Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Blurbs from published writers in a query

Your blog is clear about mentioning beta readers (nix). What about published authors? For example: "Tobias Wolff, who graciously read excerpts, characterized the writing as upmarket historical fiction."
I think I know what you're going to say: "Nix. Let ME figure out whether it's good or not." 

Your example isn't a blurb, it's an author offering up a category. It's akin to "Lee Child says this is a thriller."

Given Tobias Wolff knows a thing or two about fiction I'd probably take his word for the fact that you're querying upmarket historical fiction.

Given I think Tobias Wolff is a terrific writer, if he said your book was the cat's pajamas, I'd be expecting furry flannel.

However, the risk you take in quoting well-known writers in your query is that I'm familiar with the writer's work and don't think much of it. Not all writers, not even all good writers, are to everyone's taste. Generally if I don't care much for a writer's work, I'm not going to give their opinion much weight.

And I'm also very suspicious of writer blurbs. I always think of the statement attributed to Robert Parker "I'll read this or I'll blurb this, but not both."

And I understand the complex world of teachers blurbing student's books, or favors being traded at the bar at Bouchercon.

In other words, I rarely take blurbs at face value.

All in all, I'd rather you simply tell me about the novel you've written and let me figure out if it's jammies for Jinxies.


Sam Hawke said...

I'd have thought this was another one of those things that isn't really going to help you one way or another (unless the blurber is a client of the agent you're querying, in which case they'll have already given the agent the heads up that you'll be querying, right? Right?). Like Janet said, if the agent likes the work of the author who's blurbed you then they'll raise their expectations, but if your book doesn't sound gripping or your pages aren't stellar they're still not going to request.

I know it's tempting to look for something that will elevate your query somehow. But really, it doesn't have to be that hard. Just tell them about your book. Tell them so they'll want to read it. Then make those damn pages so good they're going to need to read more. If you do all that it really doesn't matter if you don't have any extra bells and whistles in the query. :)

Lucie Witt said...

Good morning, y'all.

The more I read about queries the more I'm convinced just focus on telling an agent about the book and spelling their name correctly is all us woodland creatures should worry about. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

I am thisclose to being done with my R&R draft. My pre-R&R query was a think of beauty (and netted a fairly high request rate - 40%-ish). But post-R&R my old query doesn't work (that sound you hear is me crying in despair). Time to bust out the old Query Shark notebook ...

Kitty said...

I rarely take blurbs at face value.

Me neither.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

ohgood, so I don't have to know a live published author and try to beg a blurb from them. whew. and yes, I know, get thee off to a writer's conference. I'm working on it.

But yes, this speaks to Janet's themes. No gimmicks. Just create an enticing query. It's all about YOUR writing, MY writing.

Ditto what Sam said.

Lucie, so after we've perfected our query, an R&R means a new query?Well...holymoly.

nightsmusic said...

The most important take-away in Janet's comment to the OP for me is:

However, the risk you take in quoting well-known writers in your query is that I'm familiar with the writer's work and don't think much of it.

That. Right there. You might have a wonderfully close relationship with the author blurbing your query. Maybe you're drinking buddies. Maybe you sleep in the same house. I don't care. The minute you mention something like that, you're either a Wonderful Writer or there's the sound of a head hitting a desk because the agent can't stand the author blurbing. And if the agent can't stand the author, chances are they might not even bother to read you!

Don't do it.

Lucie Witt said...

Lisa, I should have specified that's totally my choice. It wasn't requested, but I want to do one so if the R&R doesn't pan out I'm ready to start querying other agents and don't have to then start the query drafting process.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Lucie, totally get that. As I work on my story, I go back to my query about every 4-6 months to work on it more to try to make it more compelling and make it more accurate.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

It makes total sense to me to disregard blurbs. The last time a book cover blurb drew me in, it said the exact right words ("The best post-apocalypse thriller since Stephen King's THE STAND") and failed so thoroughly to live up to that blurb that I changed my rule about finishing every book that I start. I no longer finish every book that I start. I'm still in possession of that book, though, to remind me.

