Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, March 20, 2009

This Week in Publishing 3/20/09

Lots and lots of links this week, so let's get this started, shall we?

First off, I'm as surprised as you are that my bracket wasn't completely busted by 3 PM yesterday, which probably means that I'll be dead in the water by the end of the day. There's currently a nine-way tie atop the Blog Challenge -- we'll see how things shake out by Sunday!

In other literary sports news, ESPN columnist JA Adande wrote a terrific article about the relevancy of Malcolm Gladwell's book OUTLIERS to sports, and in particular he talked to the extremely intelligent Celtic star Ray Allen about his thoughts on the book. Allen reflected on the unique advantages that put him on his path to NBA stardom.

Given how many dreams we have to dash in a given day, and, yes, how many bad literary agent apples there are in the publishing orchard, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that literary agents have aroused so much antipathy out there on the Internet lately and lots of finger-crossing about our supposed impending demise. The Self Publishing Review took issue with my statement in my interview with Alan Rinzler that we're always on the side of authors because Henry feels that we first have our eye on the market.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin is Maya Reynolds, who went on a rant of her own about against anti-agent rants.

Victoria Strauss also pushed back against some of the agent-related Internet negativity and checked in with the ultimate, hilarious queryfail: querying someone who isn't even an agent.

Also, I love Seth Godin, who has an article about how important it is for literary agents to specialize and stand for something in order to add value (and I agree), but he begins with a foreboding comparison to how travel agents have disappeared, which only made me think of the rejection letters: "I'm really sorry, but Hawaii said they won't let you in. Sigh. It's just such a tough travel market and they say they can't take on yet another person from Indiana. I'll try Fiji next."

Lastly in agent news, Curtis Brown client Gretchen McNeil recently posted an awesome interview with ICM children's book agent Tina Wexler, a fellow faculty alum of the Atlanta Writers Conference and an excellent agent.

At SXSW this week, Penguin UK won awards for Best in Show and an experimental prize for their website We Tell Stories, devoted to experimental stories told through web tools, including a story told through Google Maps. Very cool.

Also on the web, reader Teresa Miller pointed me to WriteTV, which is a web compilation of interviews with authors such as Sue Monk Kidd, Amy Tan, and more.

Reader Mary Ulrich pointed me to a seriously terrific article by Kevin Kelly about the uneven adoption of new technology, and how different groups sometimes have irrational reasons for refusing to adopt superior technology even when it would be to their direct benefit. Hmmm.... A group with an illogical attachment to outdated technology..... grasping for a book-related example....

Speaking of new technology, Sony and Google got their deal on and you will soon be able to read 500,000 public domain books on the Sony Reader. For free. Wow. Your move, Kindle. (And yes, publishers weep for their backlists).

The David Foster Wallace tributes are making their way through the magazineosphere, and you probably can't do better than D.T. Max's profile in the New Yorker. And in the chiding-but-we-still-love-ya category is James Tanner's diagram of how to create a Foster Wallaceian sentence.

Still with me? Lots more to go.

Also in New Yorker profile news is blog favorite Ian McEwan. Daniel Zalewski's profile of McEwan is, shall we say, comprehensive. In fact I'm pretty sure it's longer than ON CHESIL BEACH. And ATONEMENT. Combined.

In presidential book news, via Publishers Lunch (subscription) comes word that former President Bush got himself a book deal, to be published by Crown, about making decisions. Commence sniggering or reverential expectation depending on one's political persuasion.

And also via Pub Lunch (subscription) comes word that current President Obama has contracted with Random House for more books post-presidency, and his book earnings now total...... close to $9 million. Commence "Holy crap that's a lot of dough" no matter one's political persuasion.

Amid a really big year for Hachette, one bookseller is none too pleased that they have cut back on the co-op programs, including their Emerging Voices program. Check out the post in case you're curious about what those co-op programs constitute, and yes, another example of publishers coalescing around established authors at the expense (potentially) of new voices.

Almost finally, Happy 40th Birthday to THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, which Google is honoring today with a cool homage with a caterpillar logo.

And finally finally, you know how I like to end with puppies, and this week I get to end with a bestselling author's puppy. I give you... Jeff Abbott's insanely cute corgi. (UPDATE: oops, it's a cardigan. Not just a sweater anymore.)

Have a great weekend!


JohnO said...

Holy URL, Batman! Nice post, but ... how do you ever get any WORK done?!

(Full disclosure: This asked by someone reading an agent's blog, and commenting on it, at work.)

Nathan Bransford said...


What I do is e-mail links to myself throughout the week and then put them together Friday morning. Assembling these posts only takes about half an hour. Lots of time left in the day.

Julie Weathers said...

Nice round up of the week.

Bush will be approaching the topic I have often wondered about.

Everyone has perfect 20/20 hindsight in regards to decision-making. Even politicians who hailed those same decisions a few years back and were proud supporters now scramble like a flock of chickens in a thunderstorm, decrying how they know this would happen.

It would really be nice to be able to roll back history, insert other people in the scenarios and see what would actually happen.

It's very easy to say what you would do when history has already played out, but not quite so easy in the midst of the battle.

[W]e made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We appointed all our worst generals to command our armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers.--Robert E. Lee

Some things never change.

Marilyn Peake said...

Wow - lots of great links to check out. Thank you!

I'm 2/3 of the way through the novel I'm currently writing, hoping to complete it before summer; and, as much as I follow the publishing market, I find I just can't bring myself to read about the tightening publishing market right before a writing session. I'm off to write, then catch up on all the news. If nothing else, this economy has made me reeeeeeally good at compartmentalizing: creating my novel in one part of my brain, thoughts that I should abandon the novel and put my feet up or clean my house pushed down into the deep, dark recesses of my subsconscious. :)

Have a great weekend!

Emily Breen said...

Have to say I'm coming around to the Kindle thing - even put in hint for my upcoming birthday (I figure the rocking in the corner weeping will be less boring if I have a nice supply of reading material to rock with!) - I put this firmly down to peer/blog pressure.

Thanks for another interesting post. Off now to look at Google maps (ooo how relevant) & see if my house is on there, we have quelle scandal breaking here today as some of the new pictures show houses in far too much detail. Useful tool for computer literate burglars, nasty shock for folk snapped putting the bins out in their PJs or bopping round their kitchens in their undies.

Nathan Bransford said...

Well, I kind of wonder if someone flipping a coin on those big decisions would have resulted in a better track record.

Bane of Anubis said...

Regarding Ray Allen, I used to dislike him (for no particularly good reason), but everything I've heard about him speaks volumes toward his character - e.g., when The Celts visited D.C., he pretty much mandated that his teammates visit The Holocaust Museum with him (and, reportedly, he visits it himself every time he's in D.C.)... too bad he's wearing Boston green, but he seems like your prototypical antithetical sports star.

Kristi said...

I'm just psyched to be part of the NCAA nine-way tie for now - thank you, Western Kentucky!

Also, the Guide to Literary Agents gave a shout out to Nathan's blog yesterday, and noted his Positivity Week posting about happy writers.

Hope everyone has a great weekend - go Tarheels! :)

Mark Terry said...

Nice round-up. Three comments.

1. Jeff's Corgi's a mutant. Black and white? Momma was sniffin' around a Labrador or something. I'm just sayin'. Corgi's run to that weird orange color.

2. Bush gets money for decision-making. Note that a week ago Ari Fleischer was on and stated that we went into Iraq "before Saddam Hussein could attack us again." Which was an interesting rewriting of history in that, um, Iraq NEVER attacked the U.S. Apparently to this day Bush et al. remains confused about exactly why we went to war in Iraq and who attacked us on 9/11. Ought to make for interesting reading in a completely revisionist sort of way.

