Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No sissies at SiCs

Are you a member of Sisters in Crime?
Brave souls, those Sis's.

They've invited me to be the mentor of the day next Tuesday. Three people emailed me using the phrase "be nice." I had to look "nice" up in the dictionery. Turns out the definition is "the antithesis of that scotch-sipping agent over at FinePrintLit. Well, I've got time to learn.

Tune in on Tuesday 2/12 and bring your questions.

"Do you have to include an SASE"

"Why don't you write more personal rejections"

should start the discussion ....nicely.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Oh man, I love this town, I do!

If I'd come across this scene at Grand Central, my first thought would have been "damn, I wanna do this too!"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tommorow is "Tsunami" Tuesday

It used to be just plain old Super Tuesday with a couple of big primaries. Then everyone got tired of being last so they moved their primaries up to 2/5/08. No more winner take all stakes in California in June; no more New York being ignored till April. Newp, tomorrow we vote.

I have a thing about voting.
I love it.
I mean, really seriously love it.
I love the little ladies guarding the poll books.
I love the security officer standing by in case a scuffle breaks out between the D's and the R's who have to co-mingle while on line.
I love going into the voting booth and pulling the lever for the candidate of my choice.

And frankly the hell with everyone who says one person's vote doesn't count.
I don't care.

What I know is that people died, literally died, to give me the right to do this. Women particularly but Americans in general. They took voting pretty damn seriously. The least we can do to respect what they sacrificed is exercise our right to vote.

And not just "vote, for whomever." It's not that hard to figure out what a candidate's position is on any number of issues. They've all got websites, and they've been all over the news with their take on matters large and small.

Overthrow the government: vote.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I'm holding the ARC in my hand...

and it's one of the most glorious moments of my entire career.

You've heard me talk about Marching Up Madison Avenue for a year now. How Richard Gilbert queried me several years back; how we worked for a long time to make the manuscript better; how I sold it to a small publisher with a big vision and an even bigger heart.

It's here.
The ARC is here.

I've loved every single book I've helped see to publication, but this one, this one is special.

It's special because it was so long in coming but also because I admire and respect Mr. Gilbert so much.

This is a man who never gave up. He'd write and re-write. He'd send the manuscript back and wait patiently for what seemed like my endless suggestions and corrections. He never said "heck with you, you upstart agent." He always did the work.

And his career is amazing. He was an ad man on Madison Avenue in the 50's, 6o's and 70's. I remember some of those ads vividly. And more important, a LOT of people are starting to surface who remember them too.

A sheer stroke of luck brought Don McCaig to us to write the intro to the book. He worked for Mr. Gilbert at the agency. He's gone on to be a successful novelist. You might have heard of his latest: Rhett Butler's People.

I'm so thrilled to hold this book in my hand that I can hardly wait to go to BEA to actually talk to booksellers about this.

I hope you'll love it too.
You can buy it here.
But mostly you can tell your librarian about it.


I've had a spate of query letters recently using the phrase "so and so referred me to you." Normally of course, that means I pay closer attention to the query letter. These letters however used the name of someone I didn't know.

Rather than help the querier's cause, it made me wonder about what they were trying to do. Were they writing to the correct agent? Maybe they had been referred to another agent here at FinePrint. Did they know what "refer" means in terms of a query letter?

I wrote back to one such querier and said "I don't know this person that you're citing" and the author wrote back to me telling me who the person was. Ok, I still don't know him even though I now know he's on the faculty at the Write Bite and Fight Vampire MFA program at Bloodsucker U.

Think of it this way: I know who George W. Bush is but I don't know the man personally or professionally.

Referrals need a couple things to be actually helpful to you.

First, I need to know the person you cite. If someone says "oh you should query Janet Reid, she's just the coolest thing since KelvinZero, I heard her speak at CrimeBake" that is NOT a referral. That is a suggestion. That's how you phrase it too: So and So heard you speak at CrimeBake and suggested you'd be a good agent to query.

Second, the person you cite should actually have read, or be familiar with your work. I get referrals all the time from someone that I know hasn't read the work. I know this cause she actually told me she just tells people I'm an agent. Ok, that's fine, but it means that citing her as a referral is useless.

There's a lingering sense that you need to be "introduced" to an agent in order to query. That is just flat out wrong. EVERY agent I know who is looking for clients will read query letters. If they are NOT looking for clients, they may limit what they read to referrals only but that is NOT the norm. And it's certainly not what I do. I read all my query letters. Whether I read further depends on one thing: your writing. It's the only thing you have complete control over. Make your writing as good as it can be and leave the introductions to the Freshman Mixer at Vampire U.