Colin Smith said...

So we now have "Blurbers" and "NORMANs" to add to the glossary. :)

I, too, rarely take note of the blurbs. Though it is interesting to see who blurbed a book. That itself can give you an idea of what the book's like. If Lee Child blurbs it, you can be fairly sure it's a Reacheresque kind of thriller. If Stephen King blurbs it, then it's likely some kind of creepy horror thing. If Donna Andrews blurbs it, then you might expect a witty, contemporary cozy. This also holds with non-fiction. If you like your politics to the left, you might look for books endorsed by Clinton (either) or Obama; if you prefer them to the right, maybe something endorsed by Bush (any) or Cruz. You want an idea where a work of science, history, or theology falls ideologically, and the cover flap text isn't giving it to you? Take a look at who's endorsing it.

When it comes to queries, I totally agree with Lucie: your query's about what your book's about. At the risk being blacklisted by the publishing world, I would be very suspicious of any agent that would take good comps, an endorsement from a well-known writer, or anything else over a compelling book description and well-written pages. If you think the fact J. K. Rowling loved the book is more important than whether you liked the novel's premise and the author's writing, then I think we may have an integrity problem.

Am I being too harsh?

Okay, I'd better shut up before I land myself back on Carkoon...

Mister Furkles said...

They appear to be four Maine Coon kittens. If they were to offer up a positive blurb, it would undoubtedly be for a future best seller.

Mostly, of course, they confine their review efforts to the quality of the cat food.

DLM said...

Lucie, you created one query of beauty, and that is a great accomplishment - you will find a way to write a new and better one for your new and better MS! LOVE this: "The more I read about queries the more I'm convinced just focus on telling an agent about the book and spelling their name correctly is all us woodland creatures should worry about."


LOVE THE KITTENS! That one in the bed reminds me of Gossamer TEC - aww. Mister Furkles is undoubtedly correct; certainly, I've found the aid of GTEC invaluable, and he's certainly seduced at least one agent. Though not into begging for my book ...

Lisa, I have been working on the WIP for nearly a year (not counting the ten years it was basically an open bin into which I tossed occasional research while I finished and then retired AX) and it's never even occurred to me to write a query for it. And I don't plan to till it's at least at first-draft stage, probably not until it's been revised twice or more. Yoips!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Lucie- we are in exact same position. I have a few continuity problems I need to fix caused by changes I made in my R&R, and then I am back on query train. My query result was about 40% as well, and I am told that is low. My pitch response was 90%- but a request does not translate into automatic representation. Or anything like it. And as we have been told, do not stop querying until that deal is signed on the dotted line.

I think we are learning here it is best to keep all the fluff out of your queries. Just hook the agent in as few words as you can. I am thinking I will strip my query down to bare bones. No comps. Definitely no blurbs. No italics. Just protagonist, problem, stakes, and packing a punch in my writing. At least that is today's plan.

I envision agents streaming through their queries on their phones on the subway so you really have to pop to catch one's eye. That trap has to be baited and buried deep or the feral little agent will wriggle (or swim) away.

Anonymous said...

I would be very suspicious of any agent that would take good comps, an endorsement from a well-known writer, or anything else over a compelling book description and well-written pages.

Can't speak for anyone else, but the reason I'd want a blurb wouldn't be so the agent would take the Felix Buttonweezer's word for it over the integrity of my pages. It would be so the agent slows the hell down for five seconds to pay a little more attention. Considering how often you hear agents talk about blazing through those things (thirty queries in thirty minutes, yikes on the attention span dedicated to my poor paragraphs!), anything that would get them to slow down and take notice seems like something worth looking into.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Cats! In pajamas!

What were we talking about again?

Oh right. And Lucie, you have no idea how refreshing it is to hear that - and I'm sure you're correct. The query is the main concern.

Personally, I never trust author blurbs on books. I trust reviewers I recognize, but that's about it. I have this cynical mindset that if the book has an author blurb on the cover, it's because there wasn't a trusted reviewer willing to praise it. Irrational? Maybe.

