people actually talk is almost never in complete, correct sentences.

One of my favorite scenes from The Wire opens with  Cedric Daniels speaking what we would call "proper" English, then when he's engaged in conversation by Damian Price, he slips into Baltimore street English so as to establish rapport.

It's brilliant writing, and if you handed it in for a grammar class assignment, it would come back with a lot of red marks.

Here's another example:
Stringer: Nigga, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?
"Correct": Shamrock, are you taking notes on our criminal conspiracy?

Freamon:  I don't wanna go to no dance unless I can rub some tit.
"Correct": I don't want to go to a dance unless I'm actually going to dance.

Egad! Talk about stripping the lines of energy and vitality!

Bottom line here: I'm not going to reject your work for an errant whom, or a mistaken lie/lay/lay.  But not knowing that affect and effect mean different things? That's a problem. Not knowing that reign in Spain doesn't involve water, that's a problem.  There's absolutely no stylistic reason to get it's and its wrong. Or hair and heir. Let alone there and they're. When I see those, I know there their they're errors.

You get those right so I know that "Nigga, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?" is exactly what you meant to say.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Where's my f&*&ing money?

If you're a first-time author, how would you know whether your agent is dispersing funds to you promptly? Does the publisher alert you when the check goes out? 

A pal of mine who is also a publisher once told me about an agent that would call him up and say "where's my fucking money?" the exact day any kind of payment was due.

It became a joke between us such that *I* would call him and utter the phrase.
Of course, it cracked me up so much I barely got two words out before guffawing.

That said, if a publisher or agent is late paying you, it's no laughing matter.

When your money is due is spelled out in the publishing contract.  If you are offered a contract to publish anything and it doesn't include a clause about when you will be paid, and when any royalty statements will be issued, get it added to the contract, or don't sign.

Payments made for on-signing, and on-publication are both date specific.
On signing is when both parties have signed the contract.
Unless specified it means the check for that amount should be remitted within about ten days.  Often we get the check with the counter-signed contracts (counter-signed means the publisher and the writer have both signed.)

On publication payment is when the first edition of the book hardcover or paperback is published.  Again ten days.

On delivery and acceptance is different. The manuscript can go through many edits. It might take months. A LOT of non-fiction takes years.

Royalty statements are made up (prepared) independently of the advance payments. They are calculated for a time period (generally six months in trade publishing) and issued to the writer some months later.

Royalty period January1-June 30 is sent to the author in October (all of the same year)
Royalty Period July 1-Dec 31 is sent to the author in April of the following year.

A competent agent knows when royalty statements are due.
I keep a spread sheet because I want to make sure that even if  BigWheeze Publisher has sent royalty statements this week, I want to make sure we got them for all 12 clients published there, not just 10.

And thus, if you are a writer, and your contract says you should get statements in October, and you don't get them by 10/31, you email your agent and ask.
If the agent says "yup, just got 'em" or "yup, got 'em and they're being processed" you're good.

If the agent says "uh...I thought we got those" or "gee I guess I better call BigWheeze" you know you've got a problem.

You do NOT fuck around with a client's money or royalty statement. Never.
If your agent has received your money, the only reason it should not be on its way to you is that the check from the publisher has not cleared the bank.

If you have serious doubts about whether your agent is behaving ethically about money, you can get in touch with the AAR if the agent is a member, or the Authors Guild if you are a member. And of course, you can ask the publisher to pay you directly.

When I say serious doubts I do not mean that on 10/1/year you have not received a statement or a remittance.

I mean you haven't gotten one AFTER it's due, and AFTER you've asked the agent about the status.

And just a word of advice: never plan to use that money when it's due. Planning to pay your tax bill on 4/15 from money you expect to receive on 4/10 is asking for a snafu.

We've had publishers send checks to wrong addresses.
We've gotten paid for books that aren't ours.
Publishers have paid the wrong amount.
Publishers checks have bounced.

In other words, we all operate in the real world here, and leaving room for that will make you much much happier.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How high do I have to aim?

 If a writer has done their research on the revision process, has a plan of attack, trustful beta readers, critique group, etc.; what does a writer do if their primary concern is grammar?  Should a writer hire an editor/proofreader prior to submitting, or is there a level of forgiveness if grammar isn't 100% perfect? 

