Thursday, September 17, 2015

I swear every word of this is true

I recently accompanied one of my authors to a bookstore reading for his new novel. After his talk, he signed copies of the new book. As usual, people lined up for this, and many had very nice things to say.

I positioned myself in the front row and one chair to the left of center, facing my author. I waited.
Sure enough.

I spied "that guy" at the end of the line. After years in the publicity trenches, I can recognize him a mile away. 

"I'm so excited to meet you! I've read your book! It was terrific!" That Guy says when it's his turn,

"Thank you! And thank you for coming tonight," says Author Mine. He glances down to see if TG has brought book for signature. No book.

"I read your book in the library. I kept it for the full three weeks even though I read it over night. I wanted to make good notes," TG continues.

Author Mine looks a bit taken aback.

"Now, I've got some ideas for a new book you can write," TG says. "I've got the ideas, you write it, and we'll split the money. Win/win!"

Author Mine looks at me.
I polish my smile with gunpowder.

"Excellent!" says Author Mine.  "Let me introduce you to my agent. She's right here. She handles all these kinds of things."

I step up to the plate. Extend my hand. "Hello, I'm Janet Reid. I'm his agent."

TG says hello and gives me his name.

"Why don't we step over here where we can sit down and talk," I suggest. "I have the application right here."


"Yes. You have to fill out an application and pay a fee. The more detailed your ideas,  the lower the fee, of course," I say.

"How much money are we talking about?" TG asks.

"Well, for just a concept, something like "Monty Python in Space" it's about fifty thousand dollars.  But if you develop the concept, write a synopsis, the first hundred pages or so, it's about ten thousand dollars."


"Well, yes, that's about the going rate. You've heard of advances, right?"

"Well, sure, but...."

"Advances are how authors get paid ahead of publication. Exactly like this. You pay him, and he writes. Then of course you get a cut of the proceeds."

Spluttering from TG.

"I have an application form and an invoice for you right here."


"Well, sure. We need to get paid.  Our bank details are on it right here, see?"

"I'm not paying you you!  I'll just do it myself!" TG stands, turns on his heel and exits bookstore, umbrage at this callous reception of his magnanimity muttering after him.


angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I polish my smile with gunpowder Yowza.

The Penultimus said...

Imagine what she flossed with.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

*snort* An unpublished writer to tell a published and agented author what to write next. Talk about audacity. And not in a good way.

DLM said...

Angie and Russell: :)

Oh, That Guy. He's almost as wise as The One Dude, you know, that one who always has a story to tell that's better than yours AND how he'd get it published so much faster, 'coz you waste time on editing and revision and querying and sh*t. Are they cousins?

In further news: I love Janet.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. I laughed so much at this! Now I'm gonna wake up in the middle of the night, giggling randomly :D

What a beautiful send off!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

That really happens? I guess this is reason 87,164 to have an agent, and preferably one that is a shark. Wow! Just... Really? Dumb-founded.

Donnaeve said...

It's getting to the point where nothing surprises me when it comes to writing and publishing.

Why is there the mindset anybody with a brain can do it? When a house is under construction, does That Guy walk on site to make a point to find the contractor just to say "If you let me build this with you, it'll be better." When someone gets up to sing at an event, and then sticks around to talk with the audience, is there That Guy/Girl who says "Next time, let's do a duet. I'm sure I could help you carry the tune better."

I could go on and on.

Every time I mention I write, I get the proverbial, "I've always wanted to write a book." I'm getting so tired of it, I almost cringe when I'm asked, "what do you do?"

Having said ALL that - I'm so laughing at the exchange. I don't know how you kept a straight face!

Marc P said...

It happens nearly every time people ask me what I do and I say I do a bit of writing. Usually the offer is to write a book about their lives. as everyone is telling him/her they should write a book about themselves.. but they just don;t have the time. 50/50 etc. LOL. All the time!

Unknown said...

Creepy! even though comical ending. I imagine that there are always people who think they 'know' you when they read your stuff and get a sense of misplaced entitlement.