Also, is it normal to write the query before the book is written? I think I may've fallen behind a bit. :( I'm also terrible at plotting things out, so even if I did prepare the query before my WIP was finished, it wouldn't be very accurate.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Diane, "open bin"? Ha. Great description. Except I was throwing characters in rather than research. The query helps me refine what the stakes are and where the tension should be for my WiP. I've had such a steep learning curve about writing fiction.

sigh...well, it's time to get off to the day job. See y'all later when all I can handle is a skim-through of the comments and no brain to write.

Lucie Witt said...

DLM, thank you, I needed that encouragement.

EM, it's so nice having someone else here in a similar situation.

My approach to query "extras" is if I don't have excellent comps I think the agent would dig, I leave them off. If I don't have highly relevant or personal "why I'm querying you" reason, I leave off personalization (besides name, of course). I never mention another reader, even if it's an established author pal, unless I'm directly querying their agent/agency on referral.

Colin Smith said...

Lucia: Good point. But it still feels odd to add a blurb to a query. Even saying "Stephen King loved this," comes off a little weird. And if it's a writer I know that loves my work, I'd sooner have them independently contact the agent and put in a good word--an author recommendation to his/her agent kind of thing. But not in the query.

Bethany: I wrote the query for my last novel before I had finished the book, and I found it helped me distill the essence of the story, and keep my focus. Of course, I had to tweak the query once I'd finished the novel (as you know, novels have a mind of their own), but I plan to do it again for my WiP.

Theresa said...

Holy cats! What a charming picture to start the morning.

Yes, no blurbs in the query. Use that limited space to focus on your story and your writing.

As for blurbs on a book jacket, I do consider them. They often help me make up my mind if I'm on the fence about reading a book.

Dena Pawling said...

Recently my Twitter feed announced a short story contest. The judges would narrow down the field to ten, and the winner of those ten would be selected by Stephen King. About a week or so ago, he did announce the winner.

Wouldn't that be a great blurb?! “Stephen King selected my story as the winner.” If I wrote horror, I'd take it. Actually, no matter what I wrote, I'd take it =)

But alas, I'm not in any danger of having a blurb like that.

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

Sam's comment made me realise this is a case of Show not Tell.

Don't tell me (our have someone else tell me) this is a good story; if you have told it well, it will show, but only if you've told me what the story is about (ie, the blurb).

That's why we need to master the art of the query as well as the novel.

Anonymous said...

Colin, for sure, I'm still in the camp of focusing on the book. But the motivation of putting a blurb in because "that'll get a yes out of the agent!" didn't ring true to me is all. Of course, I might be that one fish in the school who stops to say, "hey, where y'all goin?"

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Colin: That makes sense. Kind of like a thesis statement for a novel - I like it!

Your Grace (Heidi - may I call you Heidi?), that's a good way of thinking about it. Novels should be self-sufficient in the sense that they don't require an outside source to lean on. Also, your noble title is very imperial and it made me laugh. :)

Lennon Faris said...

I truly don't trust blurbs. They've let me down too many times.

I'm glad agents (or at least Janet) agree. It sounds like something that would take a lot of networking to have done.

Lucie - it is heartbreaking to re-write something you've perfected, but I bet you'll love your query even more after the next revision. And that's exciting to be in R&R stage!

EM - I think you must be right about the phones on the subways. There's a reason they ask for them short!

DLM - I'm glad to know other people spend just as long getting ideas for their stories! I hear about authors getting an idea and just pumping the books out. The idea blows my mind.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Meow, where's my bonnet? Nap time.
We could lie and say Mr/Ms famous author loves our novel, who would know?

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Would you risk the agent knowing that author well enough to ask?

"Hello, Ms. Rowling, this is your old friend Janet. I'll send you my notes on your latest ms ASAP. I just got a query from Frobisher Buttonweezer. Mr. Buttonweezer says you read the ms for his novel O KALE! and loved it. Ring any bells? We must catch up next time I'm in Scotland! Love, Snookums."

Why even go there?

