Thursday, May 25, 2006

Writing and publishing

I don’t know how many of you read other blogs by writers; or blogs about writing and publishing. Some examples in my own blogroll and daily reads are Miss Snark, Faith, M.E Ellis, Pub Rants, Evil Editor, Kirsten Mortensen, Shesawriter, Chapterhouse, Karyn Lyndon, and more. Oh yeah, and Zinnia Hope, and Rob Hamel, and Viki Babbles, and Brenda Bradshaw... Okay you get the idea. (I didn’t insert the links in there because they’re all in the list on the right sidebar. And I’m lazy. But you knew that.)

Anyway, many of these people have a unique perspective on writing and publishing. And occasionally they succumb to the temptation to rant about some aspect of that industry that irks them.

Agents (and the Evil Editor) rant about authors who can’t spell (or use spell check), have no idea of plot development or characterization, or don’t know how to write a simple query letter. They also rant about scam artists who give the literary agent business a bad name. (Miss Snark was almost beside him/herself in a couple of recent posts about one. Fun to read!)

Writers, on the other hand, rant about agents and publishers. Agents demand a professional, letter-perfect query, but then many of them have differing instructions for, and examples of, what they want in that query. Many agents take 3-4 months to answer a query, and then simply send a pre-printed postcard saying, “Not right for my current list.” Worse, some never respond at all, even thought the author enclosed a stamped self-addressed envelope.

Some writers rant about agents who will accept (or even require) an email query, but refuse to open an attachment. They claim they’re afraid of viruses.

Hello? Ever hear of Norton, or McAfee? Everybody ELSE on the internet is using them, or an equivalent. PLUS, anybody who is smart enough (or dumb enough) to insert a virus in an attachment is also smart/dumb enough to insert it into the body of the email. An agent is JUST AS MUCH AT RISK if they open the email itself as they are if they open the attachment! Don’t believe me? Ask the nearest I.T. pro, or network administrator. Remember the “I LoveYou” virus? All you had to do was open the email, and you were toast.

If an agent doesn’t want attachments, fine. Tell us. But don’t use the phony excuse of fear of viruses.

Yes, many of the blogs I read contain rants about all of those things. But of course, I NEVER stoop to the level of ranting or complaining like that myself. I simply sit here in my ivory tower, secure in my knowledge that in every case I am right, and often they are wrong. Ah, the satisfaction of knowing that!

Oh, and in case you’re interested I have finished sending out queries for new representation for my first novel, while I work hard on my third. (The second, a sequel to the first, has been set aside for the present as I’m more excited about the third right now).

My present tally of queries is as follows:

Agents queried via email: 80
Agents queried via snail mail: 62
Realistic number from whom a response is still possible: 20
Number from whom a response is now unlikely: 40
(Based on the length of time since my query was sent.)

So, what could I possibly have to rant about?


Unknown said...

I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you keep doing it. I admire that faith you have in yourself - and fully admit I don't have it in myself.

I love to read, and love to read several different genres. I know, based on what I am fortunate to read here each day, that YOU are a writer with talent. And paired with that mystical perseverence, you WILL be published.

kenju said...

I agree with r.e. You will make it, someday. Good luck!

Hale McKay said...

To get Airplanesque - you have more patience than a hospital, but it's probably that fortitude that one needs to get published.
...Thanks for the comment and an idea! I have a bee in the bonnet now. Why not submit that story to Readers Digest? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It wouldn't take much to refine without the pics and to restructure it.
...Thinking ... and thanking you.

Anonymous said...

Your persistance, talent and faith will pay off, John. Keep plugging away.

Duke_of_Earle said...

You are all very kind. As I replied to r.e. on his blog, what he calls "mystical perseverence," Carol and my daughters call "hard-headedness."

It's a fine line, sometimes.


Emmy Ellis said...

Good luck, John!

I've often wondered that myself, about the attachment excuse. Plus, sending in the body of an email is dodgy. When I paste from my word doc. into the email box and I send it, they then complain it came through as 'gobbledy gook' so could I please send it again VIA ATTACHMENT!


Mind boggles.


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Candace said...

John, as you know, all it takes is one. Still keeping my fingers crossed for ya!

bigwhitehat said...

I hope you do well friend. I would ask more about the subject. But, I haven't finished the book yet.