Monday, November 16, 2015

Can you find all the errors in this v. inept book promo email?

This is an email received by our beloved Victoria Strauss who runs Writer Beware, a watchdog site that keeps track of nefarious bottom-feeders in our industry.

Can you spot all the things wrong here? (and I'm not counting the errors of syntax either)

Hint: it's more than ten. And there's one VERY big error.

(This is NOT a trick quiz!)


Hello, my name is [agent name redacted]. I am the literary agent for [author name redacted], who has a debut novel set to be published in January. 
The novel’s working title is [book title redacted], and it is a Fantasy novel geared towards children and young adults. It’s a full-length novel, totaling over 100,000 words. 
The novel is going through the final stages of editing and will be sent to a publisher soon. Because we understand that blogs may become all booked up by the time of publication, or even pre-publication, we are seeking to schedule a tour early. This tour is not strictly for blogs, we are seeking publicity on all platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. 
If you choose to partake in the tour, you would be supplied with a media pack based upon the type of post or feature you would like to do. The media pack would include, but is not limited to: Advanced Reader Copies of the novel, Synopsis, Images of exclusive Illustrations done specifically for the novel, a book trailer, graphics/banners, etc.

All tour participants will receive an entry to win a hard copy of the book after publication, a follow up interview the author if so desired, swag items, and $25 dollar gift card to Amazon.

The top five tour participants with the most traffic to the tour post will be entered into a giveaway to receive a SIGNED copy of the novel after publication, a follow up interview with the author if so desired, exclusive, custom-made swag, an interview with the illustrator, $50 dollar gift card, and exclusive opportunities for ARCs by [author name redacted].

All participants, if they so desired, will be featured on the Facebook page for the author and other platforms.

We are seeking to do a 2 month long tour, starting in December of this year until the end of January 2016. There are currently openings for the following:

Guest Post

Or a combination of any of these. If you have any other ideas, please do let us know. We’re open to suggestions. If you do not have a space on your blog, and would still like to participate via social media platforms, let us know!

Thank for you for your time in reading this. If you are interested, send us a date and the type of post you’d like to do!

Post your list in the comments column.
I'll provide what I think are the errors later in the day on Tuesday 11/16/15. *checks daytimer* 11/17/15.

Second pos is up!


Laina said...

It's not published yet.


A follow-up interview is not a prize for me, it's extra work for me, and exposure for you.

That is a REALLY long book, even for fantasy. "Children and young adults" isn't a thing, suggesting the agent doesn't know the genre well.

Do agents actually do publicity? I've never had that happen in my inbox.

I hate these things where if you do a publicity thing, you get entered into a contest, but that could be a personal pet peeve,

How long ago was this email sent? I know a lot of book bloggers who have more than a 2 month waiting list for reviews. And it's the holidays! People are going to be busy!

THE BOOK ISN'T EVEN SENT TO PUBLISHERS WHERE ARE THESE ARCS COMING FROM IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS??? Two weeks to get ARCs from NOBODY how does that even work? THE MAIL DOESN'T EVEN WORK LIKE THAT holiday mail is slow! Things take WAY longer to ship during December because of the rush of online shopping and Christmas cards and stuff!

This comment is way too long, I just - I'm boggled.

Jen said...

Here's what I think is wrong in chronological order:

1- Don't you need to send these out earlier than now if the novel comes out in January?
2- WHY is a *literary agent* sending this out?
3- WHY is a literary agent sending this out *TO YOU*??? Don't they READ your blog?
4- I'm pretty sure YA and children are two VERY different genres. Heck, I even *I* know that. Doesn't this agent?
5- A 100K novel for YA is long. For children? Yikes!
6- Holy horse farts! The novel is set for release in January, and it's still in the editing stage???
7- It hasn't been sent to the publisher yet?? (May go with #6)
8- Ugh! Blitzing on social media like this does NOT work. It's useless at best, spam at worst.
9- Ummm... why does a possible YA novel have pictures? Maybe middle-grade but YA?
10- I'd image all publicity tours should not be sent en masse but need to be sent to specific blogs (ex: blogs that review children's books). So the "Hello there!" opening line makes it clear this wasn't a well thought-out email to online sites that could help with actual, you know, publicity. That it is, in fact, simply spamming a bunch of blogs and hoping it lands somewhere.


As I'm reading this, and all I can think is, "I hope to God this isn't my literary agent."

So... how'd I do? ;-)

- A Writer with an agent that hopefully knows better

Mister Furkles said...

Goodness! My daughter was a better writer when she was fifteen.

The biggest mistake was becoming literary agent rather than a plumber. The world needs plumbers and they only need to write invoices.

My favorite is capitalizing so many common nouns. But on the plus side, s/he didn't capitalize any verbs. Or did s/he?

Laina, I think--hope--s/he meant the final edit & revisions will be sent back to the publisher. Or is it iUniverse?

Janet, sorry, can't count all the errors. My calculator has limited digits. Well, okay, I go to bed early and haven't time for a full count. Besides, having my right eye operated on tomorrow. Don't want to ruin it before surgery.

AJ Blythe said...

What Laina and Jen said + the the cost of running the blog tour! I can't imagine any author wanting to spend that much on a great big set of random blogs that obviously haven't been thought out.

Was this a fair dinkum email or a dodgy one, Janet? It just makes the mind boggle.

Off to book my interviews for the book I haven't written. I'm sure you'll want in, QOTKU. Will I put you down for April 1?

Dena Pawling said...

Oh goody! I get to cross examine an email lol

>>Hello, my name is [agent name redacted]. I am the literary agent for [author name redacted], who has a debut novel set to be published in January. 

I assume an agent, being a professional, would have an email address that indicated his/her name. Somehow I picture the intro of this email being more like “Hello, I represent Dena Pawling, who has a debut novel releasing in January.” This sounds too stilted and unprofessional. Plus, does an agent even do this type of publicity?