Craig F said...

Oh My, I think it is starting to sink in.

The purpose of a query is to entice the reader to want more. Do this by highlighting the character of your work.

To facilitate this stick your protagonist with a conflict. Give it a choice that points to how their character works and tease the reader with the consequences.

That leaves the synopsis as a plot guide.

Save the advertising copy until you have a publishing deal.

And staying mindful of your query while writing save a lot of future pain.

Of course I have been beating my head against a lot of things lately to soften it up. If I have deluded myself to stop the pain please let me know.

DLM said...

Craig: hee.

Lennon, the WIP actually came up during research for The Ax and the Vase - EARLY during research for it. So it waited patiently for many years, occasionally getting a bookmarked bit of research thrown at it as I went along the way, but steadfastly NOT being worked on. I have enough concentration issues, if I had attempted to write two novels at once, particularly two related-but-not novels, I might have had to nip off and shoot myself. Very humanely.

It is Fat Tuesday, everyone! Happy pancakes to all, and to all a good night.

nightsmusic said...

Pancakes? Pancakes??


Hey, I'm less than 30 miles from Hamtramck. Anything other than Packis is blasphemous.

Donnaeve said...

Vintage kitties...this and other long ago pictures of animals - no matter what kind, gives me a bit of melancholia.

OFF TOPIC: In Grand Junction Tennessee, where they hold the National Bird Dog Field Trials at the Ames Plantation each February, there's the Bird Dog museum. There, they have a beautiful English Setter, Count Noble. He died in 1891. He'd won so many awards, many handlers of the day wouldn't enter if they knew he was going to participate. I have pictures of him because he's mounted in a display (yes stuffed) at the Bird Dog Museum where I've been many times in the past years. I tend to hang around that display, wishing I could see him when he was alive, but...you know what that would mean.

Back on topic...There were two different issues here regarding the blurbs, but the bottom line is, it's clear the goal is to write the sort of query which makes an agent squeal with excitement, and email you back immediately wanting more, more more!

It's hard to think knowing someone in the biz might not be able to give you a bit of an edge, which is, what I'm sure OP was hoping would be a good thing.

Yet again - it would appear that the QOTKU's answer circles right back around to... the writing.

Anonymous said...


I understand the vintage animals thing. I love old photographs and paintings.

In researching Rain Crow, I was looking for a famous race horse sire from the south around the Civil War period. Lexington came up, of course. Fascinating history. He survived the war, and they buried him when he died. Then someone came up with the brainstorm to dig him up and mount his skeleton. So now he goes here and now he goes there. I wish they'd just left him buried.

I hate blurbs. I wouldn't put one in a query if it were written by Gabaldon herself, though as Luciakaku says it might get an agent to at least slow down to 55 miles an hour.

When I had my real estate company, one of my agents came in complaining about getting a speeding ticket in a speed trap. It kind of was. It was a stretch of road that went from 55 to 35 to 55 and there were no buildings to speak of. I asked her how fast she was going.


"Yeah, probably not going to beat that one."

I don't need the agent to slow down to 35, but 55 would be nice. Having said that, agents apparently develop spidey senses about these things and can suss out what kind of writer is behind the query, if not the story. I don't know. I don't even play an agent on tv.

I don't care for blurbs. I'd be hard pressed to ask authors I know for them even if I were being published. I certainly wouldn't put one in a query. You've got about 250-300 words of prime real estate in a query. Don't waste it on a chicken coop.

Regardless, if you do know a famous author, would you rather use their blurb in a query or on a book? There's a good chance that book will change before it gets published and the blurb may no longer fit. You've got one bullet. How are you going to use it? Most famous authors don't have the time or patience to keep reading your book and writing blurbs for you. If they bother to read it.

Lucie, congratulations on having your R&R done. The query will come. It did before.

Lucie Witt said...

Thank you, Julie!
That makes 4 comments for me, I think. You all stop being done kind and interesting so I don't get banished.

Colin Smith said...

Lucie: That last one wasn't technically a comment--it was a "thank you" reply. It doesn't count. ;)

Kate Larkindale said...