Stephen G Parks said...

Janet, I’m curious what your author would have done if you weren’t present. Do you go through scenarios like this in advance?

AJ Blythe said...

Janet, you have the most wicked sense of humour. Love it! Trying to giggle quietly so I don't wake the Barbarians.

I've heard similar stories before but none with such a wonderful ending. If I had your Sharkness as an agent I'd almost want the wacky ones to come along, just to watch the show =)

If that wasn't reason enough to want an agent I don't know what would convince you.

Anonymous said...

A contract to write the book! I never thought of that. I'm going to save that one for the next That Guy who offers me a 50/50 deal. :)

Anonymous said...

Janet, I have learned not to drink my coffee at the same time I'm reading your blog. This entry is a perfect reason why.

I have to ask, have any encounters with "that guy" resulted in a deal?

Susan said...

I second Angie's "Yowza" on the gunpowder smile. Love that, and I love this story.

Although, to be fair, I kind of feel for the guy--probably because I was having a similar meltdown yesterday. I'm working on a WIP (not The Damn Novel--that baby's getting birthed from my brain even if it takes another decade) that's completely out of my wheelhouse--a larger-cast conspiracy thriller set a few years in the future. I don't write thrillers. I barely write anything contemporary, preferring, instead, the nostalgia of the past, but this book is closely related to a personal experience at the core and is building into something bigger than I probably don't have the imagination for. I kind of want to scream, "take it!" to someone more skilled than I am because I desperately want to read it. But I also know I can bring something to it in the details, which is why wanted to write it in the first place. It's just a *headdesk* moment: What have I gotten myself into; can I actually do this?

So, I kind of understand the "I have an idea but I don't want to write the thing" scenario, in a sense. Except I don't have ten grand either, so here I am.

Susan said...

Ugh. That should read: "is building into something bigger than I probably have the imagination for."

Apparently, I can't even write about this book. Sigh.

S.P. Bowers said...

Let's try again. Hilarious story. Makes me wish you represent what I write.

Beth H. said...

Brilliant. Reading this first thing brightened my morning.

I have yet to encounter That Guy in the wild, but I've heard many tales of him. Why would anyone think that they're entitled to money for thinking up an idea that they don't bother to execute? I don't know if it's entitlement or delusion.

DLM said...

When I was younger and significantly cuter, I would go out on my own, and occasionally That Jerk would come up to me with some distateful come-on. I had this look - a cultivated, perfect blankness. Not hostility, but incomprehension. "Surely this person is not saying this to me ..." Usually, not a single word was required; faced with blankness, jerks have nothing to feed upon. If I'd been imperious or angry, they'd have been able to pull out the old "you're a wh*re"/"must be a l*sbian" retort, but with extreme neutrality tinged with the hint of bewilderment, they were almost always lost.

So, that.

Stephen G Parks said...

Beth, I don’t think it’s entitlement or delusion. I think people don’t understand how common and recurring ideas are and that it’s the execution that makes the presentation noteworthy (and profitable?). They think that finding the idea is the hard part. I was one of those, although not That Guy. I just did it to myself.

Decades ago, when I finished my first book, I asked a friend to read it. He came back with “Dude, you just wrote MacBeth … in space … told by MacDuff.” This was shocking news to me, my original magnum opus was seen as ripping off Shakespeare!?! Back then I believed that the idea was more important than the execution, and I’d just been shown to have an unoriginal idea. So I shelved the book.

I reread it about a year ago. It’s Ok - has its strengths. Some TLC and a few more drafts and it might be presentable.

Craig F said...

I'm sorry my Queen but you got it wrong. It is THAT GIRL WITH THE GLEAM IN HER EYE, not That Guy. I can handle guys with ideas, unless they are the "President" of some Eastern European country that is in the news and whose name I won't mention, it is the women that cause the problems.

Guys just barge in and blurt out that they can do it better. Women have been trained since birth to slide unobtrusively into such a situation. If you fail to notice the gunpowder gleam they find a way to create a situation with a lot of sticky on it.