3. Yeah, we sure love to complain about agents and the publishing industry. If only they'd do it the way I WANT YOU TO. Oh well. I've worked in healthcare as well as publishing and we complained in healthcare about how things were done, too. Damn hospitals, if only...

Katie said...

Nathan, I gotta tell you I am LOVING the b-ball challenge. I needed hubby's help with my team, but now I am flat addicted! And I am beating you :-)

ryan field said...

I didn't even know there was a self-publishing review.

And, you had some really remarkable posts here this week. I personally gained something from each one.

Julie Weathers said...

I suppose that has been wondered with every wartime decision and every presidency. No leader is ever completely right or wrong.

And, as I said, it's always lovely to say in retrospect how we all knew what would happen. In truth, no one knows what will happen or what would have happened had different decisions been made.

Alternative histories only exist in fantasy even though we would like to think we all knew better.

Mira said...

Wow, so much reading to do over the weekend. Thanks for all the posts, Nathan.

I know people are talking about history and important stuff like that, and I'd join in if I had any knowledge of current affairs.

That not being the case, instead, I'm now going to announce that I created the blog I mentioned: Come In Character. This is a place to post in character, as a way to practice and develop charcter voices.

A few people mentioned they might be interested. I'm not going to hold you to it, but if you or anyone else is interested in the concept, check it out.

Thanks for letting me announce this here, Nathan.

Vancouver Dame said...

Interesting articles on agents, and I liked your response to the Self Publishing Review. Agents just happen to be the latest target of the week for internet bashing. Last week (via a different technology) it was clueless query writers.

I'm sure the best agents will survive, as those are the ones who will be sought out by the new writers and existing authors. One way of ensuring that is to connect with your blog followers, as you do Nathan. Most of us are writers, some are authors, but we all find something of value in your daily blogs, or we wouldn't check in so often.

It's those bad apples in the literary agent orchard who need to worry.

Have a great weekend.

T. Anne said...

Thanks for the links, quite an entertaining Friday wrap up. I had to laugh when I read Victoria Strauss' blog this week. Not only did I find it amusing that she should get queries, I too thought she was an agent. And no I didn't query.

Also, really liked Seth's blog, funny in sort of a painful way. I suppose that news about google and the sony readers should bring a smile to every authors face since the e-revolution seems to be widening the gates.

I'm so thrilled the very hungry caterpillar is older than me, that alone is enough to brighten my day so thanks!

Melanie Avila said...

Is it wrong to be excited that I'm beating you Nathan? :) I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

I've received three queries from someone despite the fact that I am not an agent and haven't been published. And they were really bad.

Robena Grant said...

Playing catch up for the entire week and now this post? Yikes! I'll be here all day. : ) Thanks though, very good stuff. Of course I had to click on the link to Jeff's pup first. Love Corgi's.

Jeff Abbott said...

Mark: My Corgi is a purebred Cardigan (the Corgi with the tail). Cardigans come in black/white, brindle, tan, brown/white, and gray. Pembrokes (the Corgi without the tail) have a more limited color range. Cardigan Welsh Corgis and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are considered two distinct breeds. (and for anyone considering a dog, Cardigans are a fantastic choice. Sorry for the plug.)

We now return you to your regular publishing discussion. Have a good weekend.

Mira said...

Hey, I just tried to register for the contest. I'm alittle late, but I remembered that I wanted to win. Have to play to win. Someone already signed up with my e-mail.

Whose using my e-mail?

Stop that. Stop that right now.

E-mail stealer.

K.C. Shaw said...

Free ebooks, muahahahahaha.

I've had my Sony reader for a week, and for everyone who's hesitant to try one, GIVE IT ONE HOUR. I think the eink is made out of crack.

Not that I'm planning on giving up paper books, of course. But the reader is awesome and very easy on the eyes. I keep forgetting it's an electronic device and try to turn the page as if it was paper, which makes me look sort of eccentric to anyone watching me.

T. Anne said...

I've always loved corgi's. They remind me of that video game, Star Fox. In our house it's referred to as the Star Fox dog. Never seen one that color before. Too cute. :)

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

I love that anti anti-agent rant, sooooo true. My sentiments exactly.


:)Ash said...

Wow, lots of good stuff this week! I've only read through part of it so far; can't wait to read the rest!

And I'm doing fabulously in the bracket challenge... for now :) I have Memphis beating UConn for the final four, and after yesterday's performance, I fear that was a huge mistake...

Nathan Bransford said...


Sorry, some readers are touchy about language, etc.

Whirlochre said...

I loved that caterpillar.

Lupina said...

Rats, I'm older than the Hungry Caterpillar, but we share the same birthday.

I'm not anything approaching an agent, only a lowly author, but I've received an entire manuscript from someone seeking publication. It was an emotionally disturbed young person's memoir about being supernatural. I ponied up the postage to return it with as many kind suggestions as I could muster.

Happy Solstice everyone!

PurpleClover said...

Maya Renolds - great Rant! She was right on! The world is unfair...suck it up and move on.

Victoria Strauss - HILARIOUS. What idiots. Especially the spammer. jerk.

Seth Godin - good points. Would love it if real estate agents were anything like As for literary agents I think Nathan you were making a point in your comment about this a post or two have to pass on lots of good stuff but take the stuff you believe in 110% or something. Totally agree...good marketing, wise time mgt.

Bush - should be interesting to see his explanation...but I bet that book will need HEAVY grammatical editing even though he'll still be using a ghost writer I'm sure. ;)

Obama - DANG. What are the requirements to run for pres again?? I think I may

Jeff Abbots pup - Too cute! Definitely worth the lengthy read...haha.

But alas, I will have to catch up on the other links later. ;)

Rick Daley said...


I have a follow-up thank you for mentioning my query blog last week (

In the past week the site had 5,450 page views. That's 2,170 visits, with an average of 2.51 pages per visit (each query is its own page).

Average time on the site is almost 4.5 minutes, which means people are sticking around to read and comment.

Compare that to the inaugural week prior, which had 617 pageviews and 288 visits...

Several people have posted their thanks to me for starting the site, but I have to share it with you because it wouldn't be a benefit to anyone if it went unknown.

Kasie West said...

I'm officially on link overload. Thanks for fulfilling my link quota for the month. No, but seriously, it was like a one stop shop for all the interesting articles of the week. Thanks for doing all the work for me.

Anonymous said...

Also, Jon Karp is still redefining his views on better books, fewer titles.


Ink said...

Nathan, thanks for the link to the New Yorker tribute to David Foster Wallace. A little heartbreaking, but important reading for me. He played an important role in my evolution as a writer and reading that was a little like finding closure. I'm looking forward to reading The Pale King when they publish it.

I was going to read the McEwan article, but... it sounds like it's even longer than the Wallace piece, and so I need more free time.

Thanks again,

rightonmom said...

Thanks for all the great links, I'll be skiing it up over spring break but hope to read at least a few.

And I hope I never receive a rejection letter from my travel agent to Hawaii. Its where all we Portlanders go. Have a wondrful weekend!

Bobbi Comet said...

Now Nathan,
I raise you one puppy picture!

Genny said...

Thanks for all the great links. And I agree with Whirlochre; I love that caterpillar too.

Rick Chesler said...

Thanks for this treasure trove of information, Nathan.

Marilyn Peake said...


Just wondered if you're planning more blog posts specifically about writing in the near future. That would be so much fun. The discussions about writing this past week were a blast!

Stephen Duncan said...

As a represented author and attorney, I can see several parallels between agents and lawyers, in regards to representing clients. I'm certain this isn't coincidence, considering how many agents are, in fact, attorneys.