>>The novel’s working title is [book title redacted], and it is a Fantasy novel geared towards children and young adults. It’s a full-length novel, totaling over 100,000 words. 

100k for fantasy sounds about right, altho "over" is long for debut. But “children and young adults”? And what's a “full-length novel”? And why does the email list the working title when it's releasing in two months? Don't they have an actual title yet?

>>The novel is going through the final stages of editing

With a release date in two months?

>> and will be sent to a publisher soon.

Then who set the release date? Is this self-pub?

>>Because we understand that blogs may become all booked up by the time of publication, or even pre-publication, we are seeking to schedule a tour early.

Two months is not early. Might even be too late.

>>This tour is not strictly for blogs, we are seeking publicity on all platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. 
>>If you choose to partake in the tour, you would be supplied with a media pack based upon the type of post or feature you would like to do.

Okay I admit I'm green to publishing, but isn't a blog tour the AUTHOR writing the posts????

This is as far as I got before the rest of the email didn't make any sense.

Anonymous said...

Duuuuuuude. It's not even SENT TO A PUBLISHER YET and you're trying to arrange a BOOK TOUR? If there's no publisher, there's no ARC. If there's no publisher, there's no release date. If there's no publisher, you ain't got no book to deliver. And since when do literary agents send out ARCs etc to book blogs? They send the MS out to PUBLISHERS.

Oyez, what a mess!

Rena said...

I think my favorite part of this email is that it's basically a YA fantasy ad in your email. Yours. Like do they have no clue what sorts of books the QOTKU reads in her free time. It's not like it isn't advertised in your wishlist. Sadly though, YA fantasy is THE most commonly written and queried genre (accounting for almost 75% of writing contest slush, I know cause I've read slush for a couple of contests), and that's the genre this well meaning agent thinks is going to land a contract and a book on shelves in three months? THE most glutted genre, and Agent Unfortunate is going to get a contract and have arcs before the new year? When my publisher picked up my debut (YA Fantasy), it was 18 months before I saw an ARC. This? I'

Also, I've been a reader of your blog for a long time, and I don't think I've ever seen you push ANY book that wasn't for a client, and I KNOW you've never reviewed a YA novel on this site (though you give a sharp critique to their queries on Query Shark).

Kate Larkindale said...

I think the previous commenters have already pointed out the errors. Apart from the huge one which was sending this misguided mess at all....

John Frain said...

1) If paragraph 1's "January" indicates 2016, then paragraph 2's "working title" seems odd. Maybe they should be requesting ideas for a title!

2-3)Staying with graph 2, it seems they're combining children's and YA. Hm. Graph 2 also makes me wonder if 80,000 words would be merely a semi-length novel.

4-5) Graph 3 shows up and not only does the book not have a title yet, it's still going through editing! And it's gonna be sent to a publisher, who presumably understands they're gonna get this in book form for a January release. No holidays for you folks!

6-8) Not to be outdone, graph 4 ushers in the typos: "upon" should be "on." Commas for that list after the colon should be semi-colons. Random capitals should be lowercase.

9-10) Graph 5 continues the typo section. Follow up gets a hyphen here, and the same sentence is missing the word "with." The missing "a" later isn't grievous enough to count toward the total.

11-12) Graph 6 is also missing the hyphen in follow up, plus semi-colons here would have helped so "exclusive, custom-made swag" would have made sense whereas receiving "exclusive" makes no sense.

13) Graph 7 needs help too. "a 2 month long tour" needs enough help that it should count as multiple typos, but we'll only nail it with one. Just tossing that ol' #2 out there looking so lonely? How's that not get noticed when you go back to proof?

So there's only one VERY big error? Hmmm ... I'll go with leading with the agent's name instead of the author. No, wait, can I change? I'll go with this sentence:
"The novel is going through the final stages of editing and will be sent to a publisher soon."

The Imperfect said...

First, tell me what the book is about.

There's a lot wrong here---Which genre is it, actually? Published by what company? This email is full of sketchiness!---but, mostly, I see nothing telling me what the book is about.

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

...who has a debut novel set to be published in January.

"set to be published"? Do you mean the release date?

And by whom?

Error #1: not naming the publisher (or knowing the release date).

The novel’s working title is...

Shouldn't the publisher have settled on a title by now?

Error #2: Lack of efficiency in presenting info.

...novel geared towards children and young adults.

Error #3: Not knowing the audience.

...over 100,000 words.

Isn't that a bit long for JF/YA?

Error #4: unnecessary information. Is this a marketing pitch or a query letter?

The novel is going through the final stages of editing and will be sent to a publisher soon.

Whoa, whoa, wait! Has this novel been contracted to the publisher or not? If so, we really don't need to know what stage of production it's at. If not, it's too early to be scheduling a blog tour.

Error #5: bad timing. Yes, you should market a book before its release date. But you really need to know the release date.

This tour is not strictly for blogs, we are seeking publicity on all platforms...

This sentence suggests a lack of skillful marketing planning. A blog tour is strictly for blogs. Exposure on other platforms would require a different approach.

Error #6: Ignorance of marketing process.

[whole lotta swag & a contest]

Since when is a blog tour a contest? Is this supposed to be some misplaced motivation to encourage bloggers to drive more traffic to a single blog post? Blog traffic is a long-term thing. Sure, an occasional post will go viral, but that's sheer dumb luck. And how is the agent going to judge which blog post has the most traffic?

Error #7: Bribery? In this case, a bad motivational technique.

We are seeking to do a 2 month long tour....There are currently openings for the following:

Openings? Now I'm confused. A blog tour is where the tourer (in this case the author) offers content to various blogs, ie a post about the historical relevance of an alt-hist novel to the Napoleonic Wars.

What this sounds like is a blog host who's looking for content.