Blurbs in queries? Never heard of such a thing! But I do find it useful to write a rough query before I start a book just to make sure my central idea can be distilled into a succinct, understandable single paragraph. If I can't do that, I usually know the idea needs more work before I can start writing.

It's my form of outlining...

Donnaeve said...

It's like being in a debate. If someone here "speaks" your name, you get 30 seconds to respond. :)

Julie, I love old paintings too - which is likely why some book covers pull me in over others. (ONE FOOT IN EDEN, for example). Old photos of anything other than animals though...eek. Many come across as downright creepy. Especially post-mortem photos.

I wish they'd left that poor horse buried too!

Back ON TOPIC though: "In other words, I rarely take blurbs at face value."

We've talked about this before - the whole effectiveness of blurbs - i.e. not in a query, but, the kind on a book's jacket. I look at them like word of mouth - only on paper. Having said that, some blurbs leave me cold or give me an internal rolling of the eyes. If something is going to be said positive about a book, give it to me straight. "This is one damn good book," works GREAT. But one with a bunch of fluff/frills/frothy icing, i.e. the one that seemingly tries too hard is an instant turnoff.

QOTKU - you mentioned WINTER'S BONE a few weeks ago - I think on FB? Can't recall.

Anyway, I bought the book and I've flipped through it, reading certain passages. I can't WAIT to finish ABOVE THE WATERFALL (sorry Ron Rash) so I can get into this one.

For Winter's Bone - here's the kind of blurb that makes me go all twitchy, "...the lineage from Faulkner to Woodrell runs as deep and true as an Ozark stream."

Well damn, I'd love to have anyone say such about my book, but it's that sort of flowery praise I don't care for. I'd rather see, "Sh**! Read this!"

Maybe I'm just crass.

Craig F said...

Ah, Ms. Donnaeve, if you were just crass you would have just said the my Ore-fan-ex FF story suct.

You might have a vein of crass running through you but you are much more than that.

By the way, if a beta reader finishes one of your manuscripts and says "Whoa shit" you would tell them to go back and read it again. I know this to be true because it happened to me.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I'm full of self pity because I don't have time to write. My work load exploded, which is a good thing. I guess. But considering the discussion from a few days ago it is best to concentrate on what works. *sniff*

I've learned so much here at the Reef that I can apply to my line of work and it has made me a better reader. *Sniff* I'm not bagging the writing hobby but I'd have to be reborn to write like Jeff Somers or Julie M. Weathers and Susan Pogorzelski and everyone else here not to mention The Queen herself.

Still I wouldn't miss a day reading this blog and all the comments.

Having unloaded my self pity on y'all. I have a question. If the agent hates the writer of those comps you mention in the query is it better not to use comps?

Colin Smith said...

Angie: Thankfully, you are amazing at your day job.

If you haven't checked out Angie's work, you must visit her website:


Writing or not, there's always a seat at the table for you here. :)

Lucie Witt said...

Annie, I know how you feel. I commented a few weeks (?) back about how my writing basically got set aside for well over a year (really more like two). Iwas working full time, teaching, two toddlers, and we were DEAD broke (nothing drains you like poverty, but even two toddlers). I just didn't really write. Eventually, my life allowed me to write again.

I think so many of us suffer from not feeling good enough, especially here when so much talent is on display. I'll confess I've considered not entering FF contests because I KNOW I'm not as talented in that format as most people here. But your writing is just that ... yours. Your voice is special and needed. Craft can be improved, and if you have to take a break from that life long improvement effort we call writing for awhile that's okay, too.

Lucie Witt said...

*NOT even two toddlers

Lucie Witt said...


angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Colin, you are too sweet. It's hard to let go of the dream and recognize it as just that. A dream.

I'll be hanging around to buy all your books (or beta read) and read your blogs. I'd get a kitten and dress it in PJ's if I wasn't allergic to cats and if I knew I could train it to not jump on my palette. Now I have to tell those elves what I need done by midnight.

