Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Please tell me you didn't pay money for this service

 Hi Janet, Dewey Cheatham here.  I don't think we've "met" so I should say at once that I'm getting in touch here with my consultant's hat on because I hope you'll take a look at something I think is really terrific and in your wheel house.  AUTHOR's TITLE, (description) knocked me out when I saw a first draft a while back, and it has gotten better and better ever since.

 I'm attaching a short synopsis that will tell you more, along with the ms itself to save us all time, and the author bio so you can see his impressive bona fides.  I've also been trying to come up with a comparable [sic] or two that will  convey the very special pleasure this story offers (comp explanation)

 The final point to be made is that TITLE  has never been submitted to any editor/publisher and you're part of a limited group of agents to whom I'm sending it.  I feel so strongly about the excellence of this work that I'm not putting any fancy time limits or constrictions on the submission.  Take a look, please, and tell me what you think.  

First thought: who the hell are you and why are you sending me someone else's work?

Second thought:  you're wasting my time. You've clearly ignored my submission guidelines about  attachments (I don't open them) and no submissions from third parties. Those guidelines aren't for "other people". They're for everyone. Particularly people I've never heard of.

Third thought: geeze louise, I hope  the author didn't pay you any money for this "service". That vast silence you hear is no one paying attention to you. Positioning yourself as a "consultant" doesn't move you to the head of the line. It moves you to the auto-rejection bin.

In other words 0-3.
That's an out, retire the team, everyone goes home, see ya later.

If you are a writer and someone offers to "help you" pitch your novel by sending queries for you SAY NO.  No matter how enticing they make it sound. No matter how "connected" they claim to be. Anyone who claims this is effective is WRONG.

I don't think this "consultant" is actively trying to line his own pockets at the expense of authors. I think he's simply clueless. It's not a scam, it's just useless. Unfortunately the only person who loses out here is the writer who thinks his book isn't getting any love when that's not the case at all.

And for the contrarians among you (and yes I know there are many) who say "well, jeeze SharkForBrains, just read the damn thing already" let's all remember this:

1. I have no idea if the author has agreed to let Dewey Cheatham pitch his ms.
2. This "query" wasn't written by the author and doesn't actually tell me anything about the book.
3. Someone who is so uninformed as to allow this is a writer who will require a LOT of extra work. Guess how much I want to sign up for that?
4. I don't even want to hazard a guess at what kind of fee structure a consultant like this sets up. A bonus if the agent replies? A percentage of the deal if the agent sells the book? This kind of thing bothers me a lot, and frankly I don't want to be part of it.

Just about the only time I'd actually take one more step and read some of this is if it was a non-fiction book on a topic I was perishing to work on.  Off the top of my head I can't think of a topic like that but I'm sure there must be one.  For a novel? No way.

Querying EVERY AGENT IN THE WORLD is easy: send a query. Wait for a reply. You don't need anyone to grease the skids, perform an introduction, move you to the head of the line, wrap you in some kind of embrace of familiarity.

I read queries from total strangers every day. I sign authors because I love their books not because some consultant read it first and vetted it for me.

This is a very simple game. Throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball.


nightsmusic said...

Ah, yes...the used car salesman of the publishing world.

And that's not a slam against all used car salesmen if there are any here, but a euphemism. Some are very nice! Most are...slick...

And someone else uses GeezLouise! Hah!

I don't understand why someone would pay to have this done when it costs nothing but a little bit of time to do it yourself. Boggles the mind.

Kitty said...

Men in towels :~) I can see why Janet chose this particular video to make her point.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. More scammers.

The Self-Publishing world is as full of these kind of people as the Aspiring Author world.

You start to get a nose for them...

Lisa Bodenheim said...

hooha. (fans self) Nothing like a bunch of towel-clad men in the locker room first thing in the morning.

ok, back on topic- I'm glad the Shark is straight about this. I remember thinking that it's going to be tough to get an agent to rep my story to a big publisher (yup, still thinking positive) e.g. crafting a query, writing a synopsis, having a polished ms, doing r&rs. But I'm so glad I don't need another intermediary between me and a publisher. And, a paid intermediary from the get-go before I even sell the book.

I WANT to write my own query, my own synopsis, my own author bio (shudder at that last one). It's a challenge but I'm up for it. And I've spent excruciating labor on my story. Why would I want someone else to go to bat for me?

I wonder if this guy/gal/consultant is also an editor (structural? substantive? copy?) as it almost sounds as if they've nursed this author along?

Anonymous said...

I was recently at a workshop luncheon at the park for all six writers groups in my area, and there was one of those people there.

She was in her mid sixties and claimed she could make your email query shine, (for a fee of course). Now don't get me wrong, there are legitimate editors out there that offer this service for a fee and many writers are grateful for it. But when the lady tells you to:

"Send in an email with this format and that format, ignore the submission guidelines of the agency because they don't care about that, its just for show," what do you?

