Monday, October 03, 2016

I'm perplexed

A recent email with the subject line "question for the blog" asked about the submissions guidelines on an agency's website (pictured below)

This is not a fly-by-night agency; they have legit sales, and have been in business longer than I have.

So, what the hell is going on here, cause this isn't just bad advice, it's TERRIBLE advice.

(If you don't know why it's terrible, you don't know enough about querying to be querying.)

The ONLY thing I could think of is that these folks also do business in other countries, and this may be the norm there.

It's NOT the norm in the US and doing #4 (call the agent) will only result in you being the subject of a very tart blogpost.

If you try #5, I'll be surprised if you get anything but voice mail and silence. Most editors don't answer their phones unless they know who it is, and they will NOT give agent reccs to strangers.

Bottom line: finding out who to query is YOUR job, not mine, and not an editor's. There are a myriad of ways to do this and have been for years. If you want to cut to the chase and just get a list of the three best agents for you, please make sure my name is NOT on that list. That kind of impatience mean we are not suited to work together at all.

Agents who try to be "helpful" like this would do better to just keep quiet.

What does this mean for you: You need to be able to recognize piss-poor advice when you see it. To do that, you'll need to scout around and read carefully.  Does the advice mesh with what you're reading elsewhere? Most guidelines are standard: send a query, don't call. What goes IN to the query may vary, but most of us want to hear from you by mail.

If advice seems off-kilter does the person doing the advising tell you it's off kilter?
I've got a couple opinions that are not the norm (query everyone; personalization sucketh) but I'll TELL you that up front.

Any questions?


nightsmusic said...

As the teenagers would say... Waaaaaaahhhh????

Maybe the person who posted that on their site had a little too much scotch that day, who knows? But that's about as stupid as it comes.

Sorry, but it is.

Beth H. said...

I'm not in the query trenches yet, but I've been reading this blog for a long time. This list made me break out in a cold sweat, starting with point #1. Literary accomplishment? Am I qualified to judge the literary accomplishment of my own writing? Are my CPs or beta readers? How the heck would I figure that out?

Then it gets to cold calling agents and editors. I can't begin to imagine a universe in which that ends well. "Hi, rep me! I write just as well as (insert client's name here). I'm unpublished, but you can trust me on this."

When I'd started reading, I had been assuming they were advising a lot of detail for comp titles. This is so much worse. Wow.

AJ Blythe said...

Wow. Just... wow.

I wonder how the agents at that agency they were the ones receiving the unsolicited phone calls?

Thanks to our Queen I would never follow that advice, but I bet there are many out there who won't know better and will follow respected agents advice to the letter *shakes head*.

**Reider help needed**
The Hub has asked me to call on my American friends for some advice. He has to travel to Washington DC (for those who don't know we're in Canberra, Australia) early December for 2 weeks. He has no idea what to expect weather wise: snow or no snow? Dr Google indicates it is very much like our local winters temp wise (-3'c min to 12'C max / 26'F min to 53'F max). Does that sound right?

AJ Blythe said...

Sigh. Read before hitting send... That should be

I wonder how the agents at that agency would feel if they were the ones receiving the unsolicited phone calls?

french sojourn said...

I'm not sure why you didn't post page two of those guidelines. Items 8 and 9 were my favorites.

8: Contact their English lit professors and ask for copies of their earlier thesis's.

9: Contact their High School Guidance counselors and see if writing is for you in comparison to the Author you are researching.

Ahh! Querying.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Call? Like on the Phone? hahahahaha

You lost me at "literary polish."

Theresa said...

Oh, that cheery Good Luck! at the end of that list of bad advice. Or maybe it was meant as snark. The whole thing smacks of a cruel April Fool joke.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

It's a trap. That be shark bait, not advice. Evil forces have penetrated the World Domination Cloak Room. Run for your lives.

Kitty said...

Theresa, I had the same thought: "cruel April Fool joke," with cruel the operative word.

Colin Smith said...

How long have they not been taking unsolicited queries? 20 years?? This sounds like the kind of advice you see in books by established authors who haven't queried a novel in many years, and they think back fondly to when they hammered out that cover letter on their typewriters back in the day.