There's no right/wrong answer on this nor is there some kind of industry standard, but I will tell you that when I see grammar errors and misused words in the query, I know I'm going to find more of the same in the manuscript.

That means you've raised the bar for yourself at least one notch, maybe two. What that means is I'm less likely to read something. A manuscript that's a "maybe" is a "no". A manuscript that's an "interesting" is a "well, let's give it a page or two."

I can hear disgruntled writers saying "it can be fixed! You'll miss good stuff!" That's very true. That's also not the problem. The problem is time.

I won't send a manuscript on submission to an editor that's rife with mistakes. My goal is to send work out that has zero mistakes.
One of us will have to fix this stuff.

I vote for you.
My vote is the only one that counts.

It's also VERY hard not to get pulled out of the story when I find basic errors like it's/its, lie/lay etc.
When I get pulled out of the manuscript is code for "stops reading." You really don't want to have me stop reading.

Words are your tools. If you come to the job site with rusty, bent and broken tools, you're not going to be able to work efficiently or effectively.

If you need to invest in a grinder to sharpen your blade, I think it's a very good idea. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Author/Agency agreements

Yesterday's Week in Review prompted a commenter to ask:

I found the information about agent/client contracts interesting. You know, there is a lot out there about publishing contracts, but I don't think I've seen all that much about agent contracts. It would be interesting to hear what is covered in these contracts, and what should be negotiated.

A good author agency agreement covers:
1. What work is represented
2. How much commission the agent charges
3. If any other deductions can be made from payments due to authors
4. Time frame in which the agency must remit funds
5. How long the agreement lasts
6. How the agreement can be dissolved
7. What terms survive the dissolution of the agreement

1. Our author agency agreement spells out what work is represented in two ways. The first is that we undertake to represent you for all your publishing deals, and all subrights deals that flow from that (ie audio, translation, film, stage, theme parks, merchandising.)  In other words, we sell the book and we also help you exploit all the other rights associated with your book.

The second is we list which specific work or works will be covered.  I have excluded work on occasion but mostly I'm going to rep everything you write.  The exceptions are works a client wants to self-publish or forms like poetry or screenplays (not associated with a book deal) I don't handle.

2. We charge a 15% commission of what you earn on domestic deals. 10% on subrights. We spell out that another agent will be involved (most likely) in all subrights deals, and that agent also takes 10%.

3. We  can deduct things like postage for over seas shipments or other expenses incurred by us on your behalf.  This excludes operating costs of the agency.  We set a limit on how much we can incur on your behalf ($250) and over what time period (a year) before we need to have further authorization. Generally however, I'm going to tell you if I'm spending your dough.

4. The AAR Canon of Ethics has guidelines on this.  Generally we turn things around in less than a week. That is the check comes to us on Monday, a check has gone out to you by the following Monday.
If the representation agreement you're offered  does not specify a remittance time frame,  add it.
If the agent hesitates in any way to add this clause, RUN. 

5. Our agency agreement lasts until one of us revokes it. It's not renewed annually. Not all agencies work like this. Our agreement can be revoked by either party with 30 days notice. There is a provision that commission is due on anything we submitted on your behalf that is then sold to the company (not the editor, the PUBLISHER) within six months of the severance.

Generally when the parting is amicable, I waive that provision so as to give the soon to be former client a clear shot at a new deal.

6. You can dissolve the agreement by written notice. I've taken phone calls and emails in lieu of written notice. I generally write a confirming memo and put it in the file just so I can remember the date of severance.

7. Things that last beyond severance: commissions on projects we sell. Once I've sold something, the commission is mine. If you're no longer a client, it doesn't matter.

Now, here's the very tricky part: if you sever from an agent, you want to make sure s/he is not entitled to commission on unexploited rights from sold projects.  For example: if Barbara Poelle sells VodkaTonics Take Manhattans to BigAssPublisher, and then sells translation rights to Russia, Poland and Ukraine, she gets commission on those deals forever.  If you lose your mind and part ways from La  Slitherina, and sign up with Drinken Slinken and O'Gawd, and DSO sells translation rights to Italy, you need to make sure you don't owe LaSlitherina a 10% commission as well as a commission to your new agent.

Each agency contract is different. There is no standard boilerplate.
An agent should be able to explain every single clause to you in words you can understand.

In fact, there is no need for an author/agency agreement to be so full of legal terms and so badly written you can't understand it.