Well, Ill tell you what happens, my Janet Reid alarm goes off in my head and I say, "Whoa their Missy, are you telling me you are advising people to disregard the rules and asking them to pay you for it?"

Nah uh, no sir, no mam! I trust Janet's advice above all others. Why, you ask. Because she is a successful agent and she cares to help, for whatever reason, she does and so that's enough for me.

Needless to say I reminded said lady, in front of the entire group, that an agent would most certainly send your email to the reject bin if you did not follow the submission guidelines, regardless if your book was a bestseller or not.

I wear my Janet Reid Badge with pride. Hats off to you Janet.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it took me a minute to start listening once the camera hit the showers. Rawr.

What were we talking about again?

This brings to mind the, "I don't care about anyone's opinion but mine," approach to reading queries. Even when someone Agent McFabFace knows and respects recommends a book, the query itself still comes from the author. Besides, if Her Majesty will pardon me calling her a middleman for the sake of a hopefully slick phrase (since she sort of is, between me and the publishing houses), who wants a middleman for the middleman?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh my, how wrong is this, especially in this place. Almost makes me want to laugh, but I won't, because we all do expensive stupid stuff from time to time.

I once paid five-hundred dollars, plus a one-hundred dollar gift certificate to a restaurant, for a copy edit on my first novel. A sixth grader with an A in English could have done a better job. I worked with the editor's mother, I had the money, so I paid and said thanks. Two weeks later the mother quit.

Years later I paid another editor (a pro) two-fifty for a read through. The editor basically told me to go back to how-to-write-a-novel-school. Learning is good but...

Education at my age: When eating caramels, SUCK DON'T CHEW, or you'll lose your crowns.

Sam Hawke said...

I'm assuming that you changed the name in the email Janet (otherwise, I think this might be a spoof - Dewey Cheatham? From Dewey Cheatham and Howe, reputable law firm?). I never know whether to feel sorry for people who sign up to these things or not, since a bit of basic googling should tell them how to query, and this ain't it...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Jason, where can I get one of those Reider Badges?

nightsmusic said...

OT but...Hey! How about Reider Badges for our websites? That would be really cool!

JeffO said...

It's like getting an agent...to get an agent! Where does it end?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Jaw drops. Really? What writer thinks this is a good idea? *Scratches head and wanders off to find coffee thinking an official Reider badge would be badass.* You could add it to your query signature as an industry standard that tells agents that you are NOT an asshat.

Colin Smith said...

I'm guessing most regulars at The Reef are not going to be sucked into something like this. Not to say no-one has in the past, but if you've been reading Janet's advice for any length of time, like Jason, you know the score.

But that doesn't exclude the possibility of getting help if offered? For example, say I run into Lee Child at some future Bouchercon (in the book room, of course):

"Hey, are you the Colin Smith who writes flash fiction?"
I nod sheepishly because, you know, it's Lee Child so my brain has seized (this happened to me for real when I met Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor--but that's another story).
"Oh, I loved that one you wrote for A-to-Z... um... 'Used to Be Bad' was it? With the ice box?"
Sheepish nod. And a grin.
"Are you working on a novel? If so, here's my email. Send it to me when it's done and I'll put in a good word with my agent."
Wonderful Bouchercon staff hurry to scrape me off the floor.

Okay, clearly I write fantasy now. But does that kind of thing happen? If YOU, dear Shark, were the agent Mr. Child contacted, would you say, "Sorry, Mr. Reacher--I mean Mr. Child--but I must see a query first!" or would you immediately put my ms at the top of your reading list?

I realize this is a very unusual situation, and it's not the same as the situation you wrote about because you KNOW Lee Child. But I'm curious what level of familiarity there needs to be with a third party before you would bypass the query and read a ms.

Hmmm... I wonder if I could have Lee Child riding away on a dragon...? :)

DLM said...

I thought my daddy's letter was real nice. He LOVES my book.

Celia Reaves said...

*raises hand* I want a Reider badge, please!

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and a Reider badge? That would be awesome. Something to wear with pride on our blogs. And maybe something we could wear to identify ourselves at conferences? Perhaps one of the artistically-gifted in our midst could come up with something?

Panda in Chief said...

I can still remember when I first started thinking that maybe I could find an agent and/or publsiher for my cartoons. I don't think it would ever have occurred to me to hire this kind of "consultant". Not because I am wise beyond my years, or anything like that, but because I'm cheap and naturally suspicious. (Pandas are endangered, we have to be careful.)
I started looking for books about publishing, and then, because I live in an area that is crawling with witers, asking questions whenver I ran into one of my writer acuaintences. One steered me to agentquery.com and another to SCBWI, and then by going down the rabbit hole of links and recommendations, I found my way here, as well as other blogs on the business and craft of writing and publishing.

