We were all very glad to hear that Amy is ok, and the boat likely ok. Less happy are the tidings from Vanuatu, which took the full force of the storm, and hadn't started out with all that much anyway.
Here's a link to how we can all help this tiny country with some much needed aid.
Bessie Stewart summed up the day's comments, which were largely about the efforts of those scallywags at Carkoon to take over Paradise, "This is the silliest best natured comment bunch ever. "Wow" may be an understatement." perfectly. At some point we're going to need a story Bible link for anyone brave enough to try to decipher the comment trail now.
"Is it something that writers should aspire to? Or is it something that should cause an emotional Lesley Gore moment? Do these kinds of things happen to normal people or is it reserved for things like the Patterson Franchise?"
Well, James Patterson hasn't been in an auction for donkey's years because he's safely established at Little,Brown in what Team Carkoon would recognize as a branch office with his own publicist and editor I'm told. And probably his own royalty department.
Auctions are result of a lot of hot interest. It's a good thing. It's not something you should even start thinking about. If it happens, terrific, but most books are not sold at auction, or on a pre-empt.
Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli asked "How many books a year go to auction?" There's no way to know and it's not even a stat I keep here for my own books. A lot of VERY good books don't go to auction at all.
Donnaeverheart asked "I think the only question I have is this; if a book has been on submission for a while, is there any likelihood of either of these happening?"
Yes. Whenever the first serious interest comes in, the next step is a round of phone calls to all the other editors who have the manuscript. It's basically a "get this to the top of your reading pile, it's got legs" call.
Colin set up an auction scenario:
Editor Penguin requests ms. QOTKU submits.
Editor SohoCrime requests ms. QOTKU submits (and indicates another publisher is looking at it?).
Editor Minotaur requests ms. QOTKU submits (and indicates other publishers are looking at it?).
All want the ms., so QOTKU sets up an auction wherein each editor vies for ms. The one with the best deal (according to the Agent and Author) wins out.
What actually happens is I send the manuscript to my first tier of editors. ALL of them get it at approximately the same time. They all know this is going to everyone (I don't have to tell them.)
The first one who coughs up interest or an offer gets us off to the races. That can be days, weeks, or even months after that first submission.
And "the best deal" doesn't always mean the most money. More and more, we're asking for marketing and publicity input at the auction stage because that's a key component of being published well.
To clarify, does an agent chat up an editor about a ms to assess their interest, or, do they just investigate editors for suitable interests (much like authors search for the correct agent to read their work) and then simply send the submission package to them?
I get on the phone and talk to editors about the manuscript usually. Sometimes if I know they're looking for something, it's just an email. BUT I've spent hours at lunches, conferences, drinks dates etc, talking to them about what they're looking for so that these submissions are not just scattershot. I know what they're looking for, but more important, I know what they're NOT looking for too.
And honest to godiva Craig's place on Carkoon is sounding damn attractive.
On Tuesday a writer asked about a call from an agent that was essentially "toss this and start again." I was stunned an agent called to say such a thing. Calls are normally reserved for good news, not that.
Shaun Hutchinson had some good advice:
"When I was querying The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, one agent suggested I add some paranormal elements to the story. I didn't think that advice worked with what I was doing, so I ignored it. However, nearly every single agent in my first round of querying told me I'd botched the ending, so I listened to their advice and completely rewrote the ending."
Consistent advice is worth paying attention to. One agent saying a book needs paranormal elements (and having read the book in question, that advice is crazypants) not so much.
Joseph Snoe had an interesting insight
I’m a third party witness to something like this. Except it was a written message not a phone call. An editor included a long critique with her rejection. I read my friend’s manuscript making comments along the way. I read the editor’s critique again after I read the manuscript. The editor was right on target (for the most part). The interesting thing is I can see what the editor meant but my friend currently cannot. She’s moved on to a promising new story (from historical romance to technopunk). I’ll encourage her keep the editor’s critique and return to the historical romance novel when she’s ready.
Being ready to hear the comments is one of the advantages of letting a manuscript sit for a while. I can't tell you the number of emails I get from people that start out "I thought you were wrong, but now I see you were right" but it's in the dozens at this point. Fresh advice can be painful. Advice that's had time to sit might be a little easier to take.
I thought Poor Dead Jed would win comment of the day with this one:
Does no one else go on dating sites to massage ugly people? Nope? Just me?
But Christine Seine gracefully one upped him so deftly she scooped up the trophy:
"RUBBING TINDER, an erotic thriller about a man who stalks online-dating service users, only to rub them the wrong way on purpose, in a totally tubular deal, for publication in 2016, by Janet Reid on behalf of Fuzzy Print Literary Services."
And I think everyone should pay close attention to what Kari Lynn Dell said
"I've never rewritten a book I loved. If I couldn't see the flaws, there was no point trying to fix them."
On Wednesday I was annoyed beyond measure that someone calling him/herself an "agent" was using Twitter to pitch editors. Just FYI, that's NOT how you do it.
Mark Songer asked
What is an example of a good query letter FROM an agent (or however you get books before publishers? Let's say you have opted to represent Felix Buttonweezer's breakout novel Deep Greens about a CIA operative posing as a world renowned kale chef and you think this baby needs to hit the presses NOW. How would you pitch it?
