I am resisting giving any of you further encouragement on some of those double entendres. (But oh man, was I laughing)
I really liked what Craig said
"There is nothing wrong with sex but I'd rather have it then read about it. The best sex in a book happens between chapters. The lead up to it and the after is more important than the actual act."
And didn't you all want to know the rest of the story after Mia Siegert's comment:
When working on my MFA thesis, one of my advisors famously gave me the following advice: "Needs more gay sex.
MB Owen brings up an interesting problem with the new info glut via Twitter:
While I think writing what you want is the absolute truth...it's hard not to consider what Agents want because they are so dogmatic about it--or what they DON'T. One visit to #MSWL will do it.
In the old days when you were thumbing through the various indexes of agent listing, it was all very general. SF: yes or no. Romance: yes or no.
Now it's the Baskin Robbins menu and writers are left wondering if Cherry Delight has enough vanilla to be romance, or if all that delight makes it erotica. And then agents kick them for not knowing, by posting those snide little tweets that assume what they want is so damn clear.
Speaking of desserts, did you see the cake AJ Blythe whipped up to celebrate the Writer's Digest news?
|a woodland creatures cake! CHOMP! You taste so good!|
And speaking of that award, let me just say that we ALL share this one. This blog would be nothing without you readers, question contributors, and commenters. Huzzah for us ALL.
On Tuesday, the topic turned to deadlines and agent's missing them.
The first comment was from brianrschwarz and it's clear this man needs an ocular adjustment to remove those rose colored spectacles:
Janet? In a towering rage? I don't believe it. Couldn't happen. She's like a teddy bear!
You really DO NOT want to know what rage looks like here. The few who have survived it are generally unable to offer survival tips.
S.D.King bravely offered up this excellent point:
Writers treat agents like a cross between the stern headmaster and George Clooney. (Can I speak up? Will I get yelled at? Will he/she think I am stupid and cut off all communication?)
The author HIRES the agent in theory, but really the agent picks the author.
The agent is paid by the author and like all businesses, should seek to please the customer (I wonder if agents sit around thinking that a misplaced email will cause all communication to be shut off.)
When asked about my progress in finding representation, I tell people I am in the process of hiring an agent. NOT that I am wringing my hands, waiting to be picked last for dodge ball, wondering if I will ever find an agent so good they have the right to ignore me.
Janet, hope this doesn't sound like a slap to agents, since authors enable this as much as some agents allow it. I hope to someday hire an agent with whom I can have at least as respectful a relationship as I have with my plumber (a great guy whom I also hire to do work for me).
Other than the word "hire" I agree with this. Writers do not hire agents; agents are not employees. Writers are not customers. This is not a retail, open to the public, business. I don't spend any time at all thinking "how can I make a writer's experience here better?" Zero. I spend a LOT of time thinking "how can I do my job better."
The difference is that we are risk takers together. Your risk is that I can sell your book; my risk is that your book is able to be sold. There's probably a more elegant way to describe this. (One weakness of the Week in Review is there is not a lot of time for revision.)
I should have just kept reading the comment column instead of replying because brianrschwarz said it perfectly here:
I see what you're saying and I think there's some valid points in there... but I do think a differentiation needs to be made between the local plumber and the agent.
Although most of my knowledge of plumbing stems from Super Mario Brothers, I do know when I call my plumber, I have a list of 500 possible plumbers who would all be happy to take me on as a client as long as I pay them money. This is not the same for an agent. To ignore this fact is to not really take in the whole picture.
Yes, basic economics would deem that the agent is paid for the service they provide, but this is not a service that is open to the public (and for that matter, what an agent actually 'provides' is not an equal service among all agents. Some are better than others.). This is a service revolving around a partnership between two parties, a partnership predicated on a mutual interest where you are the product (and you're not the only product out there).
It's similar to a producer in a record studio. Sure, I'm the artist. I pay the producer and he adds his artistic touch to make my CD better... but if I fight him on every change, I'm going to end up with a garbage CD (assuming the producer is good) and I just paid a lot of money for a guy to hit the red record button.
It's an important distinction and it changes the relationship a lot. If my plumber only offered to service my toilet after I signed an agreement to only use him for his services, and via this contract I could also earn money for referring my wonderful plumber to other people, I'd certainly not view that relationship as simply as 'money in, money out'... especially if my referrals (books) were earning me a fair amount of cash.
Partnerships are not necessary for successful businesses, but they are also not viewed as customer and company.
Susan Bonifant has a good question:
The problem is that once I send an email like that, the recipient replies, and will say something like "ok, when WILL it be done" and the answer is "hell if I know right now" and that's not really something you can say. And the other horrible possibility is someone asks "well what the hell ARE you doing if you're not getting this done" and you can't say "well, you weren't important enough to be in the top three To Do things this week" even if it's true, especially if it's true. Yes, clients know they are not the one and only, but an agent does well to remember that no one likes to feel like they are the least important person on the roster. Ever.
Honestly, not only would it be humane to dash off a quick "I'm sorry (excuse here)" email, I can't think of a more understanding recipient than a writer who has been trying to deal with no response at all.