Proponents of self publishing must come from the same cloth as the clients who walk into my office and ask me to prove why they need to retain my services in order to better their case outcome.

The answer is much the same as why, statistically, you need an agent to publish successfully: because that's how the game is played. I can't see any sort of unlikely total shift to e-publishing changing this.

Although, I have to disagree with your notion that people don't have enough time to try. It seems there is a huge population of publishing hopefuls that have put all their eggs in the book deal basket without regard to other careers or jobs. I imagine they have all the time in the world.

Lucinda said...

Your links were very informative and interesting; the comments were great as well. It may have taken you half an hour to write this one, but is certainly takes more time to read and click on links. (not complaining)

Reading some of the comments to Maya's blog made me think about an old saying. It is so old that I am unable to quote it exactly.

It was something along the lines of...

The best teachers are those who remember being a student.

The best parents are those who remember being a child.

The best judges are those who remember being lawyers.

...and the list goes on.

In other words, sometimes successful authors tend to forget what it was like to be just writers where their daydreams are filled with stardom and wealth. In their eagerness to be on board the starships, some writers fail to realize they must pay dues (read, research, learn, rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite). Some writers who begin writing late in life feel they don't have time to play the games and forgo the dues.

If a writer earnestly wants success without compromise, nothing will get in the way, not even rejected queries.

But, I really do find it hard to believe that someone would submit a manuscript to a person that is not an agent....even ignorance is smarter than that.

Thanks, Nathan, for all your wonderful research and information you give us with this blog. I read it every day even if I don't post. (I think my long-winded response this time makes up for all the past lurking)


Gretchen said...

Thanks for the linky love, Nathan! Tina was an awesome interview. And there's another killer interview with Curtis Brown's own Ginger Clark here:

beckylevine said...

If you don't keep an eye on the market, how exactly are you supposed to help the writers? If you "take on" a book, but can't find anywhere to sell it, who exactly does that help? Sheesh. :)

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Great interview with TINA WEXLER... loved it! Thank you.

Haste yee back ;-)

jimnduncan said...

That's unfortunate news from Hatchette. Makes you wonder about the bottom-line vs. love for books ratio at the top of the corporate publishing ladder.

BTW, it's really great that you do this each week, Nathan. I look forward to your friday blogs.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh my heck.
Nathan, I love the travel agent rejection letters.....
That is just TOO good...

James Klousia said...

Here's another link you might find interesting:

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

It's about the problems that the newspaper industry is currently experiencing, but I think a lot of what Clay Shirky says can also be applied to the publishing industry.

Jen C said...

Ha, the Bush book should be fun to read! Definitely will be written by a ghost writer, and I'd say it would have to be approved by publicists, legal team and the rest of the entourage before it hits the shelves, but I'm sure it will make great critic fodder when it comes out.

On the flip side, I would love to read the Obama book (major crush on the president!).

Regarding the bunch of writers who go off on anti-agent rants, I think it's their loss. I think it makes perfect sense to have someone who knows the industry on your side and I don't understand why anyone wouldn't want an agent.

And, in conclusion, I signed up for the MM competition on the work computer and I can't remember my user name, so I can't see how I'm doing until I get back in on Monday. Which is probably a good thing. I need to write this weekend, not obsess about teams I don't know in a game I don't watch!

PS Nathan I want you do do well in the comp because you and I picked the same team to win...

Writer from Hell said...

Agents do stand for something already. First n foremost their personality - which shines thru in the words they put out there. Just like there are complaining authors, some lit agents are so negative - going on n on about what n who they do not want instead of clarifying what they DO want.

I agree with the advice that one should see a fit with agent before sending a query. And I always first check an agent's personality and then the genre. If I don't like the former I drop him. Simple! O lucky him/her one should say. But so far out of about 100 agents I may have researched, I've found only 6 that I liked. This is not a good strategy but it keeps the mood good n positive. But a whole lot there are so offputting and crazily bitter (pray why)that u feel i don't want to put my work in the hands of this A**. I bet most writers feel that way. So while the agents are always going to be there but these ranting sort will find themselves out of business - actually not but no harm wishing.

Bane of Anubis said...

Bad badgers - go make cheese :(

Congrats to the kings for finally beating an eastern team, even if it was the knicks.

Scott said...

Rich post, Nathan. Thanks.

I agree with Godin: agents need to lead. However, there seems to be an altruistic element to that which, in these times, I can't see becoming popular or possible even when the prevailing determinate is survival. That said, hands are being forced to find value for money on both sides, so who knows? I think a blog is a great way to differentiate, as well. Keep it up!

My girlfriend and I also spent the better part of an hour in total walking in and out of bookstores in Cambridge and Paris (the famous Shakespeare & Co. among them) smelling the old pages, feeling the matte finishes of some of the covers, and gliding our fingertips over the soft pages as they sifted. I'm still not sure if we were indulging our senses or saying goodbye.

And Wallace seemed his own worst enemy. It's not unusual, I think, to seek a direction in an art form that will bring deliverance, but to have the courage to surrender all in its pursuit certainly is. But it is very calculated, and I'm not sure that isn't in itself the stuff of madness, or at least, frustration. He sought to bring the world to his understanding. Time easily runs out in those instances, one has to think. In the end, I hope his legacy is more than unfinished work and sadness. RIP, David.

freddie said...

And, as I said, it's always lovely to say in retrospect how we all knew what would happen. In truth, no one knows what will happen or what would have happened had different decisions been made.

Alternative histories only exist in fantasy even though we would like to think we all knew better.

Actually, a lot of people correctly predicted how those big decisions would turn out.

Pure Fiction said...

Hi Nathan, I’m a regular visitor to your blog - fair play to you for making your knowledge of the publishing world so accessible and non-exclusive.
In relation to your mention of We tell Stories, I’ve just started a fictional blog,(Pure Fiction, at, featuring a fictional, newly separated writer struggling to get to grips with her brand new life on the west coast of Ireland.
My hope would be to try and maintain the structure and tension of a novel through the blog, while incorporating any messages, comments, or feedback I get into the story.
This has probably been done many times before, but as a novice blogger, the possibilities seem endless – twitter updates as the story develops, you-tube links featuring characters featured in the blog. Do you know of any examples of this kind of thing?

An Irish blogger

Mira said...

Pure Fiction, that's a great idea, but if you plan to publish that work, be aware that by posting it on a blog, you've given away first publishing rights.

That doesn't mean you can't sell it, but it would be harder to sell, and you'd miss out on the part where the publisher pays you for first publishing rights.

It sucks, but that's my understanding. If I'm wrong, I hope someone will let me know. I'm fairly sure I'm right though.

Ink said...

The West Regional is killing me. Wake, oh Wake... how could you do this to me? Havne't I always been fair? Haven't I always loved you?

Nona said...

Wallace wrote to Franzen, shortly before the book’s publication. “I don’t think it’s very good — some clipping called a published excerpt feverish and not entirely satisfying, which goes a long way toward describing the experience of writing the thing.”

I've had "Infinite Jest" on a side table for several months now. I've skimmed it. I've read other books cover to cover in the meantime. The library's going to be wanting it back soon . . .

I can only think that if he'd had more fun writing it, that maybe people would have more fun reading it.

Personally, I write to amuse myself. Oh, I'm just a happy idiot. Or at least, I try to be.

