Saturday, January 13, 2018

So, I really do write dino porn


As a long time lurker around your blog, I've picked up the impression that self-publishing is generally a good way to shoot myself in the foot if I plan to seek an agent for any later works unless I sell an absurd volume of books. However, if I happen to write a lot of dinosaur porn for fun, and decide to self-publish that under a pen name I never plan to associate with my real name, is this something I will need to disclose when querying? If so, will this negatively impact my chances with agents?


 No, you never need to breathe a word.
Just cash the checks and laugh all the way to the bar.

You'd be amazed how many writers have dino porn size secrets in their background. Just keep your lip zipped and you'll be fine.

This also applies to anything else you've written or done that you'd rather not have folks know about now. Agents are not looking to root through your dirty laundry; we're only interested in knowing things that will help or hurt our chances of selling your book.

You're not obliged to tell anyone any of this kind of thing. You're not applying for a security clearance, and what you do in your off hours is your business (obviously you don't want to be murdering people and calling it research, or knocking over liquor stores to support your writing habit.) 

The only thing you'll want to be careful about is awards for "first novels." You don't have to tell me when or what, but if you've got some books lurking away under a different name, you're probably better off stepping aside on any kind of award for first anything.


Any questions?

16 comments:

Kitty said...

You don't have to tell me when or what...

I just want to clarify... But you do want to know if this is your new client's first book, right?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So, cool. That covers the wealth of Carkoonian secret careers. Sounds legit to me.

Mister Furkles said...

If dino porn means erotica with humans, you must not write, read, or distribute child porn. That can get you in a heap of trouble with the authorities and any potential employers.

I don't know what age limit applies but it seems that high school age is legal and anything earlier may cause trouble. Books like Lolita are allowed because it isn't what modern authorities regard as porn.

Because I don't like erotica--it's boring--I have no detail knowledge.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

My dear Mister Furkles,

Dino porn is erotica with dinosaurs. I jest you not. It features titles like "Jurassic Jane Eyre" and "The Dinosaur Forced Me Gay" and "Taken by the T-Rex".

Has absolutely nothing to do with children.

Regards,

Her Grace

Colin Smith said...

I sense a subtle distinction between things Janet needs to know at the query stage, and things Janet needs to know when offering representation. At the query stage, it's all about the project, the book, and whether or not she's interested in it period. At the offer stage, she's interested in selling the book, AND in the author's career. The fact you ghost-write for Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly need not come out at the query stage. But when you turn up in a private jet to sign the agency contract, she might ask questions... ;) Seriously, though, I wonder how disconcerting it would be to Janet if, over cocktails at the Agents' Bar, someone told her the guy she just signed is Limbaugh's ghost-writer, or writes copy for the Trump campaign? An author may have secrets now, but if s/he becomes successful, secrets can be hard to keep. Surely it's in the author's best interest that their agent is well-informed ahead of time?

What do y'all think?

Bonnie Shaljean said...

I agree with Colin - once an agent is professionally contracted to represent a writer, isn't full disclosure the best policy? Surely she will keep the pen-name identity and its mischievous offspring a secret if asked to?

I would feel uncomfortable withholding from my signed agent any information about myself as regards writing.

Question, though: If Woodland Creature does confide something to Agent, making it clear that it's never to be repeated, and they later come to a parting of the ways (especially if it's an acrimonious one), does Agent remain under an obligation not to tell?

In other words, are there some secrets you SHOULD keep from her, because of this risk?

roadkills-r-us said...

If they're that secret, have a contract about the secrets. But you probably need a really good relationship, or what the agent is 110% is sure is THE NEXT BIG THING, before bringing that up.

Lennon Faris said...

Just curious, would the author still be considered 'debut'? or would that be considered a 'first novel' type of category?

I don't think I'll ever have this problem. Staying on top of one writing career is going to keep me busy enough!

Sherry Howard said...

