Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Query Question: an editor has my ms; how do I list that in the query

 I have a procedural query question. If my MS is currently out with an editor, following a pitch conference, I understand it is appropriate to note that in my query. Is that information to include in the first paragraph, last paragraph, or even the subject line?

It's a housekeeping measure and you put it in the last paragraph.

And lest you think this is a selling point for your work, let me pour a bucket of cold water on you by telling you it's not.

The reason it's not is that once an editor has read your manuscript, an agent can't go back to him/her with the polished up version you'll have after some developmental work. Your agent in fact can't go to anyone at that imprint again.

There's a reason we BEG you to query agents first and it's exactly for this reason. The editor you meet at the conference may not be the right editor at that publisher for your book. You can't know. We do.

I know it's unbelievably tempting to think of yourself as The Exception to that, but you're not. No one is. 

Don't pitch editors at conferences. Talk to them about what they like to read, or what they're specially looking for but if you can hold back on pitching your agent will thank you.


W.R. Gingell said...

I just wanna comment to say how fantastic that cat is. His look of almost weary 'whattheheckdude' is a work of art.

Also: First Vommenter!!


(Quick, someone take the exclamation marks away before I hurt myself)

LynnRodz said...

And I just finished making the last comment on yesterday's post about stickers, vommentors/vommenters (Hmm, which spelling is correct?) so, we're the alpha and omega.

Another good piece of advice on what we should and shouldn't do, thanks Janet.

Amanda Capper said...

I'm embarrassed to ask but I've avoided this question for so long, thinking I'll figure it out eventually, if I keep reading. Apparently, I'm not catching on.

Why would you submit to an editor? Don't you hire an editor? Doesn't an editor help you make your book better? At conferences, don't you meet with agents and they request your ms? Or, are editors for publishing companies at these conferences (I've attended a total of three conferences and the only editors I've met are freelancers)? And, an agent pitches to an editor or a publisher? Or, are they one in the same?

"...may not be the right editor at that publisher for your book." So...publishers send editors to the conferences and there's an editor pitch?

Wow. Even I'm amazed at my own denseness.

Kitty said...

What Amanda said.

Janet Reid said...

The editors at some conferences are from publishing companies. They do take pitches.

Freelance editors (such as one would hire for developmental work) would not be taking pitches; they'd be pitching you on hiring them.

Does this help?

brianrschwarz said...

Amanda -

You're asking a really great question!

Agents pitch to editors at publishing houses. In this case, Janet is referring to an editor from an imprint or publishing house and NOT a freelance editor who doesn't work for anyone in particular. Some authors think of agents as middle-men and want to skip it, pitching an editor at a publishing house instead of working with an agent. This would be great if authors had the same years of connections, built relationships, and reliable word as an agent. But we don't. A second misguided opinion is that an author with a possible contract in hand from an editor at a publishing house is a good thing, so some authors pitch editors thinking it will make them more valuable if they happen to get one.

It doesn't.

What it does is actually the opposite. Not only, as Janet said, can the agent then NOT approach the editor with revisions or many times the imprint, but it also doesn't work because you just did exactly what you're proposing the agent should do for you.

Imagine hiring a plumber for a leaky sink. Only, when the plumber arrives, you show them that you've done them a favor by using duct tape and plastic bits to "seal up" the leaks. You're not sure if he needs to do much anymore because you've gotten the open hose leak down to a steady drip now, but you'd appreciate perhaps a few more pieces of duct tape to finish the job.

That's what happens when you try to hire an agent after having offers from editors. You're thinking "See? I'm desirable!" and they're thinking "I wouldn't fix that sink if it was the only sink left on earth..."

Hope that helps Amanda!~

W.R. Gingell said...

I'll let you know how the stickers work out :) Stickers will probably work for me because I love stickers, and I love calendars, and I love gloating over how much work I've done :D

Also I have some VERY COOL robot stickers. So there's that.

You should def. go with the margaritias. Then by the time you've 'rewarded' yourself, you'll be the quintessential liquored up writer :D And don't forget, the more you write, the more you can drink!

AJ Blythe said...

Aaack! Ok, so this one has freaked me out. Oh glorious QOTKU, this panicked woodland creature has a question (or two).

(I've told this story before, but it is scarily relevant now)

At a conference last year I booked a pitch with an editor at the Aussie based publisher of a US imprint I would *love* to be published with. I wasn't planning on pitching, but to work out 1. if my genre was of interest here (it's set in Oz, but it's really a US genre), and 2. if I did publish with the Aussie based publisher could my book still end up with their US imprint. I also made it clear my book wasn't written, it was just a fact finding mission.

The editor loved my concepts, and requested the partial of the first book of both proposed series. And to "get writing".

What do I do now? Following JR's advice above (and she is QOTKU) I should get an agent first (and for reasons that make complete sense, darn it). But the editor (one of the Big 5) is Aussie based, and I know I will need a US agent.