Marjorie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marjorie said...

corrrected comment:
There is an interesting entry at Janet Reid's blog called: "Some Query Letter Fundamentals."
In that entry she states:
1. if you send her a CD of your work she will throw it away unopened
2. if you send her an E-mail with a reading receipt she will ignore or cancel what she calls the "annoying" thing
(not sure if she ignores the query or just cancels the receipt)
I commented at her blog and she has comment moderation in place. My comment was not published. I am confused as to why, because I asked a good question which I think should be addressed. Here is my comment:

"Who is hurt when a CD is thrown away? The CD might contain the next Pulitzer. Seriously.
And why get the whole package off your screen just because it contains a reading receipt? Who would be the loser if you clicked "cancel" and the material was sent by (for instance) Jack Kerouac?
All these rules seem silly and they appear to come from a place of anger and spite. They seem designed to punish the writer, when I would think the agenda should be to objectively look at the project and decide if it is worthwhile pursuing. All the rest seems to be petty horseshit.... even in a very busy and bogged down work day."

I do not understand why my comment would not be published. A blog should have a good mix of commentary, not just comments that are singularly dimensional and flatter the blog author.
And let me add that for a literary agent to auto reject queries based on a personal annoyance level seems a bit self-defeating.

PurpleClover said...

Marjorie - I would assume it was the mild profanity in the end about horse do-do that might be the reason it got kicked. While some would be okay with that, they like to appease those that are not.


As for your sentiments - I might not necessarily agree with them but that wouldn't prevent me from posting your comment. Although it IS her blog and she can choose to not agree to disagree.

Nathan Bransford said...


What PurpleClover said.

Also, I'm sorry, but if someone is misguided enough to send their manuscript on a CD they probably aren't equipped to be an author in today's publishing world.

We can lament that Dead Author X would have never been published in today's time or recognize that the marketplace is so tough that authors need to use every tool at their disposal, and that includes a recognition of submission guidelines and basic technological competency.

Marjorie said...

Purple Clover:
Her blog is peppered with similar language. I have met JR. I attended a panel discussion here in NYC that she moderated. She names her blog and cautions those of the "faint at heart" that she uses those words at her blog.

I want to add that she may not delete entire queries based on an annoyance level. She may only remove the reading receipt. But nevertheless, she still seems to come from a place that is anger driven.

Pure Fiction said...

Mira, thanks for your comment and for letting me know about the publishing rights thing - my aim would be to have a manuscript at the end of it (I'd probably give it at least a year first), but I'm getting such a kick out of writing the blog right now, I think I'll just keep ploughing away.

macaronipants said...

Your comment about superior technology got me thinking about the Kindle, of course. I love that you love your Kindle. I really do! But I was a library kid. Lived at the library. And my parents never would have bought me a Kindle.

I just hate to see an expensive device be the gatekeeper to reading. If there are no more books, what does that mean for libraries? And what about all those people out there who can't aford the gatekeeper?

Sorry if this has been brought up before. But I figured if there was anyone on the planet would could make me feel beter about a Kindle World, it would be Nathan.

Bane of Anubis said...

I second that - if you can't follow simple query directions, how are you gonna be at taking an agent's guidance?

macaroni - eventually, libraries will go away or morph into digital kiosks - digital copy will be the standard and there will be multiple gatekeepers and some will be free to rent.

It may be uncomfortable for everybody born pre-1980, but it is inevitable (and now I'm thinking of Team America and Kim Jong Il :)

Ink said...

Bane of Anubis,

I kinda think the people born Pre-1980 will all be dead before e-books have completely taken over from paper books. So, you know, discomfort won't be too much of a problem. :)

Bane of Anubis said...

True - but if we inure ourselves to it now, we won't have to roll over in our graves :)

uh-oh - UCLA's gettin' annihilated.

Ink said...

Damn the Bruins. If they go... I'm pretty much being handed my hat. I thought Collison and Shipp had the experience and would want to go out on a high note, living up to the last three years...

Mighty breezy here with the door open...

Ink said...

Darn, it's cold out here. You didn't actually have to kick me in the ass. I was leaving, I swear. Hey, where's my coat?

Julie Weathers said...

"Actually, a lot of people correctly predicted how those big decisions would turn out."

And a "lot" of people can refer to anything at any time. Right now for instance. You have multitudes of predictions about how things are going to turn out with our current administration. Some of them are going to be right and others are going to be wrong.

Then you are going to have the multitude who predict numerous things and some of them are going to be right.

This is not something new. You can go back to the oracles of Delphi with this argument. The fact remains, If a person does this we don't know how it would have turned out unless we lived through it. We can't just say, "If Lincoln hadn't been elected we would still have slavery." Nothing, absolutely nothing, is set in stone until it happens.

What would have happened if Clinton, Gore or Kerry had been president on 9-11? We can theorize all we want, but it's still a fantasy.

Ink said...

On a literary note, thank you, Nathan, for that link to the McEwan profile. It was long but definitely worth the read. I mean, a great article on David Foster Wallace and another on Ian McEwan... well, that's aces in my book. I don't know how your tourney picks are going, but you're batting fine on the linkage. Quite the slugging percentage on this week's TWIB.


Anonymous said...

"I want to add that she may not delete entire queries based on an annoyance level. She may only remove the reading receipt. But nevertheless, she still seems to come from a place that is anger driven."

I can see how you'd take JR's posts that way; some people do at first.But as a longtime reader of her blog, I don't think she comes from a place that's anger driven at all. It's more of a place that's reality driven. Reality driven with respect to the publishing industry.

freddie said...

No one is arguing that this is anything new, Julie. But I think the examples you've given are more along the lines of conjecture - not prediction.

People who accurately predict an event usually have the information to do so. It isn't just something pulled out of the ether, nor is it an "if - what if" statement. The economist Paul Krugman predicted the meltdown of the housing bubble a couple of years before it happened. He had the numbers and he knew how to glean the information he needed to make a prediction. He didn't just say "Well, if Kerry had been president, this never would have happened." You see the difference?

This is a fascinating discussion, actually. : )

Bane of Anubis said...

No economists in the argument, please :) - historically, they tend to predict recessions after they've begun... Too bad Krugman didn't predict the meltdown when Fannie and Freddie were ordered to loosen their lending practices in the late 90s.

We can all point fingers or we can try to Rodney King our way toward a less dismal future (I admit, pointing fingers is more fun for me :).

Marilyn Peake said...


Don't know if you will answer this question this much later after the original post, but I've been thinking about this all weekend...

On Thursday (3/19), you commented:
Yeah, with the tightening marketplace I'm passing on things I might not have a few years back. I'm seeing really good stuff in my inbox, but it has to just be a 110% no brainer, "I'd walk through fire to represent this" type of situation before I can take it on.

In the case where you pass on something that's really good but the market's too tough, do you let the author know how good their writing is? Lots of times, authors submit their work to agents and, after a certain number of rejections and not knowing why their work was rejected, decide to self-publish or publish through a small indie press. I'm thinking that, if an author knew their stuff was really good but just a tough sell in the present market, maybe it would be better to put away the manuscript and resubmit it to agents when the market improves (maybe even starts booming) again. Do you think that's true? Also, if you turned down a really good manuscript only because of a tough market, would you reconsider that same manuscript after the market improved?

Jen C said...

I can see how you'd take JR's posts that way; some people do at first.But as a longtime reader of her blog, I don't think she comes from a place that's anger driven at all. It's more of a place that's reality driven. Reality driven with respect to the publishing industry.

Up until about 6 months ago I was the State Manager for a retail chain, and in charge of all of the hiring for my state. Janet's attitude reminds me of how I felt when I was doing that. People made so many mistakes - cover letters addressed to other companies, putting the wrong phone number on their resume, having spam filters that wouldn't let my emails through, resumes in 8 point font that I couldn't read and so on and so on.