Donnaeve said...

Ha, Craig, thanx for that!

And you're right, I would tell them to go back. Still, we like that response. It's the initial knee jerk reaction, which is sometimes most truthful.

And I have seen Angie's work, as I lurk about her place often. (see Angie, you never knew...)

Colin Smith said...

Lucie: I can't tell you the number of times I've read contest finalists and wondered why I drooled on my keyboard. Because that's what it feels like I did compared to the amazing stuff people come up with.

But that's what I love about the contests. Yes, Janet's the judge, and her opinion as a seasoned literary agent carries a lot of weight. But she shares her thoughts, we all share ours, and we read and marvel and grow, both in our ability to write great stuff, and in our ability to appreciate the great writing of others. We learn and show mutual respect, which is such a simple thing. And yet it's the main thing lacking in some of the places in this world that need it the most.

But I digress... ;)

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Lucie, no problems. I'm Annie or Angie or Jenny, (that was my name in Italy, the Italians couldn't say Angie.)

Two toddlers are enough to blend a brain. I can understand why you put your writing career on hold. But
I know I am dreaming as I just read your blog post. We should all read Lucie's latest. What a force/voice! http://luciewitt.com/2016/02/08/eight-books-and-articles-white-feminists-should-read-for-black-history-month/

Donna, I lurk around too. Hee.

My husband asked me why I am crying. I told him I'll never be Jeff Somers.

Colin Smith said...

Here's Jenny's link/Lucie's post:



Jessica Snell said...

Dena, I think any of us would put a Stephen-King-judged-short-story-contest-win in our queries! But stick it in the bio, not the 200 or so words describing the book.

About getting it down to those 200 or so words: I often try to distill my plot (or at least inciting incident/protagonist/stakes) down into one sentence, just to see if I can.

It's usually hard, but on this latest project, it was ridiculously easy.

I figure either that means I have a hit on my hands, or it means I've really, truly missed the boat.

Walking off the dock now to find out ...

Anonymous said...


"Old photos of anything other than animals though...eek."

I love old photos. I, of course, ordered all of Brady's and Gardner's Civil War collections even if they were tainted at times. If I ever have money I'll be haunting antique auctions looking for photos and letters. The photos are why I usually listen to Tom Roush's version of Civil War songs. He always puts a collection of photos in his videos.


A Civil War photograph is what triggered The Rain Crow. I saw it and wondered what her story was.

I've collected pictures of the old cowgirls for years.

Anonymous said...

Angie et al,

I love you all dearly. Truly I do. I love that you appreciate my writing. Y'all need to keep something in mind. Many of you are published. I'm not aside from several years of horse racing stories. Several of you have agents. I don't.

All of you write in a way that is totally unique to you. Don't ever wish to write like someone else. I know that's tough advice. I get depressed after I read a Gabaldon book. I had to face long ago I will never write like her, nor should I try. Why be a pale imitation of a rose when I can be perky (or pesky depending on your point of view) little blue bonnet?

Janice Grinyer said...

Or you could be the one riding the buffalo with a blue bonnet on!

...er, sorry Julie. Got carried away. Literally.

*slinking off to edit the perpetual narrative non-fiction proposal, again.*

Janice Grinyer said...

Speaking of Buffalo - for those who need a rabbit hole-

Guy on a buffalo

*back to editing, for real. really. right now*

Lucie Witt said...

Angie, you make me blush, I am glad you liked my post and it's really kind of you to share it here.

Julie, your collection of old photographs sounds amazing. My mom and I go to antique malls around here al lot, and I love looking at all the old photos. I've also found some incredible photographs, and even a love letter once, in old books.

nightsmusic said...

Speaking of old photos and letters found in books:

Forgotten Bookmarks

A wonderful site. Truly. And sometimes, I find great research books from the 1800's there. Just sayin'...

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

Following up from Lucie: Several years ago it was my turn to do the book display at the library for February. I wanted to populate it with love letters that people could read. I wanted to give a glimpse into people's lives.

