Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week in Review 6/26/16

Welcome to the week that was!
Holy moly, #Brexit!

Last week's review referenced the suggestion that agents go back to asking for queries on paper.

John Davis (Manuscript) Frain said:
I'm not going to double down for Donnaeve since I've learned the hard, painful lesson of doubling down here. I won't even admit that I like her idea (even though I do) on going back to the days of paper queries. But I think one MAJOR thing would change in your formula...

You'd no longer be getting 100 queries a week because querying would be a more complicated process. You'd be thinning out the herd by virtue of making the process cumbersome on the writer. Only those willing to invest the time would query, so they'd have to be confident in their product.

It's a way for an agent to play Contrarian, and I wonder if that agent would get fewer and better queries if only snail mail queries were allowed.

Let's do the math: Assume reading queries electronically and on paper takes the same amount of time. The only activity that takes different amounts of time is responding.
Electronic query reply steps:
1. Click "reply"
2. Click "No thank you"
3. Click send
Time spent:  3-5 seconds (yes, I actually timed this as I wrote this blog post.)

Paper query reply steps:
1. Hand write: Thank you for your query. I'm sorry this is not a match for me. Janet Reid
2. Fold letter
3. Insert in envelope
4. Seal envelope
Time spent: 30 seconds

5. Take to post office drop box is not accrued to individual queries since I take all my mail to the PO at the end of the day anyway. (Yes, I still mail things, and some of you have books to prove it!)

I also did  not account for sorting the incoming queries either. Someone has to wade through all the mail and direct it to the correct agent.

Analysis: since paper queries take 6-10 times longer (3-5 seconds versus 30 seconds) I'd need to get fewer than 10-16 queries to make it time efficient.

The reason I actually clocked the response time is that it's sometimes easy to scoff and say "oh that won't work" or "please, I know the answer!" when, without actual research, you don't. This is the EXACT failure of No Response Means No.  Replying to 100 query emails a week takes about five-ten minutes. I timed it.

But here's the true cost: in going back to paper queries I'd be sorting out authors based on their willingness to query on paper, and nothing else. Willingness to query on paper is NOT directly related to quality of work, meticulousness of writer, or my interest in their subject.

In fact, because it costs money to query by paper (not to mention time) I'd be erecting a barrier to writers with limited funds, and those who have to work long hours, or who can't get to the post office very often.  This seems like a bad idea to me.

Andrea mentions yet another reason: I'd miss out on international writers (no Gary Corby!?!?)
Regarding snail-mail queries, I don't query any agency who accepts submissions by post only. I don't live in the US or the UK and I couldn't afford to send all my queries by post, so I don't send any. And the postal service of the country where I live is incredibly slow and not very reliable. Things go missing all the time, from birthday cards to packages. I'd have to spend a small fortune on postage and still have no guarantee my queries actually arrive, because no agency (as far as I know) accepts registered post when it comes to queries. (Not to mention registered post would cost even more)

The Sleepy One asked:
Is QueryManager set up like Submittable? I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. I love Submittable. It's so easy to use and it's well thought out from both the writer and publisher side.

Yes. So far, I like it a lot, but I've only gotten about 10 queries or so. I'm not sure how many agents are trying it out.

Celia Reeves said:
I checked out Janet's QueryManager page when she tweeted about it last week. It looks wonderful, simple and clean, but one thing caught my eye. You know how they put red asterisks by the required fields on web forms? On this form everything is required EXCEPT THE QUERY LETTER. Is this a Shark-given free pass to submit a query without a query letter? Sadly, I know that it will be fixed before I'm ready to submit, sometime between Christmas and a decade from now.

Ha! You do have to write a query cause you actually have to email me something. If it's "Hey Snoooks, read my book" that's still a query. And don't think I haven't seen that before (not via QueryManager, but in my regular inbox)

On the topic of going to writing conferences Janice L. Grinyer said:
So even though I walk deep in the forest for work, am prepared at home to fight fire, handle all sorts of animals (does this include the rattlesnake I found wrapped up around an apple tree yesterday?) I'm terrified to go to a writers conference. PLEASEDONTTALKTOMEIDONTKNOWWHATIMDOING. I'm such an easy target right now for talking disasters.
If anyone from the Reef is going to a conference where I'll be speaking, let me know. (Drop me an email)  You can hang out with me at the conference till you get your sea legs. I know what it's like to feel like the new kid (I went to six different schools in six years from 4th-9th grade.)

Here's where I'll be:

And although I am twice as terrifying in real life as I am on this blog, you won't actually have to talk or anything. You can just hang out and show me photos of your dog/cat/apple orchard.

Colin Smith said:
Elise: You don't want to meet me. A couple of Reiders have, but Janet was there to rescue them from boredom. :)
Yea, Colin was so boring we wrote synopses for comic relief.

Yea, Colin was so boring we brought in a mime to ratchet up the conversation.

Yea, Colin was so boring we considered a writing contest about how boring he was…until we realized no one wanted to read the entries.

Yea, Colin was so boring we told him the next Bouchercon was in New Orleans France.

Yea, Colin was so boring, the table planks inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

Yea, Colin was so boring, he got a 5 star rating from the drill press review at Consumer Reports.

Yea, Colin was so boring, actuarial tables had to be revised.

Yea, Colin was so boring, we called the police to report he was missing when he was actually sitting at the table.

Speaking of conferences, Monday's topic was pitching editors at a writing conference.
I think it can get writers into trouble later when they have an agent.