We don't negotiate our agreement at all.
The only thing that changes is what works are covered. I think other agencies operate differently.

You'll notice there is no audit clause in the  agreement.
Every check you receive from your agent should list:
1. Project title
2. Item being paid
3. Gross amount
4. Deductions
5. Net

You should be able to do the math with a calculator. If you don't understand anything on a check you should ask.


1. Title: VodkaTonics Take Manhattan
2. Payment for: On signing (or on delivery/acceptance, or on hardcover publication etc.)
3. Gross amount: $50,000
4. Commission 15% ($7500)
5. Net amount to you: $42,500

If at some point in the process you become concerned that your agent is not remitting funds promptly or accurately, you always have the option of having the publisher pay your portion directly to you.
If you need to do this, call the publisher and ask for the royalty department. They can help you.
Your editor can as well.

Now, any questions?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week in Review April 17, 2017

Welcome to the week that was. And look what we got! 

And by we I mean all of us.
Sure I write the posts, but the value of this blog is truly in the readers and commenters. Huzzah to us all for this! And yes, that cup is filled with whisky!

Julie Weathers starts the week off right with this descriptive gem:
I'm looking forward to the new week and could spend untold hours pontificating here, but I have a man eeling through a window I need to deal with.
who among us didn't pause then remember she probably meant she was writing that scene, not actually living it.

Steve Stubbs was puzzled my reference to an airhorn should I be locked "accidentally" in the psych ward
One thing I did not understand. I understand why literary agents need a set of lock picking tools. But did Houdini ever have an airhorn?

Well, one fast way to be removed from where ever you are is to sound an air horn. It's amazing how fast it
1. empties a subway car
2. clears a path to the bar
3. gets telemarketers off the phone
4. summons the fellas in white from the other side of the locked doors!

I really like what CynthiaMc said here:
After years of trying to make myself write one thing (and failing miserably out of sheer boredom) I decided to do what I want for the rest of the year. I went to the dollar store and bought a ton of lined paper (because I do my best writing longhand even though I can type a zillion words a minute) and a bunch of brightly colored notebooks, one for each project. I am writing all the things I love to write and whatever gets done and out and sells, hurrah! I haven't had this much fun since the last flash fiction contest. I've done more writing in the past week than I've done in the past year. Sounds crazy, but it's working. And it's a lot of fun.

I think this is exactly why I always find time to write blog posts: I really love doing it. Even if I'm cranky, tired and can not bear to edit another page, I can always find energy to write a blog post.

And this from Kitty, just cracked me up:
I wrote: Before my mother died, she had a college student interview her for the same assignment.

Janet: I really hope it's not cause your mom was just paroled from prison (as it is in the novel!)

Well...kinda. She was a retired high school librarian.

Timothy Lowe nominated my comment for subheader of the week:
Janet, I think you wrote your own header. Nothing could be better than "This isn't the Roland Park Ladies Tea and it's not a meeting of the Politically Correct Ignorant Tight Ass Club either."

Which of course, without context, might be a bit off-putting, but yet…so so tempting.

Unfortunately Lance reveals himself to be unfamiliar with The Wire
I had to Google Roland Park. It was mentioned in the 1913 edition of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, volume 35, where ladies and some of members took tea. I'm guessing of course, but I bet this is not where you got that reference. This was the eighth listing in the search. I skipped over the first seven because they looked like they had something to do with the Baltimore PD.
Lance, stop reading this blog at once, go get all five seasons, and watch all of them more than once. In fact, the director's (David Simon) commentary on Episode 1, Season 1 is worth the entire price of the series. By way of further enticement, you should know that many of the episodes were written by terrific novelists: Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos.

Timothy Lowe shows great acumen by agreeing with me:
The fact that the quote is from The Wire makes it all the better. Has to be one of the best written shows in the history of TV.
And speaking of the comment that generated The Wire reference, AvidReader995 gave a lengthy reply starting with this:

Since you referenced my post, I feel I should respond.

You didn't answer my question, which was, was that the actual initial query to you by that author?

Since a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, let me try again.

On Monday, the topic was what to say when asked about a book in which the writing is not up to snuff

InkStainedWench said
Wow. The "dated voice" reminds me of a suspense novel by a prolific author who was getting up in years. His latest was set in the present, yet his description of a lovely young woman evoked a cutie from, oh, 1958. I read it several times and there was nothing particularly vintage about his vocabulary. But his mind's eye was set for 50-plus years ago.