So... US or Aussie agent? Will a US agent be able to deal with the Aussie editor? Sub to editor or not? Forget Australia as a first option? Help o_O

If it isn't obvious, I want an agent =)

Your Sharkliness and Vommenters, thoughts?

PS am off to bed now, but will be back online first up in the morning, so apologies for not responding to your vomments.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

"You can't know. We do," says evil eye cat.

Great question, thank you QOTKU for answering Amanda's questions. I never knew. Will keep this in mind.

S.D.King said...

At a scbwi conference we were encouraged to pitch to two high profile publishers with their own imprints. Got a lovely response from one, which encouraged me, but a no is still a no. Wish I had waited.

Speaking of pitching. . . Is anybody else doing #pitmad today? If I manage, it will be from hospital wifi on my ipad. (Elderly parents)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Well THAT was a wake-up note. Bucket of cold water? I felt that one.

Then I woke up a bit more and noticed that it was pitched to an editor, not an agent. OK. Now I understand.

AJ Blythe: you have exactly the scenario I wondered where it might work out in your favor? I'll be curious to see the answer(s) to your question.

If you've pitched to an editor with an imprint and the editor wanted to see your work but you haven't submitted to editor because you prefer to work with an that then desirable to put in your query letter to agents? But I'm now reading Janet's last paragraph, "Don't pitch editors at conferences."

And considering that most agents work with the Big 5, ruling out even 1 narrows down an author's available publishing houses considerably.

Let's hope that bucket of cold water stays with me when I get to the point of pitching and querying.

Donnaeve said...

The question was interesting. The first thing I thought was why are pitches to editors allowed when most editors want the author to have an agent? Read a publisher's website and a lot of them won't accept "unsolicited" manuscripts. Occasionally a small print will open up to submissions without writers having representation. I also think back in the day, the big publishers would open their doors occasionally, too.

I'm curious if a writer out there has ever pitched to an editor, and the editor liked the work SO much they steered them towards an agent? That would be AWESOME, wouldn't it?

IMO, confusion with freelance/acquiring editors is similar to the confusion when someone says they are "on submission." To some, it means querying agents, others, it means the agent is in the process of sending the ms to acquiring editors. IMO, agent seeking is "querying." An MS going out to editors, is being "on submission."

That's my nitpick of the day. :)

Brenda Buchanan said...

"I wouldn't fix that sink if it was the only sink left on earth..."

brianrschwarz, that made me laugh out loud. Plumber analogies are always a good thing in my book.

Colin Smith said...

So... even if the editor loves the book, doesn't it still have to go before a committee at the publisher before the editor gets approval to offer? I'm pretty sure editors can't go handing out 6-figure advances without the approval of the publisher. If I'm correct, then what exactly would an offer from an editor be? What kind of guarantees can an editor give to an author whose work s/he'd like to publish? I could see maybe a small press editor might have that kind of clout, but at a larger press...?

That's my question. :)

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and Janet--you have some of the BEST cat pictures! :)

brianrschwarz said...

Haha, thank you Brenda.

Donna - Since an agent primarily gets more money for you, the author (if they're doing it right) a part of me doubts they'd ever refer you to one. If they really did think your book was the next Twilight, pretty sure they'd prefer to rob you blind on a contract rather than pay you a 6 figure advance. ;) Maybe that's a cynical view to have, but it really doesn't work in the Editor's favor at that point to get a third party involved when they have begun to build a relationship with you.

It's sort of like the sub-contractor relationship theory. Sure, I can hire a tile guy to do my bathroom, a plumber for my sinks, a drywall guy for my room, an electrician for my wiring, but what's the overall product going to be? What's stopping the electrician from doing a poor wiring job? The answer of course, is nothing. He completes the work fast and never sees you again.

But a contrator, oh a contractor, the saviors of us all. A contractor oversees the work being done and has a relationship with the electrician. If the E-man screws around with this job, he doesn't just ruin a relationship with a single-one-off-homeowner-who-doesn't-acount-for-even-a-fraction-of-yearly-business... he ruins a relationship with the guy that really helps pay the bills. Because teh contractor will hire him for MANY jobs. And the homeowner hires him for one.

Same with the Editor. They'd take pitches because they have nothing to lose. They get some good books out of the deal, maybe even some real gems. And at the discounted/inexperienced price sometimes? Sounds great to them. Not because they lack some moral value. Just because business is business.

My guess? You'd have better luck finding a Unicorn on Mars than finding an editor who pointed you towards an agent to help negotiate a deal.

Matt Adams said...

I think Janet's right in concept, that you never want to go out to editors without getting as polished as you can get, and you want a professional to use their judgement as to the right places for your book to go. That makes a lot of sense and is, unquestionably, the right way to do things.