Or a combination of any of these. If you have any other ideas, please do let us know. We’re open to suggestions. If you do not have a space on your blog, and would still like to participate via social media platforms, let us know!

Error #7: Lack of knowledge of target markets When I offer to do a guest post for another blogger, I do my research so I can offer them something that fits their editorial style. I make a specific offer. Only after they decline my offer do I make another or inquire as to their specific needs. "We need a top ten list," they might tell me. Can do. Everybody happy, everybody successful.

Thank for you for your time in reading this. If you are interested, send us a date and the type of post you’d like to do!

Error #9: Passivity. As an agent setting up a blog tour, they should know the blogs they're marketing to and offer specific content. It's the difference between standing on the sidewalk shouting, "Who wants to go out with me?" and approaching that cute guy named Richard Armitage and asking him out for a cuppa on Tuesday afternoon.

Also wondering if this letter was prefaced with "Dear Sir or Madam"?

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

The metaphor that comes to mind is someone loading up a shotgun with rock salt, teaspoons, dusty boiled sweets from Grandma's untouched candy dish and Lego pieces in hopes of hitting whatever target presents itself over yonder hill.

Ain't nuthin' coming over yonder hill.

As a blogger, if I got this letter, I'd definitely NOT be interested, even though I have a (semi) regular spot for authors of Fantasy novels. This novel could be absolutely brilliant. But because it's being marketed so clumsily by someone who clearly doesn't know what they're doing, I am dissuaded most strongly.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

It's a little after 6am and already my head hurts.

1. the writer did not use the 5 words required.
2. not quite a story.
3. way over 100 words

Oh, you ask, what are the 5 required words?


Ellen said...

First, the comments here are hilarious!

I just want to add one thing, because I'm not sure it was mentioned. The letter doesn't say what the damned book is about! How is the recipient supposed to know if they're interested in it?

That's all from me ...

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Word count for kid lit is too long
Comes out in January and it hasn't yet been sent to the publisher?
Since when to blogs get "all booked up?"
If you choose to participate in the tour. Huh?
They're bribing you with a free banner and all that swag.
You might even win a signed copy, and an Amazon card
Rinse and win again but 50 bucks and an exclusive interview.
And get featured on their FB page - Squee!
Can you fill an opening? Plain weird. Are they talking J.K. Rowling or an unpublished author?
Got any suggestions? They're open to them. Holy rolly polly.
This kind of pub seems like it suits non-fiction more than another fantasy book and kidlit at that.

Would not the author gain more credit if they sent a personal note?

If the publicity tour was for any product other than a book.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

For the love of Pete, this can't be an actual agent. The writing is atrocious. It sounds like a scam, not publicity. Is it a self-publishing deal?

There is no info on what the book is about or the name of publisher. Others have deconstructed this blather with skill and patience. I was trying to hit the delete button before second paragraph.

I am so curious now to know the source of this. It really looks like a wannabe writer pretending to be an agent and self-publishing their work. That's sad if that is the case. If it's an actual agent, he/she needs to learn to write. It's too early for me to go into full rant mode. So much about this bothers me, it's hard to put into actual coherent sentences.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Well, it's 5:40 am here and it's still pre-caffeine time.

The other vommenters named many things I noticed and lots I didn't notice. (boyhowdy do I have a lot to learn yet). But the one thing that stuck out for me that's not mentioned: media pack.

How much money did this poor author pay for this particular media pack?

All of those gift cards and book trailer and graphics/banners ready made--for at least 6 participants. Because the top 5 get a $50 gift card while the rest only get $25 gift cards. Oh the top five get both sets of swags! Holyschmoly. Because you can bet your auntie's white-elephant-wedding-gift that this literary agent ain't forkin' out all that money from the dear compassion in their heart. Literary agents have hearts but they also need a business head.

I wouldn't touch this...with a 39 and a 1/2 foot pole.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Okay, blogs are booked. (Can you tell, mine isn't?) But if something is really hot isn't everyone talking about it.

Yes, what is the book about. Shouldn't there be a log line?

Rambling Rolly Pollies join forces to fight dragons that threaten to destroy the planet. When Martians arrive, Rolly Pollies and Dragons must unite for a better world, or they will all croak... Full of hugs, a bedtime story guaranteed to induce sleep on unsettled toddlers and incite teenagers to tell the truth.

Unknown said...

Are we being punked?

nightsmusic said...

May I just say that this email made me feel squicky? Like the kind of squicky feeling you get when a predatory person leers at you? Ugh. Delete, delete, delete. Then I think I'd burn sage over my computer...

Unknown said...

This is bad. This is just so bad, for all the reasons previously mentioned but mostly, at least for me, because it's so poorly written. I'm willing to bet my Wayne Gretzky rookie card that a good agent knows how to write a proper, nay, provocative letter. Knows how to incite interest. Hell, knows what to capitalize and what not. Especially the what nots.

I'd throw this letter out, along with the one saying my great uncle Thomas died and left me 6.2 million.

DLM said...

Mr. Furkles and John Frain, I'm with you, I can't even cope with the bad writing and grammar well enough to analyze its content issues. Repetitive, clunky, self-conscious in tone, long-winded to little point, poorly organized ... This is a train wreck of words and poor usage. (Capitalizing the nouns: maybe this agent translated from the original Deutsch?)

Minor programming note: for those addressing the issues here as if this had been sent to Janet - she notes, this was sent to Victoria Strauss.

Her Grace the Duchess of Kneale: grandma's candy dish! Hee! Aww. I remember my grammaw's candy dish, and if you could even break up the fused ribbons and pillows of sugar to get 'em small enough to load, you'd be doing better than any of her sugar-ingenious grandkids could do ...

I'd like to book a blog into EWR on December 19, departing January 2 for ORD and let me know the morning options for a run from there to SEA a week or so out. I'd like to keep the full itinerary under $400.