I normally received 150ish applications for every job I advertised, and it took ages to go through them. Not to mention that I had a bunch of stores to run as well, my phone was going off every 2 minutes with some problem or customer complaint, and I often had to work in the stores myself if we were short staffed.

So, the way Janet feels resonates with me. I wanted to give everyone a chance, but my feelings were that if you couldn't even get your head around sending through a readable resume addressed to the right person, were you really the sort of person who I wanted working for me? Would you be more trouble than you were worth?

Those feelings didn't come from a place of anger, they weren't petty. If anything it was disappointment that people were shooting themselves in the foot. But at the end of the day, only one person could get each job and it was my responsibility to whittle down the pile until I got there, any way I could. This, I think, is what Janet probably goes through too.

(Man, my comments are getting longer and longer... *looks up brevity in the dictionary*)

Writer from Hell said...

This is really one stop shop for news on publishing - very helpful.

I used the other advice - u know not responding to someone's nasties with passive aggressive etc. recently - and actually struck a chord with the person.

This is the most rich,useful and awesome blog - my no. 1

Julie Weathers said...

But I think the examples you've given are more along the lines of conjecture - not prediction.--

I'm going to challenge you right now to preserve ten "predictions" from experts regarding Obama's handling of the economic recovery. I want you to find five who think he is dead right and five who think he is leading a charge into further disaster.

I will do the same. In five years we can both toss out whatever "predictions" support our beliefs and say, "See, I told you so."

The problem with predictions and experts is like someone arguing the bible. You can prove anything you want if you use the right excerpts.

Julie Weathers said...

Ought to make for interesting reading in a completely revisionist sort of way.--

I'm curious as to whether Clinton divulged all the juicy details of cigargate in his memoir or did we get his version of it.

Julie Weathers said...

"I want to add that she may not delete entire queries based on an annoyance level. She may only remove the reading receipt. But nevertheless, she still seems to come from a place that is anger driven."

Not really.

Janet is pretty blunt, but that isn't the same as anger driven. Unless someone pushes her past her tolerance level.

I eavesdrop on Colleen Lindsay, Janet Rachelle Gardner and some other agents quite a bit on twitter. It's interesting to see the numbers of queries an agent approaches each day. By sheer volume, that means they have to have some sorting guidelines.

Any agent will have a "please read submission guidelines first," posted somewhere. They usually give very plain, concise instructions and, quite frequently, instructions or hints about how to write a query, synopsis, etc.

Nathan's guidelines are very good as are the other agents.

Janet is very explicit about how to submit to her.

If you can't be bothered to adhere to a very plain, detailed set of instructions about how to submit a query letter, what confidence does that instill that you can follow instructions about what a publisher wants you to do?

Think of querying as a test. Can I write a good query letter to go with my awesome novel? Can I follow instructions.

As for not posting your comment, I have my theories, but I will let Miss Janet explain if she feels the need. None of it involves kissing anyone's ring or anything else. It boils down to respect.

I can, and have, disagreed with her publicly before and we still respect each other. Like comedy, a lot of it depends on the delivery.

And, frankly, as much as I admire and respect Nathan and drool over his, "when in doubt, query," mantra, I would imagine he is about sick of my blathering. Sometimes personality also goes into the query process. That's a decision you have to make if you want to express strong opinions in public. Some people aren't going to care much for what you say.

Marilyn Peake said...


It might just depend on when you submitted your blog comment. I've noticed that it can sometimes take a few days for comments to appear on a moderated blog site, especially over the weekend. It once took quite a while for one of my comments to get posted on an agent's website...turned out his wife was giving birth shortly after I posted! I found my comment posted a week or so later. :)

other lisa said...

Bane - this is a little OT, but Freddie/Fannie making loans to poor people was not the precipitating factor in our current financial crisis. Blaming the poor for this is like blaming, I don't know, the roadkill for getting in the way of the semi-trucks on the freeway.

In other news, I think I'm going for the iPhone for my E-Reader - just as soon as Pleco finishes development on the iPhone version of their top-notch Chinese dictionary.

Scott said...

I'd love a response to Marilyn's question about query feedback that rejects, yet qualifies the idea/writing/etc. as promising in other economic climes. I've received one or two responses recently that felt my idea had merit, and it definitely helped shape further querying activity, not to mention gave me some much appreciated warm fuzzies. :-)

christine tripp said...

I'm wondering if Bush's Random House book about Decision making will include appointing "Brownie" and why (don't want to get too political here)
Re the JR blog, I don't know anyone who would take a CD from some unknown and place it in their computer risking God knows what virus.
I have seen, on occassion, some AD's saying they will accept art sample submissions on CD and that just seems very strange.
I sure wouldn't take the chance on a CD in the mail.

Mira said...


Are you representing the book Pellham 1, 2, 3, or the screenplay? Re-release?

Anyway, I saw the trailer last night. The new movie looks fantastic. Can't go wrong with John Travolta and Denziel Washington.

Can I also second the motion about Marilyn's question? I was wondering the same thing.

Mira said...


I don't know about Janet in person, but I think her persona is that of the type of 'tough' agent that you'd like to fight for you.

Moderating the space, and controlling what is said, would be part and parcel of that persona. I wouldn't take it personally.

Also, you 'published' the comment here, which is just as good.

For the record, I agree with you. I know that I'm in the minority, but I think over-focusing on the form of the query is really problematic, and agents may be unknowingly passing on something they'd really regret.

Fortunately, with self-publishing and e-books, authors have more options nowadays.

Julie Weathers said...

"Blaming the poor for this is like blaming, I don't know, the roadkill for getting in the way of the semi-trucks on the freeway."

It isn't blaming the poor for the Fannie/Freddie fiasco. I sold real estate for years and I specialized in the non-conventional programs for low to medium income families. I also sold my share of country club properties. Financing was my forte. Even so, I would never encourage a buyer to think about purchasing a property they couldn't afford. Most of the time, in the counseling session I encouraged the buyers to think about what would happen if they couldn't work for three months, although six months is preferable. If they can't afford to even be out of work for one month, they have no business buying a house.

The guidelines were already very generous. Un-restricting them even further and threatening banks if they didn't make loans that weren't fiscally responsible was an invitation to disaster.

Regardless of how good it looks in the polls to "help" everyone buy a home, it isn't always the best solution. If you can't afford to pay for it and maintain it, you don't need to buy.

Julie Weathers said...

"I don't know about Janet in person, but I think her persona is that of the type of 'tough' agent that you'd like to fight for you."

I do know Janet. She probably got tired of having yet another attack leveled on her practices in her blog by the same person.

Janet is a big proponent of following the instructions. She posts every single detail you need to submit to her. She explains at great length how to submit. I have to assume if someone is submitting things outside the guidelines they either can't read, rules don't apply to them because they are a special little snowflake or they simply don't care enough to spend a minute looking at the guidelines. Any of the above reasons should be an alarm this person is someone an agent doesn't want to deal with.

They have hundreds of queries a week. It's the author's job to apply correctly not the agent's job to correctly divine which person has a blockbuster even though that person has already demonstrated a distinct lack of respect for the industry they are trying to break into.

I linked to several agents in my blog post today. Every single one of them has very concise directions on how to submit to them. Some have gone to the trouble to even post helpful hints about correct formatting, how to write a query etc. I think they've gone above and beyond the call of duty. At some point people need to quit blaming the agents and take responsibility for stupidity.

Agents shouldn't have to post warnings about not using your laptop in the bathtub, but that is just about the point it has gotten to.

Ink said...


I've read Clinton's Memoirs, and while there is a lot of great stuff in it he's also rather, ah, circumspect on certain topic. A very careful handling of some subjects (though much worth reading, still).