Love letters are an art form all their own (like novels or queries). I thought it would be an easy thing to plan my display. Turns out, no. To keep the letters from sounding like I wrote them all (which I did), I did some deep and serious research into voice and style.

Naturally I saved those letters like one saves their old term papers because I had put an awful lot of work into them. As I did them on work time, this was probably my second-highest paying writing gig.

Lucie: don't worry about having lost a handful of potential writing years to poverty and raising children. My writing career is only really starting to happen because I dedicated ten years to ensuring strong, intelligent Ladyships. Now Their Ladyships are in their teens, this frees up a bit more time for writing. Granted, while I love the extra five hours carved out thanks to Early Morning Seminary, EM Seminary is still Early Morning and I do miss my sleep.

The lovely thing about the career of writing is that it doesn't depends on you being young enough (like ballet) or strong enough (like sports) or needing to keep up with an ever-changing industry (like Information Technology). You get into it when you can get into it. Apparently, if you do really well, you can keep in it after you're dead. {g}

Angie: I believe I detect a touch of Impressionism in your work.

Bethany: yes, you can call me Heidi and if I've made you laugh, then that's a good thing. There is no greater power in the world than to make someone laugh.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I know this is way too long, but if I could I'd nominate this for the sub-header.
Thank you, Your Grace, for saying it just the way it is.

"The lovely thing about the career of writing is that it doesn't depend on you being young enough (like ballet) or strong enough (like sports) or needing to keep up with an ever-changing industry (like Information Technology). You get into it when you can get into it. Apparently, if you do really well, you can keep in it after you're dead."

For ten years I stepped away from writing, I wanted to spend time with my family, not is a room writing about them. Do I kick myself for the down-time? A resounding NO! Do I wish I were younger? HELL YES! The two have nothing to do with each other.

Lucie, two toddlers, no money, not feeling good enough. Been there.
I'd say those are three worthy subjects for a hell of a backbone in writing.

Don't lament the time you've missed, live for the moments you have now.

Theresa said...

Angie, you do beautiful work.

Julie, I wrote my second book because of a photo, too. And I wondered the same kind of thing: How did she get there? I had to answer that question.

Lucie, always think ahead. That's where the writing is.

furrykef said...

The "blurb" given in the original post reminds me of the part of the game Papers, Please where you're given an award, not for "excellence", but for "presence".

If you are going to drop a big name, it should probably be to give yourself a higher compliment than that the author has acknowledged your work's existence. (Of course, it had also better be true.)

Anonymous said...

Ahaha, I'd love to see a blurb on a cover that just said, "Sh**! Read this!" I'd probably pick it up for sheer joy at the blurb alone.

I get depressed after I read a Gabaldon book.
Agreeing with Julie here. It took forever for me to finish Jim Butcher's new series debut, Aeronaut's Windlass, because I kept getting super depressed at how pitiful and unworthy my own writing was in comparison, and no mantra (not even "in with the shark, out with the whine") could save me from that awful feeling. Damn good book, though.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Lucie- loved your blog entry as well.

I been following comments in a daze. It's been one of my migraine days so apologize if this is not entirely coherent.

Anyone who wants to write but finds life getting in the way, don't panic. That's just life giving you more to write about. Children will open up whole new worlds to you as will tragedy and strife. I wasn't able to write as much as I wanted when my daughter was born. I was still in school, alone, poor, and very ill. Not sure how we survived those first years. It really is a miracle.

But here's the glorious thing about writing, all your experience goes into it so you're not really delayed by poverty, raising toddlers, or whatever trials and tribulations life might bounce your way- it all gives you new perspective which will ultimately make you a better writer. Especially if you are strong enough to write your pain.

So many times, books have reminded me that I am not alone, that I can survive, that life has given me a damn good hand. So hang in there. What you write may one day bring a lot of joy, make scores of people look at things from a new angle, or maybe even save a life. Good writing is that powerful.

