Sunday, June 19, 2016

Week in Review 6/19/16

Welcome to the week that was!

On Monday, we talked about query stats.

InkStainedWench (not wretch, as I always try to write!) captured my thoughts exactly:

When I was a copy editor, we had a SINGLE KEY that saved an edited story in our file, sent it on to be typeset, and deleted it from the screen. Save/Set/Delete. It's beyond me why agents can't come up with a function that deletes an unwanted query from the inbox and fires off a canned rejection in one stroke.

That's EXACTLY what I have, and when you run the numbers it's something like five minutes to reply to 100 queries a day (not to READ, just to do some sort of reply.)

And QueryTracker is now running a service called QueryManager that does EXACTLY this.

SiSi said:
I'm with InkStainedWench. How long can it take to send a form rejection? And maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that if you are so busy and overworked that you truly don't have the time, maybe you should close to new queries until you catch up. I'm having a hard time understanding the business strategy here.
DLM replied:
SiSi, Janet has said the administrative trivia involved in closing to queries is significant, and it's a real pain.
Yup, what DLM said. TOTAL pain in the ass.

roadkills-r-us said
A year or so before that I also queried some short stories. I could only find a few markets, so there were few queries. Every query received a rejection. 100%. Including several by USPS. But those were all directly to magazines, not to editors.
If I'm reading this correctly, you are sending queries for individual short stories? You don't query short stories. You send the entire story. Most places that publish short stories now take submission only via Submittable, an electronic submissions portal that lets you know your story was received, and when it's accepted or rejected. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Submittable.

If you're querying a collection of short stories, most stories need to have been previously published for a publisher to have any interest.

Donnaeve made my blood run cold (nice work Donna!) with this:
I wonder what would happen if agents went back to another "old school?" Changed their querying process to SASE again? :) I hear screams from woodland critters. Maybe agents too. Think about it...the agent could then reply via email, thus turning NORMAN's into responders. I.e. slow the trickle at the front end of the pipeline. NO? Stupid a** idea? Am I being escorted out of the building with my box of pens, stapler, and my pathetic, almost dead, office plant?

Or escorted to my office to deal with the BINS of mail. Before email it took four interns working daily to open and sort the incoming queries. Agents who can't be bothered to hit two keys for an auto reply are going to balk at the three minutes per letter it takes to reply to a paper query.
I timed it.
*I* am going to balk at that.  100 queries a week, 3 minutes, 300 minutes, 5 hours JUST to reply, not counting reading time. nope. not doing it.

On Tuesday we had the results of the writing contest.

Coming as it did right after the massacre in Orlando, I was prompted to ask what one person could do to stand against the violence. 

Interestingly enough, later in the week I happened to be reading Killing Custer by James Welch (don't confuse this with those god-awful "historical" books by Bill O'Reilly) and was reminded  that even with only rifles and handguns, massacres happened (176 Native Americans on the Marias River in 1870 to start with.) 

When I think about this both the terrible things that are happening now, and the terrible things we know happened long ago, I remember this phrase from Nadia Bolz-Weber's memoir PASTRIX: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint 

Every time we draw a line between us and others, Jesus is on the other side of it.
This had great resonance for me, maybe it will for you too. For those of you uncomfortable with the Jesus part, think of it this way: every time we draw a line between us and others, love is on the other side of it.

Kate Higgins said
Life is diverse and basically good or it would not have continued on this planet. And the one thing that is impossible to murder is love, it shows up in compassion, helping hands, memorials and hugs for those who have lost their loves and their lives.

I propose that next 100 word contest be one that will discombobulate us woodland creatures. Next time we write a compelling story that does not contain a salmagundi of murder, melee, massacre, mutilation or evil minds. The twist and turns and mental angst can still be included, even enhanced, but the insinuation of extermination could be missing.

Now that would truly be a challenge (especially for a certain shark we all know and love). Can we do it with the same creativity with which we produce mayhem?

How many of you had to look up salmagundi? Just me?

On Wednesday we talked about shopping an offer

Lucie Witt asked:
So if (when, dammit) you get an offer, you tell agents with the full and anyone who you queried less than 30 days ago. What about agents who only have the partial? And I admit I'm a little confused about the less than 30 days part. Let's say I queried an agent 60 days ago and I know from query tracker stats that their average response time is four months. Would I really not let that agent know I had an offer? Why is it bad form to let an agent know you have an offer if they've had the query for more than 30 days? I have most the etiquette in this post down pat but admit I would have probably let all agents I'd queried (who aren't Normans and who state in submission guidelines they respond) know I had an offer.

First, I can't believe it takes agents four months to reply to a query. Yeesh! But Lucie makes a good point here. The 30 days I suggested was based on the idea that agents reply to queries within 30 days. Since y'all know MUCH more about response times than I do, what I should have said was "let everyone who is still in the response time window" know. I meant for you to exclude those agents who say "no response means no."
And certainly NOT to let an agent know of an offer if s/he has sent a rejection. That's akin to neener neener, and it's not going to win you any friends. I know darn good and well that things I pass on will get offers and go on to do well. I'm generally ok with this, but you don't need to remind me of it when you get an offer.