DLM said...

Stephen, I seriously want to read MacBeth in Space as told by MacDuff.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, Stephen -MacBeth in space- do it. I wrote a book when I was fifteen. It was truly awful, but one kind editorial assistant wrote me a rejection that pointed out that the problem was not the idea,; it was I needed to better develop my craft. Her point was that it was not the idea that made something original. Even Shakespeare took his ideas from mythology and history. All stories have been told. It's the voice and presentation that make your work original.

Which is why Janet's story made my jaw drop. I don't think people who don't write understand people who do at all. It is a lot of effort to take an idea and bleed it onto a page. Immensely satisfying but never easy. It's great that there are agents like Janet who get us woodland creatures. I wonder if she can train other agents in her beautiful sharky ways?

BJ Muntain said...

I love you, Janet.

Like Donna, I can't say I'm surprised. But I love Janet's response.

The one I sometimes get is: "So-and-so wrote a book, and she's only 13. Her parents helped her get it published."

I bite down on the words that come to my mouth, but it's not what I'd rather be biting down on.

Maybe that's the bane of the unpublished, while the 'write my story' proposals come after you're published. I look forward to them, and I'm sharpening my teeth...

Les Edgerton said...

Good one, Janet! This kind of thing always reminds me of Richard Brautigan's brilliant short story, "1/3, 1/3, 1/3." He nails this kind of thing perfectly. Whenever I encounter a person who has the greatest story ever and wants to partner up with me, I agree enthusiastically, and point him to the story to see "how these things work." I never hear back from them...

Timothy Lowe said...

Love the last line of this post. "Umbrage...muttering after him." And the image. An instant classic.

Write Life said...

I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon here. The guy was excited. He got carried away.
Who hasn't done that at one time in their lives? Who hasn't made a little bit of an ass of themselves? We all have. I would rather have naivety out there and the enthusiasm of trying, then those who don't spark or try anything. So, I'm not going to diss the poor guy, for having his "cray-cray" moment, but I'm going to ask all of you to remember yours. Oh yes, I can see you blush. We've all got something to blush over. Remember it.

Sheila JG said...

"That guy"
"I'd recognize him a mile away"
"I've got ideas for a book you can write"

It was James Patterson, wasn't it?

Steve Forti said...

This is a riot.
(Yep, I'm adding nothing the to conversation today, just wanted to say thanks for the laugh on a stressful morning.)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Sheila- coffee just spurted out of my nose. LOL! Is that how Patterson produces a book a week? I wondered.

Beth H. said...

Stephen, I would read MacBeth in space. But your point is well taken. Maybe it isn't delusion or entitlement, but a lack of understanding. The optimist in me hopes this was a learning experience.

Candy's Stuff said...

This is great. I have to admit others have come forward with ideas for my future titles, and I just grin and bare it. Loved this article.

Cindy C said...

Oh, this made me laugh out loud! And now I really want a Janet of my own to hang out with me and deal with people who cause me problems! Do you deal non-writing ones too?

Laura Mary said...

Hahaha! Dame Maggie is not amused!

You know what Janet - your set up actually makes a whole lot of sense to me. I could totally set myself up as a writer for hire! I'd charge more for Dino porn though.

What does concern me was the frequency with which you seem to deal with these things :-/ Is it really that common an occurrence?
I'm filing this for future comebacks btw.

Diane - yes to the blank stare! Let them talk themselves into a knot before shuffling back to the rock they crawled out from.

On a slightly related note, I was nearly run over last year by a guy speeding round a corner - husband pulled me back and shouted 'he was *not* doing 20!'
Apparently this was cause for fisticuffs for Speedy McGee, who screeched to a halt, slammed into reverse to catch us back up, and then took a chunk out of his car reversing at speed into aforementioned corner. He got out the car, even more eager for a fight, so I ran up to him shouting 'Oh my God! Are you ok??? What happened?!?! Can I call someone?' He turned purple, made a few sounds that sounded like '' got back in his car and drove off again.
There was a very satisfying chunk of kerb missing after he left.