I don't know how an author avoids that, except to read lots of current works in his/her/their/argh genre.

It's amazing how helpful it is to have young people working in your office when you need to avoid sounding like a fuddy-duddy.

I have recently been informed that "totes" (as in totally) will no longer be allowed in office conversation. And someday, if you ever run across me in a bar, ask me the story of how I learned what "baller" meant. (Meredith Barnes and I still laugh about that YEARS later now.)

I really like what Susan said about editing

Here's what I've learned from working with students and clients at a wide-range of levels:
- When you hire an editor (or look for a CP), you're entering into a partnership with an unwritten expectation of trust. The author has to trust the editor to remain objective (and know what the heck they're talking about), and the editor has to trust the author to accept their suggestions as just that--experienced suggestions with the goal of helping to make the book the best it can be.

- Honesty is vital--you can't get better if someone is only telling you what you want to hear. But, at the same time, if an author's completely bombarded with criticism after criticism, they can shut down and lose all faith in their work (says personal experience). A good editor will be as excited about your work as you are (or they shouldn't take you on as a client in the first place). They're the one that helps keep that fire lit when you want to throw your manuscript into a pile of mud.

- The best editors (and the best teachers) don't instruct or fix--they guide. This means keeping the author's vision and voice for the book, but also gently pushing them to stretch beyond their perceived limitations. If the editor does their job right, they will be the invisible strand beneath the prose that links all the pieces together.

Dr. Seuss said it best: "step with great care and great tact because life is a balancing act."

Julie M. Weathers said
Everyone needs their own type of critique. I read Virginia Woolf's critique of Hemingway and thought it told more about her writing than it did hers, mainly it just proved how much she depended on a stellar editor. She pretty much eviscerated Hemingway. Were her views honest? I'm sure they were. Were they universal? I happen to be a fan of his writing, so I disagree with her opinion.

That's such an insight that a critique can tell us more about us than the writer. I've learned (the hard way of course) that my preference for starting in medias res often says more about my impatience than anything about the novel I'm reading.

On Tuesday we started out with the ultimate ooops -- hitting send too soon -- but it segued into the larger problems that result in NO.

Scott G said it exactly right:
In all seriousness, I think writers put way too much stock in these types of innocuous errors. I have to believe that successful agents know good writing when they see it and are willing to look past them, up to the point when the errors indicate bad writing and the writer doesn't have a clue. Should writers do everything in their power not to commit them? Sure. In the end it just comes down to writing a damn good novel.

InkStainedWench just cracked me up with this imagery:
There's nothing quite like being a proofreader/copy editor/pedant who delights in correcting other people's errors, who sends an e-mail with a huge red zit of a typo right in the middle of it.

Colin Smith had an excellent tip for avoiding sending to the wrong person (something we've all done)
I know I've mentioned it before, but one way to help mitigate against sending emails to the wrong recipient is to enter the address LAST. That gives you time to make sure you get the correct recipient. It's not foolproof--you might still pull the wrong address from your address book--but it should at least slow you down a bit and give you time to think.

Judy Moore has some experience with that:
A few years ago I was the plaintiff in an ugly lawsuit with a big corporation. I had one lawyer, my trial-lawyer husband. The defendant corporation had NINE, from three firms. All the correspondence went through my lawyer/husband, and he would forward me all of their emails. I responded to the wrong email. Instead of sending it to my lawyer/husband, I sent it to one of the defendant's lawyers..."Well, THIS is certainly an interesting twist. I love you. xxxxx" That was awkward.

And then Joseph Snoe just dropped the mic:
Your story is great and reminds me of this old joke (story):

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of their hectic schedules, it was difficult for the couple to coordinate their travel plans. So the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, while his wife planned to fly down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter of her email address, and sent the email without realizing his error.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a Baptist minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack.

The widow decided to check her email, expecting condolence messages from family and friends.

But after reading her very first email, she screamed and fainted.

The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I’ve Arrived

Date: March 21, 2012

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now! I’ve just arrived and been checked in.

I’ve seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P. S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!
Speaking of revising, Brigid just cracked me up:
This comment thread is making me feel not-alone. I think I revised each of yesterday's comments for at least an hour. "Does this comment make my head sound fat?"