Hopefully, our perplexed Opie wasn't perplexed about how to query, but why an established agency would give such bad advice! :-\

AJ: I live a State or so south of DC, but since no-one else has offered anything yet, my impression is that DC is usually cooler than us, but warmer than NY. More likely than NY to get snow, but not often as much. Early Dec you might get some freezing temps, especially overnight and early morning, but probably around 40s maybe 50s (F) during the day. I leave it to those more familiar with the Northern Virginia December temps to correct me. :)

Colin Smith said...

Since Janet usually cleans up the "Comment Deleted" notifications (or does Blogger do that automatically?) let me just say, I deleted that previous comment FOUR TIMES because of grammar/typos. Just in case anyone out there is afraid of commenting lest they make mistakes... :)

Colin Smith said...

No, I deleted it THREE TIMES!!! Arghhh! I'm going back to bed. *sigh* I can't... I'm at work... :\

Bonnee Crawford said...

Hi Janet. I can definitely see why as an agent this would baffle you to see. Yikes!

AJ Blythe said...

Thanks, Colin =)

Off to bed so apologies if others offer weather advice and I don't respond for some time.

Kitty said...

E.M. Goldsmith: It’s a trap!

Anonymous said...

Sweet. Saint. Fuck.

Clearly, not all agencies are . . . I can't even finish that sentence. And what the hell is "an over-advanced workload"? This does not meet the minimum requirement of having a basic command of the English language. Or knowing how things work.

No. Just, no.

Colin Smith said...

kd: I've not heard of that one. Patron saint of typos, is he? :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Hank: Ha! I thought it was a homework assignment from high school or university.

But, if this agency is no longer accepting submissions, why have anything beyond the bold phrase at the top. All I need to know is if THEY are accepting submissions. I fully expect to find out what other agencies want by looking at their guidelines. Anything beyond that totally confuses me.

Are they trying to set themselves up as a 1-page mini-Guide to Literary Agents and Publishers Marketplace?

Anonymous said...

She, Colin. She is the patron saint of every writer who has ever been messed with by incomprehensible and meaningless guidelines.

Susan said...

Bad advice aside, the only part that really bothered me was "Thank him or her--profusely--beforehand."

I don't know why. Maybe it's the tiny bit of rebel in me screaming, "don't tell me what to do!" or maybe it's the "profusely," which is really rubbing me the wrong way. It feels like they're telling writers to bow down before them, to which I would automatically say hell no and cross them off my list. I don't do well with ego.

I think it's also the fact that instructing someone to say thank you makes it disingenuous, and nothing irks me more than someone who isn't genuine in their gratitude.

This is the part of business that I rail against, even when I was working in corporate culture. I do thank people profusely, but it's because I'm feeling particularly thankful for them--not because I'm told to and certainly not to kiss their ass.


AJ: I live in Pennsylvania, about two hours from DC. You might get a light snow in early December (the big ones seem to be coming later in the season), and the past few years it's been pretty mild as far as temperatures. I would pack lots of layers and expect cold (not frigid) and blustery. Welcome and have fun!

nightsmusic said...

AJ: Tell husband, whatever he does, Do. Not. Drive! Anywhere in the city proper. The only time I drove in DC, I was less than a quarter mile from my hotel and it took me an hour and 20 minutes to get there.

Donnaeve said...

This advice is comical. And weird.

I'm with Susan on the "thank them profusely," side of it. This is why writers sometimes feel like they're beggars at the banquet of publishing.

There is a suggestive tone there - it smells like a hint of grovel.

Don'tcha think?

Colin Smith said...

To nightsmusic's point about driving in DC, I agree. I think the last time we were in DC was a good few years ago. My brothers had come over to visit, so we took them to Our Nation's Capital. The stand-out memory was trying to find somewhere to eat after 9pm. We ended up in a seedy Taco Bell in Baltimore, Maryland with our then three children. My wife still has nightmares about the bathrooms. Our oldest (who was six at the time, I think) needed to go potty, so my wife took her. She said the toilet was so nasty, she literally held our daughter over the seat while she did her business. If hubby's there on business, AJ, then hopefully he will be taken care of, and he'll be in a nice hotel and dining at nice restaurants. Probably best to make sure, though. ;)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Oh dear. Well that's one way to weed out the uninformed, I suppose.