AJ Blythe asked:
have a question *waiting to see if razor sharp teeth snap this way*

If you get an offer from an editor, is sending an "I have an offer but want you to consider..." query to agents still considered shopping?

Asking because I am pitching to an editor at a conference later this year, and the answer to this particular question is the only thing that has me worried. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot because I really want an agent.

No, it's not shopping because an offer from an editor is not the same thing as an offer from an agent. And mostly you're not going to get offers from editors (at least with big publishers); you're going to get requests to read the manuscript.

I've said before, I'll say again: pitching editors and getting requests at conferences and SENDING those mss before you have an agent can twist you up like an octopus on skates.
Wait, I haven't said it. I've written it but you haven't seen it. It's one of next week's blog posts.

Kyler asked:
What about a small press offer?
It's not considered shopping an offer if you take an offer from a publisher and then query agents.

Claudette Hoffmann asked:
I hope "interest" or even "keen interest" expressed by editors after viewing one or two pages at group sessions does NOT count as a submission, let alone an offer. (I was hoping for revision feedback on a secondary project, the primary project got constructive feedback from agents).
The order of presentation can get complicated quickly.

It does not.

What counts as a submission: sending the FULL manuscript to an editor at their place of work.
What does not count: everything else, including but not limited to: 
1. sending your query to QueryShark; 
2. sending pages for a manuscript critique by an editor or agent at a conference, or as part of a contest prize; 
3. discussing your idea, pages, manuscript with an editor or agent in a pitch session, at the bar, in the hall, at the ball, on the prowl, in a towel, at the Sphinx, on the links, with some drinks, (particularly when she says it stinks.)

BJ Muntain said
Claudette: 'Interest' is only a submission if they ask for a partial or full. An offer will say 'offer'. And even then, get it in writing.

BJ normally gets things right but this isn't. Interest is NOT a submission if they ASK for a partial or full. It's a submission when you SEND it. The distinction is important here cause I can hear you parsing this out with your little woodland creature claws.

A reminder: an editor or agent asking to see your work does NOT mean you have to send it, even if you pitched it.  Not sending it feels rude I know but it's NOT. And you don't have to email to say you're not sending it. It certainly is nice if you do but it's not a requirement.

Your wording on that kind of email doesn't have to be 100% truthful either:
Dear Agent Who Turned Out To Be a Nincompoop:

It was a pleasure to meet you at the Carkoon BaleOfKale Stir Fry and Writing conference. I just wanted to let you know that the ms we discussed "1001 Ways to Caramelize Kale" is going to be undergoing substantial revisions based on feedback I received, so I won't be able to send it as requested.

Thanks for your interest in my work; it was a real plus of the whole conference."

Dead Spider Eye said:
I'm confused too because hawking for the best deal is bad form in the letter but it's hunky dunky when the prospect is in an agent's queue; as in, put the offer on hold for a fortnight and inform other agents. There might be a distinction there, if there is, it's a mighty fine one that's gonna be lost on most authors. Personally I've never been convinced, that and agent putting forward an offer is going to swallow being told to wait for a fortnight, so the author can try and trump the deal. I suppose though, that would depend on the author but... wouldn't that apply in this case too?

There is more than a fine distinction between telling the agents who already have the query or manuscript that you've received an offer, and going out to solicit more offers after having received one.
It's akin to starting to date someone after you receive a marriage proposal, versus telling your other suitors that someone has popped the question.
As to being "told to wait a fortnight" that is STANDARD practice when you make an offer. Generally it's not two weeks, it's more like one week or ten days, but I always expect to wait after making an offer. In fact, it's rather reassuring that there is other interest.

Meg Dobson said:
    I had a legit small press offer to publish while 1st 20 pgs of manuscript were in hands of agent to critique for SCBWI conference. I waited for the conference. Was that bad form? I figured editor wouldn't read it until just before attending. I did sign with original Poisoned Pen imprint offer but person in charge of conference was irate that I wanted to sign with press before seeing the agent so I waited. Press was aware of my situation and waited it out with me for which I am eternally grateful!

It's not bad form, it's sensible. I've had several prospects on hold while they attended conferences, or got feedback. My goal is to get the best manuscript possible and a client who wants to work with me. If they find an agent better suited to them at the conference, well, better now than later.
And what the hell is the conference coordinator doing sticking her/his nose into your business? That's absolutely none of their concern.

John Davis Frain (aka Manuscript Frain) said:
I heard a tale at a recent workshop I attended that was similar to Janet's cautionary tale. It was a different story because it had a different ending, but it too involved a writer who had been working with an agent on a WIP for the better part of a year. The agent had afforded this writer quite a bit of time and a number of tips for their WIP. At the workshop, the writer told the agent he was stopping by to say hi, but was going to meet with a couple other agents.