Off topic, I got to enjoy one of our infrequent commenters' company this weekend with my writing group at my home. She got to meet Gossamer the Editor Cat, and I fear he thought she was an improvement on me. She is undeniably lovely company, though, one hardly blames him.

Donnaeve said...

I'm trying to nitpick something the other eagle eyes haven't mentioned, but they've covered the ground well already.

Still, what stuck out for me is this, "...who has a debut novel set to be published in January."

And then, this, "We are seeking to do a 2 month long tour, starting in December of this year until the end of January 2016."

Based on my publisher's plans, they will market after the book is released. ARC's of my book will be used to gather blurbs and the drop dead date for those to come in is June of 2016. The blurbs are then placed on the finished product which is out Nov 2016.

So the timeline of this is VERY fishy. Chumlike as a matter of fact.

And then this made me snort laugh. "If you do not have a space on your blog, and would still like to participate via social media platforms, let us know!"

Huh? Blog? Social media platform? Hello?

And this: "If you have any other ideas, please do let us know."

Yeah. I'm sure everyone will get to brainstorming right away!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

As Victoria Strauss received this email, I wonder if it was forwarded to her by some vigilant soul (steer away from this particular least they didn't say the author is their mother/daughter/second cousin/whatever), or if she's really just that lucky.

I read the comments, so I think the other Reiders got it when they went "soooooo, it's not at a publisher yet, but set to be released in January, but no title, but but but" and I do agree that another very strange thing is the "Hello, my name is [agent]". It's sort of rote how all those spam emails from Nigerian princes who just need your help getting their money out of the country go, n'est-ce pas?

Gabby said...

I would like to believe this email is joke. It's so riddled with errors that they can't be serious, right? RIGHT? This while thing just makes my brain hurt.

Susan said...

I feel like my brain is giving me a 404 error--cannot compute this.

Basically, what everyone else is saying (and Carolynn's comment made my day). Wasn't there a similar email a few weeks/months ago wherein someone was doing a publicity tour for their book but they had the caveat that they only wanted five-star reviews? I don't know which one is worse--that, or this, in its claims to be from a literary agent.

I like reason, I like to try to make sense of things and give them the benefit of the doubt, but I think my brain has blocked myself from understanding this as some form of self-preservation.

Brigid said...

So, what is the book about, exactly? Why would I want to read it? And why aren't they sending the synopsis (or better yet, jacket copy) now? This is not stuff that's supposed to be part of some exclusive media pack.

There are a lot of extraneous phrases. The entire second paragraph could be, "BOOK TITLE is a 100k-word YA fantasy focusing on the themes of X, Y, and Z." Oh, except they skipped X, Y, and Z. And the entire plot.

I'm wary that it's "being sent to a publisher", as opposed to "being published by ____ on [date]." It seems like an almost-self-pub/POD thing, maybe with the "agent" also working as the editor and marketing director.

Other errors:
* Blogs don't get booked up the way magazines do, generally. They're blogs. If I like something well enough, I'll post twice in a day.
* Partake vs participate
* Based on, not upon
* Synopsis, images, and illustrations really don't need to be capitalized
* the first "follow up interview the author" (missing "with", & a hyphen)
* If they so desire (not desired)
* an author spotlight? For an author with just one book?
* "a space on your blog" - it's not real estate

And why is the reward for me reading a 100k tome that doesn't know whether it's kid-lit or YA (or middle grade? middle grade is a thing!) more useless stuff about said tome? Interviewing an illustrator could be fun, but it's still work, not a reward. Plus the gift certs are to not-so-publishing-friendly Amazon, which is a topic I'll leave alone except to say that at least then I'd have spending $ to buy the books I actually want to read.

And again: why would we want to read this, exactly?

The Sleepy One said...

No one has mentioned the sketchiness of offering the $25 Amazon gift card. Usually, publishers give reviewers an ARC or copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The gift card crosses into monetary compensation. There are a few places that offer guaranteed book reviews for set fees, but that's not who a publicist, err agent in this case, should contact during a blog tour.

Colin Smith said...

Okay, I've not read anyone else's comments so I'm not cheating here

*tries to peek at John Frain's answers*
*John glares at me*

First off, it sounds as if [agent name redacted] and [author name redacted] are related... oh... I see... sorry!

Here are my proper answers. Don't know if I'll get 10 or more:

1) "Novel set to be published"--doesn't sound a problem. But "Working title"?? How can you publicize a book when you don't even know what it's called?

2) "Children and young adults"--at least in the publishing world "Young Adult" is a children's book category, so "children and young adults" is a redundancy. I'm beginning to think this agent hasn't been around publishing very long.

3) "Full-length novel"--what does this even mean? Novel as opposed to novella, I get. But what is "full-length" for a novel?

4) "totalling over 100,000 words"--for a debut YA novel? You're kidding, yes? If you're Libba Bray or Marissa Meyer writing your 3rd or 4th NYT Bestselling novel, maybe. Though it does say it's Fantasy, so there may be some leeway here... but still... 100,000 words "or more"--that could be 150,000 or 200,000!

5) "The novel is going through the final stages of editing"--what the...? This agent is promoting a book that hasn't even finished the editing process? It's set to be released in January, and no-one's yet sure what the final word count is, and whether all those words are good??

6) "... and will be sent to a publisher soon." You mean Staples, or Office Depot? That's about what it would take to be promising a published book in January when it's still being edited in November and hasn't even seen a publisher yet.

7) And while we're at it--which publisher? Do you know? Or is that yet to be determined? Do you know how long it takes to sell a book to a publisher? And once the publisher buys the book, there's more editing, creating galleys, cover design, marketing--you see why January might be a problem here?

8) "blogs may become all booked up by the time of publication"--maybe this makes sense to others, but I'm not sure what this means. Sure, blogs host book tours all the time, and sure, people schedule those tours, but it's not like magazine real estate. If someone wanted to, they could have two articles on two different blog posts on the same day. There's a lot more flexibility to blogging than print or television advertizing.