I can't currently be considered to be in the query trenches. No, where I am is an October full of short story submissions (Michael Seese kicked this off a few years back; it's year 3 for me doing it, if I'm recalling correctly). Most magazines have very clear guidelines, from subject lines to what they want in the cover letter. Others....less clear.

But, pray for me. One of the short stories is on its maiden voyage, and of course it's the best thing I've written to date, so....

DLM said...

AJ, snow in October in DC is **highly** unlikely. It's been unseasonably warm and muggy in the mid-Atlantic, with deluges of rain for a few weeks, and the humidity makes it feel warmer even than the temps indicate.

Though it could cool down within a couple of weeks, my advice would be to bring temperate-weather shirts and a jacket or two, but leave winter gear out of the baggage. Not worth carrying the bulk, around here you can do well with layering into November most years. And the past few years have been warmer. If we're fortunate, it'll dip to the 50s (F) in a couple of weeks. If things go as they have been, summer may last through December. It did last year.

On to the topic at hand ...

SMH is about all I've got here. It's a real pity a professional agency is spreading this sort of nonsense. If not an actual offense.

Donna, the tone I got was "go elsewhere, here's how (even if it's wrong)" ... A would-be professional twist (of the knife) on Don't go away mad, just go away.

Colin Smith said...

For those perplexed about what Michael Seese started that Jennifer is doing in October, a few years ago, our beloved Mr. Seese set himself the challenge to submit something every day in October. Here's his post outlining the whys and wherefores:

And this one is his end of month "results":

Dena Pawling said...

Here's that list in up-to-date language, for those of us who are querying in 2016:

1. Identify three comps that are exactly identical to your manuscript. If you're unpublished, find unpublished comps [to be the same as your own literary accomplishment].

2. Go to PM and find those comps, remembering that since titles change, you probably won't be able to find it, even if it IS published. If you can't find it, close your eyes and randomly select a listing.

3. Find the agent, editor, and publishing house for those comps. Yes we know this is not an easy task for those unpublished works. No one ever said publishing would be easy.

4. Write or call the agents, mentioning you learned about them by following the advice of our agency. Ask if you can submit to them, because you can't submit to us mwahahahaha.

5. If the agents are unavailable or unwilling to respond [just like we are], contact the editor and grovel. Remember, 75% of editors won't have time for you, just like we don't have time for you. But please waste THEIR time, not OURS. And thank you for making our clients look better than you, increasing their chances for publication.

Hmmmmm, DC four weeks after the election? Bring body armor.

DLM said...

AJ, my apologies, my wee and paltry brain was thinking your husband was *coming* in a couple weeks, not in December, *for* a couple of weeks. December in DC should hover more around the 30s-40s Fahrenheit, freezing or a bit above. Snow is possible but that can still be pre-snow season on average.

That said, Dena's advice (per always) may be best!

Claire Bobrow said...

I'm with Beth H: at this point I know just enough to realize this advice is very fishy. Perhaps it's a lost chapter from "How To Shoot Yourself in the Foot and Never Get Published."

JulieWeathers said...

I cringed when I read this. There's so much bad information out there to begin with. Diana Gabaldon linked to some advice an author was handing out about writing on twitter. He wrote a blog post about which point of view to write in and advised authors never to write in first person. It's very seldom successful, but that's what most beginning authors want to do. She responded, "Now you tell me!"

Of course, that's terrible advice. Good writing is good writing. Then a new writer will hear:

No adjectives!
No adverbs!
No "to be" construction.
No dreams!
Is your character taking a bath?! Baths are boring. Get rid of it. I have a short story that takes place almost entirely in the bath. I may post it on the blog.
No eating. Eating is boring.

Anything can be boring. Sex can be boring. Dying can be boring. Here's the thing, could a writer do a scene about boring sex or a boring death and make it intriguing? Sure they could.

Could a writer take an action packed fight scene and make it boring? Yup.

