Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Frisking your query

How much do agents research writers before making an offer? Are there other factors involved like a quick google scan? Reviewing the writer's website? Scrutinizing criminal records?
That guy outside your house in the fedora chomping a cigar? That's my undercover writer investigator. He goes through your garbage to find out what kind of breakfast cereal you eat; your preferred brand of laundry detergent; and, most important, tallies the number of empty beer cans.
(Back in the day, when one of my parents had a high visibility job in a small town, they'd take their empties to the city dump only under cover of darkness.)
Yes, I'm pulling all four of your little rodent-wheel running legs here.
While we do poke around a little, how much depends on how many (if any) red flags there are.
For sure I will click any social media links you include in your query.
I will check your website too.
If you don't have any of those things, I type your name into google. 
I'm not trying to find out if you used to be a mermaid, or if you are an alien from space, or if you  vote the straight Know-Nothing party ticket.
What I do look for is what you post on social media. Not so much the political stuff, although some of my ilk do for sure; I'm mostly looking to see if you're ranting about agents, querying and the beast that is trade publishing. 
I specifically look to see if you've published something and left it out of the query. Or if you had an agent before and left it out of the query.
And I only look when I'm interested in a project.

Any questions?


NLiu said...

When you say "rant about querying" does that mean in general ("I hate querying, I feel like I'm getting nowhere and I am losing the will to live") or being antagonistic about it ("I queried and my query was amazing and I hate everyone who rejected me")? Because quite a few people tweet things like the former. Is that a big no-no?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I get this odd picture of Jeff Somers outside perspective client residences while his cats search the garbage for his lost pants. I don't know why this blog post caused such a disturbing vision. I probably need coffee. If any serious agent researches me, they will find that mostly I need coffee. Just give me coffee with a significant three book deal on the side. That will be all.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

(Back in the day, when one of my parents had a high visibility job in a small town, they'd take their empties to the city dump only under cover of darkness.)


Katja said...

Dear Reef,

Please could you help me?

I apologise - because I haven't even got the nerve to read today's topic. I'm sobbing as I'm typing, my glasses steamed and wet with tears. I'm a TERRIBLE FOOL:

I believe I have 'signed' my book away to BookLife by Publishers Weekly. I set up an account yesterday morning and uploaded my whole book (my epub version) for review. I did not read their terms and conditions because the label/name PW (Publishers Weekly) made me think it's all real and legit.

BookLife also have a contest ($99 entry fee), and thank goodness I mentioned this last night to a Reefer-friend by email and she told me to check out WritersBeware. So I did. And then I found an extract of their Terms & Conditions - not for the contest but for the review bit.

I believe I've given them my book. I'm in tears and am trying to delete that account but I can't see how to do it.

Please, can someone look at this link:

Here is the critical bit of the T&C:

"Grant BookLife and its affiliates a royalty-free, fully-paid, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, sub-licensable and freely transferable right and license, for all formats and media, whether now known or hereafter devised or discovered, to use, reproduce, modify, edit, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works of, distribute, perform, publish and display (in each case, in whole or in part) Your Materials, including without limitation any ideas, concepts, methods, systems, designs, plans, techniques or other similar information included therein, and/or to incorporate them in other works."

"BookLife solicits authors and publishers to upload copies of their books for review and promotion. The terms of the license specified above shall not apply to such works, and authors and publishers shall retain all rights to their works except as may be expressly agreed and except for reasonable fair use rights granted to BookLife in connection with the review and promotion thereof."

I want to save my book! It took me FIVE years to get to this point. I'm devastated now.

Thank you if you can help!!!!!!!

P.S. I'm happy to give my password and username for my account if someone can go in and see how to delete my stuff.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Did you get an ISBN when you self-published? I think, if you did, you are all right. Anyhow, someone who knows more can weigh in on this.

The second part sounds like that the first part would not apply to you. However, maybe Janet can weigh in on this and what you should do. Maybe some of the Reef have experience with this kind of thing. The first part looks devastating. I know we have at least a couple of attorneys swimming about the reef that might be able to translate this and give you better advice. I am sure between us all we can sort this. A company can't simply take over your rights. No way. That is simply wrong.

Aphra Pell said...

I am not a lawyer, and this is not a legal opnion, but I personally read that as the first clause does not apply where the material you upload is a book for review.