Megan V said...


And yet—like Susan—I feel for That Guy. I've been told (repeatedly) that concepts are my wheelhouse. Concepts are what I excel at. Execution...well...I'm working on it. There are days when I doubt my execution of those concepts will ever be up to par, days when I want to (as Susan has said) screech "take it" and have done.

I think the problem with That Guy is that he doesn't realize that writing is work. Writing is the sweat, screams, and tears of too many nights staring at the same line. It's the blood dripping on a journal when you've rushed to jot something down, terrified you'll lose it. Writing is no more a falderal than surgery is.

And I think you QOTKU put that into perspective for him, even if he didn't appreciate it.

Pharosian said...

Hilarious! TG must have thought he was really on to something when Janet first called him aside. Imagine the letdown! Oh well. That's the price of cluelessness.

Donnaeve said...

Of course, now I'm thinking it was That Guy who sent you the postcard.

Craig, careful... this might require a "Trumpian" alert," "Women have been trained since birth to slide unobtrusively into such a situation. If you fail to notice the gunpowder gleam they find a way to create a situation with a lot of sticky on it."

Escape Artist Linda, I seriously was trying to forget that moment. Or moments I should say.

Joyce Tremel said...

I love it!

Janice Grinyer said...

I'll echo what Megan said -


This. This story is exactly why we all would love to have you represent us as an Agent - its like having a mafioso sharkcat attacking ignorance on our behalf at every book-reading turn!

"$50,000. fee, $10,000. if you write the first 100 pages...spoken in a sharkcat hiss"


Anonymous said...

You know, the first thing that strikes me about this story is Janet sitting in front row, like a proud mama at a school concert for this book signing. You go, gal.

Then I laughed because I can see her doing just exactly what she described. Another reason to lust after Sharque Reid as an agent.

I don't know how many people have told me they have this fabulous idea and I should write the book. Well, let's be honest, I won't live long enough to write all my own books. When I was writing for the magazine, I ran across a lot of fascinating stories about horses and people that I thought would make great books.

When people tell me I should write this book for them, we'll split the money and get rich, I put my arm around their shoulder and smile. "Oh, honey. That's a great idea. I just don't think I could do justice to it though. This story is all yours. It lives in your heart. Truly. I believe you are the only one who could bring it to life the way it deserves. I know you can do this. Just sit down and write for fifteen minutes every day. You'll be amazed at what you accomplish."

"You know, I think you're right."

"Oh, yes. I'm sure I am. I just know these things."

And a new writer is born, or not. Either way, I'm off the hook gracefully.

DLM said...

I often feel internet pile-ons are distasteful, but this case is one of a guy being presumptuous. The thing about that behavior? People often judge it to be presumptuousness, and it's everyone's right to find that tedious. I highly dislike being presumed upon - and I don't feel an author going to a signing should have to feel they've invited it.

Awkward? Sure, we've all been awkward.

But when you begin to tell people what they need to do, you open the door completely to being told what to do, yourself, in return. It's the bargain That Guy signed up for. So he got what he asked for; it wasn't the response he wanted nor expected, but he did get exactly what he pressed to receive.

Laura Mary, VERY satisfying indeed; but I'm glad your That Guy sputtered short of violence. Yipes.

People remember being kids, sitting in a circle while the librarian read stories in the school story well. It was the best part of the week. It was the ultimate human entertainment, the rite we have shared since we developed sign and tone and language and community itself. I can understand why so many people are hard-wired to get excited about the idea of writing, because story telling is so completely a part of the human experience there's no escape and yet nothing more transportive. It's the one magic ALL of us believe in.

The fact that this can be commoditized, the fact that it becomes a discipline for some few, is bewildering for most. If I talk about researching ancient non-trinitarian Christian worship, every last person I know (okay except two ... maybe three on a good day) will glaze straight over and see no connection to that magical voice by a primeval fire, pouring an adventure into their ear. Nobody knew the visions the ancient shaman had, either, or the many times he or she told that story before they brought it to the fire, and shared it with all, and used their gazes and their breath and the dilation of their eyes to gauge how to tell it best.