"Oh no you're not," she told the writer. "Or else..."

On Thursday we talked about meatloaf. Well, more accurately we talked about putting your own spin on tried and true tropes or characters. I just compared it to meatloaf.

Colin Smith asked:
As far as you know, Mighty Shark, is your perspective fairly universal among agents--i.e., most agents will look to the writing and the originality of the story, and not simply form reject the moment they see "werewolf" or "vampire"?

I look at the writing in the query but things like "blonde bombshell" and "shadowy billionaire" and "Muslim terrorist" often lead to quick rejections.  When you put your own spin on things, one of the things you do is describe your characters differently. That applies to werewolves, vampires and zombies too.  How to do that? Hell if I know…but I'm not the writer here, am I?

As to what other agents do? I don't know. LeahB's comment leads me to think there's a lot of skimming going on:

LeahB said:
And a slightly on topic comment this time--I can't remember the blog, but there's a writers' blog that has agents comment on queries (not queryshark, I remember that one!). In one query's opening line, a young girl says she's a vampire. From the rest of the query, it's clear that the vampirism is in her head as a coping mechanism for her terminal illness. One of the agents reading for the blog saw "vampire" in the opening and passed with the comment "I don't do vampires". Oh, it made me feel so bad for that writer.

My takeaway from that: some agents skim their queries, looking for reasons to reject. Which is why we should query widely.

Golly, that sounds familiar.

Oh man, that just hurts my heart to read. I know we skim, I know *I* skim, but to miss something like that, ow ow ow.  I really hope another more careful reader agent looked at this, cause that's a very interesting premise for a novel.

I like what Celia Reaves said here
Years ago, when I was first thinking about writing a textbook, a speaker at a conference said that before beginning a textbook writing project you have to ask yourself what he called the Passover question: What makes this book different from all other books? (For those who don't know, in the tradition of the Passover Seder there is a series of questions to be asked by the youngest present, and the first of these is this: What makes this night different from all other nights?)

Good advice. A werewolf book can work, even in today's market, if you have a solid answer to that question. (And, of course, if the writing lives up to the promise.)

And I think Steve Stubbs has the final word on this topic perfectly:
Let me add a comment to that. There is no way I would read a book about vampires but some time ago I decided to sample SALEM’S LOT, just to find out what is so great about Stephen King.

I did not expect much. The movie was majorly sucky IMO. But I cracked the book anyway. Imagine my surprise when King had me believing in vampires were real for so many pages. Imagine my astonishment when I found myself gasping for breath when some character in the book idiotically walked down the street late at night and the vampires “fell on him.” King didn’t say anything else. The vampires “fell on him.” He did not have to say anything else. My imagination took it from there.

If the OP can write like that it doesn’t make any difference how shopworn the tropes are. After all, by the sixteenth century romantic love had been done to death by uninspired hack writers. And then some English guy wrote a play about Romeo and Juliet and the world has been transfixed for four hundred years. Romantic love is still a shopworn trope.

R&J is as fresh as it was the day it was first staged.

Except of course for this from Stephen Kozeniewski which just cracked me up completely:
What if my story is about an author who's a werewolf querying an agent who's a vampire? And it's all an epistolary?

Catie Flum who prompted the post contributed this elaboration:

    As always, Janet is very smart about all of this. When I tweeted this out because someone hurt my feelings. I did not expect it to become a THING and a thing it became! It is interesting when people take what you say and misinterpret it, or don't see the follow up conversations you had with people about it on twitter. Also when people start talking about it and don't know you or how you use twitter.

    In this case, it was specifically about people who interact a lot right before they send a query and when that query or requested pages are sitting in my inbox, then the moment they get a rejection stop interacting AND then months later, they start interacting a ton again and a few days later a new query comes into my inbox. That is a case I will remember them and that they were nice and friendly only because they could get something from me. Especially when I gave them much more than a form letter the first time because I knew them on twitter I believe in being nice and friendly because, well, you are nice and friendly. It may not bother other agents, but agenting isn't the first time I've had people be nice just because I can get them things and it is something that I am sensitive to.

    The other way I have noticed that people unfollowed it is that I follow a lot of writers I don't represent. I like writers. I think they are cool people and like to see what they say. That said, I will NEVER follow a writer when I have their pages. I don't want to get their hopes up and I know many writers would obsess over that. So a few days after I send a rejection to a writer who I really like on twitter, I'll head over to their twitter to follow them and see that they have unfollowed me. And that feeling sucks.

    Just my two cents
This reminds me of the very huffy tweet I saw once from a fellow I didn't follow. He was making a big splashy statement about unfollowing me because I wasn't talking about the "biggest issue in publishing today" and he meant the advent of ebooks and private publishing.  I didn't take up arms in my own defense (it's my twitter feed and if I want to yammer about whisky and cats, then heck with you) but his bellicosity made even the idea of conversation with him seem like no fun.