9) Facebook advertising--sure, I can see that. Twitter? Hmmm... not so sure about that. Not that you can't advertize via Twitter, but you have to be very careful lest you find yourself un-followed.

10) There may not be an issue with all the tour participation incentives--I've not participated in a blog tour, so I don't know. It all does seem a bit much, though. I don't recall authors offering much more than their eternal gratitude to folks who sign up to participate in blog tours. Certainly not media packs, swag items, gift cards.

[There's more...]

Colin Smith said...


11) "win a hard copy of the book after publication"--that's assuming you find a publisher for the book. If you manage to snag Office Depot, you could pick up some nice pens to give away while you're there...

12) "The top five tour participants..."--okay, now I have read some blog tours and a lot of the stuff offered here as a prize seem standard fare: signed copies of the novel, interviews with the author, custom-made swag, "exclusive opportunities for ARCs"...

13) "ARCs by [author name redacted]"--well I sure as heck hope YOU didn't write your author's ARC!! Do you know what an ARC is?

14) It's November, the novel is coming out in January (you did say it was Fantasy, didn't you?)--when do you expect these blog tours to be held? ARCs are normally sent out months--MONTHS--before the book is published to allow plenty of time for reviews, blog tours, etc. Have you done this agenting thing before?

15) "2 month long tour starting in December"--okay... is the book Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanza) themed? That might help. Otherwise, do you think this is the best time of year to be doing a book tour?

16) "There are currently openeings for the following..."--So you ARE offering interviews as part of the tour package. That kind of takes away from your big "top five" prize, doesn't it?

17) "If you do not have a space on your blog, and would still like to participate via social media..."--blogs ARE social media platforms.

Wow--I came up with more than I thought I would. I've probably been overly picky, though. And I probably missed a bunch. I don't have a lot of confidence this agent knows what s/he's doing. I would put them down to rookie mistakes, but as I understand it, good agents usually start out as Junior Agents under the watchful eye of a seasoned agent who would make sure they don't put out stuff like this. This sounds beyond rookie to me. But maybe I'm being harsh. I should just shut up. I'm way past my word count anyway... :)

Ilex said...

My guess is that this novel is being published by a pay-to-play publisher (or whatever the official term would be), which could explain how it is both "set to be published in January" and "being sent to a publisher soon." In that case, though, why would an agent be needed at all? If this author is possibly paying both an agent and a vanity press, someone needs to give them a quick lesson in Publishing 101 and in not getting scammed.

Plus, wow, if my agent wrote this badly, I would never have signed with her.

I feel a little sorry for the writer involved in this.

Unknown said...

The letter is about as personal as a dead fish.

Dena Pawling said...

>>I'll provide what I think are the errors later in the day on Tuesday 11/16/15.

Monday was 11/16/15. Tuesday is 11/17/15.

Altho that's not an error with the email. Oops. Nevermind. =)

S.D.King said...

Certainly the other Reiders have dissected this thoroughly, so I have a different thought.

They say that federal agents trained to spot counterfeit currency spend most of their time studying what a paper bill SHOULD look like, so that when they see a fake, it stands out. Time is allotted to looking at the mistakes made on the bad stuff, but more time is devoted to study of legit currency.

In that vein, it would be interesting to see what Janet would consider an "excellent" letter with a similar request. It may even help Mr. Furkles eye to heal faster.

BTW - I don't think anyone mentioned it, but I don't think you are supposed to call a children's book a "novel".

Tony Clavelli said...

I think a lot of you already have pretty much summed up the disaster. I'd make a list too, but I'm too busy imagining how the author is going to feel. In particular, how hard it would be to reconcile the enormous swing in (perceived) fortune in such a short period: from first the unfathomable joy in landing an agent, to a month from now, on a skype call with a kid from West Virginia, in the middle of an interview/spotlight/review "combination" on a somehow-still-live MySpace page, wondering where they went wrong.

Megan V said...

It's 7am here and it's still too early for me to see the screen.

But before I get to the e-mail, I have to ask...QOTKU, do you have a time machine hidden in the ocean somewhere that you're not telling us about? Because on FF contest day you tried sending us back to 10/15 and today you're going back to 11/16 :)

Okay okay. So. This e-mail is riddled with errors.

First, why send this to Victoria at Writer Beware? It's a great site but, while there are some old YA book reviews and a link to Goodreads(The reviews I've seen on there have generally been YA and A only), part of their tagline is that they strive to be impartial. This e-mail is asking them to be anything but impartial...and in this e-mail there's some bribery at its finest.

100k MIGHT fly for a YA high fantasy. It's pushing it. A lot. But there's no way it would fly for children's lit, which covers a heck of a lot more than YA. And the voice/market for those are extremely different. They really should clarify. What kind of Fantasy is this? What's the real age category.

"Set to be published" Umm. Don't they mean "The release date is? And where the heck is that release date!

Yikes! It's still in the editing process and hasn't even been sent to a publisher yet?!

Early!! Talk about LATE.

ARCs? snort. It hasn't even been sent to the publisher. And why the heck would they include a synopsis.

They're open to suggestions as to how to do this campaign—which is apparently their job even though it doesn't seem like something an agent would normally do.

They want to slam social media. Ick.

I can't go on. My head hurts.

LynnRodz said...

Uh, what everyone else said.

AND, I'm game because I want the $25 gift card and I want the $50 gift card. It's nearing the holidays and I can give those gift cards away as Christmas presents.

LynnRodz said...

Oh, yeah, I think the red flag is, they don't mention who the publisher is.

Calorie Bombshell said...