My releases this year are picture book and chapter book series beginnings. I was told that even my YA, if it contains obscenity, and it does, might need a pen name. A problem I hope to need to deal with eventually. I will if I have to, but I really wonder if that’s true.

Steve Stubbs said...

You wrote: "The only thing you'll want to be careful about is awards for "first novels."

I assume you mean those silly contests in which someone pays $100 to enter and wins because there were no other contestants.

What if some hack sends you an MS, and to his enduring shame he won the Nobel Prize for this and the Man Booker for that, and a couple of Pulitzers. What if he keeps wishing his real first novel would just go away, but there it is, month after month, #1 on tne NYT bestseller list, thumbing its nose?

Is that a dreal baker?

Adele said...

Re: debut novels - Steve, there are prestigious contests for debut novels. In Canada the Seal First Book Award is one I can think of off the top of my head; I'm sure Janet knows many more. Winning one of these awards would be a serious uptick for your career! But when they say 'debut novel' or 'first novel' they mean exactly that - no previous publication of novel-length fiction of any kind. You don't apply for these awards; your agent does - and she does not want to be embarrassed in the industry by having to retract it (or worse still, having somebody else say "hey, wait a minute, that's not a debut novel".)

Craig F said...

I had a hard enough time fitting a narrative arc into my query with the approximately 250 words allowed. I can't see where people think they can find room for all of these other things. Just write an enticing query and worry about explaining your bad habits later.

I have serious doubts about my writing getting any of the 74 debut awards listed by Wikipedia. If it did happen I think I might quit writing because of it. It is hard enough trying to write now and later, if I get a contract. I couldn't imagine competing with myself forever.

Ashes said...

I agree with Craig.

Some people seem to be getting way ahead of themselves. A query is "hey is this a book you'd be interested in representing?"

It need not be "Hey is this a book you'd like to represent, but keep in mind I plan to write in 16 genre/category combinations, I don't ever want my face on the cover, I have been diagnosed bipolar (but I'm handling it), and I am in the process of relocating from America to Canada."

I mean, sheesh. Let's not scare our quarry away.

It might be difficult to know when to let your date know you're a divorcee with 2 kids, but I think we can all agree you don't yell it across the pub upon first eye contact.

kdjames.com said...

I agree, this probably isn't the sort of thing to put in a query -- or yell across the pub (love that visual) -- but it seems like the limit of patience between offer of representation and acceptance is pretty darn short. As slow as the trad publishing process is, that's apparently one stage where things happen fast. Definitely not enough time to email Janet and say, "Hey, so this agent-who-isn't-you offered me representation and I HAVE ALL THE QUESTIONS NOW. HALP. Oh, and could you reply in 24 hours?"

Sure, you're querying just one book. But I get the impression most agents intend to represent you the writer and are signing on to help handle your entire career. Minus the dino porn and actual murder. Apparently. The relationship goes a bit deeper than just selling a product so this interpersonal stuff matters.

I think it's totally legit to be asking these questions way before you'll need the answers. Plus, some of the answers (like today's) just crack me up and I so appreciate that someone asked it. Not sure if it was the "laugh all the way to the bar" or the "dino porn size secrets" or the suggestion writers even have "off hours," but this entire post had me snort laughing. But I'm weird. YMMV


french sojourn said...


Craig F. well said.

Julie Weathers said...

Colin
"The fact you ghost-write for Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly need not come out at the query stage. But when you turn up in a private jet to sign the agency contract, she might ask questions... ;) Seriously, though, I wonder how disconcerting it would be to Janet if, over cocktails at the Agents' Bar, someone told her the guy she just signed is Limbaugh's ghost-writer, or writes copy for the Trump campaign?"

Given the current climate in America, I think it would be to the author's best interest to keep well hidden even the fact they are remotely conservative. And frankly, it's not the agent's business how you vote or if you want to write copy for any campaign if you don't choose to advertise it.