Julie Weathers said...


I tend not to read political books or most memoirs. I read voraciously about historical figures, but not current politicians. It's rumored Mark Twain was the ghost writer for U.S. Grant's memoir or at least helped him a lot with it.

I would read it simply because I'd like to see the style and I am a Civil War buff. Plus, I think it's just incredibly sad he struggled to write the book even while battling cancer to leave his family some kind of income.

I would read Reagan's letters to Nancy, but I like reading letters.

Mira said...


I don't want to get into a big argument with you, and I think you have some valid points.

Especially about the type of person an agent will want to work with. That can very much come through in the query.

However, I want to point out that if an agent passes on a 'blockbuster' because the author didn't read the instructions, the agent lost out too. Big time.

I know not everyone agrees, including Nathan, but I've said before that not everyone who can write a good book can write a good query. It's more than that. I have a friend who is an extremely good author. But she's not computer savvy. She would be happy just to be able to send a query, but clicking on links and figuring out how to do that might be beyond her.

When I first read her work, I thought to myself, this is such beautiful writing, when she's published, I bet she'll win awards.

In my opinion, it's an artificial gate-keeping device to focus so much on the query. And people on both sides miss out.

Sending the first few pages would give the agent so more information.

I was so impressed with Nathan when he changed his policy.

Marjorie said...

I know my comment was not published because I know the time it was sent. Comments with time stamps later than mine are there.

And in general:
I realize literary agents have clear and specific query guidelines. But, it is the way the guidelines are enforced that reveals an anger level. I feel this is part of a transparent power trip: (sort of a: I have the power to get you published and make you a star. Now bow to me and kiss my behind and maybe I will sign you up) I have yet to see one agent who dislikes his client but yet represents him because of the quality of his work. Who is J.D. Salinger's agent? I bet that was a difficult relationship.

I know there must be many writers who agree with me, but they won't openly admit it because they want to remain off agents' sh*t list and keep their dreams alive. It's a real lemming mentality at agents' blogs. All the comments are layered with flattery and hope. I won't do it. My book is at my blog and I always have the option of self-publishing. I don't give a hoot about the money. I am a retired teacher on an excellent NYC pension. I taught sixth grade for 34 years. I do stand-up comedy in NYC comedy clubs and I can rant on a club stage, so having comments published really doesn't matter that much. I have my vent arena.

As an aside: when I was a teacher I told all my students that their work had merit. I had rules, but I never dismissed work that was submitted on a piece of paper ripped out from a spiral notebook (against my rules) instead of a piece of looseleaf paper (as I preferred). And all the work was placed on the bulletin board.

Literary agents are not elementary school teachers... but guys? You have so many options out there. Why even query an agent who will work you like her own personal marionette. It seems so stress inducing.

Julie Weathers said...


Can you think of one "blockbuster" novel where the author didn't have to follow instructions to get an agent or get published? Celebrity garbage doesn't count.

I once ordered a tape by agent Anita Diamant. She spoke of the tremendous pain V.C. constantly endured and how she still was so professional and meticulous about her work.

For that reason, Ms. Diamant said she had no sympathy for people who couldn't be bothered to submit their best work in formats requested.

Agents wanting people to care about their work and be professional is not a new thing.

Even so, if authors insist on being unique and doing their own thing, I fully support their creative freedom. It just makes more room for those who can be bothered to follow a few simple instructions.

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...

Aw geez. I had to delete that. I swear, I get so argumentative. It's a bad, bad habit.

Julie, you seem like an intelligent woman, who is putting a great deal of energy into her writing. That's very cool. I don't want to be all in a fight with you, so if it's alright, I'm going to stop now.

Let's agree to see this differently.

Julie Weathers said...

All right, Marjorie. Let's be honest. You have ripped Janet several times on her blog about what an @ss she is. Are you really surprised she finally got tired of publishing your posts?

I'm frankly surprised Nathan hasn't banned me and I don't even attack him.

You insist you are special and don't need to bow down and kiss anyone's ring because you can self-publish. No one asked you to. You don't like writing query letters? Don't write them. You want to send your work on a cd? Do it. No one will read it, even other agents, but go ahead. No one is forcing you to do anything.

I think your first rant at her was because she wants people to send her query letters and you are going to shake your fist at the "man" and be a rebel. Every agent wants query letters. This isn't Janet Reid's personal torture device. You won't hear an ad for the Reid Query Letter Rack complete with thumbscrews and iron maiden. Well, you might, but all agents have the query letter torture device, so hers would have to be special.

This isn't rocket science. If following instructions is so difficult then get in your rebel mobile and fight the system. I'm sure some agent out there somewhere will find your spunk charming. Personally, it comes across as someone who is so bullheaded they are going to be a complete pain to work with.

I've disagreed with Janet on several things, but we still maintained respect while doing so. There's the difference.

I asked her on Book Roast if she would ever consider representing epic fantasy. We had "known" each other for a while then. She said no because she didn't know enough about it to feel comfortable repping it. Fair enough. She's honest.

I already knew she didn't, but I had to ask.

I sent her a query for the SIWC query workshop. Then I ditched her workshop for another one. She sent people out looking for me and said she wanted pages. I thought she was joking. Turns out she was serious. I asked her later what she wanted me to send and she said just send the whole manuscript.

Am I all that and a bag of chips? Hardly. I worked for months on that stupid query. Plus, if you actually read her blog you will notice she no longer requests partials. If your query and sample pages interest her, she just asks for the full.

How many agents do that? If you think that is someone on a power trip, then I'm afraid publishing is going to be filled with demons for you.

Julie Weathers said...

Mira, I don't want to debate with you either. The Marjorie/Janet thing goes back a while and this is just the latest salvo.

Janet's a grown woman and can defend herself if she feels so inclined, but I am guessing she's tired of trying to validate the query letter system. There are just so many ways you can try to explain it.

Bane of Anubis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bane of Anubis said...

Mira, your friend can submit to several agents w/o need of a computer. If she's use a typewriter and can send mail, there are still several agents who accept snail mail... and, it would behoove her to do some e-learning in this digital generation...

An agent could very well sacrifice the next big thing through his gatekeeper practices, but they don't have time to wade through the query slush pile to do this - if you're a writer committed to pursuing publication, you should adhere to guidelines; once you've made it big, then you can be pretentious and stick up your nose to the establishment.

OL - pretty much what Julie said... Somehow, whenever loose lending practices are brought up, somehow it's blaming the poor - it's not (it's blaming the govt for not doing its job of protecting people from themselves). But that wasn't my point either or even that F/F's loosened practices were the lone cause, though they were definitely a catalyst and to deny that is foolish; yes, there were multiple catalysts - way too many for anybody to predict what the final outcome would be or which domino was the first to begin the cascade with any certainty (as Julie alluded to)... ultimately, my point was: saying "I told you so" isn't a way to resolve anything, which is partially why our govt is inept.

Marjorie said...

You miss my whole point. I am not against queries. Queries are necessary for an agent to determine which projects he chooses to represent. I queried Nathan. I was rejected in a professional and respectful manner. I get the process.

It is the way Janet interacts with those who query her. She chastises them and often ridicules them at her blog. I can recall a poor guy who sent her a well-intentioned but offbeat query and she posted it and used it as a vehicle for a "funny" reply. The poor guy seemed humiliated in a comment she posted at her blog.

I understand there have to be rules. It's just how the rules are applied in blog entries that seems to reveal a personal agenda.

So, I sort of feel bad for the writers who are revealed as the rule breakers who are, yes, nameless but to themselves identifiable. To use an often said quote: I feel their pain.

