Sometimes the comment trail produces a nugget that just begs to be a story. The comment from Tamlyn last week was exactly that:
Growing up, the farm across the road ... had a paddock with a camel, an emu, and possibly a kangaroo. …I don't know which of them was more evil because they all were.
As it turns out the camel farm that Susan mentioned last week isn't for camel meat at all:
… Alas, work interfered, thus I missed the comments that my 'camel farm' comment generated. Sorry; I could have clarified earlier. But - on the off-chance that anyone besides me is still following this thread several days later - the camel farm across the road is for camel milk, not meat. It sells at an abominable price, $30 a litre or some such, but has been linked to improved quality of life for autistic children (my 6yo is autistic, but I can't afford the milk to try this theory) and also for the elderly - memory retention, I think? Anyway, it's a very specialised industry. No matter; I really quite like being able to look across the road and watch them from time to time :)
I echo Theresa's call to put a family papers with the local or state historical society:
An enthusiastic yes to self-published memoirs. And try to get a copy placed in a local or state historical society so future researchers will have an easier time finding it. If you've found your grandmother's or great aunt's letters and/or diaries, consider doing the same.
And Susan brought up A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Regarding the importance of books as historical documents, I couldn't agree more. When I was little, I read "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" for the first time and was captivated by the detail Betty Smith includes in her writing.
I'm not sure if y'all know this, but I live in the very neighborhood where A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is set. In fact, Betty Smith was baptized at the church I attend. My priest showed me the baptismal records some years back, knowing I worked in publishing and had an interest. The records are in the basement, in a fireproof vault and he handled them with exquisite care. What a moment!
When I first moved in to this apartment, I'd look out my window to the fire escape and think "this is what Francie saw." The building I live in is a converted tenement, so I think it's close enough!
On Monday I was jumping up and down about the value of proof reading
Jennifer R. Donohue mentioned a common misconception about NaNoWriMo:
But I've heard tales of people who finished their NaNo masterpiece and then sent it out in December and it makes my blood run cold.I think the people who participate in NaNoWriMo are generally pretty savvy writers. They know not to do that. I've heard this before, but it's always third hand, and my incoming queries don't validate it at all! (whew!)
I really like this idea of targeted revisions from Leah B:
I prefer to do targeted revisions. I'll ctrl+f and highlight, say, all the adverbs in a section, then jump from highlight to highlight. Next one might be you're/your or there/they're/their, and so on. That type of revising tends to work better for me than a blanket "I'm going to take these 1500 words and make them not shit".
Jearl Rugh asked:
Janet are you aware of tools or cheat sheets listing these kinds of vague/non action words/verbs like "would," "could," "that" "is/was" we should be ferreting our of our MS? Thanks.I'm not, but I'll bet the blog readers are. If I had a list it would start with "that" and then run to things like "her mouth opened in a grin." Since it would be rare her ear would open in a grin, how about just "she grinned"
Adib Khorram's comment made me laugh out loud:
I tried doing the text-to-speech thing, but I found it really unnerving, because the inflections were missing and everything sounded alien to me. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact my System Voice was set to Trinoids...
And just when I think I'm be all reassuring and stuff, delicartoons says:
>There are only a few qualities I value in writers more than being meticulous
What are the other qualities? Are they qualities that can be cultivated? Can they be faked well enough? How well can you determine these qualities from a query?
Is this one more thing nascent writer should worry about?
Stop worrying. Keep writing. I value good writing. Don't worry about anything else. You are who you are. Just remember, you might think I'm too much of a pain in the ass to work with either.
On the subject of author head shots The Sleepy One said
Just wanted to note that Bill Cameron's profile photo is hilarious. It's not the professional headshot the shark mentioned in her clean-up-your-web-presence post, but it's charming and works.
That's the photo for Bill's twitter feed.
|Bill Cameron being himself|
The headshot on his website is a bit more…um…traditional
|Bill Cameron being serious|
And I have no idea what's on his head in that first shot other than it is not a cat.
Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli added:
Like The Sleepy One said. What is that thing on Bill Cameron's head anyway? I've wondered for some time. And if we're talking professional head shots, I want Jeff Somers's photographer.
|Yes, that is really Jeff Somers' headshot|
That's so hilariously Jeff, isn't it?
I thought the photographer was going to lose her mind when Jeff told her what he wanted. There were literally dozens of great pictures (Jeff is a photogenic dude!) to choose from, and this is what he wanted. To this day, I torment him about it.
On Tuesday I talked about a querier who'd pretty much run out of patience with the process:
Lucie Witt said it exactly right here:
This is why you need writing friends. Not just regular old friends who know you write, **writer** friends who understand the glacial pace of everything publishing, the frustration of staring into the abyss that is the no-response means no, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, who can talk you off the ledge when you think the above mentioned email is a good idea.I should add that I have a Shark Delay Team on standby myself.
and I liked what Donnaeve said too:
This is Writing Rage. Akin to Road Rage. As if the computer or the car has a cloaking device. We still "see," the lack of control, regardless.
and she later asked:
I'm curious, Ms. Janet, as to how you responded? Silence? Form rejection within 10 secs?
Form rejection in less than 10 seconds. Life's too short to work with people who lose their cool this early in the process.
Which is a reminder that your query #100 is Query #1 from you as far as I'm concerned.
The question I have is, if you were to give in to curiosity and read even the opening pages of the attached manuscript, would you find a piece of genius work that has been undermined by the author's inability to condense his/her brilliant story and exquisite writing into a single-page query; or a person who just can't comprehend that either their concept or execution (or both) is mediocre at best?
Have you ever actually looked at something like this that flouts the rules, or is it always an automatic flush?
I look at stuff that "flouts the rules" all the time. The guidelines are there to help you get out of your own way; to show you what's important to me (story) and what's not (why you think I'm the cat's pajamas.) You don't have to follow them if you don't want to, but I can honestly say it improves your chances that I'll read your work if you do. Use that information as you see fit.
and this from Mark Ellis gave me the shivers:
Put me in mind of the time (true story) an agitated writer bullied his way into the monthly meeting of Willamette Writers here in Portland while some volunteers were still setting up, claiming he "needed to see a literary agent." Roughed-up a volunteer before running off into the night. Police were called, but they never found him.
I can see this as a prompt for a flash fiction contest. Agitated writer bullies way into meeting claiming a need to see a literary agent. What happens next?
Donnaeve and Adib Khorram have MUCH to answer for when they inserted Frozen into the conversation but all I have to say is this is hilarious and that girl can really sing.
"Let It Go" via Google Translate
On Wednesday we were back to a tried and true topic: timing. The question was about sending a new manuscript out while the old one was still under consideration, and how to handle the agent still considering it.
EM Goldsmith asked
I do wonder one thing. I am writing a series of 7 books in the same way that Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, and The Belgariad by David Eddings are series. When I finish book 2, if I still have no agent (like OP), do I query both books together or separately? I can see this happening. I am 65k words into my WIP. Both books share same setting, have common characters, but are entirely different stories. They could be read independently although book 1 enhances book 2 and vice versa. I suppose this might be putting cart before horse, but I am curious.
Query one book at a time, as though it were a standalone.
Laura Mary said:
See it's posts like this I need to pin to my desk - I always feel that niggling need to explain and apologise to people who have most likely forgotten who I am, much less remember what I'm talking about.
Agent etiquette definitely seems to be a case of less is more!
DLM has a good idea for that:
Laura Mary, just on a housekeeping note, I use the original email communications with an agent and reply/forward so they can see right there what I'm talking about (MINUS any attachments of course!). It helps me keep things straight, and provides an agent all the reference points they need inline.
That's a really good idea. I can usually check my email archives to find the conversation trail but having it right there in the new email is very helpful.
Julie M. Weathers asked about my guideline
"If you get an offer, email any agent reading your full. (You don't need to email those rejected at the query stage or didn't answer at the query stage.)"If my blatantly idiotic colleagues with the No Response Means No policy would wise up and reply to all queries, that guideline would change. As it is, most writers hear nothing from most agents. Thus, there's no obligation to keep them informed. However knowing Miss Julie is cut from Courtesy Cloth, I will say this: there's no harm in letting agents with an open query know you have an offer. The only time it's wrong wrong wrong is if the agent has passed. Then it's as if you're saying "neener neener" and that's not a good thing. Even if you want to.