Lisa Bodenheim asked:
And what if that editor comes back with an, "and when you get an agent, have them send it to me." Is it appropriate for Opie to respond or simply to forward that info to the agent when s/he lands one?
You say: "I'll pass that info along, thank you very much for your interest." And you do pass it along. While the editor may not be the best choice at the publisher, it's good to know who's interested.

Dena Pawling asked:
Does a rejection from one editor at a house, mean a rejection from all editors at that house?
Generally if you've sent it to an editor at WheelbarrowsOCash, you can't send it to another editor there. Yes, there are exceptions but you won't know what they are.
If that editor declines the book, can you submit to the "right" editor after?

Or is the danger here, that the editor who first has the submission actually offers on it, but you would have rather the offer come from someone else at that house?
The danger is the editor passes, not that they offer.

AJ Blythe asked:
As y'all know I'm in Oz. There are very limited opportunities conference wise (for writers). I go to the same one every year, and this year is no different. I've registered to pitch to a senior editor and an agent, both from the US (the conference usually has at least one agent and one editor from the US attend, in addition to the locals).

1. On the basis I want an agent, should I make it clear to the editor from the get-go I am wanting an agent? I was planning on having my query letter with me, so rather than discuss with a view to a request, am I better off using the pitch time to get their feel for market/interest?
Use the time to gather information. The editors that I know who've done this conference all work for places that only take agented submissions anyway. Pitching is pointless. Getting the scoop on what the editor is looking for is useful.

2. The agent in question doesn't personally represent my genre, but the agency itself does. I was wondering whether it would be rude to take my query letter to get their opinion of it (while secretly hoping maybe they'd offer a personal referral to another agent at the agency)?
Getting help on a query is a good idea, if the agent is up for it. Ask her. And if she says "wow, this is great, you should query AgentFabulous" so much the better.

Lennon Faris asked:
OK, sort of (mostly?) off topic - and hope I'm not risking Carkoon - I think a list of conferences and what their 'gist' is would be so helpful to someone on the outside. Janet, I think you mentioned once that Boucheron was more of a fun conference rather than a help to authors with their manuscripts (or I might be making that up). I've heard some comments here saying this or that conference was great for the panels, or the query workshop, etc. I'm thinking of going to *some* conference or workshop but it is a little overwhelming with how many types there are, and how different the prices are.
Bouchercon is a fan convention (a "con") NOT a writing conference. ThrillerFest has a craft component that is akin to a writing conference, but is largely a fan con the other days. Other cons: Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee.  There are others that I'm sure the comment column will reveal.

A writers conference focuses on craft: Writers Digest is a writing conference. So is Surrey. So is CrimeBake.

Then there are the conventions like Romance Writers of America. They are sort of a hybrid, but you need to be a member to attend.

If you want to figure out if an event is a convention or a conference look at the line up of panels. If its largely authors, it's a convention. If it's mostly agents and editors, it's a writing conference.  

Another good way to distinguish: look on the registration form. If you're asked "what you are" (as in reader, writer, librarian, fan etc.) it's a convention. Writers conferences assume you're a writer if you're planning to attend.

Rose Black said:
So, read more, write better, and suck up the fact that not everyone will love your story no matter how good it is. Would that be a fair summary?


Craig said:
I know I played the fool the first time I halfheartedly queried. I am sure that some will hold that against me but I hope to get a query good enough that even those who pass will know remorse from it.
No one will hold it against you. No one will remember. Unless you are nuts enough to remind me of a bad query, it's all water under the bridge about 30 seconds after I hit reply.

I don't have enough time to keep some sort of black list for well-intentioned but idiotic or lame queries. My black list is limited to people who have actively disparaged me or my clients. A bad query isn't insulting. It's just a bad query. I see those all the time.

Regarding the larger story needed in memoir Janice L. Grinyer said:
 I wrote the initial chapters of my fire memoir with factual evidence on what a person can do when a wildfire threatens, intertwining our story in the process. Not only have I had training, but I have colleagues in the field, respected for their knowledge. Though that could be why we survived...Here I was fretting that you shouldn't do that unless you had a Ph.d. I was wrong, but right. Don't worry; that last sentence was for me.

I've been reading (we all have!) your comments about the fire and I think it could actually be a very compelling memoir. It's not just about fire though. It's about what happens when devastation (in a variety of forms) looms.

Every single person can resonate with a memoir that talks about how to prepare for, and survive something that is out of your control and changes your life forever. Fire would certainly be one thing. Hurricanes, the levees of New Orleans failing, a spouse suddenly arrested and jailed for terrible crimes you had no idea about.

When you dig deep and answer the question "how would this apply to other situations" you'll get the larger story.

Lennon Faris asked:
It's interesting that three out of 25 had no plot. What were the queries about? Just events with no direction?
Events with nothing at stake. Plot requires a choice. If Our Hero chooses to Save The Day, he must sacrifice Something. Also described as skin in the game.

Lennon Faris also asked:
#20 confused me. "textbook illustration of what not to do, including answer the question "what is the story about"" - meaning, the query did not answer that question? Or they answered it in a textbook illustration bad way?

I should have said "what not to do, including FAIL to answer the question" because the query not only did not answer the question of what the story is about, it also made every other basic mistake you can think of. I didn't make a list because I did not want the query to be readily identified by the writer (although why I think that writer reads this blog I do not know.)