I only follow about 300 people, and periodically I unfollow those who don't follow me. I figure if they don't want to talk to me, it's ok, nothing personal. But to follow and unfollow more than once? Well, asshattery.

And now that there is a mute button? No need to for anyone to know they can't be seen or heard.

I like what Megan V said here
    When it comes to agents, it's best to treat twitter like an informal professional communication. I try and think of it as a social gathering for a company. In this case, plenty of people would be miffed if a person introduced themselves and then just turned around and flounced off for no good reason...

And what RachelErin said here too:
I recently found my twitter niche by retweeting science and history writers I follow as inspiration for fiction writers, particularly SFF and histfic. It's really fun for me, and since not many fiction writers follow the crazy amount of scientists I do, I think I bring something new to the conversation.

My favorite way to interact with agents is to reply when they ask "reading anything good?" or "I just finished X, and loved it, what should I try next?" I started responding to those after Janet suggested using those questions to break the ice at conferences - completely non-threatening or clingy, but if they do remember me when I query they remember that I am well-read =). I don't try to look up their clients, or anything that fancy, I just answer honestly.
Leah B, my sense of the "I'll notice" in this case is not so much that an agent cares who follows them or unfollows, but that the pattern of following someone, perhaps chatting them up, around the time of querying - and then unfollowing when a writer doesn't get what they want is common enough to be irksome. It's not about followers so much as it is authorial behavior; if you flounce off my twitter because I rejected your work, maybe it's an indicator of how you'll behave as a client. At the very least, it shows someone's using Twitter for ulterior reasons, so even if their unfollow isn't a sign they're fickle it may align with enough people who are to look that way.

And Andrea mentioned a particularly loathsome practice by some agents on Twitter:
Oh... this reminds me of something else. Am I the only one who thinks agents making fun of queries they receive are not acting in a very professional way? I don't know if it still happens, but a few years ago I used to see it all the time. Agent receives query, shares exasperation with the rest of the world on Twitter, and a whole bunch of aspiring authors reply to show their sympathy with Agent, and in the end everyone has a good laugh about it and conclude that the poor misguided soul who sent the ridiculous query must be a complete idiot. I understand that agents must get frustrated with silly queries, but is this really necessary? I'm a teacher, and I have to deal with stupid (no, really) questions or comments from parents all the time. Well, maybe not all the time, but it happens frequently. It's exasperating and frustrating sometimes, but it's part of the job. If I started tweeting about this and my boss found out, I'd be packing my bags the same day, because it's unprofessional behaviour.

I'm not talking about the way Janet writes about queries, because she spends a lot of time trying to educate us woodland creatures and I love her common sense. I'm talking about agents who think it's necessary to make fun of potential clients, followed by a whole hoard of aspiring authors who are desperate to be "part of the club". Back then, when I came across this on Twitter a lot, it almost put me off traditional publishing, because if this was an indication of what the rest would be like.. then no thank you.
I find this loathsome.
On the other hand, I do sometimes tweet about things I see in my incoming queries that perplex or annoy me. Recently someone queried me about something that was "heartwarming" that did NOT involve a flamethrower. Perplexing. Some general tips on queries of course (like "must read" in the subject line means I probably won't) but I hope it's not perceived as making fun of writers.

And for the last word on this subject I like what Angelica R. Jackson said:
I do admit to paying closer attention to an agent's feed when they had my materials, but that's just human nature--on some level, you're hoping to see something specific enough to let you assume it's about your novel, and an impending offer. Like "OMG, I must have this MG zombie space pigs epic!"

And that's exactly what has stayed my hand at the keyboard when I've wanted to tweet "OMG you would not believe what I just read in this amazing ms!"

On Saturday we talked about one of the blog readers success stories:
I must tell you that I keep a file of these kinds of emails and on days of strife and spleen, I read them. It reminds me that publishing is indeed a long game.

Some comments that were sort of off topic but wonderful:
A month later, I met the guy who's ruined me for All the Boys ever since.--DLM

Susan Bonifant said:
I love any of Janet Reid's posts that might veer into the rant lane, but I really love a post that offers free advice on not being an asshat.

I was hoping for a dog meme, however, following that "Any questions?" closing.

Well, ok then!

Any questions?

In a horrifying moment of brutal honesty DLM revealed;
When I was querying agents, I looked for reasons to eliminate them from MY list. I'd nix an agent whose website was entirely pink and flowery,

*looks at blog background.*

*looks at DLM*
Slinks off to weep copious tears in Sunday hammock, comforted only by the NYT crossword puzzle.

