Friday, 19 March 2010

Why oh why?

So I was on Twitter yesterday when I saw this from Agent Janet Reid: click here.

Whoever did this I'd like them to contact me. Seriously, we need to talk lol

But, on a more solemn note, I really think us aspiring writers should avoid this kind of behaviour. Aren't you worried of becoming the butt of agents' jokes? We may not know who you are, but Janet does, as do a lot of her agent colleagues, I'm sure.

It reminds me of that time when agents did #queryfail in an honest attempt to aid aspiring writers and some aspiring writers turned it into a declaration of war. In fact, I wrote a short story about it back then (base on some of the nasty things these writers said). Here it is. If you're an agent and wouldn't like to be reminded of that horrific time you might want to leave this blog now. If you're one of those aspiring writers who took up arms against agents and are ashamed and would not like to be reminded of ... well, your rash, unconsidered reaction, you should leave as well.

Award winning short story:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there existed a planet called Earth. A planet teeming with resources and life. The most abundant life was human life. Humans strived for greatness in whatever they did, and for many years they grew in great numbers and strength, determined to one day conquer the universe.

Amongst these humans were those who studied the art of writing, and those who honed their eyes, tongues, and nose to better see, taste and smell good writing. They were respectively dubbed Writers and Agents.

Agents have since stood as gatekeepers of the paths which Writers must take to confront the publishing gods.

Because Agents must carefully choose which Writers to let through, many Writers have grown embittered in silence, their anger bristling in the shadows, swelling and clenching their hearts until all kindness and happiness have long been purged, lost forever.

On a day that seemed as ordinary as any other day, a gatekeeper by the name Jessica Faust determined that it would be a clever scheme to utilise one of Earth's newest and most unimpressive (me didn't like Twitter then) awesome technologies – Twitter – in teaching Writers what not to do when requesting access (by means of querying) to the publishing gods.

Unfortunately for Jessica and her cohorts of Agents and Editors (high priests of the publishing gods), her scheme backfired, and Writers were handed a perfect opportunity to engage in a war they had desperately sought after for years:

::This is the part that gets really ugly::

'Take yourselves off the pedestals you stand on and stop acting like we should feel privileged that you allow us to bow and scrape to gain your attention. Without us, you would have no product to sell, therefore no income. To say it very plainly, without us you are nothing.'

Translation: without us, working at McDonalds wouldn't even come close to your greatest achievement. (But I work at Best Buy).

'Reply with more than one freaking line via email that says something like, "I didn't really care for the male characters". I mean, a rejection is OK, but, after all that time (and $$$ in postage for 300 plus pages!!!), I thought I deserved a bit more. I won't be querying her again.'

Translation: I spent my time, effort, and hard-earned cash getting my manuscript to you. I literally lowered myself to your standards, and this is the best rejection you can come up with – 'I didn't really care for the male characters'? Go to hell. (But I will query you again when I calm down).

'Creating art requires the ability to expose the self and plumb the depths of human pain. Please stop telling me not to take it personally. Sending you my manuscript is more personal than a visit to my ob/gyn. If you refuse to acknowledge the intimate dynamic of this transaction, stick to repping diet books or go into accounting,'

Translation: sending my manuscript to you is like letting you sleep with my husband and not slitting your throat. It's more than personal. So when you refuse to recognise the gravity of things, you hurt my feelings. Trust me, honey, that's the last thing you want to do. My advice: leave this industry. Now. (But I would totally do anything to get you to represent me ... AFTER I calm down).

'Many of those querying you are smarter than you are, prettier than you are, and meaner than you are. We have long memories and we share agent stories just as you share "bad writer" stories.'

Translation: You're dumb, you're ugly, and the best way – no, the only way you can hurt me is by sending stupid, lame rejections to my mailbox. If I had to send my rejection to you, it'd be in the form of my foot, so when you opened the letter or email it'd pop out and shove itself so far up your fat arse that "sitting" would become something of an enigma for you. Yeah, I'm THAT mean. And don't forget, we know who you are, and when we become bestsellers and gain access to millions of $$$/£££, we're surely going to destroy you. Literally. (But ... but ... I love you still)

'I'm so tired of smug, wannabe hipsters being the gatekeepers of taste.'

Translation: I'm seriously considering assassinating you. (By sending Starbucks coffee cups with flour in them, or mugs with 'you're the best agent ever' printed on them. Oh, did you get that already? Good. We're even now).

(Note: these are very real statements made by writers. You can find more here).

Jessica Faust, undeterred by the raging battle, has sworn to resurrect her scheme on April 17. She strongly feels she's doing the right thing. However, the APO (Agents Protection Organisation) has dispatched government operatives to protect Jessica and other #agentfail participating Agents/Editors 24-7, just in case things get out of hand.