But ...

It's very hard to get someone to read your pages, even with a great query. And when they ask for a full, it's hard to find the right agent for your book. And that process takes a long time in most cases. And the agent might be wrong for the book, or might not be a good agent. Or there may be editors that they don't know, haven't met, don't think of. Despite the reverence we often show, agents are only human. You never really know these things until you've been with them a while.

So if an editor wants to read your stuff, I think you've got to take that chance. If an editor is open to a pitch, I think you've got to make it. It may blow your shot with them, but since there's no guarantee that shot would exist at all if you wait to get an agent, a risk-reward analysis would say this one is worth it.

I think I have gotten a Get-Out-of-Capcha-Free card, because it's been at least a week since it showed me any pictures. Maybe it feels like I'm not worth the effort.

brianrschwarz said...

Colin - like you said, i bet the editor still has to take it up the chain, but the chain won't stop just because you're not an agent. The imprint assumes you will figure out how to read a contract they would send you and that you would be smart enough to do something with it before you sign.

This is again MAYBE one of the few times (when you have an offer in hand) that an agent MAY want to hear from you, but again, you've now handcuffed them to the leaking sink and they have no idea what you did to "fix" the pipes in the rest of the house...

It's just a mess. There are a TON of unique situations, and it is so rarely ideal that you might as well just worry about getting an agent first and ignore the rest of the world.

And please, someone stop this train if I'm wayy off the tracks...

brianrschwarz said...

Matt - I get what you're saying, but here's my word on the topic.

If an agent, like the one mentioned by the OP, is open to a concept before reading anything... they'll likely be open to that author 6 months down the road. Might as well query every agent you can get your mitts on, and if every single one says no -- then sub to the editor.

Personally I don't think I'd even put myself in this position. But if I was, I'd pitch old books that I had already queried. If I didn't have any old books, I wouldn't want to pitch a new one because I hadn't even tested the waters.

It's just that the "take a chance" theory is so far outweighed by the "facts and statistics" theory, not only for rejection in general, but for an editor to accept your MS and rob you blind. And I don't just mean in advance. What if the imprint is historically bad with new authors? What if they don't have a good marketing plan? What if the advance is too high for the book and it becomes unrecoupable? What if they clause you into holding all future works? What if they haven't successfuly sold more than 200 copies of a Sci-Fi book since "War of the Worlds" and you had no clue. The what-if's could drive you batty. You feel like you're missing out on something, but I think it's shortsighted. Because the road AFTER signing with an agent or signing a deal with an editor happens to be MUCH longer than the road before it. And a lot more mistakes and decisions lie in waiting just around the bend.

I need to shut up now. :) Sorry everyone for my multivomment episode there. I got sick in the stomach with fear that all of my wonderfully amazing writerly friends on this blog would suddenly start sending blind emails to publishers. ;)

LynnRodz said...

W.R., that sounds like a plan. After all, Hemingway was not a teetotaler by any means and he did all right.

S.D., I would do #pitmad, but the ms has to be completed and I'm still tinkering with mine. Stay strong and I wish your parents well.

AJ, I think you're putting the cart before the horse. You haven't written the book(s) yet. Once they are written, you'll query agents and tell them about the editor who loved your concept. That's how I see it.

Dena Pawling said...

Most romance publishers don't require authors to have an agent. And using rough numbers from my local RWA chapter, about 75-80 writers show up for each monthly meeting. Of those, maybe 25-33% are unpublished [or the term I like better, pre-published]. Of the rest, I would guess about 20% have agents, 30% are self-publishing, and 50% sell directly to publishers. Editors speak at our meetings all the time, and most of them take pitches. We've had one agent speak and take pitches.

I have no idea whether this information is relevant to this question, but it's what came to mind. Now granted, this is an RWA meeting and obviously most of the folks in attendance write romance. I need to get moving and join WFWA, since I write women's fiction.

Donnaeve said...

Brian, my initial response would be..., it seems to me, if that were the case, (editors preferring unagented writers so they don't have to deal with the middle man) then I'd think we'd see a more of a trend towards agencies closing their doors left and right. We'd see publishing houses - even the big five - saying come one, come all! Send us your unsolicited work!

Unless I need to catch up on my reading (likely) I don't see it working like that.

Then Dena stepped in and talked about RWA. I don't know why Romance writing is different - and actually PROVES your point, unless that's because there are more small presses accepting unsolicited?

Donnaeve said...

Oh, and yes, Colin, the editor definitely has to take it on up the chain at a publishing even if they did like the ms, they'd have to get buy in from publicity, marketing, sales, etc.

bjmuntain said...

Amanda: Acquiring editors sometimes do go to conferences.

Donna: Some large publishing houses do accept unagented submissions: Tor and Harlequin are the ones that come to mind at 7:30 am. Claire Eddy from Tor is often at conferences and writers' workshops.

