Mr. Grouchy Pants

September 15, 2014

You no spamma me...got it?

It’s frustrating to be judged based on assumptions. Case in point; I received a query this morning at the same time I happened to be going through my inbox. Since my morning was still relatively uncomplicated, I took the time to read the query and a few paragraphs of the work. Right away, I could tell it wasn’t a project we’d be interested in doing, so I went ahead and wrote a polite rejection letter and wished him all the best of luck finding the perfect home for his work.

A couple hours later, another email from the author plunked into my inbox, which said:

THIS IS THE FASTEST RESPONSE I HAVE HAD IN YEARS OF WRITING. THE ONLY QUESTION I HAVE IS; DID YOU READ IT?

Um. Excuse me? The first thought that popped across my quasi-firing synapses was, Gee, would he have felt better if I’d taken five months to reply? Or not reply at all?

Just what is the proper waiting time to send a rejection letter anyway? I’ll have to consult my Emily Post book of etiquette – though I’m pretty sure she doesn’t cover this specific problem.

This is one of those frustrating Damned If You Do/Damned If You Don’t situations. I’ve had nastygrams for not getting back to an author in a timely manner, and now I’m getting nastygrams for replying too quickly. Too early to mainline cheap gin?

I wonder what the author was trying to accomplish. Sure, he’s welcome to take my name in vain (and why not – the Rescue Beagles do it all the time), and stomp about at experiencing the fastest rejection evah, but that and Midol won’t change the outcome. In truth, it doesn’t matter if I read it or not (I did); it’s still a rejection. Does he think sending a snotgram will bring me to my knees and bet forgiveness? Will it make him feel better? The professional simply picks up and moves on.

We are all painfully aware that publishing is a frustrating business, and emotions can get the better of writers. But to lash out before thinking it through will make you look the fool…or the topic of someone’s blog post. This goes for the lousy review, too. It sucks stale Twinkie cream to get a bad review, but the only choice you have is to grit and grin through it. Don’t become known for being a Mr. Grouchy Pants.

So I’m still trying to figure out the proper response time for a rejection, since none of the etiquette sites covers this. As for the appropriate reply, my friend Dodin Oga offered the best one of all: Please disregard the rejection letter. I will send another one in three months. Hope that helps.

Guffaw.


Be Honest…

September 12, 2014

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How many of you have done this?


Writers Have Magical Powers

September 11, 2014

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Don’t Upset the Dog…

September 5, 2014

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The Rescue Beagles concur…


Queries – Stop and Think Logically

September 2, 2014

star-trek-spock1

The idea of my cozying up to a logical suggestion would send my dear dad into a fit of giggles, because when I was a kid, logic and I were mutually exclusive entities. While I bumped along every possible distraction that would ensure my doing the dumbest head-scratching thing known to the free world, my dear dad would patiently sit back and hope I would marry well.

Then something frightening happened, and I grew up. I got involved in business…and suddenly logic and I became bestest buddies. In fact, I learned to hang my hat on it. While I can still pull some real barn burners that make my family wonder if my dental appointment turned into a full on lobotomy, I do rely heavily on thinking like Spock wherever possible. Which brings me to a frustration with query letters.

If authors could separate themselves from their artsy side and gaze upon their query letters with a dispassionate unbiased eye, they could see the flaws that yield rejection after rejection. Today’s example falls in the category of “Oops, I forgot.”

The first paragraph outlined the author’s bio. This is a terrible lead-in because – deep apologies for sounding grouchy – I don’t care about you. Yet. For now, I only care about your story. “Oops, I forgot.”

The second paragraph outlined why the author wrote her book. This is a terrible second paragraph because – deep apologies for sounding grouchy – I don’t care about the circumstances of writing your story. Not yet. Tell me about the friggin’ story. “Oops, I forgot.”

The third paragraph was short and sweet, and said nothing more other than to invite me to request the manuscript. Wha’? WHAT ABOUT THE STORY??? “Oops, I fogot.”

Dear authors, this isn’t someone thinking logically. If you’re trying to sell a story, then doesn’t logic demand that you actually tell the poor dolt reading your query a little something about your story? It doesn’t matter if you’re a famous actress, or a nobody. It’s about the story. That is your lead-in. Trying to wow me with your bio or the reasons why you wrote your story is nothing more than bells and whistles. The story is what has to pass the smell test. Your small bio and brief reasons that led you to write your story can go at the end…like a tidbit.

Publishing is a business, so authors need to take off their Creativity Bonnet and put on their Business Bowler…and think like a business person. You can be sure we do. Look at your query and ask yourself whether your query reflects selling you or your story. What topics are your lead-in? If it’s filled up with fodder about you and your reasons for existing with a quill in your hand, then you can look forward to “Thanks, but no thanks.” A lot.

You may have a fabulous book sitting on your desk, but unless you communicate it clearly and logically, it’ll do little more than gather cyber dust. And that sucks.

In the words of the ever-logical Mr. Spock, “Live long, and prosper.” In the words of the Overworked and Underpaid Editor, “Think logically, and sell like a mo’ fo.”

As for Dad, the first time I used the word “logic,” I think he fell out of his chair…


Two Words to Remove From Your Vocabulary

August 29, 2014

“I can’t.”

Ugh. Those two words put my Vickie Secrets in a wad because it’s so defeatist. It’s not unusual to hear these words in the publishing industry, and it makes me want to scream because it normally follows a conversation like this:

“I never thought publishing would be so hard.”
“I’ve had a ton of rejections.”
“My editor doesn’t understand me.”
“My agent won’t get return my calls.”

“I can’t.” Blah.

Here’s the deal; publishing is hard. Damnably hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s why vanity presses and self publishing got their claims to fame. But there is a ton of money and time put into publishing a book and getting it out to the marketplace. Does anyone really believe that every single cancer story/divorce story/addiction story is meant to be published? Sorry, but no. If publishers are going to sink tens of thousands of dollars into producing a book, they’re gonna be sure it’s a book they’re pretty darn certain will sell.

We’ve gotten to be a society of victims, so facing tough challenges invariably elicits a tossing up of the arms and uttering, “I can’t.” Publishing isn’t for the weak, and thar be no crying in publishing, except when penning your name across a contract.

Instead of looking for ways to say “I can’t,” look for ways to say, “Yeah, I can do that,” or “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” Perspective is the lifeblood of happiness. If you’re drawn to writing, then accept there will be challenges – big challenges – and be determined to enjoy the journey.

There is only one instance when you may add “I can’t” to your vocabulary: “S’cuse me, would you like to put your glass of wine down?”

Here’s a beautiful woman who never let the words “I can’t” invade her life. Huzzah. Now go out and be brilliant.

http://youtu.be/CPdmXsQMmBc?list=FLvUoGCwtiMUdiNPZ2DOHYTA


Reading Addiction: A Healthy Vice

August 29, 2014

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We guarantee that life will stop the minute you crack open one of our books. Otherwise, the Rescue Beagles will pee on your shoes.


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