Julie Weathers said...

I can recall a poor guy who sent her a well-intentioned but offbeat query and she posted it and used it as a vehicle for a "funny" reply. The poor guy seemed humiliated in a comment she posted at her blog.--

Marjorie you got a burr under your tail about her a long time ago and it just seems like a festering wound.

I missed her posting a query on her blog and using it as a vehicle for a funny reply. She's pretty adamant about not posting queries unless it's Query Shark where people send with the intention of having them posted.

Her latest list of don'ts was don't send your work on a cd. That seems like common sense even if there weren't specific instructions about how to submit.

Telling her you don't want any money for your book. You just love to write. Why do you need an agent and how do you intend to pay said agent if you don't want money?

Don't send queries with receipts. That goes along with don't send snail-mail registered so people have to sign for it. It's
irritating and time-consuming.

Nathan's own words.

**If you are interested in submitting a project for representation, please e-mail me a query letter describing your project and the first five pages pasted directly into the body of the e-mail at **No attachments, please.**

Before you submit, Google the agent and the agency to try and find their submission guidelines. If you find it, go precisely by what they ask for. If you do not find any information online, the default procedure is to print out your personalized query letter, send it in the mail to the agent, and be sure and include a self-addressed stamped envelope.**

I'm going to venture a guess you followed his instructions when you submitted to him and didn't send him an attachment, a cd or a thumb drive.

Honestly, I think it's become more of a personality conflict than anything else. Perhaps it would be less stressful if you just stopped following her.

Julie Weathers said...

How many agents would go to this effort to find someone who sent them a query?

Marjorie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marjorie said...

corrected comment:
The blog entry about which I was referring is dated January 27th, 2009 and is called: "Why You get Form Letters."

The guy wrote: "You may be an important person, and I may just be a c-grade Larry Flynt, but don't try to fool yourself into thinking there was anything resembling jest in your response. It was just plain mean. Small-town cop mean..."

I have met Janet. I attended the panel discussion that she moderated on Feb. 18th in NYC at the Jefferson library. I thought the evening was very interesting and enjoyable. When it was over, I introduced myself to Janet and she was charming and personable.

I just cannot stand that blog snark. I am not stressed by it at all. I just don't get why.

Marilyn Peake said...


I posted two entries from the point of view of one of my characters at your Come in Character blog that you announced in this thread on Friday. What a blast! I had so much fun posting comments from one of my fictional characters. Eventually, I'm going to try posting comments from some of my other characters.

Mira said...


I saw - thanks so much! I appreciated it.

I have to be honest about the blog. On Saturday, I was out for most of the day. I was thinking, okay, this is nuts. No one will be interested, and I'm going to stress out. I'm going to delete it when I get home. Let's kill this thing early.

Then I got home and there were posts! Posts!! It was so exciting.

I was on a forum like that once. It was so much fun. And it was incredible practice for writing. I still use character voices I developed on that forum.

Anyway, sorry to go on, but you caught me at the right psychological moment.

Anyway, thanks for posting and letting me know that you enjoyed it. :-)

Marilyn Peake said...


You may end up having a blog that grows quickly. Give authors a chance to talk about their writing, or to speak once again in the voice of characters they spent so much time bringing into the world...and, well, you might just never get us to shut up. :) I love that you're going to post questions that characters can answer. This will be so much fun!

Julie Weathers said...

Mira, Books and Writers just had a writer's exercise where the author had appointments with a psychiatrist, played by some mods.

It was a fascinating character study. I'm going to predict the blog will be a huge success.


Mira said...

Julie and Marilyn,

I hope you're right. I'd like to recreate the experience that I had on that other forum for other writers (and myself.)

I'm open to any suggestions, by the way. I was thinking of posting questions, but also challenges. (Example challenge: post anti-character. What would your character never say?) Things like that.

I don't want to take up too much space on Nathan's blog, but I do want to thank Nathan. I'd never have gotten even one participant without being able to post it here.

I'm all excited. Can you tell?

clindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
clindsay said...

Marjorie -

I must echo what Nathan said re the CD. Sending a manuscript and query on CD is a singular mark of someone who doesn't take his or her writing career very seriously.

'Nuff said.

Colleen (who deleted her previous comment because she is apparently unable to cut and paste like a normal human being...)

Mags said...

Re: Janet Reid's blog entry (which is taking up a whole lot of comment space--this one included--for a topic that wasn't even part of Nathan's post).

Some writers may read agents' blogs religiously because they find agents dreamy (Each and every one of them! Oh, squeal!). Or perhaps it's because agents are, as a rule, erudite to the point of titillation. Agent porn. Awesome.

I'd wager, however, that the bulk of agent-blog readers (a good 53.5% or more, by my calculations) are looking for info on how to join the ranks of the forever-not-unpublished. So learn or don't learn, but WTF?

If an agent says "don't send me a CD, which goes against my clearly posted submission guidelines, as it will be tossed out," then save yourself the price of the disc and added postage and just send it off to Al's House O' Agents. Janet Reid doesn't want it, and she's taken the time to spare you that foible.

And the old "a Pulitzer winner could be languishing in the hoards of inappropriate submissions" chestnut is old and tired. Future Puliter winners are either 1) intelligent enough to learn the process, or 2) already (or soon to be) identified, and will find themselves on the radars of professors, journalists, other writers, etc. The genius in mother's attic may exist and may be overlooked, but they existed and were overlooked before Janet posted her "CDs will be thrown out" edict.

Marjorie said...

Yeah, and when all the bantering bs is set aside and the guidelines are strictly followed by the querying masses... you still have agents who are transparently high on their own sense of power and prove it in the style of their entries at their own personal blogs.

'Nuff said. At least for now.

other lisa said...

I'm sorry, but I'm sensitive to the whole, "the Government MADE those banks issue bad loans to irresponsible poor people!" argument. I'll agree bad loans were a major factor, but it had a lot more to do with banks that went way beyond any government mandates and issued loans that were out-and-out-fraudulent (and at times usurious) than it did with trying to extend credit to working and middle class people.

I could go on (and on) but I've already taken this way off-topic, so I'll shut up now.

Back on topic, I don't know if sending a query/MS on CD is an example of someone who does not take his/her career seriously, but it certainly is an example of someone who is seriously deluded about the business he/she is trying to enter.

Mags said...

Good luck to you, Marjorie!

Bane of Anubis said...

The govt didn't make them, but it encouraged them. And the banks were greedy, too, and irresponsible... The blame can readily be shared across the spectrum, but the govt's got the fastest and biggest horse in the race.

Freakin' brackets - should have gone w/ the s.q. 1,2,3,4 (except for AZ and Purdue it would have been nearly prfct)... Darn you Marquette and USC for your big feet.

freddie said...

Julie, I wouldn't try to find opposing predictions because it goes against the whole point of why I'm trying to find or make the prediction in the first place. I'm trying to be accurate (and thus figure out what I believe), not save that prediction for the future use to say "I told you so."

The importance of accuracy is so that we prevent repeating the same mistakes we made in the past. Yes, yes, I know. History repeats itself. But that's no reason to throw up our hands and claim predictions are useless. I think we still have to try to predict, even if those guesses turn out to be off-base. The trick is to not make the same mistake again and again and again, or worse - never admit you made a mistake in the first place. You can say it's easy now for people to point that out as it pertains to Bush (or any other past president, for that matter), but there were plenty of people who pointed out his mistakes "in the midst of the battle," as you put it. No one listened because they had no political clout, but it turns out they really did know what they were talking about.

Certainly there are times when we gotta just throw the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks. But that's not a method I'd want to rely on all the time.