We're going to read all kinds of advice on the way to becoming good writers. Some good, mostly clutter, some really bad. You have to learn to filter it.

It drives me nuts when advice givers say, "Never...." They drift through the streets in robes of knowledge, feet shrouded in fog as they clang brass bells and swing myrrhed incense pots. "Bring out the adverb. Bring out the adverb." Young writers everywhere make a mad dash through their manuscripts cutting out every adverb, leaving a colorless corpse behind.

At some point, young writer survives all this good advice. Ta da! Life is good. Barbara Rogan said I'm a good writer. Look out NYT here I come.

Or maybe not and their tombstone reads, Here lies Hopeful Writer, adverbed, adjectived, and adviced to death.

Writer may think they've made it, but oh no, here comes the query advice and they have to learn all over again how to filter and who to trust. And it does not a whit of good if they don't listen to the good advice even when they hear it.

Some people listen to advice, and some people just have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. You need to learn who to listen to and just to be safe, don't pee on any fences.

LynnRodz said...

I think this was posted on April 1st and it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. Otherwise, wtf were they thinking?

LOL, Hank!

AJ, December in DC can be unusually mild or damn cold. I think hubby needs to wait and see closer to the actual date. Just my 2¢.

Nom de plume said...

Why not also suggest calling the producer of your favorite movie so that you can sell the film rights while you are at it? I have never seen advice like this anywhere else…

I hear what Julie is saying about the plethora of advice authors get regarding the mechanics of writing. Last week, a poor soul in my critique group was trying to remove all pronouns from a well-written paragraph based on a “rule” he read about their overuse.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

JulieW = Brilliant...

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

(off topic, I'm very sorry)

You guys, I just got a One hour story rejection.

(though not on the story I have such hopes and tender dreams for)

I like quick, don't get me wrong, but yowza.

Colin Smith said...

Wow, Jennifer! Someone's been eating their oatmeal this morning... :)

JulieWeathers said...

I'm supposed to be researching the haunted Bay area, but I checked email and had a notice form Bob Mayer. Time Patrol, Ides Of March is free on kindle today on Amazon. If you've wanted a chance to check him out, here's a good opportunity. I wouldn't post it if it were just advertising a book, but free is hard to beat.

If this is against the rules, please delete.

Cheryl said...

I suspect this agency is so established they don't need to keep up with what everyone else is doing. Like your ninety-year-old grandfather giving you resume-writing advice based on how he hired someone when he was thirty.

Craig F said...

To me it looks like something that was designed for the kind of rejection that came in an envelope. Somewhere around 1977.

At that time it might have been halfway decent advice. That was a long time ago though.

AJ: DC in December could range from the 20s to the 60s(in Fahrenheit temps) and change in an instant. Definitely hope you husband doesn't have to drive around. All those roundabouts, dead ends and streets with name changes make it tough without even counting the traffic.

Andrea said...

Wow. Maybe it's a trick question, to compile that infamous black list that agents say doesn't exist. Maybe someone hacked their website and replaced sound advice with silliness.

I'm with Julie when it comes to writing advice. The 'no adverbs' thing drives me crazy. It's stupid advice, and I don't care what Stephen King says. Yes, of course you can say "shout" instead of "talk loudly", but there are situations when it's perfectly o.k. to use an adverb. Adverbs were invented for a reason. So was the semicolon. There are no rules for writing. Everything depends on what works in a story. Even grammar.

Unknown said...

This is an article on querying agents from The Onion, right? Hahaha. I love those guys. So funny. (And from Wisconsin, too!)

abnormalalien said...

Oh man. I run away when I see the word "call." Nope, I'm going to assume that this is beyond outdated or a joke.

As others have said: remove ALL x's from your writing to be the best ever is some of the most annoying advice.

Worse, I had a professor decide that all class assignments (5-10 pg papers) had to be completely devoid of non-action verbage. She went through those things with a magnifying glass and red penned entire paragraphs if she found ANY variations on "be" or "has." Of course, our papers were entirely about squishy emotional stuff like feelings rather than hearty action and adventure. Writing for that class was a nightmare.

Lennon Faris said...