Lennon Farris went for the hat trick:
#22 Surprised me. I knew you would read queries for genres you don't represent, but I didn't know you encourage that. Strangely I would feel inexplicably nervous querying the QOTKU! Oh wait, not so strange. This agent has rows and rows of teeth!
You guyz get your categories and genres wrong so often I'd rather encourage you to send things you don't think I want, rather than miss a good thriller that you think is YA Western haiku.  It doesn't take me long to read a query and I don't view it as a waste of time to read things that may not be for me.

kdjames said:
I have to admit to feeling torn about #22. I don't doubt that you mean it, Janet, and this isn't the first time you've said it. But it would just feel so horribly gauche, like I hadn't researched an agent's genre preferences, or maybe had a severe deficit in reading comprehension. Ah, well. As my daughter recently said to me, "What have you got to lose?" I replied, "Other than fear? Not a damn thing."
Listen to your kid. She is clearly brilliant.

and kdjames said further:
Colin, I know, I know I've heard the admonishments not to assume an agent won't like something and not to self-reject. It's hard not to imagine an agent reading a query and thinking, WTF. Was I not clear? What part of *I don't rep this* did they not understand? Why would I want to work with someone so clueless? Actually, I've seen more than one agent say this on twitter.

I really like the phrase self-reject.

And let's not overlook the fact that agents who mock writers on Twitter are idiots. You may quote me. In fact, PLEASE quote me. The sooner agents quit acting like they're the frosting on the cake of publishing (rather than the baking soda in the cake) the better off we'll all be.

John Davis (Manuscript) Frain said:
Janet, looked like between the lines you were kinda asking if we'd like to see a post like this again. You had to look really hard between the lines, but it was there. Anyway, I vote YES.
It would probably be just a repeat of this post.  This was a pretty average day in the query trenches. But I hear you.

Mythical one eyed peace officer said:
#1 and #24 generate the same question so far as memoir...."why would anybody want to read this?" I get that but wonder how one would query something like the Chicken Soup books. These have obviously been quite successful commercially. I've never read one, just thumbed through at the bookstore and while after the first one I guess a readership was established I wonder how one would have queried the first one. (I think the first Chicken Soup was self published, no?)

A collection of memoir essays. The Chicken Soup series includes multiple authors in a volume but is that a significant difference? I would guess people buy them because they are just enjoyable to read for some people. So the answer to the question, "why would anybody...." perhaps is - because it is fun or enjoyable or interesting to read.

Oh the Chicken Soup books. Dear old Jack Canfield, I adore him. The first Chicken Soup book was NOT self-published. Jack tells the story of campaigning through BEA back in whatever year looking for a publisher. He found one in HCI which was just about to shutter the doors and turn in the keys.  The book of course as you know took off.

BUT the reason the series went nuts was this: the publisher said to the authors "hey, we've got some blank pages at the end. Do you want to include anything else?" And the heavens opened and the angelic voices said "include a page asking people to send their stories of hope etc."
And they did. And people did. And thus was a franchise born.

You can't query something like Chicken Soup. It's not a memoir. It's not even a collection of essays. It's more like a collection of anecdotes. A compilation. Like a joke book. The reason it got published was HCI had literally nothing to lose in doing so. And it paid off.

Linda Strader asked:
I see many references to memoirs in your post, Janet, but the last time I checked, those aren't on your wish list...correct?
I'll look at anything. Memoir is narrative non-fiction, and I do rep that.

On Wednesday I indulged in some snarling about people asking me for info that is easily found in a google search:

E.M.Goldsmith said:
But, your Majesty, you know everything and sometimes the Internet spews out poppycock. I can understand the tweeter, at risk of being dumped into Carkoon's Oblivion Cell, thinking they have stumbled upon a mythical Oracle. It is going to happen.

Boy howdy do I know it. I was researching books on how to write query letters, and honest to god, some of the information was so bad I wanted to post a review on Amazon that said something like "this is utter balderdash!"

The difference with finding poppycock on the internet and asking me to do your research is of course that you actually tried first and are confused by the results. I'm always happy to weigh in on those questions. But you gotta at least try first.

Peggy Larkin has provided me with my favorite new toy:
Oh man, what a perfect opportunity for my favorite passive-aggressive/snarky website, Let Me Google That For You!

Example: Let me google this for you
Julie Weathers said:
I don't like asking agents publishing questions on social media aside from blogs like this.
The exception is in invitation windows. For instance, The Bent Agency does an #Askagent thing from time to time. I'm convinced someone in the office knocked over a sacred statue in the Holy Order of Agent Temple and they are doomed to answer the same questions from would be authors for all eternity.

What's the word count for X?

Do you accept manuscripts that aren't finished?

What if I'm self published, but the sales aren't so good. Will you be my agent?

What do you think the next hot thing will be?

Are vampires out?

Why do I have to write a query letter? Can I just send sample pages?

Do I have to send the first five pages? They are kind of boring.

What can you do for me?

You rat B@stahd agents are all the same. You're just in it to crush dreams and kill all hope of ever getting published. I just wanted you to know how I feel.

I love those last two.
Here are my answers: nothing, and you're right.
It's kind of awesome to see the questioner's face when they've asked those kinds of questions in person at a conference panel Q&A.

DLM has provided my new answer to questions like this:
Being a secretary for 30 years now, I've fielded some extraordinarily stupid questions in my day. Usually, I just feel like they're a nice opportunity to talk with my team or someone who thinks I know more than they do. At TIMES, I may passive-aggressively ask them "Oh, you couldn't find anything when you looked in Help/Google/the manual?" - but that is only for people who annoy me. Most often, I'll just find or give the ready answer, and enjoy the sense that people are under the impression I'm a Knower of Things. It's not the worst feeling, people turning to you.