Subheader noms:

Inevitably writers are either too harsh with themselves, or blind to their own weaknesses. --E.M.Goldsmith

In publishing, as in life, it's just too easy to pick the wrong hat; the one with a sphincter in it is not a winning look --DLM

An asshat on Carkoon
Shopped an offer too soon
And no amount of sphincter clenching
Could diffuse the gut wrenching
Of a derriere-chapeau NORMANed past June

--Karen McCoy

Ice water is ice water is ice water until you add lemon and sugar. Love it.
Add a lima bean... --CarolynnWith2Ns

I can understand focus in a writer. I can understand artistic writers too. What I can't understand are writers who continually knead a dead meatloaf--Craig

publishing is a long game and persistence and humility can pay off in the long run.


Jennifer R. Donohue said...

For subheaders, I dig E.M. Goldsmith's. Nearly any time I in-person interact with writers, they're running themselves down, and I think we should lift each other up!

Also, Janet, my boss really likes your blog background. I really like your blog background.

I'm bemused by short story markets which still want paper submissions (Sun Magazine and Harper's), so I cannot imagine agents wanting queries and fulls snail mailed. Well, I can imagine it. I can imagine a lot of things. But then, I like writing dark-ish things.

Karen McCoy said...

Yay, a sub-header nom! "publishing is a long game and persistence and humility can pay off in the long run" still has my vote, though.

Wonderful WIR as always--I even saw Angelica R. Jackson yesterday. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Thanks for the WIR.

Because of...blah, blah, blah and whatever, I have been out of the loop of late.
It's great to catch up before work but there 'aught-a' be a law about working a sunny sixth day which happens to be a Sunday. Just saying.

And, thanks also for the sub header nom, gulp, I think I just swallowed a lima bean.

CynthiaMc said...

Thank you as always for the WIR. I missed a lot this week, mostly due to the hell Orlando became. But I am very proud of my home. In many ways Orlando is still a small town and when stuff happens, we come together. We lost one of our social workers at the hospital. My daughter lost some of her co-workers at Universal. (If you happen to see the Love is Universal poster Universal Studios put out, she is the cute little witch in the second row).

It was very hard to go to the theatre and do a comedy this week, but we were heartened by great audiences who said "thank you for giving us an escape and a chance to laugh."

Thank you for remembering Orlando in your prayers.

Panda in Chief said...

I must admit, DLM's subheader is still my favorite, but yeah, they're all good.

Thanks for putting together another WIR. As usual, I missed a few posts or comments, and it is always enlightening to read what you think is noteworthy to revisit.

I adore this group! And now the sun is shining, I have to run off to yoga, and the coyote puppies that visited my back yard this week have NOT eaten my cat, so all is well in the world.

John Davis Frain said...

I'm not going to double down for DonnaEve since I've learned the hard, painful lesson of doubling down here. I won't even admit that I like her idea (even though I do) on going back to the days of paper queries. But I think one MAJOR thing would change in your formula...

You'd no longer be getting 100 queries a week because querying would be a more complicated process. You'd be thinning out the herd by virtue of making the process cumbersome on the writer. Only those willing to invest the time would query, so they'd have to be confident in their product.

It's a way for an agent to play Contrarian, and I wonder if that agent would get fewer and better queries if only snail mail queries were allowed.

Alas, as I tell my dog on every walk, there's no going backwards.

Superb WIR, Janet. Your Seussian sample was most delicious on a soupy Sunday morning.

Julie Weathers said...

Is it wrong that I laughed when I read Diane's comment about the pink backgrounds? I think I know which site she's talking about. It's very hard on the eyes for whatever reason. A couple of others are difficult for me because of the contrasts. Black with white lettering is not good. It's dramatic, but difficult.

Being raised in the middle of Custer country, I'm pretty familiar with him. I once got pulled from boarding a plane because I had a bullet from the battlefield in my purse. I forgot about it and since it was still live albeit 150 years old, it was considered a terrorist threat.

Crow Agency, to my knowledge, still puts this song on his hold music every June. They have a re-enactment of the battle each year and pow wow, which is pretty good. It gets more interesting when the dead soldiers get up and take off running because a rattlesnake comes visiting.

Anyway, I'd be interested to see Mr. Welch's take on Custer. He didn't die heroically in a last stand on a hill. He died in a creek according to several witnesses, but that's neither here nor there, I suppose. The war criminal finally met his end.

"Wait, I haven't said it. I've written it but you haven't seen it. It's one of next week's blog posts."

Well, you have touched on this. The subject has come up before. I remember because we were discussing I had requests from editors from Tor and Del Rey, plus some smaller publisher. You commented later that pitching to an editor at a conference isn't always a good idea. The editor might not be the one an agent would have chosen from that house for that work among other things or the agent might have a better working relationship with another editor, if I remember correctly.

My take on this was avoid pitching to editors if you can. So, I don't anymore. I do learn from reading this blog.