Colin: I know someone who submitted a fantasy to Tor many years ago - as I mentioned above, Tor has always accepted unsolicited manuscripts, but it can take them a year or so to get to yours. This person waited and waited, and after a couple years, basically gave up on that publisher. Not long later, she got a response: they'd been discussing it at the editorial table for months, but finally had to say 'no'.

So I would say, if you do have a manuscript out to an editor at a publishing house, the longer it takes, the higher up the chain the editor has taken the book.

Also, I would expect some editors have more clout than others at a publishing house.

I got pizza. But I won't be able to eat it until later today - or even later. I've got a dentist appointment to see what happened to my tooth this morning. Here's hoping it's not something terribly expensive.

Colin Smith said...

Dena's numbers are interesting, and if I was running a literary agency I would be a little concerned at them. I wonder, though, how many writers in each RWA actually write romance? I've read more than once that RWA doesn't exclude other genre writers from membership, and, in fact, it is such a well-respected organization, writers should consider joining even if romance isn't their thing. So, how many of those 20/30/50% actually write romance? If all of them, then is there something about romance that attracts self-publishing? My guess would be that it's such a large genre with so many well-established writers, agents have to be particularly selective. Maybe that makes self-publishing more attractive? And how many of those 50% are selling to small publishers that might be friendlier to unagented writers, and perhaps more willing to take risks than bigger publishers? I making a whole bunch of guesses, so shoot me down if I'm wrong. Just trying to make sense of the numbers and what that might be telling us.

brianrschwarz said...


The timing of Dena's post was quite perfect. :) I think the system functions with agents first and foremost is because it works. It's another layer of rapport and business savvy. And I think an editor is still their own kind of gatekeeper who has just as much capacity to say no to bad projects. And a persons word holds a lot of weight.

I don't think editors prefer unagented authors. There's a ton of trust and stability in the agent-editor relationship. And that trust goes a long way. I just mean if an Editor-Shark finds itself swimming in murky waters and sees a woodland creature with a broken leg drowning... there's pretty much no risk in taking a look... and maybe a bite...

Hope I'm making sense. It all makes sense in my head but putting it into words is difficult sometimes.

Donnaeve said...

bj, I understand some do accept them, but what I'm saying is most don't...and/or if they do, it's a short window and then they shut it down b/c the slush pile gets so big. To my point, I looked at the big five sites and this is what I found...

Most of the verbiage is verbatim, except the last two I added in my comments.

Simon & Schuster

Does not review, retain or return unsolicited materials or artwork. We suggest that prospective authors and illustrators submit their manuscripts through a professional literary agent.


If you would like to have your work or manuscript considered for publication by a major book publisher, we recommend that you work with an established literary agent.

HarperCollins (I included the digital blurb):

With the exception of our Avon Impulse (digital) and Witness Impulse imprints,(digital) HarperCollins does not accept unsolicited submissions. Any unsolicited manuscripts, proposals or query letters that we receive will not be returned, and HarperCollins is not responsible for any materials submitted. We recommend that you consult your local bookstore or library for sources that can direct you in locating an appropriate agent and/or publisher.


Couldn't find submission guidelines - maybe handled by each imprint as they see fit. (?)

Hachette Group

Couldn't find submission guidelines - maybe handled by each imprint as they see fit. (?)

brianrschwarz said...

Oh, and back to my contractor example... who does an editor want a relationship with more? An author who can produce 1 book in 12 months, or an agent who has 45 authors who can produce 45 books in 12 months (and maybe have backlogs of more unpublished books)?

The majority of the workload still comes from established relationships. But editors leave themselves open to submissions because it's more books in the pipeline. And with no one calling and leveraging relationships, situations like BJ described at Tor probably happen very often.

Donnaeve said...

Brian, LOL! I visualized La Shark lurking near the broken legged critter, and CHOMP!

I get it, I just think publishing outcomes weigh a little heavier on writer/agent vs writer/editor scenarios.

Off to the run, and then back to trying to fix my email. New devices = GREAT, email migration GREAT, receiving new emails? Not so great.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Boy am I glad this one came up. Registration opened for Surrey yesterday and the anticipation is worse than homecoming hormones.

Diana won't be there for the first time in years, so there was much gnashing of teeth and renting of sack cloth.

Then it was back to: which agent, which editor, which master class, which blue pencil, which workshop, which coordinated flight, which clothes, which gourmet cupcakes, which Hobbit ears.

So, now QOTKU has taken one of those worries off the table.

Matt Adams said...

@Brian --"But a contractor, oh a contractor, the saviors of us all."

Except a lot of them suck. A lot of them are thieves. A lot of them hire their buddies for every job taking kickbacks along the way. A lot of them lie about what they've been doing. A lot of them lie about what they know, about their ability to get you a great price, about their ability to get things done in time. In a lot of cases (mine included) you are much worse off before you hire them than afterwards.