Since everyone annoys me (except my blog readers) (oh wait, and my clients too) I'm using that answer for everyone.

Except maybe not this girl, as told by Heidi the Duchess of Kneale:
My library story:

A teenage girl doing research asked me to help her find books on a subject. She had the physical Dewey subject catalogue in her hands, but wasn't sure how to make it work. She earned one point for attempting to do her own research.

Unfortunately, one point was all she earned.

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

She pointed to an entry in the catalogue: "The Great Depression". Not a problem. I'm good at history. I ask her refining questions: Any particular aspect of the Great Depression?"

She didn't know. "Social impact? Financial impact? Cultural impact?" She had no clue. Just gave me this vague look of bafflement. All my questions couldn't get a clue out of her. "I don't know." Was the best answer I could get out of her.

In frustration she abandoned me because I was asking her too many hard questions.

Two days later she shuffles up to the Check-Out desk with a stack of books on Depression in Teenagers, Clinical Depression, etc.

She was talking the Black Dog, not Black Tuesday. But what made her situation pathetic is that she didn't know how to explain herself, nor did she know how answer my questions with, "I don't think that's what I'm looking for."

Sometimes people want to know something, but they don't know what it is they want to know. No research librarian can help you if you don't know what it is you're looking for.

Kitty said:
Tinkering has turned out to be the important phase for me. When I keep going back to a word or a phrase, something that seems fine and yet it pesters me like a gnat at bedtime, then I know I've overlooked something. Sometimes the something is nothing and sometimes it isn't.

Colin Smith asked:
Here's what I'm curious to know. There are writers out there (not me) who only ever produce one draft because they edit as they go. I've heard them say that their writing day begins with looking over the previous day's work to correct mistakes, and craft it into good prose. They then begin the new stuff. My question: Do they not re-read the entire manuscript when it's done? Do they type "The End", do some work on the section they just wrote, and then send it to their agent/editor? I know I couldn't do that. I'd want one last read through to be sure everything is in place.

My first English lit prof once said Anthony Trollope wrote like that. Straight through, no revisions. When he wrote "The End" on a novel, he then pulled out a fresh blank page and started the next novel. At the time I was not sophisticated enough to ask whether this was literal truth, or a comment on the quality of Trollope but the image has stayed with me, lo these many years.

As to how other people do it: there is no one right way. There's only the way that works for you. The reason I share these things is not to say "This is the Right Way." It's to say "if you're looking for tactics, here's what I do. Try it. If it works, terrific. If it doesn't, keep looking for others."

Colin Smith also asked:
Here's something else I'm curious to know: how many published writers continue to use Beta Readers? Or once they have a few books under their belt, do writers feel like their agent/editor team is sufficient? I have heard more than one bestselling author say that the only other person who sees their manuscript before it goes to their agent or editor is their spouse. And sometimes not even their spouse!

I ask my writers to not send their work through a critique group if at all possible. Some clients don't anymore. Some still do. My preference is that I read it, and their editor read it, and the client not get bogged down by advice from a writing group. 

Kate Larkindale said
As someone coming to the end of a rather arduous revision, this post couldn't come at a better time! And to answer a question, even though I have an agent who made suggestions for the direction of the revision, I still have beta readers and crit partners I trust and I wouldn't send the MS back to my agent without a thumbs up from them… I'm still waiting to get to that point.

On Friday we talked about sales figures some more.

Donnaeve said:
"It's worse with digital publishing because I used to be able to say "he sold all the books they printed" but with ebooks, there is no limit to the number available for sale."

What if, for instance, an author is paid an advance, and depending on the price point of the ebook, they sell enough to pay it back...that would be good, right? Couldn't you say they sold enough to pay back their advance?
The term you want here is "earned out" not paid back. Don't EVER think of an advance as something you have to pay back. 

And no, I never use the phrase "he earned out his advance" because the terms of that earlier publishing contract are confidential. The writer could share the info. I cannot.

And earning out an advance isn't a reliable indicator of sales. Some very very very big name authors never earn out. Essentially they're being paid a higher royalty rate. The publisher would no more drop them for not earning out than they would shoot themselves in the foot.

Want to see the math to get a better picture?
Author Lightning Strike is paid an advance of ten million dollars for her novel Girl on the Carkoon Kale Express.

Author's royalties are 10% of jacket price: 10% x 25.99, or $2.59/book.
To earn out she'll need to sell close to 4 million books.
$2.59 x (number of books) = $10,000,000
[If the numbers seem too big to multiply think: $2.50 x 4 = $10]
If she only sells 3 million books, she doesn't earn out.
On the other hand, she's #1 on the NYT list for 66 weeks.
Essentially, the publisher is simply paying her MORE money than $2.59 a book.
They're paying her $3.33/book
3,000,000 x $3.33 = $10,000,000

Joseph Snoe said:
Is there a way trade off something (like a smaller advance) with a publisher in return for a two or three book guarantee even if the first book does not generate decent sales?
There are no guarantees. A first time novelist with a three book contract has to sell well enough that the publisher wants to publish books 2 and 3. It's not a given they will.