If I can do it, pretty much anyone with access to a computer at their public library can do it. My knowledge of computers and the internet is shallow, yet narrow.

I keep trying to be the first commenter during my week on the east coast, but stull am not looking at just the right time. In transit to Baltimore and DC. If there are any Reiders in the DC area this weekend, look for me at the panda house when the zoo first opens in the morning!

Anonymous said...

Reider's you are in luck! To get your shiny new Janet Reid Reider Badge, all you have to do is ask Janet to make one for each of you.

Yep that's right go ahead each of you ask her for one, like say, three times a piece.

(Little do they know that this has been my plan all along. Soon I will have tons of people to keep my company on Carkoon. Wahahahahaha. Wait, did I type that out loud? )


Okay all kidding aside, Janet if you would like something like this weather it be a physical thing or a web image, let me know my skills in this area are three fold, Me, my wife the graphics artist, and my 20 year old daughter the anime artist. I am sure between the three of us we could come up with something fabulous.

Cindy C said...

Nature abhors a vacuum--but apparently entrepreneurial "business" people abhor one even more. Real entrepreneurs see a gap, spend time studying and researching, then fill that gap with something that truly works. Others, like snake oil salesmen of old, skip the research/study part and jump right into filling the gap with . . . whatever. And if people are desperate enough for help, they'll pay for and try anything.

Donnaeve said...

What a weird situation. I've typed several beginnings to this comment, and deleted all of them. Because. Speechless. I'll be right back.

*insert Jeopardy theme music*

I'm back. Still stumped by the tactics here, and all I gotta say is...it's my career. I want to manage it. I mean, honestly, you gotta wonder...would this person also let someone else go do their job interview?

4/26/16, 8:35 AM Delete

ACFranklin said...

I'd love to do a Reider badge, guys. It'll probably be not as good as if someone else did it, though. I'm only half artist.

Hey, maybe we can have an art contest for that. NOT run by Janet, as her Sharkliness has too much to do as it is. (Too bad, Jason. If you had flavoured kale chips, I might want to go to Carkoon). Colin? Regulars? Do you have thoughts?

Janet Reid said...

Sam Hawke, yes that was a pseudonmyn chosen for giggles.

His son is was christened with his wife's maiden name so when they
go places people say "Oh look! It's Dewey Cheatham and Howe!"

And yes, I miss Click and Clack a great deal.

Sherry Howard said...

Janet's post made me so sad. Everyone is new at something some time, and the learning curve can be a sharp angle instead of a pleasant rolling hill. Never mind, that was my poem today. In writing forums I meet so many green, young writers who are not willing TO DO THE WORK. Anybody can write, right? Throw words on the paper, get that editor with that $99 special, and hire that query maverick. Easy peasy. Serious writing is a job; getting published is the promotion that comes after hard work.

Joseph S. said...

I had a sobering experience Saturday. A novelist (Max Everhart) spoke at a local library. After his presentation he took questions. I could only hear the ones from my side of the room; but they were like:

Is it okay to write in a spiral notebook? When Max answered yes, it’s okay, in fact he wrote his books using a spiral notebook and a pen, a look of horror came over the questioner’s face. But I use a mechanical pencil he said. (I wanted to ask him if he intended to submit his writing to a publisher in a spiral notebook).

A woman asked at what stage should she copyright her book.

Another asked how to spell query.

Everyone reading Janet Reid’s blog is so far ahead of what I witnessed Saturday (but I still enjoyed Max Everhart’s presentation enough to pick up two of his books).

Unknown said...

I hope no one paid money for this either. It makes me sad to think that someone would. Much better idea to read the Query Shark archives for free while sipping fancy and expensive coffee drinks. Or buy a bunch of new releases in your genre at your local Indie bookshop. Or bid on a query critique from AMAZING AGENT in an auction. Or buy a cute puppy and a CD of Scottish Bagpipe Hits. At least then you will be happy.

Susan Bonifant said...

I was taken by one of these "consultant-hats" years ago. I discovered it when I was mistakenly copied on an email in which one consultant-hat described to another the new ways I could be charged for additional "work." It made me sick. Eventually, I came to see it as tuition in the school of "Don't do this."

I was not stupid or lazy. I simply lacked the savvy to balance my sky-high hopes. When rejection-fatigue set in, I began to think I'd need professional help to navigate the publishing labyrinth.

Writer, beware.

It is bad enough that "consultants" like this prey on hopeful new writers, but it's worse that they prey on the discouraged ones. They can smell rejection-fatigue, and they KNOW when a writer has started to doubt their own fortitude.

I'm betting this consultant was completely aware of the reaction Janet and other agents would have, threw the dice anyway, and sent a cheery progress report back to the client: "Fingers crossed!"

