Some of you had some very odd ideas about my favorite movie, although Kregger's comment
I think your favorite movie is "Message in a Bottle." Not because of heart-string tugging syrupy tripe, but because everyone should know how Kevin Costner got it in the end. That's right...shark attack!
cracked me up completely.
and AJ Blythe did too:
Surely Janet's fave movie would have to be "Fifty Shades of Grey" - it's about paint, right?
Dena Pawling mentioned Hopscotch which I loved when I saw it the first time, so I promptly rented it on Sunday and watched it again. It held up beautifully! (Some of my long time favorites have not!) Did you notice the character names? Shout outs to Ludlum, Follet and Westlake, all great crime writers. The book Hopscotch won the Edgar for Best Novel in 1976!
As for my favorite movie: none of you came close. It's Casablanca.
Apparently LynnRodz is circumnavigating the globe. Maybe she's looking for Platform 9.75, the train to Carkoon?
Don't get me started on the weather! When I left Paris it was 11°C, I landed in Dubai at midnight and it was already 26°C. When I got to Bangkok I came out of the airport to 38°C in the shade! Let me put it this way, when you're baking cookies and you open the oven door to see if they're done and that blast of hot air hits you...well I'm the cookie baking in Bangkok and Carkoon is looking like paradise!
I'm heading to Hong Kong next and hopefully the weather will be a lot cooler.
And just in case I was getting too big for my britches, John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur put me solidly in my place on the food chain:
I missed the "plumber/agent" discussion, but as someone who has had two agents and who last fall had the mother of all sewer problems, let me just say, if I had to pick one or the other, I'd take a good plumber every time. My agents have had some success with me, but my plumber made it possible for life to continue.
W.R.Gingell had an important question about the Summer Synopsis Camp slated for Carkoon:
And lol at Colin's Carkoonian Synopsis Summer Camp. Should we bring our own stakes, or will there be a Impaler Specialist? ( I hear Vlad is once more available: he might like the change).
Maybe Gary Corby can be drafted for Impaler specialist. He's sure gotten some mileage out of that one scene in The Ionia Sanction.
On Monday the results of the writing contest were posted. Huzzah to Calorie Bombshell for an outstanding effort, and huzzahs also to the finalists! It was a touch choice (but then, it almost always is!)
On Tuesday we talked about meeting agents at conferences in unscheduled times.
I think we're going to need a collection of Julie Weathers' comments at some point because as usual, this one cracked me up:
I keep saying agents are humans pieces of meat and I still see people giving out advice for authors to act like blind dogs after meat wagon.
I liked what Susan Bonifant had to say so much that I made it this week's blog subtitle
"Best advice I ever got when I was raising children: Never miss an opportunity to shut up."
And Abib Khorram mentioned the Midwest Writers Conference:
I am very much looking forward to Midwest Writers, though now I'm going to be very suspicious of anyone wearing a "Janet Reid" name tag.
Speaking of which, is anyone else going to Midwest Writers? I think we should try to organize a Felix J. Buttonweezer Memorial Costume Contest and Kale Cookoff.
"Janet Reid" can be the judge.
Since my former minion Brooks Sherman will also be at MWW, I might deputize him to be me. I'll be the one with the name badge that says "I AM OTTER"
And I really liked what KD James.com said about attending conferences
I think it's worth it, if you're unpublished or perhaps haven't attended a conference, to think about what you DO want to accomplish. As fun as they can be, cons are also expensive and time consuming. It's not necessary to set conference goals, but it's a good idea. This is not MY advice--- I've heard it from dozens of experienced writers.
A goal is something you can control and achieve: to attend classes or workshops to learn about craft or publishing; to meet up with writer friends you've talked to online; to experience what it feels like to be in a huge crowd of writers who "get" you (it's awesome); to meet new people.
My goal at my first con was simply to survive the overload. Which I did. Barely. I also attended a ton of workshops. SO WORTH IT.
It's also nice to have a goal so when you look back on whether the con was a good investment of time and money, you'll have something to gauge rather than just whether it was "fun."
It is NOT a goal to say you're attending a con because you hope to get published, or want to have an agent request your ms, or even simply to meet an agent/editor/famous author. You don't control those things. And they might not even be all that valuable.