Often I use the query letter from the client for the description of the book. My clients are GREAT writers. Trying to out do them is insane.
However, what I ADD to the query are things like this;
"When last we lunched, you mentioned you were looking for a great kale novel, and I think this is the one."
"I notice that in your repertoire of great chef novels, you don't have a kale chef novel, so I hope you'll be interested in filling that gap."
"you called me last week to mention a hole in your Spring 2016 catalog. I think this kale chef novel will fit nicely next to The Carkoonian Book of Sulphur Kebobs, and Pasta From Paradise by Amy Schaefer."
"you've been sniffing around Felix Buttonweezer for years now, and his last contract is fulfilled. Here's the new book. Wheelbarrows full of cash will be fine."
It's not so much what we say about the book it's how we know what the editor is looking for, and what s/he published before, and which author s/he wants to sink her fangs into.
Jennifer R. Donohue asked "Is this one reason people were talking about "Schmagents" on Twitter the other day?"
Entirely possible, but "schmagents" are a hot topic with editors and agents most days. Editors send us the most egregious examples of stuff they get from these guys and we all have a laugh. Generally we stop laughing when we realize some of these people have actual clients.
Jenny Chou makes an excellent point about small presses
For 17 years I worked as a bookseller. I ordered backlist (i.e. reordered books that sold) for the store and handled special orders. In my opinion, the best way to see of a small/Indie press is legitimate is to check out their distribution to bookstores. If their website says something like "Distributed to the trade by Macmillan" then they are legit. "Books available from Ingram and other wholesalers" also means bookstores can easily get their books and you should be fine. Make sure one of your first questions to whatever Indie press contacts you is about distribution.
A publisher's website can be a very valuable source of information, often for what IS NOT there. Is there a way for libraries to order? Is there a way for bookstores to order? Is there a wholesaler or a distributor? Is it geared toward selling books from the website? Are the print books significantly more expensive than you'd expect ($31 for a hardcover means the press is using POD technology and NOT printing for inventory)
At one point Colin Smith was actually talking to himself in the comments column which made me laugh out loud then and now.
On Thursday I reminded you to follow up on queries if the agent says she responds to all queries. It was prompted by a querier who pinged me for a query that DID get lost to my great chagrin.
LD Masterson asked if this applied to agents who have "no response means no?"
It does not. It only applies to those of us who think that query writers deserver the respect of a reply even if it's a form letter. I'll spare you a rant on this. Well, ok, no I won't.
Colin asked if we've settled in to the new office. We have, but it's not ready for photos yet. We've still got boxes on the floor and some organizing to do. It's amazing how easy it is to get all your stuff IN to a box, and how time consuming to get it out and on the right shelf.
And just when Felix Buttonweezer was thinking he had it bad, CarolynnWith2ns posted this:
Elissa and Amy, I went to school with a Honey Potts and a Sundae Monday. What's funny is that Honey complained because they always spelled Potts with one T and Sundae hated that people always spelled her name like the day...hello...what do you think your parents were thinking of.
Why do parents make up such funny names?
My brother-in-law the teacher, had a kid in his class, (the name was pronounced as Sha-theed), spelled Shithead
On Friday, the topic was your writer's notebook, which I hope you're keeping.
I was delighted to see Kitty is reading THE DEVIL IN HER WAY by Bill Loehfelm. I'm a devoted fan of his work, and just finished the latest one DOING THE DEVIL'S WORK which I bought at Left Coast Crime.
Madeline Mora-Summonte had a lovely quote from Jack Canfield "Everything you want is on the other side of fear" which I liked so much I made it the blog sub-header.
Colin asked if I had a preference between Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines. I do. AHMM. I have better luck selling client work to them, and I find more unagented writers there. EQMM seems to have more established writers. Both are very affordable though and I have subscriptions to each.
CarolynWith2ns gave us this, reprinted as it was posted, no comment from me needed:
Karen Diamond, an amazing young woman and a beyond-talented writer, shared two quotes with her blog readers when she knew her battle to survive was near over. In my writer's notebook and on my desk, I have tattooed those quotes to my soul in the hope that I may assign their sentiments to my own life. I try, I really do, but sometimes I fail because wanting more, often stands taller than the mountain of what I already have.
The quotes, the first by Joseph Campbell and the second, an edited form, ascribed to Buddha.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to live the life that is waiting for us.”
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
Karen, my son-in-law’s sister, was 27 and very wise to share with all of us these answers to human existence. I am privileged to have known her.
And at some point in every blogger's life, it's clear that your long time readers remember WAY TOO MUCH:
What that horse trader JetReid doesn't want you to know is, she once bought two sheep. Yes, she did. Hee hee hee
On Saturday we turned to how much to reveal in a query letter. Turns out that "include everything in the query" generally means include a synopsis with the query, rather than tell the entire plot in a query letter. I was very relieved to see this because I've tried to make QueryShark useful across all sorts of agency requirements rather than just what *I* want to see.
And yes, synopses are the spawn of Satan, but you'll do well to have one. We need them ALL the time for film deals, and translation deals.
Not much else happened here at The Reef this week. Recovering from a week plus out of the office at Left Coast Crime took every extra minute I had. And the last snowstorm of this miserable winter landed on Friday. I can't wait for spring to REALLY arrive.