Timothy Lowe said...

Joseph Snoe -

I am so glad you reminded me how to spell query. I kept getting information on rock extraction methods when I used my pal Google to try to find out how to quarry.

Holy Hand Grenades!

Joseph S. said...


We all start at zero and build from there.

(P.S. For a second I thought I had misspelled query! Holy Dan Quayle)

Panda in Chief said...

I'd be happy to try my paw at designing a Reider Reader badge. Will have to wait till i get home but....

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

I get asked what I call 'the apprentice questions' all the time. While some of them (secretly) boggle my mind, I'm happy to answer them because every time I do, I score another point against Ignorance. Then I usually tell them something else that they didn't ask for, because if they have one question, they probably have another, even if they don't know it.

I am a proponent of education in its many forms.

Brigid said...

"(Pandas are endangered, we have to be careful.)"

I laughed out loud.

Julie Weathers said...

Back in a previous life, I was busy querying Dancing Horses, my suspense novel about cutting horses, rodeo cowboys, and hit men. I queried one agency that said it had an interesting premise, but needed some editorial work. They recommended a reputable company they knew. I took in more ironing, baked more bread, hoofed it around town to clean more houses and saved up my $500 for the first hundred pages.

The "editing" was pretty minor stuff, but they did make some suggestions. I just couldn't justify spending that much money, and twenty years ago it was really a lot of money, to do more. I'd rather spend it on my kids. Aside from that, I was reading more and came across a sage bit of advice warning people about bait-and-switch literary agencies that were mainly fronts for these editorial services.

Now, granted, just because an agent recommends an editor doesn't mean it's a scam, but in this case, it was. I was able to find more information on them later warning people about them. Unfortunately, all I read was, "We're very excited about your work and would love to represent it, but it needs some work."

Even now, when I enter twitter contests there will be the invariable unsavory service or "literary agency" that pops up like a zit on prom night.

Writer beware. There's enough information out there today to check anyone out and no reason not to.

Jennifer D said...

I'm relieved to see someone willing to eschew the "fancy time limit".

I, myself, have always felt more drawn to the "understated and elegant time limit", or even the "rustic time limit".

Kudos to you, sir/madam, for taking a stand and going to bat for the manuscript of such excellence that it deserves a completely open-ended unfolding before the world.

If you think it's excellent now, like a fine wine, imagine how good it will seem after ten years of silence. I can already taste the notes of currant, oak and dejection.

Diana said...

Long time lurker here, but had to pop in and comment, as I am still boggling over someone who thinks "you're part of a limited group of agents to whom I'm sending it" is a GOOD thing.

Brian M. Biggs said...

Yes, Janet and Sam, I love "Car Talk," the reruns. This character should hang out the sign "Dewey Cheatham, OF COURSE."

Anonymous said...

It's my 40th birthday today. This is what I want for my Birthday: a Reider's Reef Badge. It would symbolize that I have begun the writing journey with the best advice a new writer can start with. It means that I have read all the archives on Query Shark and that I have spent the time to listen and correct my erroneous writing way's. That I have agreed to word-smite the telling portions of my novel and show the world I can write instead of telling them.

1 Reider's Reef Badge [Insert "punny"(pun funny) phrase here].


1) I am a woodland creature
2) A shark's Chum
3) Query Shark Approved

Donnaeve said...

Joe Snoe and Timothy Lowe (where I could go from here with those rhyming names...)

In some parts of the US, query might be pronounced quarry. Just sayin'.


CED said...

I think we're all taking the wrong lesson from this post.

The right lesson: there's a thriving business for writing consultants out there!

Anybody want me to send out their query (for a small fee)? I know some people.

Craig F said...

There are two quotes I am reminded of at least three times daily. One is by P.T. Barnum and is about how often suckers are born. The other is Robert Heinlein who said that you can never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

I have to admit that it took a lot of practice at getting into the role of each before I recognized it in others.

One of those roles was when I thought Author House could help me. I combined both of those quotes and became a stupid sucker.

I too would like to become a CERTIFIED REEFER, I mean a CERTIFIED REEF MEMBER too.

Julie Weathers said...

I love the lollygagging, but thank heavens it doesn't have Siri. Will, esteemed son, was demonstrating Siri on iPhone. I'd had the phone for two years and didn't know it had that.

"Siri, where can I hide a body?"

"What? Again?"

After playing the lollygagging bit 139 times, (strictly to study dialogue) I almost expect a voice to say, "What? Again?"

I was in the grocery store yesterday after a sudden craving for stuffed cabbage roll soup hit. After I gathered all the ingredients, I wandered up to the check out stand whereupon a bright yellow book caught my eye. Lee Child's latest book. I didn't buy it as I had just bought Roger Angell's book, but who among us doesn't see those books in stores and dream, "One day...."