Dena Pawling had a good question too:
I think one thing that's not mentioned by this questioner, is whether or not there's a HARD deadline somewhere in the future. For example, if the publisher wants the completed manuscript by June 1, and the agent is then late on getting her notes to the author, does that reduce the author's time to complete the revisions before the publisher's deadline? Or is there no looming deadline? The answer to that question I think is relevant.
Generally if an author is turning in a manuscript on an editorial deadline, it's at the top of the priority list. I turn those manuscripts around overnight as often as I can. I NEVER keep them longer than a day or two unless there's some horrible problem. I can't even think of a horrible problem that would mean keeping a manuscript more than a day right now.
The missed deadlines I've got are on projects in the developmental stage, or on getting things out on submission. Once publication is in the picture, those deadlines are a lot firmer. Now, EDITORS missing deadlines, or getting notes back to authors late, that's something I know a lot about too. This is why you have an agent who knows when books have to be in production, and when covers have to be shown at sales meetings, and nudges the editor if the client hasn't gotten what s/he needs to make those things happen. Scratch any agent, you'll get a deadline story about editors.
And apparently there will be a Synopsis Summer Camp on Carkoon. I can't wait to see who the faculty will be.
And then, the entire conversation just went straight for the cookie and tea aisle of the market and never quite found it's way back to the topic. And don't think I didn't notice your vegemite there AJ Blythe! We know all about vegemite here.
On Wednesday we talked about the utility of one sheets at conferences. I might have gotten a little hot under the collar because of the bad information that gets handed around to writers.
Mostly the discussion was about nerves.
Then Leone gave us this lovely story:
I've been to PitchFest (and CraftFest) twice. I agree with bjmuntain that the experience is valuable in sharpening skills and I did get requests from agents - though I realized later that I needed to work on the manuscript more. So it could be helpful for.But the most amazing thing I saw there was author Jon Land, who spent THREE HOURS of his time meeting with a long, long line of authors who wanted advice on how to pitch. He made the offer during CraftFest and promised to stay until everyone interested had a chance to run their pitch by him. And everyone did.Not only is Jon a successful author with plenty of other things to do, but he was in the middle of negotiating a publishing contract and several times had to interrupt the session to take a call. Yet he still stayed until everyone had pitched.Why do I share this? Because writers are a community and the most valuable reason to go to a conference is to be part of that community. The rest is nice, but that is pure gold.That is also why I love this blog, because it's such a vibrant part of that community. Amanda, as you can see from these posts, everyone here is pulling for you and/or praying for you and that is what it's all about.
On Thursday we talked about using pitch sessions at conference to get help, rather than to actually pitch. There were a lot of good comments (especially CarolynnWith2Ns who really is good when she gets her rant on.)
Julie Weathers comment made me twitch:
At Surrey, Diana (Gabaldon) saw me in the vendor's hall. I was talking to a mutual friend who had a table. She waved at me and came over to visit. We'd only been talking a few minutes, she was mostly asking about my youngest son Will who was in Iraq at the time.
I wasn't going to bother Diana, because I was sure she got hounded to death, but was happy she came over to visit. Then lo and behold someone came over and did his best, nonchalant pose author. "So tell me, Diana, what do you think of the current state of publishing?"
Julie got up and left. I'd rather she sicced Mrs Chicken on him. That kind of intrusion with a faux question, which only shows what a social nincompoop the questioner is, makes me nutso. It brings out my VERY worst instincts and had it been me, I would have likely replied "The state of publishing? Is that near North Dakota?"
Interrupting an existing conversation is a huge no no. Not just in publishing, but anytime. Unless your hair is on fire and one of the conversationalist has the only fire extinguisher in the room tucked in her purse. The fact that Diana and Julie were pleasant about it kinda makes me nuts too. In being pleasant and non-confrontational, all we do is encourage that kind of disrespectful disruptive behavior. If I were a better person I might say "I'll be glad to discuss the state of publishing with you after I've finished talking to my friend Julie here." And never finish talking to Julie.
I know there's no one reading this blog who would do something like that, but you're going to see it happen at conferences, mark my words.
And it turns out that Christina Seine keeps "an stash of emergency chocolate" which I think we all need to keep in mind when we meet her in person.
And just to keep you all on your toes, CarolynnWith2Ns commented:
needed a break from editing so I'm watching Janet's favorite movie.
"You're gonna' need a bigger boat."
But my favorite movie is NOT Jaws. I do love it of course, and the theme music precedes me into any room, much like Ruffles and Flourishes is played for Mr. President, but my favorite movie is something else. Any guesses?
And Christine Seine said
Hey, I was thinking ... all of us furry woodland minions who are going the NYC conference should get together and hang out and share scary JR stories at the bar.
which NYC conference are you all going to? Cause I'm thinking we should have a party.
And Friday and Saturday was the contest, and I was a little surprised how much I missed the comments those two days! It was…lonely!
On Saturday night I finished Catriona McPherson's new book THE CHILD GARDEN. It pubs in September. Buy it. It knocked my shark sox rightoff.
It's FINALLY getting warmer here in NYC. Some rain, but honestly if I can walk home without freezing to death, I'll take it. Although after a winter of hiding inside, walking all the way home appears to be something I'm going to have to work back into. Oof!
See you next week!