Sheesh. #1-3 sound legit, a querying writer should prob. be doing something like that anyway just for their own knowledge. #4-5 sound like a mean trick (echoing a few others here).

Julie- I know what you mean, I don't think 'never' or 'always' has much place in a form of art. Still, beginner writers (myself included) tend to grasp for rules to anchor themselves while learning the craft. It makes it a little easier to see why our work may be considered 'beginner.' Then as we get better and our editing eye sight improves, we can see where we can break the 'rules' a little and make a piece that much better :)

JulieWeathers said...

Jamie A., I had someone chastise me about using passive construction once. I don't recall what the sentence was, actually, he tagged everything that had "be" in any form. The sentence was something like: Birds will be singing in the morning. They always do. And, though there were hundreds of men still lying in the forest, not a one will hear them. The dead care not for birds or their songs and the living had already moved on to the next battle. "There were" could have been taken out and "lying" and replaced with "lay", but it boiled down to my ear.

We had a discussion about will and be isn't always passive and not always wrong, but he was having none of it and I was a new writer, so I let it go. Thankfully, a better informed writer messaged me and gave me some help and assured me "be" isn't always passive.

You have to be careful about advice, even from professionals. That professor and I would not have done well.

BJ Muntain said...

"Don't submit to us. Instead, make life hell for other agents."

Pure evil, if you ask me.

What does it say about me that this level of evil makes me grin in maniacal glee?

On 'rules':

I was in a now-defunct writer's group many years ago. I'd been writing fiction for awhile, and I'd studied markets and style guides. I knew my grammar, and my writing was above average, even at that time. I'd even taken most of the classes towards a degree in English literature.

Along came a young know-it-all who insisted you never use semi-colons or -ly adverbs. You never deviate from Elements of Style, because it is the BIBLE.

I told him that Elements of Style, while useful to a beginning writer, is an overly prescriptive, highly-simplified, and sometimes unreliable reference. I suggested he look up similar rules from AP Style and Chicago Manual of Style. He shouted, "Blasphemy."

It's good to know all these 'rules', really it is. It's good to know when you're going against them, so you do it with style and grace. I study style guides. I know which rules are written in granite and I know which rules are written in mud. There's a lot of mud in Elements of Style, and a lot of writing advice out there comes up rather wet and dirty.

JulieWeathers said...


"I suggested he look up similar rules from AP Style and Chicago Manual of Style. He shouted, "Blasphemy."

My former editor hated it when they hired a journalism grad straight out of college. They croak "style book" like parrots without having learned to develop a style.

One of them, with he shiny new diploma, sent back a copy of Diane's column one week with some "helpful" edits and explained this is how it's done now days and Diane should refer to AP for further guidance.

That went over well. She's received awards for her editorial columns every year. One professor in California used her columns to teach style. She's mentioned in several who's who places of journalism. She's had books published on famous horses as well as stories in best-selling anthologies.

Diane, through gritted teeth, told her if she ever edited another of her articles again she would be in Oklahoma the next day to force feed the little twit her style manuals. Diane was familiar with them as she bought the new ones each time they came out. She also was confident enough to know when to break the rules.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Ah, the rules for writers. Know them, yes, but don't let some "professional" or wannabe bully you out of your voice. If you understand the reason behind these so-called rules, then you will, with practice learn when to break them like pounding glass with an anvil. A practiced writer is a pirate and to these souls, those rules be guidelines and nothing more.

'She was really very pretty' is a horrible sentence. There's no action and very really tells the reader nothing.

That said-

Little Drake stood aghast as he listened to his sisters talk ugly about the dead girl. Belinda turned on him.

"What are you blubbering about now?"

"She was really very pretty."

Drake slunk away from his sister as if her stare could inflict actual pain. He knew he had once more said the wrong thing. He could see that flare of jealousy in Belinda's murky eyes.

Belinda huffed. "Little pervert. I'm glad she's dead."

Context and voice be your guide.Language is our tool and weapon of choice. Don't let it be stifled by "rules".

John Davis Frain said...

Nothing to add to the absurdity of this so-called advice.