I assumed I should contact any agent with the open query.
Michelle Hazen asked
This is a perspective I haven't heard! My CP has an ms out to several agents, but she has another one ready (yes, it's well edited and it's been many months) and she's seen many agents asking for something like it, so she's excited. Here's my question: is it okay to query other agents with a different ms when you already have one ms out on sub (it seems like you're totally fine with this in your post), and also, since it is in the same genre as the first, how long should you wait before querying agents with Book 2 that rejected Book 1?
I like to see at least a couple months of daylight between queries. On the other hand, I generally keep up with my queries, so you'll hear back from me pretty promptly. Some of my colleagues not so much. Thus, use YOUR clock for the countdown, NOT their reply timeline. Example: you send a query in Month 1 for book 1. You can send a query for book 2 in 90 days. That's 90 days after the first query, even if you haven't heard back on book 1 yet. It's entirely possible something in Query 2 will catch their eye particularly if "agents (are) asking for something like this" and they bite on this one without having bitten on book 1.
It's never rude to query. Never.
You can query rudely, yes, but the actual act of sending a businesslike query is never rude.
Agents who bitch about timing (why would anyone query in August/December/the day my cat died) need to get a fucking grip. This is a business and if you don't want to read your queries, don't. Don't confuse your wishes with decorum however. Some of us read queries promptly and throughout the year.
On Thursday, the topic was again timing, this one about sending pages after a conference meeting: how long does a writer have?
nightmusic read my "less than a year" comment to mean there was a deadline:
I had a query session where the agent donated their time to five out of how ever many submitted at a conference, to go over the query and first five pages with the author. What worked, what didn't, good, bad, ugly and how to work on correcting those things. It was a great opportunity and I was the only one she asked for the first fifty after I'd revised it, but life intervened and I didn't send it. That was well over a year ago so my chance is gone. All that to say, if you have that opportunity, don't squander it! Polish. Send! You just never know.
This is one of the great things about this blog for me: I get to see when what I've said isn't what I meant. This is one of those cases. Thanks nightmusic for helping me refine this.
"less than a year" was INTENDED to mean that you should not be pitching anything that's a year from being done. I didn't intend to establish it as a deadline.
So, first thing: nightmusic get that manuscript off to that agent right NOW. I want a jpg of the email!
Second, if it did take you that long, it's still ok. You might drop the agent a line every six months or so just to say you're still working on it.
I heard from a prospect yesterday (Saturday 12/5/15) that he's now ready to talk about a project that I've been waiting on for about seven years.
I have a manuscript in my to be read stack that has been percolating with my author for eight years I think.
Remember: publishing is a long game. If I'm interested in your work, I'm not going to forget. And even if I do, and even if it turns out my interest has waned it's OK to email. It's not rude. Assume you have something of value in your work. It's not rude to offer your work to an agent.
brianrschwarz has a very good litmus test for when is a project done and ready to send:
I asked the deadly question -- "When do you know its done?" And she answered "When none of your critique partners are telling you the same thing anymore."I'm stealing that.
I love this from 2Ns
Wait a minute, wait a minute.
It’s a career not a sideline.
It’s a career not a hobby.
It’s a career not a pastime.
It’s a career not a game.
It’s a career.
Then Friday was the writing contest, and results will be posted tomorrow.
As for Chum Bucket: I'd like nothing more than to promise a Chum Bucket in 2015. The problem is I'm still backed up on requested fulls. I just cleared the last of 2014's requests off my desk this week (it did not sit there unattended, no no no, I had multiple conversations with the author, but final disposition did not happen till this week) and I'd REALLy like to have an empty inbox on 1/1/16 if at all possible.
I do love Chum Bucket, and have missed it, but I can't do that, read manuscripts, write the week in review AND do my real work.
I am working on cloning myself though, so there's that.
Have a great week!