When we started rebuilding my wife's grandparents' house, the contractor we hire -- with great references and such -- told us it would be six months and X for the job. We checked on the house every day, we were invested in the process, but gosh darnit, there were problems and delays and everything was costing more than he thought. And then one of the framers told us he hadn't been paid for a month. We do into the contractors records and found he'd been stealing about 20 percent of what we'd been paying (disadvantage of paying cash for things instead of using a bank, I guess). We fired him, and in the end the house took 13 months and cost 3X to build. And when my wife took over as contractor, she was able to hire subs, maintain schedules and get the house done. It cost more and took longer than it would have had we hired the right contractor in the first place, but she got it done (she's awesome, BTW).

The same could be said about agents, except I wouldn't use "a lot" (but I would use "some" or "a few"). They might not know the right places to go with your book -- they might know better than you, but that doesn't mean any of them have an all-encompassing knowledge of every potential editors likes and wants at every given moment. They have their pals and loyalties, and those might blind them every bit as much as a contractor is blinded by the fact Larry the Plumber is on his bowling team (how was that for stereotyping? Maybe I should have said book club).

When my agent agreed to rep me, she thought we'd be in a bidding war as soon as we went out. Sixteen months later, I'm hiring people to edit me. She's a much nicer person than my contractor was, and she does a much better job than he did. But she's not a magician; she can't make editors want what they don't want, and she can't read their minds to know for sure what they do want. And as much as I love her, had I met the right editor first and sent her pages, and they offered me a deal, I'd be closer to being published than I am right now. Maybe not better off in the long run, but for the moment, better.

So while I understand and appreciate Janet's sentiment, I think the window is so small in this business that you have to take any opportunity presented to you. If that means you have an interested editor even though you don't have an agent, you need to take the chance and sweat the consequences later.

I also have a different take on putting it in the query. There's no reason to slide yourself closer to the reject pile if you don't need to. If the agent wants pages and wants to talk, you tell them then, before rep is offered. but I don't see why mentioning it so early in the process is necessary.

Having said all that, I'm off to pack my bags for Carkoon. I hope they have room service.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.--Ernest Hemingway

Colin Smith said...

Matt: Room service? A cave with indoor plumbing is a luxury! :)

Amanda Capper said...

Thanks to everyone trying to educate me. This is what stuck;

Agents work for you.
Editors work for the publishing company.

Colin Smith said...

Amanda: That's my understanding--in a nutshell.

LynnRodz said...

Julie, no Papa didn't drink while he was writing...

"Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?” —E.H.

...but he loved to drink.

"Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares, if you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars." —E.H.

(When I lived in Madrid, I used to sit at Hemingway's table at this one bar. This was decades ago and the old waiter knew him and would tell us stories about him.)

The quote I love is:

“I drink to make other people more interesting.” —E.H.

Eileen said...

Brian, love your plumbing analogy. But, I think some editors are more than happy to point writers towards agents. Yes, I glimpsed the unicorn on Mars a few times. Had a critique session with an editor at an SCBWI conference. She requested the full and then immediately put me in touch with an agent she thought would love the story. The agent requested the full too, but both eventually passed on the project (with invites to submit something new in the future). At a different conference, I had two critiques, one with an editor and one with an agent. Both requested fulls, but when the editor heard the agent also wanted to read the full, she suggested that I submit to the agent first. Again, from the feedback I got, it was another near-miss. Today, that MS is back-burning while I finish up a revise on another novel.

Donnaeve said...

My take on agents in a nutshell and to use Brian's analogy about contractors, etc. (Of which my husband is one...and a good one, i.e. he doesn't inflate costs and take forever.)

Agents are general contractors for the publishing industry.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Give the calendar an honest shot. It's like having a very visible checklist.

Writing, whatever your goal is. A star for every 500 words or 30 minutes, so forth.


Reading. Hemingway, (Can you tell I'm in my Hemingway phase?) said after he finished writing for the day he read. Reading refills our wells and is as important as anything else we do as writers.

Get some exercise.

Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.--Hemingway again

Back to edits for me. Gage the Wonder Dog needed a drink and to go pee, which brings me to another subject. We are working on a new project, since I have nothing to do. I'm doing a children's book with Gage the Wonder Dog and Logan the Wonder Kid.

brianrschwarz said...


That is really really helpful to hear! Thank you for sharing your experiences. It doesn't surprise me that it happens. I still think it doesn't really benefit the editor so I don't know why they'd do it, unless they're a very nice human which sounds like the case. :) But clearly, I might be mistaken with my assumptions.

Matt - You too are speaking from a position of more experience than me. And I get your drift. A window doesn't stay open forever and sometimes in life you have to take a chance. I think we're all biased by our experiences, and your bias comes into play with your exact situation. After sitting on a MS for 18 months and wondering when the aformentioned bidding war would ensue, I too would be wondering if perhaps I should have just jumped in the first window I saw.