BUT if you're just starting to query, or you're still revising your first novel, don't even think about this stuff. This is like worrying your unborn baby won't save enough money for his retirement. Get through labor and delivery, then worry about teething. Leave off worrying about anything except what you have to do next.

On Saturday we talked about agents-as-publishers.

Jenny C said:
From what I can tell of the agent business, agents are already overwhelmingly busy. Answering queries. Reading fulls. Attending conferences. Collecting and distributing royalties. Having lunch with editors. Writing submission letters. Writing edit letters to their clients. Plus family life and pets and loaner cats all demand time. And I'm sure there's a bunch of other stuff I don't even know about.
In addition to those things, just this week I:
1. met a client in the office for some scheming, conniving, planning and plotting.
2. went with a client to a radio interview, followed by a bookstore event
3. juggled two offers on a book
4. worked on redrafting a pitch letter
5. followed up on outstanding submissions
6. updated clients on submission
7. plotted and schemed on submission next step for book that is getting no love.
8. followed up on film interest for clients
9. tracked down unpaid money for an author
10. Audited royalty statements ←HUGE HUGE HUGE part of the job

This is GREAT advice from Jenny C:
" if you're published by a small press prepare to become a salesperson for your book."
And this is where your local Indie bookseller can help. The one you shop at regularly. The one where the booksellers know your name. The one where you buy gift cards for your kid's teachers. The one whose events you attend to meet other authors to support their books.

Booksellers love to sell books! And they really love to sell their friend's books.

Dena Pawling said:
I get most of my books at my library. When I see people here on this blog, and elsewhere, raving about a book, I check for it at my library. If it's not there, I request it. So far my library has purchased two books I've requested.
This is VERY helpful for authors. Librarians take note of circulation. If lots of library users request Donnaeve's novel, and it circulates well, that will help her now, and on Book #2.
Any kind of support for a writer is good and valuable. Don't ever feel that reading books from the library is somehow less than buying books. For starters, you can read more authors. And for finishers, library sales are non-returnable. Authors LOVE library sales.

Since many of the comment trails go off topic (something I treasure!) here's a recap of things that really didn't fit other places in the WIR:

There's a new picture of our friend Gossamer!

This from DeadSpiderEye and Colin Smith just cracked me up.

Was I the only one who read "bog roll" as blog roll at first? And then thought that toilet paper was a new phrase for blog roll? When I tell you I'm self-centered, I'm really NOT kidding!

Speaking of Brit translation services, here are some of the lovely new insults I learned on Twitter after The ShihTzuHairDo said #Brexit would bring more money in to his golf course in Scotland.
#4 is my favorite.

susan said
A little off-topic, but has anyone seen the BadLiteraryAgent account on Twitter? I just discovered it yesterday and can't figure out if it's really an agent or an author. Some of the advice is good and similar to what's being said here on the blog (though you have to dig through the snark). I'm not sure how I feel about it.

I checked out @BadLitAgent (Twitter bio: Gatekeeper to the publishing industry. Regretfully, due to the volume of queries I receive, I can't respond to any.") and found it HILARIOUS! Your mileage may vary of course.

Julie Weathers:
I loved my pony Bimbo, but he was never going to win the Preakness no matter how many times we raced down that dirt road.

this falls into the so weird it has to be true category: my first horse was named Bimbo.

A new category for the Week in Review: things we need to know more about
My father was an auction addict. He probably saved my life via an auction, but that's a story for another time.--Julie Weathers
the rattlesnake I found wrapped up around an apple tree yesterday--Janice L. Grinyer
reasons Colin is boring--Colin Smith

And for those of you not on Facebook, the Loaner Cat returns!

Loaner Cat: I'd like to negotiate a raise in pay.

Me: I'm not paying you anything right now.

LC: Sad but true. However, I've added to my duties.

Me: Really? What else are you doing besides providing petting, purring, and palling around?

LC: Housekeeping. I've dusted for you.

Me: (putting on glasses) holy Charlotte's web, you're covered in dust and spider webs!

LC: Miss Tidypaws you are not.

Me: You're not the first cat to notice that. Where have you been?

LC: behind the books on the bookshelves.

Me: looking for something to read?

LC: looking for something to eat.

Me: There's kibble right here in your nice freshly washed dish.

LC: I like to stalk and kill my food.

Me: You're stalking that can of tuna right?

LC: Now, kill it with the can opener please.

Loaner Cat

Subheader nominations:
-do the research
-be interesting
-write better

Simple. But not easy.--Beth

Don't worry if there are exceptions to the rule. Assume you won't be an exception and keep working.--John Davis Frain

Have a lovely week.


Lennon Faris said...

Thanks for answering all my questions, Janet - particularly about the conferences. Great WIR.

Um, how DOES one save someone with an auction?

And I loved the giggling cat after the Colin jokes :)

Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Mark Ellis said...

Colin is so boring--and relentless--that one day when he was monopolizing the comments, I actually returned to the jobsite for an antidote: watching paint dry.

stacy said...

Janet, where do you find such perfect animal pics? Thanks for the laugh.

Kitty said...

Subheader choice: Simple. But not easy.--Beth

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I don't believe Colin is boring. He makes me laugh. And once I am done with him, no one will ever call him boring again. And when I write about it, I will have a book in the suspense thriller Dino-porn arena, and maybe I could query The Majestic Shark herself...

Sorry, I am inflicted with delusions of grandeur on occasion.

Great WIR. Learned a lot. Wrote lots. Now I have to return to the real world. I miss the beach already.

John Davis Frain said...