But CarolynnWith2Ns wins the comment column with this:
I have no worries because I'm perfect. I nevr make misstakes and always hit send at just the write ty

Colin Smith asked:
Janet: Would you say that all these similar plots come from not reading widely in the genre and knowing what's been done? Or are these all thinly veiled fan fiction?

I'm not sure where they come from. I just know I see a lot of them. And when I think of the novels I love most of them have heroes who are flawed of course, but not damaged. Jack Reacher isn't perfect (he can't drive, he can't run very fast) but the reason he's interesting to read is that his GOOD points are what get him in to interesting situations: Reacher's code for himself means he doesn't let someone push him around. Not cause he's a damaged combat veteran who can't control his temper. The difference is critical.

Donnaeve has clearly left the realm of reality and is floating around out in Delusionville:
Let's take BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY - only because it popped into my head. Here comes the tired old/same old song and dance. Middle aged woman married to a good man, has had a good enough life, but she's having herself a good old fashioned mid-life crisis. Along comes handsome stranger. And next thing ya know, they're in the bathtub. Among other places. Choice comes, hubby or fling? Hubby or fling?

All that to say, it's trotting out something that has been trotted out for centuries - CENTURIES. But it worked because of The Writing.

You're saying that Bridges of Madison County did well because of the writing? As in "it is well-written"?

Scott G indulged in a lovely moment of Wishful Thinking:
I'm dying to hear about all the times agents send out form rejections only to realize the horror after they press send that they meant to send out an offer of representation. I bet it happens more times than one might think.

If you think it happens negative one times, you're right. It happens more than that. It happens zero times. (Sorry)

The reason is that the two events, form rejection and offer for representation, are not either/or.

Form rejection or request for full..that's the option. And I've never requested a full for a query that should have been a form rejection. That's cause the email requesting the full requires that I hit more than send.

I have however replied to queries with a blank email (so nice for the writer….oof) or a vacation notice. I think once or twice in 10+ years of equeries, I've rejected something I intended to ask for pages on. And when I realized, and sent the SECOND email, the subject line was: Oops, sorry, ignore that rejection.

On Tuesday I ranted that "too busy" isn't really a very good reason to avoid reading a client's ms.

John Frain asked an interesting question about what keeps an agent busy:
I don't know the answer to this, but I wonder how easy or hard it is to learn what an agent is busy doing without asking and getting a direct answer. (I can't imagine calling my new agent and having the gall to ask "What are you so busy doing that's more important than me?" You can look for recent sales, but beyond googling their name, I don't know any other source to see what is taking an agent's time. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Here's a list of things I did this week:

1. Send three projects out on submission

2. Respond to editor's questions about those submissions.

3. Update submission data bases

4. Receive offer on novel.

5. Arrange phone call with editor and client about the novel in (4)

6. Update other editors considering novel in (4)

7. Strategize with author about offer/editors/establish base lines for dollar figures, etc.

8. Read a requested full that has a pending offer of representation

9. Answer about 100 emails each day about various client matters.

10. Read queries

11. Skim books that are prospective comp titles for a proposal.

12. Keep an eye on this blog.

And that's just Monday-Thursday.

So yea, I'm busy doing stuff BUT generally when a client says "whatcha doing" my answer is when to expect a substantive answer to "what's the submission plan" not "I'm too busy to do this."

Actually Dena Pawling said this a whole lot better than I did:
I think what annoys all of us the most, is what exactly is too busy? If this agent had said “I have two clients right now in the middle of auctions and three on deadline that expires next week”, or maybe “I just received a medical diagnosis that's scary”, the fact of being shunted to the back of the pile wouldn't sting so much. But just the vague “I'm too busy” leaves too much to our over-active imaginations. Will this state of being too busy never end? Does this agent really want to rep OP?

The vagueness is bothersome. An agent who doesn't give a reason for being too busy, at least to my mind, means she might be hiding something that she doesn't want known. How will this affect the OP's business relationship into the future?

I really liked BJ Muntain's insight here:
I think Janet gets a lot of questions about non-normal agents, simply because people want to know if this is normal or not. It's called selection bias - you can't colour all agents this way, because the selection criteria is 'questions about questionable agents'.

On Thursday the topic was an agent suggesting a client find a second agent for a new book:

frenchsojourn said
My first thought before I even made it into the body of the post was.