While perusing Ms Flum's twitter feed, btw, I noticed one post that reminded people to please let her know even if they have just queried her and they get an offer. So, I would think it's a good idea to err on the side of courtesy and notify agents. I noticed some other agents agreed.

I've started the new twitter account for just writing stuff to escape all the political stuff mainly. That seems odd as I am a political animal. I follow and he follows me, a British politician and we visit on a fairly regular basis. I interact with several politicians and reporters. I keep up with what Putin's doing. Nothing officially interesting usually, but he visits pretty places.

I've been torn about following the raft of agents and authors I was following on the original account. Holy crap there are a lot of writers following me on my feed and most I don't even know. I followed them back and my feed is so congested I can't even keep up. Even with the new account I have new authors following me I don't know. Apparently there's an app that picks up on certain words in your bio. Maybe they just think I'm interesting because I listed my birth year as 1896. I was going to transfer all the publishing people over to the new account and hope they followed me over there and stopped following me on the old one if I unfollowed them, but I don't even know if I want all those people. I guess I do.

We're supposed to be building a platform after all.

On the plus side, as Janet says, there is mute now, so when people start posting "stuff" I can mute them. Of course, I won't know if they later say something interesting or try to contact me.

It was much easier when authors were mysterious, solitary unicorns.

The Sleepy One said...

Is QueryManager set up like Submittable? I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. I love Submittable. It's so easy to use and it's well thought out from both the writer and publisher side.

Side note, making fun of queries on twitter isn't cool, but I do like the agents who do the occasional query box live tweet. As in, they read and then tweet about the next 10 or 12 queries. An agent that does it well is able to give a good short summary of why s/he is or isn't requesting pages. Sometimes it's simple (category the agent doesn't rep) and sometimes it's just subjective ("pages don't grab me.") But this can be done professionally versus cruelly.

Unknown said...

“Seussian sample” - Well said, JDF!

The sample brought a lovely grin to this Sunday morning. Thank you JR.

The Sleepy One said...

Alas, as I tell my dog on every walk, there's no going backwards.

Hmm, I taught my dog a "beep beep" command to teach him to walk backwards. :)

Dena Pawling said...

Thanks for the WiR. Very informative as usual.

Tomorrow is the first day of summer. Our weather tomorrow in SoCal is expected to be as high as 120F. Where I am, the projected high is 110F.

We already have one fire burning in my county.

Summer isn't looking so good at this point. Stay cool, stay safe.

Julie Weathers said...

Sleepy One, I'm not familiar with Submittable, but QueryManager has some nice features if a person is really organized.

I haven't run into too many agents who downright make fun of queries. Some get frustrated at times and comment. There was one who was going by an anonymous name recently who was giving out some really bad advice and set herself up as a wanna be Miss Snark. There's a difference between Miss Snark and Miss B!tch.

I'm not even sure if it was a real agent. She said she was, but from the conflicting advice she gave out and the really unprofessional attitude, I don't know. I noticed a few passing remarks from other agents not caring for unprofessional comments or bad advice. I don't remember who it was now. I should have tagged her.

Anyway, that kind of stuff doesn't happen very often. Kind of like the "editor" advising authors not to seek agents and really trashing the publishing industry.

The #tenqueries, querylunch, #500queries stuff I enjoy.

Julie Weathers said...

Thank you for the WIR. I'm operating pre coffee and little sleep this morning, so my manners are gone.

As always, I missed a lot, so I was glad to see the recap.

Donnaeve said...

Wheee! I made the shark's blood run cold (er) - again! I live for these moments.

And, since John Frain's got my back, he and I will simply tag team and wear you down about those oldie goldie SASE's.

In seriousness, it is odd in a way the numbers of queries since it went from SASE to email haven't changed all that much. (in this post you mentioned getting about 20 a day.)

THANK YOU for the WIR! I missed a lot, so it was GREAT to catch up here.

I found out last Thursday I've been accepted to speak on the Southern Reads panel and sign books at the Sign Around event at SIBA, (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) in Savannah, GA in September. I'm still sort of in shock about it. From what I understand, publishers vie for slots, and Kensington pitched me, and so, they're sending me. I'm pretty damn excited about that!

Donnaeve said...

Dang it. A writer who can't write a comment w/out a mistake. Hello. Fingers meet Brain, Brain, fingers.

Clarification: From what I understand, publishers vie for slots, and Kensington pitched me, and I was accepted, so, they're sending me.

Celia Reaves said...

I checked out Janet's QueryManager page when she tweeted about it last week. It looks wonderful, simple and clean, but one thing caught my eye. You know how they put red asterisks by the required fields on web forms? On this form everything is required EXCEPT THE QUERY LETTER. Is this a Shark-given free pass to submit a query without a query letter? Sadly, I know that it will be fixed before I'm ready to submit, sometime between Christmas and a decade from now.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

It's a damn near perfect day. I woke up at dawn, threw some shorts and underwear in a suitcase, escorted my pug into my old Honda and drove and drove until we arrived at the beach to be greeted by the WIR. How glorious is that?