This was like a double platinum live album -- the hits just kept on coming. And a couple never-before-released gems at the end. I don't know if it's a sign of my memory (lack thereof) or the good humor on this blog, but even when I read a classic one-liner in the Sunday WiR, I laugh again despite having laughed at it only a few days earlier.

Colin's British translation service was hilarious. I mean, boring, yes of course, that's to be expected, but hilariously so.

And I'm staying tuned to hear the outcome of how Julie's father saved her through an auction...

But first, I have make a guess ... So Julie at a young age was saddled (intentional, thank you) with the nickname Goldie. Alas, so was a prized filly from the Rocking Blarney Ranch. When Goldie was sold at auction to the villainous Younger cousins, Julie heard the announcement and thought she had been sold. Her life was in peril, she tried escaping on her fleet pony, Bimbo, only to be caught outside the auction house by her father who "bought" her back from the Younger cousins and saved her life.

I think I'm once again going to be WRONG on this blog, but I'll keep plugging away for the Perseverance Award.

CynthiaMc said...

Last day of the show. Started writing again yesterday morning. To my great surprise my blog post was about Pulse.

The sun is out, we have a cast party after the show, and I'm listening to Rick Bragg's My Southern Journey on audio book (mostly because so many people have asked me if we're related because we sound alike.) Can't believe I never read him before. The first thing I listened to was about Fairhope Roses (my home town). Made me cry. Made me homesick. Made me think I have totally been writing the wrong stuff all these years.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks again, Janet - great WiR!

I like John's subheader choice.

While I'll often smile at Janet's animal pics, the one of the cat laughing at Janet's jokes about Colin's boringness actually made me laugh out loud. Perfect!

And I can just see the face of someone who's just said how nasty agents are being told - by an agent - that they're right. I bow to the QOTKU!

I don't think I'd stop working with a critique group if I got published, but I might not put as much of my novels through the group. Possibly more short stories than novels, or a scene I'm having specific problems with. Both groups I'm in have wonderful people with great insight. In my groups, I have experts on science, justice, horses, certain cultures, certain religions, certain histories, and so much more - I learn things from them I couldn't learn doing regular research. As well, I really enjoy helping others as much as I can.

Theresa said...

My vote goes to Beth.

It was nice to get caught up. Thanks for the WIR, Janet.

Celia Reaves said...

Another awesome WIR, Janet. I can see it now: all those "Your momma's so fat" jokes will forever be replaced with "Colin was so boring" jokes. And we can say we were there when it all began!

More seriously - I love that Janet actually times her work process and shares the results with us. While we complain about the NORMANs, she knocks them down with MATH! It's no wonder she is our Queen.

Adib Khorram said...

I am so grateful for the Week in Review. Work has kept me so busy I've barely gotten to read the main post, and forget about the comments.

Happy Shark Week, everyone!

Kae Ridwyn said...

What Celia said. Thank you, Janet! :D

Brigid said...

This was a delight. The past few weeks I've felt like I've run out of interesting things to contribute (don't worry; my mojo and my ego both ebb and flow), but I read daily, and I'm just so grateful this blog exists.

Thanks, Janet. And thanks to the commentariat. Glad to know you.

Dena Pawling said...

Thanks for answering my questions! But many times the answers bring up new questions:

>>A first time novelist with a three book contract has to sell well enough that the publisher wants to publish books 2 and 3. It's not a given they will.

Because quite a bit of my law practice involves interpreting contracts [leases], I'm curious how this type of contract is worded. If it's a three book contract, but books two and/or three end up not published, how does the publisher get out of the contract? Does it buy out the author? Are books two and three optioned only?

>>Librarians take note of circulation. If lots of library users request Donnaeve's novel, and it circulates well, that will help her now, and on Book #2.

How do publishers and other industry folks know about circulation? Do libraries report those numbers anywhere?

>>Any kind of support for a writer is good and valuable. Don't ever feel that reading books from the library is somehow less than buying books. For starters, you can read more authors. And for finishers, library sales are non-returnable. Authors LOVE library sales.

This is interesting. I thought a sale of a single book to a library wasn't as good as a sale to an individual, because both mean a single payment to the author, but more people would be reading the library book. Is there any other benefit besides availability / publicity / name recognition?

And on the week's big news, because inquiring minds want to know - Was Colin's boringness the cause of Brexit?

S.P. Bowers said...

There's so many things to comment on in the WIR but by the time I'm done reading I've forgotten most of them. Maybe it's for the best. The important things stick. Read more, write better. I should probably get back to that book I'm ignoring.

S.P. Bowers said...

Which is not to say it's not all important, because it is. I learn so much, but apparently I haven't learned not to put my foot in my mouth. Eep. See you all in Carkoon soon.

Andrea said...

Wow, I made the WIR two weeks in a row! I must go and celebrate, especially since there hasn't been much to celebrate the past few days. My other half is British and he's so disgusted and desillusioned with his own country that he wants to change citizenship...

Julie Weathers said...

I'll return to comment more fully later. I'm taking a short break from dressing for a military ball and don't want to keep the crinoline in the air too long.

Miss Janet's blog really is one of the most useful and entertaining writer sites around, as you all know. A friend sent me a link to an animal video that segued into this Greatest Dad Wins video. It kind of reminds me of Janet. It seems like she is always pulling us out of those little disasters.

Many thanks.

We'll discuss the auction save later.

Panda in Chief said...