But tip o' the cap to Michael Seese and Jennifer Donohue for their impressive October goals. Sending out something every day in October inspires me and challenges me. I don't have the material to conquer that this October, but I'm going to set a similar goal. Maybe February, since it has fewer days!

Aside to Julie W: I was at a local Writer's Guild meeting Saturday and our speaker talked for a moment about Diana Gabaldon. I felt so in-the-know when her name came up, like I was long-time friends with Diana. Which, of course, is ridiculously untrue, but Julie's stories make me feel like I've known her.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Colin I think they must have! And thanks for linking to Michael Seese's posts on the topic.

John Davis Frain well see, that's the silver lining of a one hour rejection. I can just send that story to the next place!

I do wish Stephen King would come out with a newer edition of On Writing which clarifies that the whole "finding an agent and/or publisher" thing is different from how it once was. Because On Writing, along with Bird by Bird is some of my favorite reading on the topic. Just the right amount of memoir/narrative mixed in with nuts and bolts of getting it done.

Beth Carpenter said...

Could it be that the letter was written years ago when they temporarily closed submissions, and when they closed them again it was easiest to simply post that old advice?

Colin Smith said...

John: I think we're all vicariously best buds with Diane Gabaldon through Julie (and I mean that in the best possible way, Ms. Weathers--I love your Diane stories). ;) I really ought to get around to reading OUTLANDER sometime soon...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

AJ tell Hub, DO NOT DRIVE anywhere in or around DC. It's a nightmare.
Great, safe, clean, efficient and affordable subway system. Easy to navigate.

Weather ? Plan for cold weather. Won't be below zero but DC can be hit with big snow that time of year. It's the kind of snow that can shut down the city. Most likely though, weather will be moderately pleasant.

Panda in Chief said...

AJ- I'm in agreement with all the weather advice. It could be 30. It could be 60. Check your weather app on your computer or phone a few days before you leave, to confirm, but yeah, layering is your best bet.
Also agree about the driving! Just don't, DC traffic is scary enough if you are used to driving on the US side of the road. I can't imagine if I was used to driving on the opposite side. It would be like me trying to drive in London. When I ride with my DC area friends, I usually cover my eyes for at least half of the ride.

One more piece of DC advice (although body armor was an excellent idea) GO SEE THE PANDAS! Best time is from 8 AM till 9 AM. the crowds have not started to gather. It's just you, the pandas and a handful of the panda faithful. If you meet any of the regulars, tell 'em Bob T Panda sent you.

And about the actual topic, sheesh!

Joseph S. said...

I read the agency's message as the sentences in bold saying not taking submissions at this time.

The rest was attempted humor; or to put up an impossible barrier for those who might decide to submit anyway. but probably humor. Notice it got weirder as it went along. (Colin - did you write that message?)

Now - it was bad form, and a bad idea. Querying is enough of a traumatic experience writers agonize over every sentence of submission guidelines and may not be in a humor appreciating or even recognizing mood. Submission guidelines is not the place to kid around .

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

K.D. asked my question "And what the hell is "an over-advanced workload"?

These guidelines make me feel like I'm in a maze chasing the minotaur.

To all who are preparing NaNo. I'm jealous. Last year I had the time and completed a draft.

BJ Muntain said...

The best use of a style guide is for consistency. That's what it really is, anyway. AP Style is a guide mainly for press people - journalists, reporters - so that the newspapers all have a consistant style. Editorials, columns, etc., do not necessarily have to follow it. Those aren't a part of the newspaper style. And it seems fewer and fewer reporters actually use AP or CP (Canadian Press) style anymore, anyway. If I were their editor, they would have virtual slap marks on both cheeks... but they don't use copyeditors or proofreaders anymore. The reporter writes and their article is published (especially online). But I digress.

Style guides are so you don't use em-dashes in different ways throughout your work. They're so you don't hyphenate a compound word one time then use it as a single word another time. Consistency. If you follow a style guide for these things, you're less likely to make mistakes in consistency. Me, I know the style guides, so I choose my own consistent ways to use punctuation and grammar. I might choose to use apostrophes as in AP and CMOS, but certain spellings and hyphenations as in CP, with certain grammar foibles that fall between the cracks in the style guides. It's where the rules are less consistent between guides that you have the greatest amount of flexibility. I love it. But then, I read style guides for fun.