At the beginning of the Civil War generals tried to devise ways to differentiate their men since they were all wearing the pretty much the same uniforms. Cadets coming out of West Point and other military academies wore cadet gray regardless of what side they were on. Both armies wore Federal blue. Some wore sashes, rosettes, or badges to identify units.

No one is shooting at me, so I don't need to declare myself from a distance. While badges are cool, I don't need one to establish myself as a Reid fan. Being a smart, savvy writer and querier identifies me as one.

Joseph S. said...

Panda in Chief

Will the Reider badge be a pin on, clip on, or sew on?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Here's a suggestion.
How about someone pins a Reider Badge, T-shirt, washable tattoo or scratch and sniff to the Carkoon Branch Office on Pinterist.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Shorter Julie Weathers

"We don't need no stinking badges"

Anonymous said...

Does it Julie, does it really? I spoke to Patrick Rothfuss and he didn't know who Janet was. He is a NYTBS author. I think it's safe to say he is a very smart and savvy writer of queries and stories, wouldn't you say. Does that make him a Reid fan.

The badge isn't only for us it's for Janet too. It honors her and the benevolence that she has shown to new and up and coming authors. Also it would be a fun thing to have and would be something fans of Janet could wear to show their support and fandom at conferences and such.

It was suppose to be a fun idea. Not a necessity of validation.

LynnRodz said...

First off, Colin's scenario wouldn't happen. Why? Because Janet wouldn't call Lee Child "Mr. Reacher" or "Mr. Child." She would say, "Hey Snookums, why don't you bring that manuscript over to my apartment this evening. I've got a good case of Scotch (see comment from a few days ago) and we can go over this together."

Back on topic: Everyone has to start somewhere. I've recently seen mistakes or misunderstandings about publishing with a private Facebook group. Not beginner mistakes, but advice some writers give to others that aren't correct. Each time, I make sure to comment, but I back up my words with a link to Janet's blog and how she addresses each of those problems.

Too bad it wasn't the author who wrote in.

Hi Diane, the welcoming committee seems to be a little late.

Colin Smith said...

Jason: I think it would a cool thing to sport on a name tag, like a little sticker so Reiders, commenters and lurkers alike, can identify each other at conferences. And it would be an instant ice-breaker should you meet Janet for the first time. Kind of like a Masonic pin. We could even develop a handshake... or a finshake...

... which leads us to the inevitable Monty Python sketch. :)

Anonymous said...

Colin your right, being a Freemason myself, a pin is a great way to see a fellow brother and say hey. In this regard we could see other Reef Reider's and say hey.

Me said...

This wasn't a joke?

Christina Seine said...

Wink wink, nudge nudge. Say no more, say no more.

You know, I've never been taken in by one of these guys, simply because I have 5 kids and therefore no money. But I can see how someone *would* be - especially if they're (ahem) more seasoned. Twenty years ago when I went to college and worked toward my MFA, the internets were not really a thing yet. People still looked things up in encyclopedias, for Pete's sake. I was literally taught nothing about how to query (or how the publishing world works in general). Nada, zilch, squat. Fortunately, I have cool writerly friends who showed me the light and steered me toward Janet's blog. I can see someone googling "how do I get my book into the hands of agents" and being caught unawares by an ad for one of these "consultants."

Julie Weathers said...


Trust me, I know who Rothfuss is.

"I think it's safe to say he is a very smart and savvy writer of queries and stories, wouldn't you say."

Actually, no. He's a tremendously gifted writer, but not so much on queries.

Patrick says himself he's horrible at writing queries. He had a terrible time getting an agent. He admits writing a decent query letter is beyond him. He won a writing contest and met Kevin Anderson at the corresponding workshop. Kevin introduced him to his future agent Matt Bialer, and history was made.

Feel free to create Reid badges. Wear them with pride.

At the last Surrey Conference, I made yo-yos in Fraser plaid to put on our badges. It was kind of a joke and homage to Diana (Gabaldon) who was mia for the first time in years.

In Denver some years ago, the crew all had little bedazzled sharks thanks to Julie Butcher, bless her.

Have fun with it if this is what you want to do.

Intercostal Clavicle said...

Maybe I'm extra cynical, but my first thought was that this was actually the author speaking, but posing as a third party in order to show off an "unbiased" opinion on how superduper their manuscript was.

Colin Smith said...

Sorry, LynnRodz. The welcome committee is here now. :)

Welcome to the comments of Janet's blog, Diana. I hope your experience will be fun and rewarding, and not simply an extension of the pit of despair in which you currently reside, if you are a writer like the rest of us.