I'm a major fan of libraries and have been since I was a kid. But it does remind me, that even when I buy a book, I should order it from the library too, in hopes they will buy it. Brilliant idea.

Thanks for reprising all the insults the Scots heaped on #CheetoJesus. To that I would add the suggestions of one of my English twitter friends: Fuckwitt and Shitweasel.

Thanks for a great week in review! The hits keep on coming.

Joseph Snoe said...

On Conferences, if I can get “Obrigada Pumpkin” finally revised I hope to attend Thrillerfest in 2017.

I want to put a plug in for the Southern Voices Festival in Hoover, Alabama, (Birmingham) held in February. You won’t meet agents or editors but you’ll hear and can meet 8 or 9 interesting published authors. Friday night is keynote speaker night. Saturday 8 or so authors take the stages (there are two stages).

You can sample some presentations here (be sure to try Lisa See) Southern Voices said...

Between John Davis (Manuscript) Frain's new nickname and the "Colin is so boring.." jokes and the Scottish insults, I'm laughing too hard to say anything even slightly pertinent.

Julie, you do know how to keep us on the edge of our seats. Not sure which I want to hear about first, the auction or the military ball.

Dena, re your last question, publishers don't sell to readers, they fill orders from bookstores. If those books don't sell they get returned to the publisher and are deducted from money owed to writer (they set aside/withhold an amount called "reserves against returns" or some such phrase). Whereas a sale to a library is a sale, no returns involved, no uncertainty.

I like John's subheader, especially the "keep working" part.

Thanks for another great recap and clarification, Janet. Also, yes, ma'am. :)

Joseph Snoe said...

My anecdote on not understanding questions: When I was leaving church, a slender black man came up to me (right where a woman begged money from me a few weeks earlier). He had a strong Nigerian or Cameroon accent. I was listening for a request for money. But he didn’t want money. He sought relief. I asked him two or three times. He wanted relief. I told him where the nearby park was, thinking he needed exercise. No. I told him to talk to the priest, thinking he needed advice or confession. No. He started to walk away. But I’m been a teacher and a lawyer and, by golly, I’m supposed to be good at figuring out what people really are asking. I badgered him with questions.

He was new to the U.S. – He wanted to relieve himself - He wanted a restroom. I walked him to a church restroom and he was happy.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Ahhhh. My tummy is full from jamabalaya. The breeze is blowing (and it's not stinkin-humid), and I've received chuckles and inspiration through the WiR.

One question though. All of your tasks that you did last week, you mentioned #7 plotted and schemed on submission next step for a book that is getting no love. Is this a book that you and client are seeking a publisher yet?

Thank you, Oh QOTKU. And I'm looking forward to more Tails of Adventures. With Loaner Cat this time.

Beth said...

Can’t decide which was more entertaining, Loaner Cat’s wage negotiation, or the phrase “mangled apricot helllbeast”. And I’m dying to know the story behind RESCUE AT THE AUCTION. It sounds a little like a Nancy Drew mystery, doesn’t it?

xinraina said...

Wait, is Gossamer yours too? How many cats do you have, Janet?

Julie Weathers said...

I'm pretty sure I've already told the story about the auction books.

BunnyBear said...

Does QueryManager allow you to create a thread for requests, or are you back to using email to keep track of those?

Also, I'm glad to see the return of Loaner Cat. Apparently I have the wrong friends.

Craig said...

Thank you my Queen for this WIR.

I remember seeing a picture from the Thrillerfest. Our very own MS Donnaeve was in it. It stuck me as odd because there was a bottle of Newcastle's Brown Ale (half of a bottle in actuality) that seemed to be hanging in the air.]

Could Colin be as boring as vampires and not show up in pictures, ot was that mirrors?

Colin Smith said...

Sorry, I would have commented earlier, but I got as far as, "Colin Smith said: Elise..." and I fell right to sleep. Don't know what came over me.

And I think that cat is yawning. I would be. :)

Thanks for answering my qs again, Janet, and for another great round-up of the week.

Colin Smith said...

This just caught my eye:

A new category for the Week in Review: things we need to know more about:... reasons Colin is boring--Colin Smith.

Sorry, but there is no answer to that. If there were reasons why I am boring, that would actually make me interesting. Indeed, even the hint that there might be some story behind my boringtude creates interest. In fact this about sums me up:

"Yea, Colin was so boring, we called the police to report he was missing when he was actually sitting at the table." :)

Joseph Snoe said...

It seems contrary to everything I've read, but I love this sentence: "I ask my writers to not send their work through a critique group if at all possible."

A good critique group is worth a goldmine. A bad group can be disaster. It's easier to find bad groups than good ones.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

It's been hard to calm down enough to read the WiR but I'm glad I did. Like S.P. says there is so much to comment over and I've forgotted most of it.

I loved thos Scottish insults to Trump when I read them on twitter.

I love Heidi's adolescent story. Maybe the child should have read about the great depression, it could have taken her mind off of her troubles and what serendipity made her come up with that book.

Friday when the #Brexit results were announced we were at lunch in an embassy in Paris. The ambassador asked us lay people what we thought about it. That was grand of her. But she, like all the others in her realm, is grappling for understanding.

So to illustrate what we need more explaining over here is my 2 cents. I read this morning in an article in The Guardian where people in a Northern England port town were interviewed after the fact. (I can't find the article as I read it on my phone.) One lady who voted to leave said, "We should have never been allowed to make this decision." She regrets.