And I liked what Leone said too
My point is, we're all part of the writing community and we give to it in our own ways. So my suggestion for folks nervous about attending a conference is to worry less about how others see you and more about how you can help. For example, I offer to moderate a panel. If you prefer, you could offer to staff the registration table or some other less public activity. Whatever you do, you're giving to the community, which not only helps you get to know people without worrying about pitching, but also gets your focus off your own nervousness.
And Colin demonstrates why he has been exiled to Carkoon, by trying to find a way that the point of the blog post might not apply.
So, do you suppose it might be different for a young agent, perhaps still fairly new and building a list? Might that agent be more likely to want writers to talk about their work? In other words, might Janet and Barbara's hatred of the "elevator pitch" come from their years of experience, and the fact they are well-established?
I've hated people pushing their pitches on me from Day One. There is simply NO WAY to properly evaluate or offer help to a writer without seeing pages. Pitching is not social conversation. If we're in a social setting, DO NOT PITCH. There are NO exceptions to this.
*climbs down off soapbox*
*signs exile extension*
And I REALLY liked this from BJ Muntain
Because there's nothing about being a stay-at-home mom that deserves to be ignored. It just needs better press.
On Wednesday, a gentleman wondered about self-publishing to make money.
Might the questioner try Kindle Scout as a no cost path to e-publishing ? And Janet, I'd love to know your opinion about Scout. Is it as good a deal as Amazon says?
I'm not a resource on Kindle Scout or really any of the self-publishing platforms because I don't work with them at all, and have no experience. What I see are people querying me with books they've already published, or sending me finished copies of books they've essentially printed rather than published. Often times those books are just sad little messes of bad production and worse cover art.
BJ Muntain said
Yes, even if it's only printed out in a chapbook format and handed out to a few friends, it's still technically published. Will it affect future sales? As Janet said, that's very unlikely. My thought: If these have already been published, then you no longer have first rights to sell for them anyway. Reprinting them won't make a difference
There is no such thing as "first rights" although I do see that phrase used a lot on writer boards. There IS such a thing as "first serial rights" but that means publishing an excerpt of a book before publication day.
A book, and stories, can be published more than once. If you've had stories accepted for publication in a lit mag (as the questioner had) you can publish them AGAIN once the period of exclusivity with the magazine has ended.
The rights you license to a lit mag are 1. territory 2. language 3. duration 4.exclusivity 5.format
For example: you license the short story "Felix Buttonweezer Fends off Kale on Carkoon" to the Carkoon Lit mag for publication in (1) Carkoon (2) Carkoonian, English and Klingon; (3) for the period of one Carkoonian year; (4) exclusively; (5) for the print edition and the Carkoon Lit mag website. All rights not specifically granted to the lit mag are retained by the author.
On Thursday the discussion turned to the endlessly entertaining topic of submission guidelines.
Colin posted a question from exile:
My question(s) to agents: When was the last time you requested because the querier spelled your name correctly, gave good comp titles, had an MFA, or correctly identified their novel as YA Urban Fiction? And how many queries have you requested from because they sold you on #2 above [2) A paragraph or two selling the novel to the agent, incorporating the 4 Cs (see Craig's comment).]
aside from people not paying attention, one of the problems could be agents not updating their Querytracker profile.
I can't remember the last time I updated my QueryTracker profile. Probably the last time I closed for queries a few summers ago, but honestly I haven't a clue.
The reason for that that? There's no trigger to update it. No one from QueryTracker emails me an easily accessible link and says "here, update yer info, SharkForBrains" If they did, I would.
As it is, I don't even THINK about QueryTracker. The places I DO update when I remember, which isn't often: 1. my website 2. my Pub Mkt page and 3. this blog's incoming query status.
And then things pretty much fell completely off topic with a discussion of the Buttonweezer clan name, origin and location. Which made for a VERY entertaining comments trail.
On Friday the topic was whether a query should mention fulls requested by other agents.
I loved this from Dena Pawling:
Carolynn, I met my husband at a friend's wedding, the summer after I graduated from high school. I was a bridesmaid and he was an usher. About a week after the wedding, he called me.