:: Note here ::
Jessica doesn't have magic powers. She can't talk to ponies either. No, other agents can't too. Actually, agents are just like all of us, with hopes and dreams and jobs, and they don't make a billion dollars an hour and take pleasure in rejecting queries like they're covert masochists.

'Jessica is important to us. She is the last living Agent with magic powers and the ability to talk to ponies, and we intend on making sure she remains earth-bound,' says Jimmy Jim Jims, Director of APO.

On the other side of the pond, rebel leader of AWAW (Aspiring Writers At War), Anon1, had this to say about Agents: 'The sooner they – agents, editors, the publishing gods – disappear, the better for us writers. Publishing-on-demand for the world!'

::Note here::
Publishing on demand or self publishing or whatever it's called is not really the answer to your problems. If you're getting rejected by every single agent it means you're doing something wrong. Honest. It means you should go back to the drawing board and fix your manuscript.

End of Award winning short story.

So, you guys, let's stop this, ok?

Be smart.


  1. Hahahaha.

    "By sending Starbucks coffee cups with flour in them, or mugs with 'you're the best agent ever' printed on them. Oh, did you get that already? Good. We're even now"

    Love it.

    I think those writers need to travel away from Bittertown and take some cleansing breaths. We should send them paper bags to breathe into. AND FILL THEM WITH FLOUR.

  2. I agree with you on the self publishing part; however, some self published books actually managed to call enough attention to get really published, so, maybe its something good, I really can´t say...

    I also agree that many writers forget that writting is an art and that publishing is a serious business, and what happened to Janet is one of the many results of pure, bad unprofessional behaviour.

    I have to say though, I felt the story pended too much to the agent´s side.It basically defended agents from the crazy bad writers, which is ok, many of us are bad and god knows I´m crazy.
    Yet, this is a business partnership on BOTH sides:writers and agents (and luckily a third which is composed by publishing, marketing and publicity).
    Through the text, it didn´t feel like there is a partnership between authors and agents, just that agents are holly god messengers and writers are stupid emotional beings(which doesn´t cease to be truth for some cases).
    Still, it sounded a tad prejudicial to me.

    However, it was incredibly creative and well writen, you are producing certaintly some of the best works I´ve read, so kudos on that!

  3. Clara I get what you mean, however, I wrote that story a long time ago in reference to the #queryfail, not as a way to explain how publishing works. Publishing is a partnership business that involves agents, writers and editors as equals. That's the only way it can work. What I wrote was meant to parody the #queryfail period.

    And on the self publishing statement: yes, some writers make it via the self publishing route, though I still think one stands a better chance with an agent and an editor and a publishing company. My point was that, if agents are rejecting you, there's a reason for it. Don't suddenly think they're all plotting against you and are trying to stop you from being a bestsellers - agents crave the next big thing. Trust me. They would sign you up if they looooved your stuff.

    Rejections suck. But we can learn from them. ;)

  4. wow. great, great post glen. and great reminder. i love your attitude.

    i wonder what will happen come april 17..???


  5. I am totally annoyed with that entry you linked to at Janet Reid's blog. She writes how she expects aspiring writers to send professional queries, yet she posts blogs which sarcastically ridicule the queries and the writers' efforts to make a good and harmless impression. It is not constructive criticism. It is just in poor taste to post that photo of the mug. The agent should look at the content of the project and either show interest or reject. End of story. All this nasty show at her blog is absurd.

    I believe that to take well-intentioned queries and to insult and make fun of them is unprofessional. Agents who on high profile blogs engage in this obnoxious behavior should not be encouraged with saying the guy who did that had an "epic fail on a maximum scale." He sent a mug trying to impress an agent. Big deal. How do you think he felt reading her blog?

    She spends so much time at her blog criticizing queries I am not surprised she falls behind on her pile or work. I comment at her blog and she won't publish my comments. I like to read many opinions, not just comments that are designed to flatter.

    And I should tell you that I intend to leave a comment like this at other blogs where her readers showed support for what she did. I have an opinion and that should be as important as all the others. Thoughts?

  6. @ Tahereh, lol my attitude will get me into trouble someday hahaha. But that short story was originally written and published on my blog a long, long time ago during the first #queryfail debacle. So April 17 was the date Janet decided to redo #queryfail. She did and it went well, so no need to parody it :D

    @ Marjorie, I quite understand your anger at Janet Reid. She didn't do anything wrong, and she doesn't post blogs that ridicule queries. She post blogs that point out bad queries, which is the correct thing to do. Especially this latest post. Are you telling me you support what this writer did? There are rules - she's posted those rules on her site, how you should send a query to her. Why then would you send a mug??? Makes no sense.

    Perhaps she didn't publish your comment cos you wrote something abusive towards her, and she didn't want to start some kind of war of words with you. But she doesn't post bad queries to laugh at them. She posts bad queries to tell people, "Hey, this is something you shouldn't do. I've said this before - don't do this." Simple instruction. Sending a starbucks coffee cup or mug is just plain ridiculous. I can't believe you'd actually support that idea.