In a way, the fact that nobody gives a **** about this stuff is the very best part. They are THERE, they are in it, they are committed. The work is invisible - because it has to be. Because, done right, all there is is the transport, the entertainment, the fire, and the magic.

DLM said...

Donna and Craig: yes. When a guy tells me what women are, it's as presumptuous as That Guy. I know how I was raised. Nobody else does, even my brother.

Adele said...

"I've got the ideas, you write it, and we'll split the money. Win/win!"

This is the part that makes me howl - the assumption that ideas that are the tricky part. All that writing - that's just putting the words down on paper and it's easy peasey once you've got an idea.

Beth H. said...

DLM: Very well put. I couldn't agree more.

Lizzie said...

That Guy is a fan. Even if he read the book at the library, libraries by those books. And this happened at a signing with the author. Not on his doorstep.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Ha! So I'm not the only one who's noticed that James Patterson's name is splattered on every other book on the library shelf. And it's always "James Patterson and . . ." No wonder people think they can "partner" with any author they choose.

Sandra Cormier said...

Heh heh.... you are SO delightfully evil.

Christina Seine said...

Hi guys! Sorry I haven't been around for a bit. I had a nice long bout of the flu, and then smack dab in the middle of that my daughters were in a car accident. They're ok (the car is dead), but my oldest broke her leg very badly and had to have rods and pins and screws put in. It's been a rough road, and hers will be longer still (it'll be a year, if all goes well, before her leg is back to normal, the doc said), but mostly what I am left with is overwhelming gratitude that they're still alive.

Anyway, I've been lurking a bit (hospital wireless is a joke) but this post really gets my dander up. I'm finally querying my novel, and I can count on one hand the people I've told who aren't from The Tribe of People Who Are Writers. Why? because of That Guy. He's everywhere. Because...

A) "You're a writer? What have you written that I've heard of?" (At that point I usually say something like, "But you hate reading." And then they say, "Yeah, but I watch a lot of movies.")
B) "Oh I've always thought I should write a book, too. How hard can it be?"
C) "You should totally self-publish. Eliminate the middle man. I know a guy who's published eleventeen books on Amazon. He can show you the ropes if you want. Do you want me to get you his number?"

Oh yes, please. Ugh. Seriously though, this reminds me of the way a lot of ancient Greek mythology centered around the idea of hubris - pride so eggregious that it even angered the gods. I'd rather anger them than the QOTKU though.

Theresa said...

Perfect example of the kind of brilliant comeback I never think of until way after the event. The most I ever manage to get out at the time is a look very similar to the one on Maggie Smith's face.

Donnaeve said...

Honestly, I'm finding some of the comments out here surprising.

First, Diane - nailed it.

That Guy got his just desserts. No one was rude, except him. Matter of fact, I think JR and her Author acted with diplomacy in a weird situation.

Like I said, does anyone assume they can step in and do someone's job + get half their pay? The answer would be NO.

Anna Langford said...

Just when I thought I couldn't adore you anymore. Absolutely perfect.

Donnaeve said...

HA, big fat correction on myself... make that "does anyone assume they can step in and TELL someone how to do their job + get half their pay." Answer is still the same. NO.

There I feel better.

Susan said...

Megan: "Concepts are what I excel at. Execution...well...I'm working on it. There are days when I doubt my execution of those concepts will ever be up to par, days when I want to (as Susan has said) screech "take it" and have done."

It's funny you say that because usually I'm the opposite--I have trouble coming up with concepts when most of my writing is character-driven, but the execution isn't a problem. That's probably why I have a folder on my computer filled with half-baked ideas, and why this WIP is giving me so much grief--it's a different sort of problem: a complicated plot with a lot of moving parts. It makes me question if I'm going to be able to do it justice.