The distinction can be made in this - HOPEFULLY the agent will help you build a career. The one-off editor from Buttonweezer Imprint will not. But again, this could just be my own inexperience speaking. :)

That's at least how I think of it.

But again. I'm unagented and only informed by my own research and by little to no experience (at least in this industry). :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Yes, EH loved to drink, but the common line, "write drunk, edit sober" that is attributed to him is off base.

Shelby Foote thought Faulkner didn't drink while he was writing, so who knows?

DLM said...

AJ Blythe, what is a "US genre" ... ?

Matt Adams, I got that card too - now it's just click the bubble and I'm not a robot. Magical!

Brian and Matt, I'm looking for an electrical contractor. Found a good one - and then he died. Know anybody? ;)

Matt Adams said...

Brina -- Just to be clear, I didn't have an offer from an editor -- I never pitched to an editor. But that's what Opie seemed to have done, and since the QOTKU was saying it was a bad idea, I wanted to point out how it could happen.

And I'm sorry to everyone if I was hard on contractors. I know the vast majority of them are good, upstanding business people who do a great and hard job. In my example I might have lumped them together, or implied the majority are less than honest. Not my intention, and I'm sorry if I came across that way.

Matt Adams said...

And to whoever Brina may be, remember I'll always love you.

Colin Smith said...

... and we all sing:

And iiii--eeee----iiiii---eeee---iiii will ahhhlways love yoouuuooooooo--iiii---eeee----iiiii will ahhlways...

It's amazing the echo effect you get off these cave walls... :)

brianrschwarz said...


Matt - I truly appreciate and respect your comments! :) I also appreciate that you were so willing (and bold) to propose a differing view! And my heart goes out to you on the contractor note! In theory they're great. Not always in practice. :)

DLM - There is a GREAT electrician here on Carkoon. His name is Electric Buttonweezer. He was born to splice wires. But as carkoon has no power grid, no electric lights, and no wires, we all have to take him at his word. Speaking of which - Matt, bring wires on your trip to Carkoon! We could use some!

And Colin - well played. ;)

REJourneys said...

The comment count has jumped considerably at this time of the day. Granted, I am late to the party.

I saw the mention of stickers. The comments, or vomments, lost me at stickers.*runs to grab sticker hoard* I love stickers. I never seem to find a particular use for them, I just love them.

I like this post (the OP) a lot. During the manuscript wish list event on twitter, I found an editor who was looking for the MS I was querying. Her tweet was detailed about what she wanted, and my plot hit every point (the writing is why that MS "was" being shopped and not "is"). Good thing she wasn't open to pitches and asked to be thought of when you have an agent, or I would have pitched her in an instant.

Anyway, back to work. I've got a lot to catch up on. Vacations don't seem worth it sometimes.

Dena Pawling said...

Hey Brian thanks for saying my timing is perfect. The saying is -- timing is everything. Does that mean I'm perfect at everything? =)

Yes there are several non-romance writers in my local RWA group, including me. It's a great group for everyone. I would say 80% romance and 20% other.

And Colin, sssshhhhhhhhhh. I'm in court. No singing! It's noisy enough here. The bailiff just "encouraged" a drunk defendant to move his tirade out into the hallway. Eviction court (I'm downtown Los Angeles today) is certainly entertaining at times.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Go to yesterday's comments. Victoria Schwab, a very talented and generous, YA author explains how she uses stickers on a calendar to keep herself on track with daily goals.

Red stickers, for instance, might represent 500 new words accomplished or 30 minutes of fresh writing time. Blue stickers, x pages of edit or x amount of time editing. Green stickers for reading. Pink stickers for exercising. etc. Try to keep this calendar just for writing goals. The exercising is important, too because we need to move around and clear our mind and body, etc.

Anyway. Keep the calendar above your writing area so it's a reminder, write every day. When you reach a special goal like finish reading a book, Put a special sticker up like a funny owl or a shark with glasses.

We started using this daily reinforcement with my grandson and it's remarkable what the stickers do to improve little behaviors. Each sticker is worth a quarter. Then we gather up his quarters and go to the bookstore so he buys his own book to add to his library with his money.

I know we aren't children, but there's a sense of accomplishment to see our physical progress on the calendars.

When I did prison ministry, I always sent back the lessons with stickers and stamps. I bought all kinds of different rainbow stamp pads to make the stamps more colorful and every kind of funny and positive sticker I could find. It was amazing how coveted these stickers and attaboys were on these lessons.

We all need positive reinforcement. If a smiley face sticker keeps us going, why not?

Donnaeve said...

Matt - do you know how long I spent backtracking the comments to find BRINA?