(1) Never start any correspondence with "Hello, my name is" unless you want people to think you're on Step 8 of a twelve-step program
(2)Sounds more like she's an "illiterary agent"
(3)Shouldn't the book have a permanent title if it's scheduled to be published soon? It's kinda like me saying my name is "Snookums" until I think of something better - like "Satan"
(4) YA and children? What is this? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Whiskey Take Manhattan Beach?
(5) How much over 100,000 words? Three? Millions? Very scary indeed!
(6) Final stages of editing? How does the publisher take to spit out some books? Two days? It's November - check. Publish date - January - check. Still editing - wait, what??? Got to get those elves working overtime
(7) How do you "tour" without a in-the-hand book? Do you have readers stare into their collective computer screens until text begin to form on their eyeballs?
(8) Supplied with all sorts of pretty paraphernalia? Better call Noah for those Arcs
(9) Again - how can you conduct (or participate in) a blog tour without having something (crib notes at least) to read? I'd fire my blog owner if she did this...oh wait...
(10) I repeat how could anyone who has a blog, etc., participate in a "tour" of someone else's non-existent book and, I assume, say wonderful things about it? This smells really bad, Denmark
(11) Open positions? This agent better have W-2s at the ready

Colin Smith said...

Interesting points other bring up about blog tours. Are these always post-publication? To be honest, I hadn't noticed. I figured you could tour pre-publication based on the availability of ARCs. But maybe I'm mistaken. In which case I would echo the concern about touring before the book's back from Office Depot... I mean, published. :)

Jenz said...

Wait, I think it's missing something at the end, about how they can't acquire the money from the publisher in their name, so they are seeking a partner into whose account they will transfer the money. All you need to do is provide your banking information, and they'll share the royalty income of the novel with you!

Donnaeve said...

The other thing I got to thinking about which is a BIG no no in general for promo whether it's from a self-pub author or otherwise:

NO EMAIL BLASTS. This reads a lot like an email blast to a distribution list.

Adib Khorram said...

Colin: Most "Blog Tours" I've seen for YA books have been week-long things very close to the release date of the novel in question. But I've seen guest posts (quite separate from a formal Blog Tour) from months before publication to months after it.

Given how much author have to put into their own publicity (unless they are one of those authors the publisher decides to throw some serious marketing clout behind), it makes sense to me for an agent to help with things like this. I assume most do a better job, though.

This whole thing is...sad.

Kathleea said...

Yeah. No. What is this book even about? Why send to the shark? Why not have a title? Why mix genres? Why...I'm out.

BJ Muntain said...

Umm... Writer Beware doesn't do book tours, do they? They're a watchdog, more than a reviewer. And sending something like this to Writer Beware just ... you gotta know you're going to get called on it.

That's the biggest.

Now, the time thing. If they already have a publisher who's bought the book, it's possible that electronic ARCs might be available by December (not sure how long the physical act of publishing works, but it doesn't take long to throw an electronic book up, and ARCs are often pre-final editing stage). Small publishers can take less time than the big guys (I know one that will buy the novel in January and launch the trade paperback in August).

And blog tours can be done with Advanced Review Copies, to drum up pre-sales and future sales. They don't need books-in-hand these days, like a real-life book tour does.

That said, I'm pretty sure this is self-published. And there's a darn good chance the 'agent' is the author's mum or significant other.

Unfortunately, a lot of self-published authors really don't understand publishing or anything that goes with it (book marketing, for one). I can believe this is a real letter.

Oh, by the way - I don't know a lot about book reviewing blogs, but book reviewers only have a certain amount of time, like anyone. True, they could post any number of reviews per day but

a) the more you post, the fewer views each post will get, and
b) the reviewer has to read all those books.

The book reviewers I know do get booked up - timewise, more than space-wise. How many books can you read each day?

Mr. Furkle: Good luck with your surgery!

DLM said...

My impression of the email going to Victoria Strauss would be that someone who received it themselves forwarded it to her precisely because of Writer Beware; I would think a lot of people share fishy stuff with her to put up there. I may be wrong ...

Laina said...

Man, my soul must have died at some point, because I've gotten so many of those "do the blog tour enter for a prize!" thing that I'm not surprised at it anymore. Annoyed, but not surprised.

I also didn't even see the "who the publisher is" or "what the book is about" things and that could tell you something about the state of my blog inbox!

The Sleepy One said...

Colin, when I had an active book blog I usually received offers of ARCs from small presses and 'published' novels from self-pubbed authors.

The best offer I received was from a press rereleasing Winifred Holtby's work. They asked if I'd like advance copies because I'd recently reviewed South Riding on my blog. The message was brief and personal with the offer of more information if I was interested.

Ardenwolfe said...

Biggest mistake? Sending this tragedy to Writers Beware. Now this 'agent' is getting the kind of publicity he or she didn't want. It's like sending your three-by-five glossies to the FBI's most wanted.

Sometimes, you don't want the attention.

Dotti said...

No knowledge of the industry and a f**kton of typos that included repeated words and unnecessary capitalization.

Lucie Witt said...

S.D. - I agree, if this is the F example I'd like to see what the A+ looks like.

Assuming this isn't a self published author pretending to be an agent, this makes me horribly sad for the writer. I wish when any new writer sat down in front of a black page Writer Beware/this blog popped up. Like a newbie warning/safety system. I hate to think about the money that might have been invested in this.

Victoria Strauss said...

The email came to me directly from this "agent." Also, because I redacted the names, one of the biggest problems isn't apparent: this "agent" runs a freelance editing service (a ton of red flags there as well, including no bio or CV), and is also this author's editor.

Cue facepalm.

I debated whether to bother responding, but honestly, it really ticks me off when people contact me as a blogger without bothering to read my blog (I mean, seriously, who would conclude that a blog called "Writer Beware" was a good bet for a book tour? Or that it belongs to a literary agent who's interested in receiving book pitches? Because I get those too). Because I'm a polite and mild-mannered person (ha!), I kept it courteous:

"Dear [name redacted],

I don't usually respond to emails like yours, from people who clearly haven't taken the time to actually look at my blog and learn about its focus. Had you done that, you'd have seen that we don't do tours, reviews, or author features. In fact, our focus couldn't be farther away from such things. But I feel you should know that your author deserves better research on the part of her literary agent.