Brexit illustrates the implosion of democracy. It's sad to say but that is what I think. David Cameron should have never quit playing with his legos.

Dena, I recently tried to request a book for the Parisian Libraries. They declined my request because they couldn't connect with the publisher.

I wonder how Brexit will affect Independent book stores in the EU continent. Do they currently purchase English titles through UK distributors?

Kae Bell said...

Speaking of cats and libraries, did you hear about the little Texas town council that has voted to kick its resident library cat out of the stacks. All due to animal rivalries it seems. Story here.

Susan Bonifant said...

I look forward to these WIR highlights. Day to day, it's easy to miss some comments after everyone gets rolling.

I missed Heidi the Duchess of Kneale's story of the teenager in the library.

It's made me think bigger about the role of a research librarian, and I suspect HD of K probably did way more to help that girl than she thinks.

Teenagers are not known for facing, much less articulating their distress to a stranger.I know it's your job HD of K, but there's something kind and approachable about you too, and this world needs a whole lot more of that.

Julie Weathers said...

Joseph, I agree. A good critique group is solid gold.

Andrea said...

Angie - "I wonder how Brexit will affect Independent book stores in the EU continent. Do they currently purchase English titles through UK distributors?"

I'm not sure what it's like now, but when I worked for an independent bookstore in The Netherlands (let's see... ehm... *cough* about 15 years ago now...)
we ordered English books from a Dutch distributor/importer. That always added to the price, of course, plus there are set book prices in the Netherlands from which no bookseller may generally deviate, but I'm not sure if that goes for foreign books as well.
I live in Spain now, and I've noticed that non-Spanish books are also more expensive here than they would be in their country of origin, so I imagine there's a similar construction with importers/distributors here. I generally use The Book Depository these days to buy my books, but I'm wondering if I'll be condemned to Amazon Spain after Brexit has been finalised.

Andrea said...

Forgot to say though... most independent book stores in the rest of the EU don't rely on the sales of English titles (with English I mean written in English). I'll be lucky to find any English books in a Spanish bookstore. Most Dutch bookstores will have some English books, but the majority of their books are in Dutch. I'm almost certain the same goes for most European countries, probably with Ireland as the exception.

BJ Muntain said...

The Duchess's link: Texas City Council votes to evict Library's cat

I don't know if there are many folks in Britain, or which way they voted, but I hope I'm not offending anyone if I say: The only reason the Brexit vote came out the way it did was that people were so sure it was going the other way that they didn't vote.

I saw some stats that basically said: While younger people tended to vote Remain, and more older people voted Leave, what actually happened was that there were a higher percentage of older people who voted and a lower percentage of younger people. In other words, the older people showed up. The younger people were so sure they were going to win, that they didn't vote. And many folks who voted to leave (not a majority, I'm sure, but many) did so as a protest vote. They never actually expected the vote to go that way. Leave won by 2%. 2%!!

Moral of the story: VOTE, damn it. VOTE as though your side depends on it. Because it very well might.

Always remember that the underdog will fight harder. That means that the side less likely to win will be the side that shows up to vote. And sometimes the underdog wins.

BJ Muntain said...

And 'by many folks in Britain', I meant to add, 'here', as in, on the blog. I didn't mean to imply that Britain was a wasteland with few people. That's Canada.

AJ Blythe said...

Another fabulous WiR. Thanks for the summary, Miss Janet (I had missed some of those comments) and for answering my questions. I'm now totally prepared to 'pitch' solely as a fact finding mission, query letter in hand. I have 50 days to angst over that letter.

Rachel Neumeier said...

Colin Smith also asked:

Here's something else I'm curious to know: how many published writers continue to use Beta Readers? Or once they have a few books under their belt, do writers feel like their agent/editor team is sufficient? I have heard more than one bestselling author say that the only other person who sees their manuscript before it goes to their agent or editor is their spouse. And sometimes not even their spouse!

I've never participated in a writer's group. But my very analytical brother was always my first reader until I had an agent. Now, if I'm working under a tight deadline, I send my manuscripts only to my agent. If I do not have a tight deadline, I still like to ask my brother to read them, too. He will certainly read my current WIP manuscript because's he's particularly interested in this one.

My agent reads mainly for pacing and plot. My brother is good at stabbing a knife through sections that don't make sense. I've also asked another of my agent's clients, a MG/YA author, to read a manuscript once or twice. She's particularly good at characterization.

Oh, I should add, my tenth book will be hitting the shelves in the fall, and my 11th and 12th will come out next year. And although my agent and editors are by far the most important readers, as you see I still do ask others to beta-read for me sometimes as well.

Readsalot said...

Some awesome insight, Thank you, Your Sharklyness.
Can you expand on this:
"You can't query something like Chicken Soup. It's not a memoir. It's not even a collection of essays. It's more like a collection of anecdotes. A compilation. "
Why not? Because there are mulitiple authors? Are anthologies not queryable? What if they have a strong connecting theme, and a road map/ editorial comments by the submitting author?

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Thank you so much, JR for your input, advice, and an invitation to all of us woodland creatures! I so wish I could arrange to meet you at those Writers Conferences, and see firsthand what it is all about. Once again your generosity on this blog (slyly slipped between Shark gnashing teeth!) overwhelms the tiny writer within me.

One day I hope (working on it!) to grow up to be a big writer :D. And I hope to meet you and thank you in person for the lessons you have taught all of us here. It probably also deserves more than one bought drink. I might have to hand you some stock in Kentucky Bourbon or something...