That's all I'm sayin'.

Writer from Hell said...

You mean someone sends a CD to all the agents? hell why when spamming 100 with a bcc is much simpler.

I'm sorry I mean no rudeness but Colleen is a man? Lindsay is a woman's name too right?

Julie Weathers said...

I'm sorry I mean no rudeness but Colleen is a man? Lindsay is a woman's name too right?

Colleen is a woman. Where did you get she's a man? I know for a fact she's a woman. She cleaned her bathroom today.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Here's a link to a phenomenal article by Matt Taibbi about the Wall Street meltdown:

Re: Military hindsight being 20/20, and so on - Donald Rumsfeld himself believed he had 20/20 military vision (like night vision goggles I wonder? Special military issue hindsight goggles?). Rumsfeld believed the mistake of Viet Nam, why we didn't "win," was that there were too many casualties, which caused too much protest at home, etc. So his idea was, to cut down on casualty rate (and therefore have a "successful" invasion) by only having what he called a "light footprint" in Iraq - really ramp up the use of high tech, keep down the number of "boots on the ground" (I HATE that phrase - also "embedded with the troops," "light footprint," militaryspeak, I hate it, hate it) - less boots, less casualties, voila! we can stay there forever! Also reason for policy of no photos of soldiers returning in caskets.

The point being, generals (Secretary of Defenses, etc) are constantly making judgments about past wars and drawing conclusions, which they then apply to future wars. Do they always agree? No. Were there military people who BEFORE the troops even invaded, saying the "light footprint" theory (and it is a theory) wouldn't work? Yes. Were they listened to? No.

So it's not as simple a division as the military on one side and "newspapers" on the other. As well, the US mass media was busy banging out what they called (another bit of ugly militaryspeak) the "drumbeat of war" for Iraq - all a matter of public record, not opinion.

I look forward to a number of books dissecting what went wrong in Iraq - and also books that link "philosophically" the Iraq and Wall Street disasters. Here's a link to an interview with Naomi Klein, author of "The Shock Doctrine":

Finally, here's how I understand the "great mistake" Robert E. Lee ought to have been referencing -

[W]e made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We thought it was okay to own other human beings. --Robert E. Lee

Just sign me -

Not a fan of Gone With the Wind

Writer from Hell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mags said...

I don't believe I've ever been rendered by a blog comment before.

I'm feeling kerflummoxed and may need to go lie down for a spell...

Trashy Cowgirl said...

Hello Nathan. Soo off the post topic, but I thought you may be interested in this weekend's Authonomy happenings, as I am sure we are all interested to see where the brave new world of internet slush piles is heading.

A group of gamers following a guy who calls himself Klazart, flashmobbed the site. He is backed by 880 people, and on 233 watchlists. He is now ranked nineth. Not bad considering he only posted his ms on the 19th. Of course the flood managed to jam the site and create an enormous uproar.

I have heard of flash mobs being used as cheap promotion for books, but this is the first time I have heard of it being used for an ms. I've been oblivious to this whole gaming thing. I can't help but wonder if bloggers with large fan bases won't follow suit and swarm other sites. Just pondering what kind of worms are in that can that has now been opened.

I sort of hate to give this more attention taht it has already received over at Autho, but I think essentially the meat of the issue is: Will a large fan base and potential sales triumph over quality writing. You can't have more than 900 fans willing to take the time to sign up to a site in support of you and not garner some attention, while brilliant works float in the oblivion of higher numbers. Thank goodness there is still the traditional route, which looks a lot prettier over at Autho this weekend.

Enough rambling. Just thought there were some implications here you may be interested in.

Julie Weathers said...

[W]e made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We thought it was okay to own other human beings. --Robert E. Lee

Ah, I love it.

Perhaps you would like to know the truth?

The last civil war generals to own slaves were...union generals. William T. Sherman for one who didn't free his until late in 1865, months after the end of the war.

Of course, the emancipation proclamation only freed slaves in the south not the north so they didn't need to.

There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. --Robert E. Lee

And in the same letter he wrote in 1856.

Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?--Robert E. Lee

Lee advocated not only freeing slaves, but also that the slave owners should educate them so they could properly support themselves once freed. Lee wrote more than one editorial before the war about slavery and how he felt it should be abolished. He freed his wife's slaves, which had been inherited with her plantation, in 1862.

Writer from Hell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

'The taking of Pelham 123' sounds like a v powerful title. Intriguing. Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

I read your comments on the link you provided on self publishing review and your honesty and dedication to books and authors is touching. I was really moved by some of your statements there. I wish you so so sooooo very well!

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

But then why did Robert E. Lee head the Confederate Army? That's kind of a sticking point for me, regardless of his personal views and behavior. I mean there are tons of examples throughout history of military people aiding and abetting injustice...for all the militarily "right" reasons...

Don't know if such a book has been written yet, but I'd love to see an alternative history novel about Robert E. Lee changing his mind and heading on up North to help the Union Army defeat the Confederate Army. You could call it, "The Liberation of Robert E. Lee." It could start out he's looking in some mirror in some hideout in New York City (he hasn't made his presence known to the authorities yet), and he says: "Haven't felt so good in years."

Anonymous said...

Robert E. Lee stayed with his home state of Virginia, Arlington National Cemetary was once his home...


Julie Weathers said...

But then why did Robert E. Lee head the Confederate Army?--

He was asked to command the union armies and considered it. However, he loved Virginia and could not turn against his family, home and friends. He did not accept the position in the Confederate army to maintain slavery. The states seceded over states rights, slavery was a secondary issue.

The point remains, your amended quote was completely against what and who he was.

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.--Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greely

Lee was not the only one who loved his home and country.

This was a very complex issue.

Julie Weathers said...

I'd love to see an alternative history novel about Robert E. Lee changing his mind and heading on up North to help the Union Army defeat the Confederate Army.--

As I said in the other post. Lee was offered command of the Union army and declined. He was an officer in Texas when the war broke out. All but one well-known Civil War general served in Texas, so they were friends and fellow soldiers who mostly chose to defend their homes and families.

Janny said...


I'm with the majority here...your blog is a terrific source of news, and positive to boot. Now, is that enough flattery so that when I sent my submission, it'll get right to the top of the pile? :-)

Seriously, no flattery needed here. Great stuff. I read this blog at work, too...(!) Only in free moments. Honest.


P.S. Verification word: "urdst." Love it. Sounds like a description of Monday. "It's an udrst day here on the job..."

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "The point remains, your amended quote was completely against what and who he was."

I guess we will have to agree to disagree on "what and who" Robert E. Lee was, even given the further information you provided.

Also as a writer, I kind of cringe at phrases like "love of home and country" and "defend their homes and families." Too much like boiler plate to me.

I also read a review yesterday about a new biography of Ida B. Wells - I wonder what her take on Robert E. Lee was.

Julie Weathers said...

W]e made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We thought it was okay to own other human beings. --Robert E. Lee

Wanda, that was your original quote. Now if you want to automatically assume anyone from the south supported slavery and everyone from the north opposed it, that's a pretty erroneous assumption.

Lincoln said he would do whatever it took to preserve the union, including not freeing one slave and Lee said he could not bear to rise up against Virginia. Perhaps there was a bit more love for their homes and country then, I don't know. However, inserting your comments about him supporting slavery was wrong.

Regardless, even those Lee's views are well documented, I doubt you will change your mind so I am not going to waste my breath. I would just suggest in the future not putting words in a person's mouth that are completely contrary to character.

Janny said...

Yanno, it would help if, even on a Monday, I could have typed well enough to not make one, but two, errors in one post....

I promise I type better in "real life." Honest.



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