Katja said...

thank you so much, Elise!#

I do have my own ISBNs. I bought them from Nielsen. I can't remember the American counterpart at the moment, but I own them. I have given the one for my paperback to BookLife, then they 'found' me automatically. Through Amazon, maybe? I don't know.

I don't understand much of the legal stuff. My second language, English, is completely letting me down right now. I can't even gather the 'solicited'-phrase, even though Fiance told me it means 'asked' and I have used the word 'unsolicited' many times myself.

BookLife is an American company, so yes, maybe the legal people swimming here know better. I'll have to use Translation Tool to understand this now.

Thank you Elise!!!!

Fearless Reider said...

Katja, English is my first language and I even claim to be pretty good at it, but deciphering those terms & conditions would leave me quaking, too. I defer to any Reefers who read legalese more fluently than I do, but I agree that the second paragraph seems to state clearly that the terms in the first paragraph don’t apply to content you have uploaded for review. Hugs to you — I hope your day gets much better from here.

MackAttack said...

Queen Shark, I do have a couple big questions on background:

1. I share a famous name within my genre (with Lois McMaster Bujold). I suspect we both kept maiden name as a middle name for similar reasons: it's a kick-ass name. How problematic is this for me as a new writer? I've considered a few options for pen names I'm comfortable with, but I did keep this name for good reason as well.

2. I have been at the center of social media controversy resulting from my last day job. It got nasty. (I worked at the local pound, where it was my job to save Death Row dogs by sending them out to no-kill rescues. A few times, I would get contacted by said rescues about a dog that it was already too late to save. The shelter had, and still has, an extremely vocal group of protestors out for blood, and I became an easy target.) I'm no longer at that job, but I'm still concerned about any of that coming up in a search. How worried should I be, and what steps can I take?

Katja said...

Thank you again, Elise, and Aphra and Fearless Reider (hugs have helped!)! I've calmed down. I've read everything carefully again and understood that second paragraph - even without translating it.

I've talked to someone on Twitter about this, too, and they wrote:

"They are the indie arm of Publisher's Weekly. They have no desire to claim anything over your book. Submitting a book doesn't guarantee they'll even review it. Very few make it through their process."

And then:

"...I read over the T&C and nothing out of the ordinary in it. I hope your book gets picked for a review. Being featured there can be a great boost. They do belong to PW. They cover the indie books that PW doesn't. Like Kirkus (they have an indie platform too)"

I thought this was very nice, too. I'm grateful!

I haven't found out how to delete my book/account with BookLife, so I hope it's okay and safe where it is.

And, OP, I apologise again for my meltdown and taking attention away from your question. I've read it now as well as Janet's reply, and remember we had this kind of question a while ago, and back then she also said she was checking to see if we weren't nuts ;).

So, she doesn't need to check me out any more - I've proven today that I AM. Right here, ha ha!

Beth Carpenter said...

Katja, I'm glad it looks like it's going to work out. Scary stuff.

My Baptist grandmother lived a block off the main drag in our small town. Occasionally someone would throw empty beer bottles on her lawn. She would collect them, take them to the alley, and leave them in the neighbors' trash cans. She didn't want the garbage men getting any wrong ideas about her.

John Davis Frain said...


So we know the garbage collectors thought highly of your grandmother, but I'd sure like to get a second opinion from the neighbors.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

I did not want to post until someone more knowledgeable had helped you, but now want to add my voice to the chorus:

I am sorry about your experience. What a thoroughly draining day.

I, too, got the impression that the second paragraph nullifies the first, but I, too, though a native English speaker, am not very fluent in legalese.

I am glad someone came along who was able to help you.

Today's topic was indeed funny, interesting, and ripe for puns and metaphors ... but don't feel bad about posting as you did. When you need the Reef, you need the Reef!

Katja said...

Jennifer, your words are just too kind, thank you! Your last sentence in particular.

I have mentioned this before, I believe, that I've put the whole Reef into my acknowledgements. I obviously can't post a picture of it HERE to prove it, but I've just posted it on Twitter and pinned it to my profile. Please, Reef, you could read it here, if you'd like: @OneOfUsHasToGo

Everyone's included :). This community is SO awesome.

(in England, xxx means kisses and love :) )

Beth Carpenter said...

John Davis Frain --I've always wondered about that.