That's where the work comes into play, and I get that--I'll do the work because I'm a writer and it comes with the territory. I just want to stomp my feet about it because it makes me feel better. =P

It's why I feel some sympathy for the guy. Him having an idea and wanting to get paid for it (and his approach) aside, I understand what it's like to have an idea and just want someone else to execute it. Ideas are exciting, and when you don't have a skillset, it's easy to want to hand it off to someone else who does.

Donnaeve said...

Welcome back Christina! Two things - I'm sorry about your girls being in that wreck but so glad they are okay! Second, congrats on querying your book - and yeah, to all your THAT GUY comments. Amazing what everyone knows about writing and publishing, isn't it?

Andrea said...

My boyfriend sometimes tells me he has a great idea for a story, and that I should write it. Normally I tell him to write his own stories himself, but now I know what to say next time. With a 10K advance for every idea I can quit my day job!


(But OMG... it still amazes me how delusional some people are...)

nightsmusic said...

I posted a fanfic at one point, perfectly awful writing at the beginning, but I leave it up as a reminder of how much I grew learning and polishing and growing in the process and had someone message me halfway through the thing (I posted a chapter a week) to tell me they had a brilliant idea and just didn't know how to write it and gee, if I give you all the information, would you write it for me? I rolled my eyes and told them to look elsewhere. It was the kindest way I could put it.

Karen McCoy said...

Pure comedy gold! And yes, DLM. All about the magic.

This reminded me of a Craigslist ad I came across via Facebook (posted by an author with the caption, "I can't even.") I'm unable to reproduce the picture here, and I'm not sure it's even real, but here's some of the text:

Fiction Ebook Writer Needed

I'm looking for a fiction writer who can write a series of books related to Romance, Werewolf Romance, Christian Romance, (Aside: I love that these are together--apparently any kind of romance will do) You have to write a unique, 100% original book (5000 words) that will attract readers. I am willing to pay up to $40 per book...the finished material will be transferred to me upon payment for the work...

Apparently, Amazon requires at least 5,000 words for its self-pub platform...hence the word count specs. Oy.

Pam Powell said...

I’m with Escape Artist Linda on this one. If anyone asks who’s been a dunderhead any time in their life, my hand flies up instantly.

As a matter of fact, I can now correct the dummy mistake I made in a posting on the Peter Ginna on NF blog of Sept 1st where I said [cough!]:

The other non-fiction writer worth emulating is Laura Hillenbrand (Secretariat, Unbroken).

Yes, Poof! But didn’t you mean “Seabiscuit” rather than “Secretariat”? Ugh! Yes!

Fortunately, what I’ve found is that mistakes embarrass us only the first four thousand times. After that it’s “Again? Drat!”

And so, I discover that I may not be hoisted on my own petard, but I sure trip over it a lot.

Beth H. said...

Christina, I'm so sorry to hear that things have been rough lately! Welcome back. I've stopped telling people IRL that I want to be a writer. When I tell anyone, the first thing they say is "Have you thought about self-publishing?" Yeah, thanks. I wouldn't have thought of that on my own. So glad I confided in you.

Karen, you just reminded me of a Craigslist post my husband found once. They were looking for a video game designer to come up with a character, write the story, design the characters, program the game, produce it, and ultimately market it, and they were offering 50% of the proceeds to the designer. This doesn't even rise to the level of That Guy. Their only contribution would have been depositing checks into their own bank account.

Pam Powell said...

Of course, I need to add that every writer needs an agent like QOTKU in his/her corner. Fight on, Janet!

Donnaeve said...

I'd like to point out one more thing then I'm gonna shut up about it.

I think most of us are aware when we've done something gauche, inappropriate, presumptuous, etc. Yeah. I know when I have for sure. But that's the diff here - IMO. Knowing it, and learning from it. Sounds like That Guy was flummoxed at the very idea he couldn't simply spew his grand ideas, and have them pounced upon with excitement and glee.

Big difference, IMO.

Craig F said...