Him: “Hi... um... would you like to go to church with me? I've asked everyone else I know and no one else can come.”
Yes, that's how he asked me out on our first date. I've teased him endlessly about it, too. We've been married now for more than half my life.
Karen McCoy asked:
Say Agent B doesn't ask if anyone else is reading, and Agent A requests representation while Agent B still has the full. How does the author bring this up without burning possible bridges?
This happens ALL the time. I've been on both sides of the situation. In fact, I have a prospective client notifying other agents even as we speak.
Here's what you do:
1. Email all the agents who have the full and say you've received an offer (or you've gotten serious interest) in the manuscript. Ask if they can let you know their decision within a specified amount of time (a week is normal but I've said two weeks on occ. if there's a holiday or vacations pending)
2. On the expiration day, advise everyone of decisions. "Thanks for reading my full. I've chosen an agent to represent the book" kind of thing.
And maybe y'all think someone else reads the comments but it's me and I SAW THAT STUFF ABOUT PAGES!
Julie Weathers, I'm looking at you, gnomie!
If an agent asks for 50 pages, and 50 pages ends at the wrong place to present your work well, send 48. Or 55.
The idea of asking for 50 pages is "please don't send 300" and "please don't send 5"
It is NOT: please adjust your margins, and your font to make sure that what should be 48 is really 50 pages.
Never break a sentence when you send pages, NEVER. Never break a paragraph if you can possibly help it.
And it's really ok to end where the chapter ends, be that page 45 or 55; in fact it's better.
And do NOT get creative with your margins. I work on 1" margins all around, and if you send something in ANYTHING else, I adjust it because of the size of my screen and what my eye is used to seeing.
YES I NOTICE 1.25 margins!
Sheesh you guys!
On Saturday the topic turned to the newest way to torment writers: social media
I liked what Amy Schaefer suggested:
Instead of focusing on what you aren't willing to do (Twitter, FB, the internet in general), turn it around and think about what you are willing to do. Get that clear in your mind. Signings? Visiting bookstores? The aforementioned newsletters and so on? Think hard about what sort of interaction you feel capable of with strangers/potential fans. Then, when the problem arises with an agent, you'll be ready with your own solution to your so-called social media issue. Get out in front of it, is my advice.
And I read PhoenixWaller's comment about promotion with great interest particularly the closing line:
The moral of that story is that mass advertisements are iffy at best, but word of mouth is still an invaluable tool for selling books, even free ones online. ;)
The more things change, the more they are the same. Word of mouth. The best way to sell books since there were books.
Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli asked
the question that Janet could answer is if you did write under a pseudo would your agent need to know your real name and at what stage would you have to tell them.
If you had a pseudo with incorporated status, you could have a social media presence for your 'business'.
As an agent I need to know two things: what you want me to call you, and the name you want to use when I pay you.
The PUBLISHER however has a stake in this because the contract you sign for your book has a clause called Warranties and Indemnities and that's the one where you warrant the work is yours, you didn't copy it, and no one else has a claim to it. Publishers really want to make sure that "the author" signs that contract. That's where you'll need more specific advice than what I'm able to give you on the blog.
If a potential client had the kinds of security concerns that the questioner had, I'd probably let the editor know about it, and we'd figure something out.
I've certainly worked with authors who've used pen names before, and it's pretty funny, we forget the pen name isn't the author's "real" name.
Spring is finally here in NYC and it's fabulous. We have a giant courtyard space next to our office building and it has a huge TV screen on the side of our building. The TV broadcasts soccer games and I can always tell when they do cause the fans gather in the courtyard and cheer. It makes World Cup a lot of fun here even if I don't have clue who's playing.
I'm tackling my requested full pile with renewed vigor. Some very patient authors have been waiting for more months than I care to reveal in public for a reply from me. Every time I pass on a manuscript I feel bad. I really hate doing so, particularly now that I'm passing on things that are good and publishable (but just not the right books for my particular list or interest.)
This coming week I'm taking a reading break and heading to the Delaware shore with a friend. We're going to sit on the porch, read manuscripts and plot World Domination.
I'm hoping the Wifi will be adequate. If not, well, you'll know cause I'll be tardy posting the week in review!
Have a great week!