Friday, April 18, 2008

Stupid Things People Do #I don't know

So you submitted to editors and agencies, and were rejected. They wrote a personalized rejection, though, praising certain elements of your book but deciding at the end it's "just not right for them." Well, good for you. You were close.

That said, do not, under any circumstances, include a rejection letter from another agent or a publishing house in your query letter to an agent. It doesn't help if you underline and/or highlight the line of praise; it's still a rejection and you definitely shouldn't be showing it to us. The time to mention what publishing houses rejected you (so that we don't resubmit) is AFTER we've taken you on as a client, and not before.

I don't know why people do this, but they do.

I'll be offline until Monday night for Passover, so don't expect a lot of comments to be approved between tonight and then unless I get a friend to do it for me. Enjoy, and Chag Sameach!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pitching at Conferences

Hello! I have an odd question, but in your infinite wisdom and experience I’m sure you’ll have an excellent answer. I was at a regional romance writer’s conference where I was one of the finalists in a big contest. As a conference attendee I got one pitch session, with Deirdre Knight – and that one went really well. As a finalist I got another pitch session – with a different agent. It was a group pitch and I just was not pitching well for some reason. After my pitch, Agent B said, “well, it doesn’t really sound interesting, but send me a partial anyway.”

I was humiliated, of course. Out of seven people she only asked for mine and one other person – other people she either referred to other agents or flat out said “not for me.” This was in late September. I have not sent her the partial, but I’m now thinking I have nothing to lose. Here’s my question: Do I mention in my cover letter that she hated it but wanted to see it anyway? J I could make it funny, but would it be better to lie and hope she doesn’t remember me and only remembers requesting the partial? Such a tricky kind of situation.

You shouldn't feel humiliated. She wouldn't have asked for it if there wasn't legitimate interest; she may just have been tired, or cranky, or in a bad mood, or simply thought your presentation was lacking but she was willing to see if it looked different in paper. Don't mention that she hated it, just that she requested it.

A lot is made in books of the agent pitch at conferences and I'm sure a few sales have come from it, but it's not the main way to approach an agent. Many writers are not good at describing their books (myself included) in person and we're aware of that; the agents who go to these conferences choose to do so because they don't find them as unbearable as I would. If you're not a good speaker, send a query. If you ARE a good speaker and good presenter, go to conferences and pitch away.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This is one of those posts I get in trouble for

Excuse me while I go slightly off the topic of query rejection and into another kind of rejection.

Authors have it bad these days. They're being sued or they're suing someone. I'm surprised Anne Rice, the only author I know to have established and nourished a base of fans who personally hate her, found time to find Christ between lawsuits against fanfic authors, restaurant owners, and dead people's relatives. But really, she's old news.

J.K. Rowling is suing the Harry Potter Lexicon book, which she supported when it was just a website supporting her work, and now is a published book supporting her work and making money off of it. Yes, yes, it's copyright violation, but not only is it far from the only book ever to heavily violate Harry Potter copyright, but she claims it has "decimated my creative work over the last month." To be fair, suing fans for trying to make a buck off you can be demoralizing, but damn, woman, you have a lot of bucks. And what were you doing, writing HP 8?

But I'm actually most sympathetic to Andrew Morton, who in February published a sleazy tell-all book about Tom Cruise in the form of an "unauthorized biography." When it came out in the US, people criticized it for lack of sources (as Tom Cruise and everyone who is friends with Tom Cruise, i.e. is a Scientologist, wouldn't say a word to him), said the writing was choppy, and ultimately decided that the characterization of the star was probably flawed. Tom Cruise threatened to sue him, as is his right to do, for writing something that amounts to several hundred pages of mainly unsubstantiated libel and slander. The lawsuit didn't go through (yet), but Tom Cruise did something more important - he got the publisher to agree not to publish it in Britain (Morton's home country) or Australia. The book did so well, St. Martin's took another pass at it to get an "approved" version to sell in Britain, only to dismiss the idea when they realized the book would be about four pages long because nobody would take their calls.

Brits needing their sleazy Tom Cruise fix will have to shop at eBay and find an international shipper, because won't sell his work (except through used sellers). Good for them, right? Standing up against libel?

So what else does sell? Well, let's see: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Synagogue of Satan, Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants, The Exposure of Anti Christ's League Of The Untouchables, Inc, and Dajjal: The Anti Christ, but thank goodness theories about Tom Cruise's personal life are safe from British eyes. Unless, of course, they own a computer, a television, or read newspapers.

Actually, Amazon and bookstores in general don't sell a lot of books that are anti-Scientology, which the Andrew Norton book most definitely is. The authors get sued, the books don't come out, and in a few cases, lives are completely ruined. That's not really protection against libel - that's censorship, or in the case of Paulette Cooper, total psychotic behavior on the part of an organization.

There are many, many anti-Semitic and anti-Israel books out there, some by former Presidents. They get a little write-up in the New Jersey Jewish News, some opinion articles are written, and Alan Dershowitz puts out another book disputing claims made in said book. We make a fuss, because a fuss should be made when lies are told to further political interest. Do we censor? Do we do everything possible to ruin the author's lives? No, we don't (for the most part. Nobody's blameless here).

Everyone has the right to free speech. If the Chinese can say that the Dalai Lama is a terrorist who is planning suiciding bombings and we can reprint it in the interest of providing news without our heads exploding, then there's some appreciation for the two-way street that free speech and censorship follow. Depending, of course, on how rich and lawsuit-happy your target is.

If google ads pop up for Scientology because of this post, do not click on them. Go to instead. I don't want that dirty money.