What I posted was supposed to be a rebuttal to all of the sexism in the THAT GUY responses. It is nice that you can recognize another as sexist but not yourself.

When I decided I didn't need the $50 that was offered for a short story I sent it out to a few friends. By now it has been read by probably somewhere between 30 and 50 thousand people. For it I got over a thousand e-mails with ideas. 99 of 100 of those were from women and some of them were very creative about approaching me.

As to the full work/half pay crap, don't blame me. I am self employed. It is me against the world. If you understand what I do you would understand that while I have made many friends I also have those that hate me. There IS a whole Eastern European nation that I can not even change planes in. There are at least six companies who wish me badly.

I am sorry that you missed how I wished my first post to work. I will not apologize for it though.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I make an ass out of myself daily but have to agree with Donnaeve here. If I did what that guy did, I would expect I would end up on the business end of a shark. That guy earned it. Geez. Glad author had Janet.

Colin Smith said...

I, too, loved that "polished my smile with gunpowder" line. You should write a book, Janet. In fact, I'll help you... ;)

If writing was easy, everyone would do it. That why we should respect the talent of those that do. One way is NOT to assume anyone can do it. Another is to be prepared to pay for the services of those that can do it.

And I agree with Julie and others who have said as much. This is one reason I want an agent--to protect me from this kind of thing, so I can just say, "Please talk to my agent" and not have to deal with "business." In fact, I really want to be able to use that on my kids:

"Dad--can I play on the Wii U?"

"Sorry, all such requests need to go through my agent. Speak to her."


Pam Powell said...

E.M, - I'm good with that.

Let's just hope That Guy doesn't run for President - all those great ideas. :-)

And as u said, good thing the writer has Janet, gunpowdered smile and all!

Ardenwolfe said...

My God. This is another reason to have an agent at the ready. You certainly earned every cent that day. :)

Anonymous said...

When Will came back from Iraq he told me about a great idea he had for a suspense novel. I agreed it was great. We needed to write it. I'd write it, but I needed him to coach me because I wanted to get the military details right. He had a pretty detailed story lined out. He'd put some thought into this.

Some serious crap happened and we got wrapped up in that. I forgot to write down the idea. I asked him later what it was. Neither of us can remember to save our lives what it was.

So, no matter how great your ideas are, don't trust them to your memory. Write them down.

BJ Muntain said...

Regarding whether the guy deserves all this: He stood in a long line. He knew what he was going to say long before he got up there. It wasn't excitement that made him offer this great idea. It was the thought that he could make a lot of money without actually working for it. I'm sure working with his hero author would be a bonus.

I remember a guy on eBay one time. He was selling these 'really great ideas'. He had 3 of them, and he was sure that they would all make Hollywood billions of dollars. He would sell them for a million apiece. He suffered a lot on the internet because of it.

It's similar to the question many readers ask authors: "Where do you get your ideas?" Some authors will give a pat answer, saying things like 'newspaper articles' or whatever... Neil Gaiman said it best:

"I make them up. Out of my head."

He also says, "the ideas aren't that important. Really they aren't. Everyone's got an idea for a book, a movie, a story, a TV series"

He talks about this here:

Where do you get your ideas? on Neil Gaiman's site.

He also talks about being in the same situation that Janet's author was in.

Regarding Diane's comment about storytelling: I had a bit of a writing get-together with some writing friends this morning. One had reached an 'aha' moment in her novel, and excitedly told us about it. It was great, it was compelling, and I look forward to critiquing the novel and reading the book when it comes out. Talking about it helped to solidify the story for her. The other friend said that she couldn't talk about her work, or it would lose the magic for her. Both are valid positions.

But while I do want to read my second friend's novel, I *really* want to read the first friend's novel. Because she made me feel the story as she talked about it.

Diane: I want to read your story.

I've been forcing myself to tell people I write, at least in a friendly setting. Because once you're 'out' as a writer, you HAVE to write.

My family knows I write. My Dad grilled me about it a couple weeks ago, and was satisfied that I was still trying to get an agent. Beyond that, they don't really care, because they don't read science fiction anyway.