During my dark years, I kept journals and such, wrote what I could when I could whenever I could, but nothing ever seemed to get finished. Then when my daughter was in high school- the years fly by so fast, I found a lower stress job that would pay the bills and allowed me to leave work at the office. And every weekend and holiday morning, I went to this little bookstore cafe and wrote. Everyone has a different journey. If writing is in your blood and soul, you will find a way. So if the real world gets in the way, think of it as research and development time. You'll get to the writing once all that research is done.

And Angie, your work is amazing. You are so super multi-talented.

Anonymous said...

Lucie, and everyone else with children, don't ever regret the time taken away from your writing. Being a parent is the most important job in the world. What you do affects the world in one way or another. They are the world. Years ago I wrote a short story about a woman who felt like a failure because she was just a mother. "What difference can a mother make?" the woman asks.

The man talking to her says, "Hitler had a mother."

Sam Hawke said...

EM Goldsmith said " My query result was about 40% as well, and I am told that is low. My pitch response was 90%- but a request does not translate into automatic representation. "

What idiot is telling you 40% is a low query response rate? I swear the amount of stupid misinformation out there - especially statistics-based misinformation - drives me wild. Your query is doing GREAT if almost half the agents who read it want to read more. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Stephen G Parks said...

Anyone else reading this post reminded of "Castle"?

Ah, more books to endorse. You couldn't possibly read them all.

Don't have to.

[Castle holds up Kill Me Now to his forehead.]

CASTLE (cont'd)
"A tour de force in terror." - Richard Castle.

[Castle holds up another book to his forehead.]

CASTLE (cont'd)
"Does for hot tubs what jaws did for the ocean."

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Sam- that was my 2nd round query. My 1st round of queries got a 0 % response. As in nothing. Silence. Crickets. And I am talking responses, not simply requests. So even a personalized rejection I consider a response. Form letters and Normans are in the 60%. And it is a small sampling. It would decrease by leaps and bounds if I included the 0% first round.

Lucie got 40% response as well. And I think she was talking requests, not just responses. I just think my query could be stronger. That's all. You are right, the statistics are meaningless.

As Julie will tell you, most authors have to send out about 100 queries or more to find representation. Including pitches, I am still less than 30 total. I am sure, if my R&R and remaining full request don't pan out, I will reach the far side of 100. And my R&R came from a referral so that doesn't count in my query response bucket. My remaining full came from a in person pitch so it doesn't count either. My query responses ultimately turned into rejections (or at least I have not heard back on any of them) hence the R&R before next round.

No matter how you swing it, this is a long freaking process.

Donnaeve said...

Looks like the Shark is missing. How do you go about finding a missing shark? More chum?

Theresa said...

Uh oh. I hope there was no unfortunate ocean accident this morning.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Donna- I noticed her absence and I feel like a lost puppy. I hope the shark is well and simply focusing on other tasks. I really don't know how she does so much. I wish I could be as productive.

Donnaeve said...

Theresa - I know! But...I think she's mentioned before she has blog posts ready in advance and scheduled to go out, that's why (usually) at 7:00 or so we have them.

E.M. Me too! I was like, but WAH, I want a new post! We're so spoiled. We really are. It's like the birds I feed. I can tell they've come to depend on the seed every morning. If I'm late, they sit on the garden wall, looking and looking, pecking and pecking - a lot like me hitting refresh over and over. LOL!

Lucie Witt said...

Donnaeve, now I'm picturing us all as little birds on a wire.

**hits refresh again**

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I keep hitting refresh. Where is she?

I'm hoping there is good news, for her, in the lateness of this blog. Perhaps the QOTKU is celebrating with champagne with one of her lucky authors who has just contracted a HUGE advance??

E.M. I'm like you, lost without this blog to start of my day.

Hi Theresa. Hi Donnaeve.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I feel like a flounder let off the hook and flapping on the shore trying to make it to the water. My gills hurt. Yup a flounder for sure. She's swum away.

Janet Reid said...

Oh Wednesday! Right.
Here I thought it was Thursday already.

*sets date book on fire*

Miles O'Neal said...

Given the Shark's propensity for loaner cats, I'd be quite leery of trying to pick the cat's pajamas for her.