It hit me finally - he means BRIAN! OMG. I haven't laughed that hard since this:

*No offense taken on the contractor thing - even my husband is aware there are questionable ones out there. There's good and bad in every occupation - even writers. :)

REJourneys said...

Julie, that sounds great. Physical representation of progress is very important. So many people put aside larger projects in favor of smaller ones so they can feel like they accomplish something.

I keep an assignment notebook to remind myself of what I need to get done. Then in the back, I put goals, writing goals and other things, and what I get to buy/do/eat if I achieve those goals. I did this because I had a lot of things I wanted to achieve and tended to neglect some of the things I needed to do. I should put the stickers in there too because I've slipped a little (again). Granted, I'm in that awkward phase of "I need to put MS aside and let it stew" and "what am I supposed to do now?"

I guess I'm gonna start my next MS while the other cooks. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Just jumped on, skimmed some comments and all I have to say is if Felix Buttonweezer himself showed interest I'd sign and I've been married to him since the Backstreet Boys were toddlers.
Have a nice day,
Bettywith2Ts Buttonweezer

bjmuntain said...

Donnaeve: I'm sorry if you thought I was disagreeing with you. You'd wondered what editors would be going to writers' conferences, since most publishers don't accept unagented manuscripts.

Tor editors go to conferences - in fact, Claire Eddy seems to be a pretty familiar face at many conferences. I wouldn't doubt Harlequin sends editors to romance-specific conferences.

I once pitched to an editor with Penguin Canada. She loved my idea. However, she said that Penguin Canada only handles two types of science fiction: that which is already published in the US, and that which is written by Robert J. Sawyer. I'd change my name but, as successful as Rob Sawyer is, I'm not sure my science fiction is enough like his to pass.

Julie: Really? Diana's not going this year? That is VERY different. I can understand the commotion caused by this. I know she will be at When Worlds Collide in Calgary in August.

I'm still hoping to go to Surrey. I can't afford to register right now, though, so I'm hoping I'll be in better shape come September. Which I know means there will be less chance at getting the pitch session I want, but that's how the cookie crumbles, I guess.

But if I am able to go, I'd really like to meet you. You sound like a fun person to know.

ReCaptcha must know I can't eat for another hour or so (dentist rule about fillings), so it isn't making me choose anything now.

LynnRodz said...

Julie, W.R. and I were joking, but you convinced me to go get stickers! (And no, I don't drink and write. Like most people here in France, I usually have a glass of wine with dinner.)

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Diana withdrew from Surrey yesterday afternoon.

Lynn, re the drinking, lots of writing drink, of course. EH notoriously, so. I have a friend who cranks out beautiful prose full well under the influence. "In the cups, m'lady. Mind reading this over and seeing if it's usable?"

I weep. It's more beautiful than anything I could crank out on my best day.

Most writers can't drink and write, I don't believe though King seems to have done it well. I have a friend who doesn't care for his writing since he sobered up.

Lawsy did we wander far afield today.

Anyway, back to panning words, sorting off the fools gold.

Donnaeve said...

Geez, I think I might need to change my word choices somehow in my vomments. Actually maybe I should call them vomit for real in this case, IDK. I've had three people apologize this week b/c they thought they offended me in some way. RobCeres was first with the thing about xx% of Americans believe the sun revolves around Earth, and then Matt with the contractor thingy and NOW BJ.

Ouch. Is it something I said? :)

Actually BJ, it's kind a funny b/c after you apologize (needlessly!!!) you bring up Surrey and tell Julie she sounds like she'd be fun...and I thought immediately "unlike Donna, apparently." LOL!!!

I hope I'm not coming across here as snarky. I would hate that.

AJ Blythe said...

Morning all =)

@ LynnRodz - I think you're right about querying agents and telling them about the editor. But I will need a Us agent and will they be interested in an Aussie editor (albeit one with Big 5)?

@Dena - I agree, most of my published romance writing friends don't have agents, but are published directly with the publishing house.

@DonnaEve - I think perhaps because historically Harlequin were the biggest romance publisher, but now most of the Big 5 have romance imprints, eg Destiny (Penguin) and Momentum (Pan McMillan) and seem to have adopted the same prcoess as Harelquin, ie direct submission.

@Colin - RWAustralia (unrelated to RWAmerica) doesn't exclude anyone and in Oz is the only commercial fiction writing organisation. Even though I don't write romance I'm a member and have found it extremely worthwhile. Even so, the majority do write romance, probably similar to Dena's 80:20.

@DLM - US genere = cozy. It's only just emerging in Australia. Bookstores have never heard of it. I have to order the books I read from America (thank goodness for Kindle and Book Depository!!).

If I was to publish in Australia it would be marketed as a mystery. Although I suspect the cozy market is just about to open here.