Additionally, since I have some experience with book tours and book bloggers from the author's side, I thought I'd let you know that you've chosen an approach that will alienate many book bloggers. Most are inundated with review and tour requests; it's a buyer's market, so to speak, and they see themselves as doing _you_ a favor by agreeing to consider a book, not vice versa. I think it's also not very likely that a book blogger will be interested in reviewing a book that does not yet have a publisher (and which, realistically, considering the difficulty of the book biz, may not ever). Plus, bloggers love to offer contests for swag, signed copies, etc. to their readers, but I doubt they'll be much incentivized by being signed up for contests themselves, especially where those contests basically pit them against one another. Remember, book bloggers are doing YOU a favor--not the other way around."

Any bets on whether I'll get a response? ;-)

Victoria Strauss said...

BTW, I tried to websearch the author and the book, and couldn't find a trace of either one, anywhere.

Elissa M said...

I find it rather hilarious that this was sent to Victoria Strauss of all people. Yes, she has a blog with extremely high traffic. No, I personally would not want to be featured on Writer Beware.

I'm not going to list all the things I see wrong as others have done that more thoroughly than I. I take a more holistic approach to these things anyway. The entire missive stinks. I don't want to pick through it and separate the rotten bananas from the molding bread.

This may well have been sent by an "Agent" but my suspicions have been aroused. If it's an agent, she/he is a poor one. I'm thinking this novel is a self-published POD and the "Agent" is either the author or the author's relative/friend/significant other.

Andrea said...

It's such a bizarre, vague email that I wouldn't know where to start. Poor client, is all I can say.
I'm also a bit wary of the agent- freelance editing service combination. Some agents who do this specify they won't consider editing clients as agenting clients, but to me it just seems a conflict of interests.

Unknown said...

I'm confused. Is there is a contract with a publisher and the book is being re-edited? Or has it not even gone out on submission yet and they still think it will be published in January? Which is obviously crazy-pants.

It does make me wonder about the typical turnaround time on the negotiation/finalization of a contract with a publisher. Back when I used to work with contracts (nothing like publishing) if we had a general agreement now, and wanted to get moving on something in January, I would be all antsy to get the contract going immediately because there are always drafts, and re-drafts, and redlining and re-redlining, and someone suddenly adding a provision that had never been discussed before, and now we all have to go back and stew. Plus the holidays when nothing happens except rogue emergencies. But maybe publishing contracts are different, or (more likely I guess) each is its own special snowflake.

Elissa M said...

Ah, I see Victoria's comment directly above my first response says the "agent" is a freelance editor. So, not only is this person a poor agent, he/she is (judging from the letter only) a lousy editor as well. I wish someone could give the poor writer a heads-up because I think that writer is being taken for a ride.

nightsmusic said...

How many weeks ago did QOTKU state specifially, Be Findable? (can't think of the word she actually used) She definitely guilted me into reworking my blog and such which I hope will go live again soon, but if you're at the point where you have a supposed agent *cough* schilling your book, shouldn't you already be findable? Just sayin'...

Unknown said...

Ms. Strauss, I doubt you will receive a response to your letter, or even ever hear back from redacted.

But if you do, I sure hope you share.

Brigid said...

Thank you for sharing that, Ms. Strauss! Question, though. Is it a safe bet that the agent does indeed get time on Writer Beware?

Karen McCoy said...

Holy horse farts indeed! Most have pointed out the most glaring errors, but I'd like to touch on a couple.

Reviewers will need to know for sure whether a book is children's or YA (they are not one and the same), because some (like Kirkus) will include actual age ranges in their reviews. Plus, a book directed toward a third grader (still in the children's range) is much different than a book for a tenth grader (very much YA). Mostly because younger readers need to include K-12 elements like lexile levels to determine readability.

And yes, January is WAY too soon to be considering a release. Publishers still need to consider what all parts of the book will look like (binding, front matter, back matter) which will likely be determined by, you guessed it, age group.

Le sigh. Poor author.

Noel (tell me now) said...

Do we know there's really an agent? I remember reading about an author who was pretending to be an agent in order to talk to an editor...

My guess for the Big Problem: there's nothing that says what the book is about!

Mister Furkles said...

After a good night's sleep and fun with an ophthalmologist, I believe E. M. got it:

It appears that this book is to be “published” by a scam or vanity press. The “agent-pretender” is trying to gen up some noise for it in hopes that readers of popular writers' blogs will be fooled into paying for a poorly written book.

How else does the “agent” know when it will be published and how else can it be published a month after the final edit by the author?

That's how my left eye sees it.

Adele said...

I think I'm going to win the prize for cynicism here, but the only scenario I can think of where this makes sense is:

Somebody ("X") wrote a 100,000+ word fiction fantasy novel. X is going to self-pub electronically, so as soon as X finishes running it through Spell Czech ("the editing process") all X has to do is tell the word processing program to save the manuscript as a PDF file and Poof! - it's published and ready to be sold. Therefore "still in the editing process" and "January release" make perfect sense (well, to X anyway). The "publisher" is whatever e-pub seller X is using - or possibly even just X, whose computer skills are absolutely awesome. The ARC's will be printed on X's home computer when/if they're needed. The "editor" is X. The agent writing the letter is either X or X's BFF who is helping out.

In a way, you have to admire the indefatigable X.

Oh, wait - I thought of another scenario. X does have a publisher, and X's novel is coming out in January and the publisher told X there wouldn't be any pre-publication marketing, so X decided to do some. In which case X needs to learn that printing off copies of your MS on your home computer and sending them out does not make them ARCs.