My wife gave me permission to get another wife...what a can of "you deserve a six pack of self inflicted whup ass."

Just my take, back to the salt mines...salt minds?

It was mine too. I actually wrote a whole thread on plural marriage but deleted it cause the metaphor just didn't work well enough. And don't I regret not using "whup ass" more often!

Bethany Elizabeth asked:
Obviously, OP is pretty stellar to have gotten an agent in the first place (congrats! :D), but what if their agent doesn't think the book is sellable? And, knowing that all things are subjective, doesn't want to crush OP's spirit or tell them to shelve a novel that may be gold for someone else?

I've heard the advice, "Don't sign with an agent who doesn't love your work to pieces," a million times. What happens when the agent you have doesn't love your new book?

I've had this happen. In a couple cases I've released the client with the pretty straightforward explanation of "I'm not the right agent for this next book."

In other cases the client released me with "I think we know this isn't working."

In all cases, it's VERY difficult to do this. Securing representation is a big milestone in a writer's career and going back out in unagented waters can be terrifying.

But, it does neither of us any good if I don't at the very least like and respect your work and CAN SELL IT.

But if I can't sell something, unless you want to remain unpublished, a new tactic is needed.

And honest to god, this blog really does have some imaginative talented writers just hanging about. Yanno, like Christina Seine

There's something about the process of getting published that reminds me a lot of Greek mythology's take on Hell.

Remember Icarus, who thought he was going to fly to the sun just because he'd acquired an agent? He totally got burned.

And Persephone! She was fine following agents on Twitter, reading all the QueryShark entries, and even subscribing to Writers Digest. Then she attended 6 workshops at a writers conference and was forever tied to the underworld. I mean, um, writing world.

Poor Sisyphus had an MFA - and thought he was a peer of the gods - and ended up in Tartarus (hell) spending eternity pushing a boulder up a mountain. It always got away from him right near the top and rolled down, and he had to start revising - I man pushing the boulder up the mountain all over again. For eternity.

Tantalus killed off one of his darlings (OK so he cut up his son and ate him) and was punished by having to stand for eternity just out of reach of lovely fruit hanging from trees and also unable to reach the water at his feet. Tantalized, in other words. This metaphor for publishing is almost too obvious.

And then there's Ixion, who spent so much time envying a NYT bestselling author's (Zeus) success, that instead of doing his own thing, he made a cheap copy of Zeus' WIP (wife). This resulted in the birth of Centaurus, who later gave birth to hybrid publishing (and dino porn). He was punished by being tied to a winged flaming wheel that was always spinning, which is pretty much the writing process in a tidy little nutshell.

It's enough to make me think the ancient Greeks invented the slush pile. And Carkoon.

Jen, who posed the question that started the blog post, said
My friends and family have told me to break the contract (which you have to do 2 months prior to the anniversary, or you're stuck for another year). I told them it's damn hard to get an agent, and why should I assume I'll be lucky enough to get another?

Which made my hair stand on end. This is a TERRIBLE burden on a writer. Representation agreements should be at will: you can leave any time, without cause, upon X days notice. In our case it's 30 days. IF you leave when a manuscript has been on submission, there's a clause that says you owe me full commission if the ms is sold to a publisher I sent it to within six months of you leaving the agency.

Thus if you fire me and then sell Tales of Carkoon to HotDiggityDawg Press, you pay me 15% of the advance AND the subsequent royalties just exactly as if I were your agent at the time of sale.

Plus, you get to pay your new agent the same thing.

So, it's gonna cost you some dough to screw me over.

In most cases, I've specifically released the soon-to-be former client from that obligation. Only in a couple cases where I thought the STBF client was actively trying to behave poorly did I NOT do that.

Forcing a client to remain with an agent or agency when they are not satisfied with the representation is a recipe for disaster. It's bad business. It's also ethically bankrupt.

Do not confuse this however with a contract that specifies length of representation. Many reputable agents say they will rep you for a year, with renewals at will. If you're unsatisfied however, you can leave with 30 days notice. It's the "can leave with 30 days notice" part that's important.

Be cautious about an agent who won't let you leave when you want to.