On the top right of the blog, you will find some useful links. If you want to understand some of the odd, seemingly meaningless words we like to throw around (e.g., "QOTKU", "Carkoon", "synopsis"), there is a glossary you can use for reference. If you wish to become further identified with the regular commenters, there's a list of Blog Commenters and their Blogs. Please contact me to be added to that list. Christina Seine has created a lovely Pintrest page you can be added to, and if you want us to know generally where you are in the world, you can add yourself to the map. We also have a Treasure Chest that contains some goodies of interest to blog regulars and to writers in general.

On behalf of my fellow commenters, and Mighty QOTKU herself, I hope your time with us is both pleasant and... um... educational.


Timothy Lowe said...

Donna -

Good lord I can hear the drawl in my head! "Y'all didn't think I'd go quarryin' ya, didja?"

This reminds me that I can't wait to read your book.

The Sleepy One said...

Intercoastal, I wondered the same thing.

Someone in a big facebook writers group I'm part of asked about a new writing site that's aggressively tweeting about a contest they're running. (Note: this site might have good intentions but is going about things in the wrong way). I've gotten to the point that I assume almost anything writing-related this is a scam, and that makes me sad.

Colin Smith said...

BTW, if you didn't already know, tomorrow (April 27) is National Tell a Story Day.

Julie Weathers said...


I'm glad you came out to play. The water is mostly safe.


Totally off topic, but what's new. During the war, (Civil) both sides would tear up railroad tracks to derail trains. Usually, they'd set up warnings so the engineer could slow the train down and avoid casualties.

In one such derailing, Mosby derailed a Union train and a particularly pompous and indignant gentleman was raising hell. He demanded to be taken to the leader, so they pointed out Mosby.

"I demand you cease this immediately, sir. I'm a mason!"

"I'm sorry to hear that. Hand over your money and I'll have your watch, too."

I guess some people aren't as impressed with masons as others are.

I've never understood the desire to wear the little Mensa owls, club pins, and other symbols, but perhaps that's because I'm a heathen with no appreciation for the finer things in life.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I was going to tell same story about Rothfuss but Julie beat me to it. Also Name of the Wind is not so easy to describe so it doesn't lend itself well to querying to begin with.

I met Rothfuss a few years back, and he admitted he sucketh at the query thing. Hence, Rothfuss (who claims he only writes 8 words a day) took a different path to agent and publication. The path to an agent will vary writer to writer. The one Janet describes, however, will never lead to an agent unless drugs, zombies, and Carkoon's Fuzzy Print Literary are involved.

Julie Weathers said...


National Tell A Story Day? Lawsy, I don't think I could do that. I need to prepare and stuff.


Thank you, now I'm self-conscious about saying query.

OK, I'm going to make like a writer and wrest some words onto the page.

BJ Muntain said...

Wow. I would never expect an agent to open an attachment they didn't expect - who knows what viruses may be in there?

I hear so many people saying you have to be famous, you have to know someone, you have to self-publish, you have to do someone if you ever want an agent or a publisher. Yet there are many folks right here on the Reef who are proof that this is wrong.

The people who fall for scams like this are the people who don't know. Innocent people who get conflicting advice but don't know where to start. That's why I wrote a guest blog for my friend on how publishing works and how to avoid scams like this. They're not going to google 'how to query' because they don't know the term 'query'. They may not even know what an agent is or does. I hear people say "Send this to this publisher or that publisher". Nothing about guidelines. Nothing about how 'this' publisher doesn't accept non-agented submissions, or how 'that' publisher just went under. So an author looks for contact information, finds an address, and sends their novel. Crickets. Then someone says, "I can help! I'll send the publishing folk a letter for you, telling them how great your work is, and they'll *have* to buy it." Whether they charge for it or not, it's the poor writer who suffers, because again they don't hear anything.

I've been studying the publishing industry for a couple decades now. I know where to find information. I've learned, over the years, that there are online and paper resources. But if you don't live in a major centre and if you're not a google wizard, there's a chance you don't know. If you google 'how do I get published?', the first thing you see are ads for self-publishing or other 'services'.

I'm not a publishing innocent - or any kind of innocent, really, at my age. But I can definitely see young or naive authors being taken in by these scams. I mean, people fall for scams all the time. These scammy mcscammers play on a person's dreams, and do worse than just take that person's money: They damage dreams and they may even ruin a person's chances at real publication.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Writers aren't going to know who all agents are. Just the ones they wanted to sub to but wrote out of genre, the ones who rejected them, the ones they've gone to talks by, etc. And obviously, er, "author help organizations" of the sort who wrote the sort of letter displayed above didn't know who she was either.

I have not "in real life" typically been able to be a "don't you know who I am?" person (I was able to do it in a game once recently, and it was amazing), but I almost think it's better to NOT have Reider badges. If a scam artist tries to fish one of us, we can lambaste them unsuspectedly, and people who ask good questions are more trouble than we're worth. If we're labelled, they'll know to steer clear.