The Penultimus said...

This inspires me to start work on a new YA Epic Fantasy series about the adventures of a teenage apprentice scribe monk who labors on illuminated manuscripts by day, but at night dreams of making it big as an author in the era before print.

Working title: UNDERPROMOTED.

Do you think Neal Stephenson will blurb?

Craig F said...

The first time I read this and the then limited amount of comments I decided that Jenn had her head around it nicely.

The second time I read it I figured it was a cry for attention in a cruel world.

The third time I read it I realized that being careful what you wished for applied. All those twitter pitches where agents reach out to writers took on a new level of scary.

The fourth time I read it the marvelous Ms. Strauss had shared her research. Someone claiming to be an editor spit this out. It is nice to have all your arguments against hiring a freelance editor justified.

Christina Seine said...

Haven't read all the comments so I apologize if someone already said this, but my best guess is that this is a self-pubbed author looking for some free promo.

The Notebook Blogairy said...

I didn't even deal with the REALITY of the email request. I agree with everyone else!

1) Not sent to the publisher
2) Still being edited
3) Literary agent acting as publicist

(This is either a vanity press, or an indie-focused literary agent that is wearing many hats to reduce costs to the author. However, this does the author no good!)

I focused on the letter itself and tried to unravel and correct the misleading statements.

Hello, [Start a new paragraph.]

My name is [agent name redacted]. I am the literary agent for [author name redacted] whose debut novel is set to be published in January 2016. This is a hefty YA Fantasy novel totaling over 100,000 words.

[Book Title Redacted] is in final stage editing and will be sent to the publisher soon. We understand that your blog may become booked by the time of publication, or even by pre-publication. [Add a period.] Therefore, we are seeking to [begin] scheduling this book’s [social media] tour now. [Start a new paragraph.]

This tour is not strictly for blogs. We seek [removed the “are” and changed “seeking" as it is redundant.] publicity on all platforms [remove comma] including: [added semi colon] FaceBook, Twitter [remove comma] and other platforms.

If you choose to participate in this tour, you will be supplied with a media packet based upon the type of post, [add comma] or feature, [add comma] you choose. The media packet will include [remove comma] but, [add comma here] is not limited to: an ARC, a synopsis of the book, images of exclusive illustrations done specifically for this novel, the book’s trailer, other promotional graphics, [removed forward slash and inserted a comma] banners, etc.

Each tour participant will be entered into a raffle to win a hard copy of [Book Title Redacted], swag items, and a $25 dollar Amazon gift card. [Moved this sentence fragment to a more appropriate place in this email. Also, started a new paragraph.]

Lastly, we are rewarding the top 5 bloggers who drive the most traffic to their [Book Title Redacted] post. These 5 will receive: a SIGNED copy of [Book Title Redacted], exclusive [remove comma] custom-made swag,a $50 dollar [Amazon/American Express/etc.] gift card, and exclusive opportunities [to receive future] ARC’s by [author name redacted].

If so desired, all tour participants have the opportunity to:

• be featured on the author’s social media platforms including: FaceBook page, Twitter, Instagram, etc. [This author has a combined social media following of 100K.]
• host a follow-up interview with the author after the tour ends

We are planning to do a 2-month tour, starting in December 2015 through the end of January 2016. [Start a new paragraph.]

You will find below the current tour post types we are seeking. Please note: We are open to any combination of the post types below, or a new type of post of your choosing.

• Guest Post (written by the author)
• Author Interview (a list of questions can be provided for you)
• Author Spotlight
• Book Review

If you do not have a space on your blog [removed comma] and would still like to participate via social media platforms [removed comma] --- let us know!

Thank for you for taking the time to read this request.

If you are interested in participating, please send us the date and the type of post you’d like to feature on your blog.

Thank you,
[literary agent name]

Leigh Caron said...

This person needs a CLUES FOR DUMMIES ON WANTING TO GET PUBLISHED. A bit of research on the book industry would have shown them that everything in this query was wrong.

DLM said...

Craig - "Someone claiming to be an editor spit this out. It is nice to have all your arguments against hiring a freelance editor justified."

Shew to the whee, yeah.

I'm trying to find a way to tailor my most recent favorite Sheldon Cooper quote to this, but I'll leave it unedited: "I wouldn't coitus her with somebody else's genitals." I certainly wouldn't let a friend use this editor, and perish the very thought of using them myself.

Ms. Strauss, thank you for setting me straight. There was #13, staring me straight in the face, and I literally could not conceive of such an error being possible.

Anonymous said...

I'm a week late and a dollar short as usual, but I am returned from North Dakota no thanks to my mother who was doing snow dances hoping I would get snowed in. Snow dances are like rain dances, but fluffier, and whiter, and colder. Well, actually they aren't alike at all aside from the dancing.

Anyway, I am returned laden with gold nuggets and a minivan full of important junk, I mean stuff.

On to the promo. Several things jump out at me about this. Me being me, the first thing was the word count. At Surrey a well-respected agent said flat out she won't even look at anything over 100,000 words regardless of genre. Now, if this agent is so aware of word counts even for historically longer genres, how on earth is a YA or children's book going to slide by with this count?

I've had some interest in FAR RIDER as YA. It isn't. Even if it were, there's no way I could cut 70,000 words to fit what most agents want and they are pretty adamant about where they want YA.

That brings up the second question. Shouldn't this promoter at least know what age group the book is?

"Someone claiming to be an editor spit this out. It is nice to have all your arguments against hiring a freelance editor justified."

I've visited with a freelance editor who also edits for a traditionally published NYT best selling author. I wouldn't hesitate to use him or Diane Ciarloni, my editor at the magazine for years. Unfortunately, this honyocker casts a very poor light on the good editors who are out there.

Just because someone offers you a cheap ride doesn't mean it's going to be a fun ride.