In Australia most published authors with Australian publishers (regardless of genre) are unagented. Most of the big houses have a way of subbing directly. So pitching to an editor at a conference and subbing is very normal. I guess we don't have that many agents over here either, and I don't know about their international reach - hence my desire for a US agent.

But I don't want to mess up my chances of getting a US agent!

DLM said...

AJ, thank you! :)

Donna, I think you're the ginchiest. *Hugs for good measure*

Brian - ELECTRIC BUTTONWEAZER!!!! Good gravy, that is genius. I'll call him right away. You know, with my cup-and-string; since, if Carkoon is lacking for tech infrastructure, that sounds like the way to try.

I need a plumber, too, but it may be less than wise to go for one from there, so will try the guy we had out once before.

I've got nothing for today's Opie, except to say I love "Opie" for "OP."

Okay, shutting up now. Ciao.

Donnaeve said...

Diane, I'm scratching my head - ginchiest. Is it a good thing? Please?

Donnaeve said...

Eeek! *hugs Diane.* Thank you! (I had to look it up!)

bjmuntain said...

Donna: If you can come to the Surrey International Writers' Conference, I will make SURE I am there, just so I can meet you.

Since AJ brought up international publishing, I just thought I'd mention Canadian publishing. (I probably have in the past, but when I vomment, I vomment). In Canada, most writers are unagented. But then, most publishers are smaller. In Canada, a 'best-seller' is 5000 books sold. We may be bigger in land mass than the US, but we have a lot fewer people in that big space.

Here in Saskatchewan, I know of two YA fantasy/SF novelists repped by UK agents and published first in the UK.

Me, I'd be so happy to be published in the US. I'm beginning to wonder if that's going to happen, though. I'm starting to wonder if I should start shopping my SF novel to smaller Canadian presses now. I know I'll have the chance to do this in August, at a conference in Calgary. But we'll see. There's a lot going on before then.

Diane: I only know that word from the song: Kookie, Kookie, Lend me your comb.

And it's true. Donna is the ginchiest.

bjmuntain said...

Oh, one thing I didn't mention in the "most publishers are smaller": Harlequin is a Canadian publisher, and a Canadian company. It - and Penguin Canada - are the two biggest publishers in Canada. (Does that make them the 'Big 2 of Canada'?)

DLM said...


LynnRodz said...

Omg, how did we get from Hemingway to Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb? LOL.

AJ's getting up and I'm going to bed, but before I do I just want to say, Donna, you're the ginchiest.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Capt BS, our electrical power may have issues but you forgot to mention that here on Carkoon we DO have flush toilets. I should know, I'm the LM, Latrine Matron.

Donnaeve said...

BJ - if I could afford it, I'd be there! I spent what little $ I have on Bouchercon, and to give you an idea of how tight the wallet is these days, as you know, it's only 45 mins away. I.e. the registration cost was about all I could swing.

Thank you all for your kind round up. I'm thinking it's a new nickname. Ginchie. I'm still chuckling over the sound of it. Like grovel, bossy pants, discombobulated, fussbudget, and a whole host of other words I love, it's at the top of the list.

Patricia - next thing you know, there'll be a "CheapNovelWriting service." Unreal!

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Lynn and Donna,

See how much attention I pay? Good thing Donna looks out for us.

The crew is still sifting through requests from #PitMad yesterday. Indie publishers, cleavage girls offering various services (all writing related I'm sure), editorial services, agents who also create your perfect book cover, some small presses, some legitimate agents YAY!, some new fans, some mean people, lots of things that make you scratch your head, and a new avowal to not do this again.

bjmuntain said...

Donna: Earlier this year, Amazon announced a new service: make your own book. A reader could choose exactly what they wanted to read - characters, plot, style, etc. - and Amazon's computer would create it for them. Readers could even ask for certain books in certain authors' styles.

As if writers didn't have enough to complain about Amazon about.

Luckily, the announcement came out April 1, and nothing else has been mentioned about it.

ReCaptcha gave me hamburgers. I am so. frickin. hungry. because I could hardly eat yesterday. I sure hope I can down me some good food today.

After an OpenID error, it gave me cakes. And threw in a bunch of cupcakes to fool me. Mean, mean ReCaptcha!

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Today is National Donut Day. Since darling baby boy is still recovering from surgery and kind of miserable, I shall buy him donuts. I hope you feel good enough to eat. And, speaking of which, I wonder how, Julie H. is.

AJ Blythe said...

bjmuntain - Don't worry, at Cakecoon, Carcoon's one and only bakery, we have no cupcakes. Just big cakes and little cakes =)

bjmuntain said...

But AJ, do they have gluten-free cakes? If not, then Carkoon really would be a terrible place to be exiled...


AJ Blythe said...

Absolutely, bjmuntain. Only the best ground rocks from the Carkoon caves are used in all our cakes ;)

bjmuntain said...

I'm in! :)