Example (not writing, but related): I was auto dialed (illegal, but who's going to stop them, right?) by a company which was going to "lower my credit card interest rates". I hit 1 to speak to a representative (if you press 2, to "remove yourself", they know they have a valid line to continue calling), who listed a variety of credit card companies he was calling from, and when I asked him to tell me the name on the account he was viewing, said "well, this is your phone number." I said "Why yes, I'm holding the phone that you called. What is my name?" and he hung up on me.

To bring it home, if a "we'll send your query to agents" company contacts me, I'm going to be far more trouble than they're worth. If they know to avoid me because I'm a Reider, I'll be deprived of that pleasure.

Unknown said...

Loved the clip! This is one of my favorite movies. Watching 'Skip' yell at the team gave me a much-needed smile.

Lennon Faris said...

By the time I'd finished the first line of this post, the two notes from JAWS theme was playing in my mind. I do feel bad for this author. So many people are legitimately uninformed. If they don't have any experience in the publishing world, they might not have any clue who to trust.

OT - A Reider badge would be cool! Maybe we should all get tattoos on our upper arms. Then when we meet at conferences we can be all like, "Hey, are you-" and then the other will give a meaningful gaze and slowly roll up the sleeve. A secret handshake would also be appropriate here.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Don't tell Dan Brown about the Reider Secret Society or he'll write a book about. And we all know unsuccessful HE is.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

2Ns- we must not let the Reiders be exposed. No badges. Secret tattoos in invisible ink on our fleshy backsides. We must not let our quest for universal domination be exposed. It's not for nothing that Janet holds the QOTKU title.

nightsmusic said...

Thankfully, as I get older, EM, no one pays attention to my backside anymore anyway...

Adib Khorram said...

I'm a hundred pages in to THE WISE MAN'S FEAR right now and enjoying Patrick Rothfuss immensely.

I also wondered if this wasn't a writer inventing a fake third party to make their query seem more impressive. Which is funny-sad in a different sort of way.

Reiders should be able to recognize each other by the distinctive bite marks.

Adib Khorram said...

Also, when I went to Midwest Writers Workshop last summer, I tried to get a ribbon made that said "I got exiled to Carkoon and all I got was this lousy ribbon!" But alas, it exceeded the character limit for the ribbon printing service.

RachelErin said...

The sad thing is the "consultant" scam is probably making more money than your average published novel.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Hi Janet, DeadSpider Eye checking in, you might recall we met at the humanitarian of the year awards. Anyway, thought of you when this peachy draft for a fiction novel crossed my desk. Wow what a stonker, couldn't put it down, by the time I finished, there was a thirty foot queue, waiting outside the office wc. Do yourself a favour and snap it up today, by the way I've attached the entire draft along with precis for another fifty or so projects I'm currently managing, you know, just to save precious time.

Catch "yer" later baby.

Lennon Faris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara Etlin said...

Oy. Thanks for trying to warn the newbies about the snake oil salesmen.

I used to be a moderator on a writers' forum. The amount of misinformation out there that newbies fall for is astounding.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Can you explain the thing about what you're supposed to do with the ball again? I wasn't really following.

Donnaeve said...

While in the back of my mind, my idea of the badge was more like a website thing, i.e. like the A-Z challenge button (?) where there's some html code to upload it. And, anyone who has site can get that code, upload it, and other folks will go, oooh, what's this mean? They'd click on it and land - here - at The Reef. (be cool to have the sound of jaws snapping when they click the button).


On paper...there's something about the idea that shouts not a good one. Even for my idea, what if someone doesn't have a website? (Excluded For ya'll's (?) idea, who's paying for the materials? Who's making them? Who's going out and buying the materials? Who has time to make them? Who's shipping them out all over the world? Remember, you don't know the true "Reidership" of the blog. Be careful what you suggest. 5,000 badges later...(or possibly higher - who knows???)

Just today, Diana (self professed LONG TIME REIDER) popped up like a gopher. (Welcome Diana!)

Can we say nightmare?

Sorry. I say great to think of it, to do it? Not so much.

So, now the Fun Sucker has shown up, and I can hear the collective booing already, I'll just slink back into my writing hole.

Donnaeve said...

Ha! Not that Diana popping up was a nightmare...hee.

I'm sure you got the gist of what I was sayig.

nightsmusic said...

See though, Donna, I think a badge meaning a website badge would be a great thing. And putting the redirect to Janet's site behind it would be the icing on the cake. If you don't have a website (and what was that Janet was saying that every writer, aspiring or otherwise, should be searchable?) then use it as a gravatar, put it in your signature, don't use it at all, website or no. I know I'd like one for mine, but it would be entirely up to Janet if she even would want that. Maybe she doesn't. And I'm just a lowly minion, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of a web badge or no doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world...bah da bum.

Panda in Chief said...