On Friday we talked about word count and world building.

nightmusic summed up the dilemma very nicely
There's a fine line between not enough and too much. Not enough and your reader is never really engaged. Too much and their eyes cross

And SiSi did too
Finding the "right" word count strikes me as the very core of writing a good book. While there are general guidelines, generally you don't get an exact word count like you do for SAT essays. The art of knowing how much description to provide and how many plotlines to develop is hard. There's a line you have to reach but can't cross, but no one tells you where the line is. Getting help from beta readers or an editor can be very helpful here.

And this from Rachel Erin, I'm stealing:
One saying I've been repeating when deciding where to expand description is "write the slow parts fast and the fast parts slow." And I know someone else will let us know which famous author is famous for saying that, because I can't recall this morning.

this is valuable info from Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale
Plot beats. Ultimately, this is the true measurement of a novel's length. If you don't have enough plot beats, you don't have enough story to call it a novel.

"Marry Me" is a novella at 20K (enforced by my publisher. I took out a subplot, alas). My Regency Romance is a nice comfortable 82K, and the pacing is comfortable. My Fantasy clocks in at 125K, and that's after I pared it down. Guess which book my beta-readers declare the fastest-paced? Yep, the one with the tightest plot beats.

Claire said:
With respect to some of the comps mentioned previously, The Christmas Box has fewer than 14,000 words. The Bridges of Madison County clocks in at well under 40,000. The OP's novel has 67,000. At that length it's hardly an outlier.

There's a problem with looking for bestselling books that defy the norms: they ARE outliers. The Christmas Box should never be used as a comp because its publishing history is so different than anyone trying to get an agent's attention and a book contract.

As for Bridges of Madison County, that book is more than 20 years old. Comp titles (ie what you should be using to figure out what's being bought today) should be much much more current. 

The questioner said her book was commercial women's fiction. For comp titles you'd need an author like Jennifer Weiner or Kristan Higgins.

Many of you commented on the template change. This, from Kae Bell, cracked me up
Did this site just fall into an orange julius? Holy wake me up before you go-go!

and kd james
Holy Exploding Dreamsicle, Batman!

And now we have a playlist for the new d├ęcor:

Hole in My Shoe by Traffic
Itchycoo Park by The Small Faces
Green Tambourine by The Lemon Pipers
Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie
Let's Go to San Francisco by The Flowerpot Men
Age of Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension
California Dreamin' by The Mamas & Papas
My White Bicycle by Tomorrow
Flowers in the Rain by The Move
Dizzy by Tommy Roe
59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) by Simon and Garfunkel

For years I thought the 59th Street Bridge Song was about walking over the bridge. Only recently did I realize it's about walking UNDER the bridge (which arches over First Ave) "kicking the cobblestones" and "hello lamppost."  Always interesting to find new things in old songs!

And yes, that's the bridge that you see in the opening montage of the old TV show Taxi. If you look carefully you can see where they loop about ten seconds of film over and over!

On Saturday we talked about using a perfect description for the novel, but sadly not one written by the author

Lennon Faris asked
Hmm this answer completely surprised me. Using someone else's writing word-for-word, even just one sentence, wouldn't be considered plagiarism?

Not in any kind of realistic way. I use other people's words in my pitches to editors all the time. Before you all gasp and faint dead away,

I should say that often I use choice bits from the client's query. Often I use the query as the starting point for the pitch and by the end, I'm not sure which words started with me and which words started with the client.

In this specific case the questioners said she'd be using it as a quote. "what would you think if you received a query that quoted a sentence from a super-duper famous best-selling author?"

Lifting great swathes of prose from someone else (whole paragraphs) and uncredited would certainly be a problem!

And now, it's off to read the New York Times, take a stab at the crossword puzzle, and rest up for Monday which promises to launch another great week. I'm looking forward to getting some stuff sold, and finding good new projects:

On that list of things I'm looking forward to Julie M. Weathers said:
With that in mind, I've decided to send the query for Cowgirls Wanted to Miss Janet on a pumpkin when the time comes. I want to stack all the odds in my favor. *sage nod*

Have a GREAT week!

Subheader nom:

So much knowledge over here, I'm beginning to look like a sponge.--kdjames

A girl with a voice and a guitar, a campfire, and a rodeo grounds is an instant story. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Not that they all need to be told, but it was good to live them.--Julie M. Weathers

I hate it when I can't see when I suck. --Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale

Pantsers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your...oh...never mind. --Panda In Chief

This blog is starting to give me panic attacks.--Robert Ceres

Word count, I stab at thee--Julie M. Weathers