I have a whole week of reading and writing. No television, no day job. It's just me, the pug, a stack of books (Gary Corby in starring role) a box of new pens, a ream of empty notepads, my laptop, ample coffee and a bottle of rum. This is as close to heaven as it gets for me in this life.

Hope everyone in the Reef has a great day. Looking forward to a productive week.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks for another wonderful WiR!

And you're right. I'd meant that it was a submission once you sent it. Not as soon as they ask. Thank you so much for clarifying this. I'm sorry if I confused anyone.

"A reminder: an editor or agent asking to see your work does NOT mean you have to send it, even if you pitched it. Not sending it feels rude I know but it's NOT. And you don't have to email to say you're not sending it. It certainly is nice if you do but it's not a requirement."

And this is SO right. I pitched an agent at a conference who had indicated in the conference information that he was interested in science fiction, but when I pitched him, he was less than enthusiastic. He said 'send me a partial anyway'. I thought about it, and decided 'nah'. If he's not excited about science fiction, then he's probably not the right agent for me. I've also had small publishers ask to see my work, but I'm not sure I'm interested in them yet. Still looking for an agent.

Regarding markets who ask for paper submissions only: They get fewer submissions. They only get the people who seriously want to be published by them. It's one form of whittling down the slush. It sucks for the submitter, though, especially if they're not in the same country as the market. Not only does international postage cost, you also have to get hold of the postage for that country to put on the obligatory self-addressed stamped envelope, if you ever want to get a response.

For subheader: I like EM's and DLM's.

Janice Grinyer said...

Thank you for the week in review, JR, although this week I haven't been in the woods working and have been able to keep up. You always add a different perspective to each post's responses; thank you!

At this point even though it's very obvious I need to practice social skills, after reading this week's posts and responses, I think I might skip going to any Writers Conference this year. It seems all I'm good for are discussions about fire (called in two yesterday, compass readings and all- it's a flame zone after storms here), and taking care of the neighbors ranch while they are out at a Cowboy's induction into hall of fame (cows, horses, chickens, one cattle dog- the chickens are talkative, the dog appreciates the company- it works).

So even though I walk deep in the forest for work, am prepared at home to fight fire, handle all sorts of animals (does this include the rattlesnake I found wrapped up around an apple tree yesterday?) I'm terrified to go to a writers conference. PLEASEDONTTALKTOMEIDONTKNOWWHATIMDOING. I'm such an easy target right now for talking disasters.

I think I'll quit now while I'm ahead and just observe.

BJ Muntain said...

Janice: Come to one of the conferences I'm going to! I'll show you the conference ropes and help you figure things out. The thing with conferences is, you don't actually *have* to talk to anyone, though that's part of the fun.

Panda in Chief said...

Julie, do you know about private Twitter lists? It may be a way to weed through the political dreck without starting over and making sure you don't lose anyone you actually do want to keep tabs on. You have the ability to have PRIVATE lists, so those on the list don't get any kind of notification that they are on your list (bwahahahahaha). You don't even have to be "following" someone to put them on one of your lists. I have a bunch of different ones: publishing folks, panda people, writers, etc. It's useful when I want to be more focused.

So you could have a private list called (for example) "People who are not total asshats" and when you go on twitter, you just click on the my lists thingie and you only see those peoples tweets. If the feed is kind of thin, you can ad more people to your secret list or occasionally dip your toe into the stream at large.

The sun is out here and perfect temperature to do a little yard work. Happy Sunday everyone.

Peggy said...

For subheader, I like E.M.'s but I do think it begs the question...why not both? I suspect that for some of us woodland critters, it's both...

Panda in Chief said...

I forgot to say congratulation to Donnaeve! Huzzah! And be sure to let me know if your publishers sends you to/ near Seattle! I'd love to meet you (and have you sign my book I already preordered!)

Okay, that's my three. The grass isn't getting any shorter by itself.
And Janice, I will not trade my coyote pups for your rattlesnake. Ick!

Andrea said...

Regarding snail-mail queries, I don't query any agency who accepts submissions by post only. I don't live in the US or the UK and I couldn't afford to send all my queries by post, so I don't send any. And the postal service of the country where I live is incredibly slow and not very reliable. Things go missing all the time, from birthday cards to packages. I'd have to spend a small fortune on postage and still have no guarantee my queries actually arrive, because no agency (as far as I know) accepts registered post when it comes to queries. (Not to mention registered post would cost even more)
But I must say I've come across very few agencies who still work with postal queries only. Thinking about it, it must be quite time-consuming to sort all these incoming envelopes, open them, write a reply, put it in the SASE, and have it posted, or, in case of e-mailed responses, open a new e-mail, type in e-mail address, type or copy/paste message and click send. How many e-mail queries can an agent or their assistant reject in the same amount of time? Quite a few more, I'd guess.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

The Sleepy One: my cue for Elka to back up is, in fact, "back up!" It is occasionally useful (though I guess I probably us "move" far more often, in order to clear my path of enthusiastic Doberman).