Yes, and I wasn't offering to MAKE physical badges and send them to y'all, ya know. I was thinking along the same lines as what Donna just said: a little website badge and you can do what you will with it, as long as you don't try to sell them by the thousands and rake in the cash without kicking some back to me.

Welcome to Diana, hope you brought your drink of choice. (And maybe some cake. Did you bring cake for everyone?)

I am all for the secret handshake, though. Pandas have one (can't tell you what it is, cause you know, it's secret and you're not pandas) But I'm up for a secret handshake for the reef.

Okay, I'm getting silly here. I'll shut up now.

Donnaeve said...

nightsmusic, just my opinion, I still think it's not something QOTKU would/will want. I'm only saying b/c of previous ideas. Facebook page for instance.

But to throw some more fun sucking moments in here...although the website "badge" is the easiest deliverable, agreement on design comes into play. There would have to be a vote. Who gets to design it first, and who creates the voting mechanism. Who tallies? Who shares? Who trusts who to tally? I guess what I'm saying is - A LOT of WORK for SOMEBODY/BODIES.

Anyway, just my two cents. Really only worth one cent after 5:00. Off to do as E.M. would be doing, and have an enounter with a giant BEER.

Donnaeve said...

Panda volunteers. Or had volunteered. Might want to wait and see what QOTKU says first... :O)

I will now go have my beer/s. See ya'll later!

Donnaeve said...

LAST COMMENT...have mercy, can you tell I was a technical prog mgr at one time?

Julie Weathers said...


I nominate you to wrap the badges. Here's an instruction video.

BJ Muntain said...

Well, someone suggested posting prospective badges on our Pinterest page, and voting there.

There are online places where people can post the designs and others can purchase Tshirts or whatever made from those designs. Could donate the money to a charity of the Queen's choice, or we could vote on that, too, or something. These websites take care of the printing/making and the shipping.

I'd like a lapel pin to wear at conferences - just something small and unobtrusive, that will only catch the eye of those looking for it.

I think Janet didn't like the Facebook idea because it was a place where there may be advice or information given that could possibly be construed as coming from her, when she has no control over it. That sort of thing is a legal landmine ready to blow.

I'm not saying we *should* do pins or anything, but it is doable. I'd probably buy something. But I'm no designer and I'm not in a position where I can volunteer to do any of the work.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Everyone does badges and hashtags and whatnot. I say invisible butt tattoos. Keep it all hush hush while we conquer the known universe. Off for that rematch against the giant beer.

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

In Perth we have something called Write Club. (The first rule is, talk about Write Club.)

Meetings are held every Saturday at two different libraries. We get together for a quick chat and maybe a snack at a local cafe, then we take over a corner of a library and we...

We write. And that's all we do. We sit quietly, concentrated, at tables with our laptops and we write. Lots. Most authors get a good 2-3000 words done in an afternoon.

Because we always welcome new members, we need a way of identifying us to new members.

So we have badges that simply say, "Write Club".

If we see some stray soul looking lost about the library, we make eye contact, give them a subtle not of acceptance and gesture to a chair. After all, if they are One Of Us, they have much writing to get done.

Yes, badges can be a good thing. Authors succeed best when they're part of the herd. When a lone author is out on their own, that's when they become easier prey to the coyotes of Cheatum.

Julie Weathers said...

The only sign appropriate for my butt is "wide load".

AJ Blythe said...

Badges are a great idea. Will wait with interest to see what our Queen thinks of the idea. Although she's probably booking multiple tickets to Carkoon as I type!

Welcome to the reef, Diana.

On-topic: I hope the author of the ms visits the Reef. It scares me to think how much money aspiring authors who don't get the industry might pay out in the hopes of achieving their dream.

Adib Khorram said...

Also, welcome Diana! And Happy Birthday Jason!

Janet Reid said...

Lennon, got it, and thank you!

Panda in Chief said...

It's not like I need anymore work to do, but I do have kind of a funny idea for a drawing. I won't be able to finish it properly or scan it till I get home. I can paste it into an email at that time and Janet can do what she likes with it,( if I actually do it. ) Hard to say. I have lots of work to do when I get home from this trip.

Maybe by the time I get it done all this will blow over. It is more subversive to be unidentifiable in this not so secret society.

I still want a secret handshake though.

I think I'm over my 3 post limit, unless you do post averaging, since ai didn't post every day.
I think.

roadkills-r-us said...

Janet, what if the ms was for something like, _Rental Cats: A Definitive History_?

I want lapel pin badges (even though I seldom have lapels). When we see someone wearing it we can draw close and whisper in each other's ears, "Hail, Reider" and hope none of the Avengers hear us.

Jeff Deitering said...

...Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.

Unknown said...

Rumor has it, Carkoon will be the future home of Reider Badge Manufacturing Incorporated.

It will be staffed by Exiles and enslaved consultants.