I've had a couple people who hear I'm a writer come up to me and tell me about *their* works, about what they're working on, and that's great. They have such an energy about it, and the enthusiasm can be catching. These people want to write their own story, and I give them all the encouragement I can.

I'm much less enthusiastic about the "you should self-publish" folks, or the "I've got this really great idea" folks.

Marc P said...

@SHeila Yeah that James Patterson eh, lol. Mind you if he asked I probably would!

DLM said...

BJ, anybody who says they want to read my story runs the risk of my sharing it with them. Ask Angie B-A, she's been putting up with it for months. :)

Okay, That Guy. That Guy is a fan.

Does being a fan provide a free pass from the social contract? I would not think so.

This was not a gaffe or a poorly chosen greeting. This was a planned approach, a (mis?)calculated offer to enter into business. Though it clearly wasn't malicious, it was thoughtless and crass (I do not discuss entering moneymaking ventures with people who do not know me, and being a fan does not provide the sort of professional credentials a stranger has a right to expect in receiving a business proposal). This is why Janet's whipping out a contract was exactly the right response: "You want business? We got business."

It's not unlike the advice Janet has given so recently regarding what to say to an agent at a conference. Talking about your book is business.

Talking to an author about their writing: business.

I don't enter into extracurricular business arrangements with strangers easily, eagerly, nor when I am doing my job.

Pam Powell said...

Wow! Great discussions!

Thanks, Janet! Thanks, Commenters!

I love writing and I love writers!

Stephen G Parks said...

Marc (Mark?) I've been wondering what your response, if any, would be.

Megan V said...

Susan: "I just want to stomp my feet about it because it makes me feel better." <--This. Just this.

I wonder how agent's handle the foot-stomping.

LynnRodz said...

Just wanted to tell you I loved your story, Janet! Sorry, no time to read the comments (too busy drinking and admiring all the billionaires' yachts in the harbor here in Saint-Tropez) but it's nice to see a bunch of new names as I scanned down.

John Frain said...

Love it!

For my next book signing (see what I did there with next) I'm bringing cocktail napkins cuz all great ideas start on cocktail napkins. I'll keep a basket of 'em out like a tip jar.

That Guy shows up. "Great! Put it in the Idea Jar and when I get to it -- no, no, bottom of the stack please -- I'll give you a ring."

Tony Clavelli said...

This makes me so happy. Thank you.

Unknown said...

My favorite post by you. I'd love to hear more stories like these. Bravo!

Valerie said...

ha ... ha ... hahahahahahaha!

Maple and Baobab said...

A beautiful scene.

BJ Muntain said...

Diane: If you want a critique, let's discuss. (bjmuntain at sasktel dot net)If not, I'll wait until it comes out in book form. But it won't be an easy wait!

Unknown said...

Bahaha, this is awesome! Your handling of the situation was pure gold. Thanks for the laugh :)

Unknown said...

Bahaha, this is awesome! Your handling of the situation was pure gold. Thanks for the laugh :)

DLM said...

BJ, no - not having readers look at a book that's having naptime. :) But thank you!!

Kasi Blake said...

A woman I worked with told me she had a great book idea that I needed to write. First, I told her that she should write it if it's so great. She protested, "But I can't write. You need to do it." I thought about it for a minute and then told her, "I'm sorry. I'd love to be able to do it, but I'm only allowed to write what the voices tell me to."

A.J. Cattapan said...

Kasi, that's an awesome response! I'll have to remember that one. :)

Gary Corby said...

Yes, this really happens.

I'm not the author in Janet's original post, but let me assure you that I have email from a small band of readers who are quite insistent about what I'm supposed to be writing.

One enthusiastic gentleman wanted me to include his favourite historical personage in my novels. When I replied that said personage lived 150 years after the time of my series, I received a four page analysis to prove I was wrong. I didn't reply to that one.

It's fantastic that people can get so excited about the books, but this amounts to fan-fiction-by-proxy.