Tuesday, January 06, 2009

the assssistant gets a hold of some new reading material

Tonight was the launch party for In the Shadow of the Master, an anthology of some fairly new and unknown writers that might make it big one day. Remember you heard these names here first: Nelson DeMille, Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Sue Grafton, Laura Lippman, Lisa Scottoline, and some guy who mentioned giving up writing to be a rock and roll star, I think his name was King, something.

Anyway, these guys got corralled by a guy named Michael Connelly and they all wrote stories honoring Edgar Allan Poe.

It was a wonderful party at Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop, made all the better by runnning into Sarah Weinman and other shy woodland creature reviewers.

The asssssistant slithered out of her comfy inbasket to take a look at the book

Holy Smoke? NO! Chasing Smoke!!!

Bill Cameron's CHASING SMOKE selected as a January Notable Mystery by IndieBound, the independent bookstores list!!!

Woo hooo!!!!!!!

"For money you can have everything it is said. No, that is not true. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge but not intelligence; glitter, but not comfort; fun, but not pleasure; acquaintances, but not friendship; servants, but not faithfulness; grey hair, but not honor; quiet days, but not peace. The shell of all things you can get for money. But not the kernel. That cannot be had for money."

-Arne Garborg, writer (1851-1924)

stolen shamelessly from the Word A Day email

Three phrases to never use, ever, in a query letter.

1. "As yours is a reputable agency, I submit my..."

Well, ok. Glad we cleared that up. I'm praying you aren't submitting to any disreputable agencies of course, so telling me I'm in good standing somewhere (bribes were involved I'm sure) is pretty pointless. It also makes you sound like a stuffed shirt. Ditch that phrase.

2. "please review my work"

Well, no. Michiko reviews. Sarah Weinman reviews. ReviewerX reviews. I don't. I consider your work for representation. I know this seems like a petty distinction. Get over it. Words are your tools. Using them like they all mean the same thing, sorta, doesn't generate confidence.

3. "I know you're very busy"

well, sure, I guess. You aren't? Don't ever apologize for sending a query letter. Not to me. Not to any agent. Not now. Not ever. You want busy? Go hang out with a pre-school teacher.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Andrew Grant's EVEN on 2009 "must read" at SMB

How much fun is it to be clicking through the blogs on Google reader and find Andrew Grant's debut novel EVEN listed on the "2009 Must Read" list at Seattle Mystery Bookstore??

a LOT, let me tell ya!

Here's the backstory on that book just in case I haven't mentioned it quite enough yet!

I'm not the first stop on the Question Express

Remind me to never ever try to be nice to anyone ever again.
Give a referral, next thing you know the email back is "do you have his/her/its email/contact info"

Refer to a comparable title, the email back is "where can I buy it"

Yen Cheong's invaluable book publicity blog says it better than I can:

– Don't waste time by asking stupid questions.

What is a stupid question ? The definition of a stupid question is very simple: it's one you can pretty easily answer yourself. Kind of like, "Can you tell me who wrote this book?"

If you are asked a stupid question, you can either
1) say you don't answer stupid questions
2) answer the stupid question or
3) provide the link to the answer to the stupid question.

I suggest option 3.

so if you REALLY want to annoy me

Include a pre-printed response card with an EMAIL saying something akin to "I may be making a big mistake here, but no thanks" along with ten other options.

For starters, my responses to queries are automated. If I wanted to cut and paste text from your email and send it back to you, I'd have more staff.

Next, "I may be making a big mistake" can be very funny, but it's the kind of humor that can backfire easily. All it did was annoy me.

I know how annoying it is not to get a response to your queries.
I know this better than you might suspect cause it happens on my side of the submissions desk as well (and makes me NUTS)

However, you can not solve the no-response thing with a response card in either a snail mail or an email query. Don't do it. It's tacky. Not as tacky as not responding, but I DO respond to ALL queries and I did to this one as well: form rejection.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Prowling around your blogs

Yes, I do it.

If you subscribe to this blog, chances are, one of these days, I'll slink by. Middle of the night, start of the day, it's one of the take-a-break things I like best.

Today I found this:

Even if you don’t believe in prayer, just think kind thoughts about the person who is making your life miserable. It’s like Pepto Bismol for a troubled spirit.

Thanks Julie Weathers,
whom I actually know from
the Surrey Writers Conference
and like a whole lot.

So, How can I drive you crazy today?

I've spent quite a lot of time ranting and raving about things that make me crazy in query letters.

Let's start 2009 off right with a little list of the things agents do that drive you nutso. These are responses to a question I asked on Twitter a while back:

1. Agents who do not respond to queries. As in, silence equals "no." This is especially annoying when there's another agent at the same agency whom you want to query next, and there's no way to be completely sure how much "black hole of silence" time needs to pass before it's kosher to query the next agent. (every single person who answered me mentioned this one)

Agents who don't answer equeries they aren't interested in should have an auto responder so that we writers know our query was actually received and not lost into cyber-ether.

Agents who say they do respond to all queries (even equeries) never respond. When their web page says that they respond and they don't I feel snubbed. When they say they don't respond unless interested I assume rejection. You'd think that it would be in the best interest of the agent to respond in some way, even if it is an auto response, to prevent writers from requerying them over and over, assuming their mails were getting lost.

2. Agents who do not respond to status checks on requested material. I don't mean neurotic emails sent only three days after the partial was mailed off. I mean waiting a decent interval, politely status querying, and receiving nothing.

3. Agents who do not respond to requested material. Ever. As if they'd never asked and you'd never sent.

4. Agents who use form rejections for requested fulls. You've come this far and can't plug in the author's first name, at the very least? Rejection's part of the game, but this is beyond the bounds of decency. Especially if the full was hard copy. I've paid for you to read it -- can you at least call me by name when you tell me "no thanks?"

5. Agents who do not accept e-queries. I'm sorry, it's time to move into the millennium.

6. Agents who request some sort of release form (usually electronic) before they'll read your submission. To someone well-seasoned, this isn't a big deal. To a newbie who's already nervous, this is a stumbling block. And a bit stupid.

So, what else should be on the list?

Fill up the comment column.

Bill Cameron's CHASING SMOKE

This is a very sweet video of Barista on Duty Rhodester receiving a copy of Bill Cameron's Chasing Smoke.

It reminded me of how other people LIKE getting packages in the mail (versus me who dreads a big mail bag!)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

the assssistant wants a road trip

The amazing Julie Weathers sent this link to me. I was foolish enough to click on it in the office where the assssistant could see it. Next thing I knew she was sssslinking over to Hertz to plan a road trip. Turns out this place is in Ohio...which is right on the way to Indianapolis, location of the 2009 Bouchercon! Looks like I'm going to risk life and limb driving to B/con!

Donald Westlake, a great writer, has died

A file obituary is in the Times today, and Sarah Weinman has an early post.

There will be more, much more, to come.

His loss is a sad and bitter end to 2008.