Donna: congratulations! I hope you have a lot of fun!

Julie Weathers said...


I've thought about that and may do it with the new account.

AJ Blythe said...

Gulp. Haven't finished reading yet but just got to Miss Janet's response to my question. Now I'm doing a good imitation of this.

What if it takes for-never to get an agent? Will just sit here and bite my nails until the post goes up.

Lennon Faris said...

I'm there with Diane (/DLM). I've looked at websites and rejected querying an agent bc of the design. It's not usually because of flowery-ness, but if it's annoying, or unintuitive, or reeeaaallly ugly, it makes me think they don't know how to express themselves well in the digital world.

For what it's worth, I like the design of this website, and it's not just because I'm biased. It's energetic without being preppy.

Thank you for the informative WIR, Janet!

The Sleepy One said...

Re: private lists. A writer told me that her agent has a private list he uses to keep track of writers he might be interested in representing. It's a way to follow their tweets without being obvious. It's a good reminder to only tweet what you're okay with everyone seeing.

roadkills-r-us said...

QotKU said, "If I'm reading this correctly, you are sending queries for individual short stories? You don't query short stories. You send the entire story."

You read it correctly, but I wrote it incorrectly. I should have said that I submitted the short stories, not queried them. I haven't contacted a magazine in several years, and forgot the terminology. Even though I submitted the short story, I think of it as a query in my mind: "Do you like this story enough to print it and send me legal tender in exchange for it?"

And this makes it 100 words!

Julie Weathers said...

Sleepy One,

Yes, that's why I'm trying to divorce the accounts. I need to have the professional account. I'll have to figure out the list thing on the author account.

Kae Bell said...

Helpful as ever, especially info on short stories. I am back to basics, have written a short story (horror, new for me-Think 'Children of the Corn'), and am resisting the siren song of self-publishing. Hard once you've ventured down that road. Esp. when teenage boys would devour it. Investigating better options for 6000 words of scary but fun stuff. Patience. Breathe. I remind myself that words have no timeline.

Joseph S. said...

Donnaeve, It's such an exciting time for you. I bet it's giving you tons of confidence and adrenaline for your next novel.

Janice Grinyer, If we're at the same conference, I'll talk to you. What I'd love is to listen to you and Julie W tell me about life in Montana (Scariest town I've ever spent the night in was Cutbank. Best Prime Rib I ever had (in the States) was in Havre.)

Julie Weathers said...


Kari Lynn Dell was celebrating a lovely review in publisher's weekly of her new release Reckless in Texas on her facebook page a few days ago lives on a ranch out of Cutbank, Montana. I hope Miss Janet doesn't mind me mentioning that.

Why is Cutbank scarey aside from usually being the coldest point in the nation in the winter? You should follow her blog. It's great.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I think Janet's blog is one of the sanest places in the world right now.

Gary Corby and Janet's blog floated me through this insane week. I'm also following the International Space Shuttle's Instagram feed @ISS. It's amazing to think of people orbiting the earth (while some fight over petty things.) The videos and photos are mindblowing.

When QOTKU changed from plain professional practical boring white to this yellow curly-cue, I thought I had the wrong blog. Please keep this design, with these colors, it is upbeat and distinct.

Donna, you rock.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Thanks Janet, it's thoughtful of you to take the time to spell it out for your remedial student. I admit, I did take licence with that 14 days, my excuse being, I'm occasional confronted with 10... full working days schedule.

Stacy said...

Chiming in late... again.

I've been a fan of Stephen King's as long as I can remember. For whatever reason, horror filmmakers (ironically) just don't get King. They completely miss his simple, human themes and focus on the gore.

Kara Reynolds said...

For anyone wondering what the blog is that features agents giving their thoughts on query letters, it's Operation Awesome. We have another round coming up in July!

DLM said...

It may be bad form to come to the comments so late but a 76-hour power outage (thank MAUD for fine weather ... through most of it) and the advent of my elder niece have skewed my Reiding priorities. Still, what fun to come and find myself in the WIR.

Julie and Lennon, I honestly have no recollection what site or sites I rejected way back when, but there were those agencies I could see instantly focused on historical romance rather than the more muscular historical I write. I was as much self-eliminating as eliminating them ... but yeah, there was at least one site that was all but perfumed with rosewater. It was quaintly 90s in style and useability.

Janet, this blog does NOT compare! I like your warm tones and curliques. Julie, light font on dark backgrounds is murder.

As for my header nom, that comes from an observation I've made on occasion while driving. "Excuse me, driver who just cut me off - your chapeau - it has a sphincter in it."

Hat of Assness is my upcoming debut, a 288k fiction novel written using only two disparate words, "you" and "jerk."