Most major publishing houses will have their own internal style guides (most businesses do). When revising for a publisher (after the contract is signed, of course) you may be asked to edit for their style. Or their editor may edit for their style. It's possible to fight them, but you need to choose your battles. But again, it's important to be consistent. And it's more important to be consistent within your work than it is to be consistent with a publisher's other works.

BJ Muntain said...

KD and Angie: I believe an over-advanced workload is basically 'they're overflowing in work for as far in the future as they can see'.

BJ Muntain said...

(AKA Holy crap. How are we going to do all this work?)

AJ Blythe said...

Thanks everyone for your DC advice. The Hub is very grateful (and yes, he's traveling for work so hopefully he'll be in a central (and clean) location).

I wonder if body armour comes in a winter/insulated model? *grin*

BJ Muntain said...

AJ: Just wear the body armour over (or under) the other clothes to achieve a stylish layered DC winter look.

Joseph S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph S. said...

Okay - Hyperlink didn't work right so here's a link to Accuweather's prediction of Washington, D.C.'s weather this year

Donnaeve said...

Gone all day, so I skimmed most of the comments...

Diane just to clarify, my comment about the tone hinting at groveling was about the "thank them profusely," part (should one be so lucky as to have the editor ACTUALLY call or offer a hint of advice out of the blue) ...not so much the overall advice - which as you said, does tell people to go away - somewhat politely. Which stinketh to high heaven.

Colin Smith said...

Joe Snoe's weather link:

And no, I had nothing to do with today's article. Despite its meandering descent into verbal insanity, which, apparently, mirrors my own... :)

DeadSpiderEye said...

'Where did you get this phone number?'

Have a plausible answer ready but make it sound like the question is a surprise, If you cite a named source, use their first name.

Ambience is useful for diffusing awkwardness, your phoning at home and the kids are playing up, 'Jill stop teasing fluffles...' or using a mobile in some location that might momentarily distract the person you're speaking to. Don't over do it though, the histrionics are just employed to capture attention and allow you to motivate the conversation. They're only really necessary at all, when you have to smooth the feathers down or negotiate the peremptory dismissal of unsolicited contact.


I'm not surprised to see the objections raised here, obviously this kind of contact is not encouraged, life would be pretty unmanageable if it were routine. I am though, quite curious about the extent to which such personal contact is avoided and deprecated. It seems there is a culture gap, one that is enforced through convention and common practice. The problem there is, what the kind of people who diligently adhere to convention and common practice, no one precocious and daring that's for sure. So if you don't occasionally lose money on cards or at the race track, this kind of personal contact strategy is probably out of bounds.

For balance, I was on the other side of the fence just the once and I was genuinely really curious about where he got the phone number.

JulieWeathers said...


I'm glad my stories did some good. Diana is a remarkable author in many ways besides the writing. She really is a role model for how to connect with readers. No one is perfect, of course, but she does an outstanding job most of the time.

She tells a story about a time she was in Germany and a reporter wanted to ask her some questions after a very long, arduous day. Instead of declining, she agreed to talk to him because he was there then and might not be another time.

He asked what it was about men in kilts that women loved. She responded something to the effect, "I suppose it's because the thought that a virile man in a kilt could have you up against the wall in two seconds." (She was speaking of consensual relations, so no one get their panties in a wad.) She admits she was tired and that was just the first thing that popped in her head.

A week or so later she gets an email from staff in Germany. "I'm not sure what you said, but I think this reporter is in love with you. He's giving you the most amazing press."

She tries to be gracious to people even when they are most ungracious to her, like the woman who rants everywhere she goes that Diana needs psychiatric help because of what she does to her characters. After numerous scathing posts on the forum, Diana finally ended with, "Not every book is for every reader. I hope you enjoy the next book you read more."

She has to be a publicist's dream.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie: I need psychiatric help. You should see what I've done to my poor characters. Perhaps Diana and I need to commiserate over something chocolate...