    As for me, you know I'll post your comments lol I love different opinions. Hell, I'm pretty sure there are a lot more people pissed off about this post and don't want to post their opinions cos they think I won't post it. I will, guys! I totally will!

  7. My comments are not abusive, they state in clear terms that I do not approve of the ridicule. And if you think her entries do not "ridicule queries," I think you should look again.

    This is one exchange she had with an author here:**k-grateful.html
    I redacted the word she wrote. It is the entry of 2/21/10
    The author wrote this:
    "I have to say that I'm offended by your swearing. For someone working in the literary world, I would think that you could find more creative words to express your thoughts. It really lacks professionalism when you use the f-word in your rants. Also, as aspiring authors, we are warned not to rant and criticize agents/publishers on our blogs/websites, as it could come back to bite us. Shouldn't the same apply to you?"
    She replied. How does she have time for all this blog banter?

    I do not support the idea of sending a mug, but I understand the guy's desperate attempt to flatter. To publish the photo of the mug, in my opinion, embarrassed the guy and was a cheap shot. Unprofessional.

    I was a teacher for 35 years. Suppose I posted poorly written homework and attached my criticism to the work? You think that would be correct? Do you think the students would be embarrassed? Well, if it is wrong to do to students... it is wrong to do. Period.

  8. I completely agree with you Glen. I think not only writers, but many people choose to put the blame on the world, or on others, instead of looking inside or to their work. The world responds to what we do, and yes, we will get many Nos, but it will all be worth for the first yes.That simple. Meanwhile, we gotta keep on trying and believing we are always right is definetly not the way. Wish more ppl had this idea, definetly.

  9. Wow, just read Marjorie´s post! This is getting really interesting!
    I completely respect Marjorie´s opinion, but I´m a bit against it. I think that as far as Janet doesn´t disclose names, adresses websites and so forth, it is ok to say these things. I think that criticism has to be taken as feedback: either you take it and ponder, or either you toss it out (which might be a big mistake). Feedback, specially on this business, is incredibly valuable. And the person who sent her the mug will never forget not to do it again, so he or she, learned. Maybe after that the writer will be able to send a query and be accepted by an agent, all due to Janets criticism.

    Sometimes, our mistakes are what eventually makes us grow.

  10. But Marjorie, she altered the mug with photoshop - no one knows who this person is, except the person. And I'm sorry, but I don't understand the guy or anyone's attempt to flatter an agent by sending a mug! If you want to flatter an agent, write a great query and flatter them IN the query. I mean, agents have said this over and over - don't send stuff to us. It's a simple instruction. Why do some people choose not to listen?

    No, it wouldn't be correct for you to post someone's script for the class to see, mostly because they'd know whose script it is. Anonymity is always advised in this case, and Janet did that. Like I said, she used photoshop to take out a lot of things that could have been used to trace the guy, even the name of the agent he sent the mug to.

    And about her blog - fuck grateful - I'm going to have to disagree. If you read all her post, or the query shark blog, she mostly focuses on trying to be helpful to aspiring authors. In that blog post, someone sent her a message saying he/she should be grateful they're sending her queries. She said "fuck grateful" send me a good query. I couldn't agree more. I'm not a teacher, mostly because I lack the patience necessary to teach. But I understand school kids making the same damn mistakes over and over again. But adults? People writing queries and putting out the same faux pas? After Janet goes on and on about what not to do? Come on, that's bound to get to her. It would get to you too if you were in her shoes.

  11. First, I never said "script." I have no idea where you drew that conclusion regarding the nature of the homework in my analogy. I taught grade 6.

    She altered the mug... but the person about whom she was speaking could recognize himself in the post and be embarrassed or be hurt. It does not matter that his identity was not revealed to the masses. So big deal he made a mistake and sent a dopey mug. And if he does not see it... then unbeknownst to him he provided material for her blog and her legions of fans who like lemmings give her standing ovations every time in comments.

    I was using the "mug entry" just as an example of what she does. How does she have so much time to engage in all this activity at her blog? No wonder she is behind in her work. She spends so much time at her blog telling people the dos and don'ts of queries, and the funny thing is that the authors who send the queries probably do not even read her blog. They choose not to listen because they do not read her blog. They probably find her at an internet site which posts literary agents with their E-mail addresses.

    All the silly ongoing nonsense regarding queries has so jumped the shark at her blog. She should read her queries and show interest in a project or reject the proposal. I never saw anything so absurd. A person could construct an excellent query and his work could be awful.

    Do you think the majority of agents are so fixated on the construction of queries? Or do you think they are interested in the content of the project?

    Walt Disney, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Zephaniah, Steven Spielberg, John F. Kennedy, Richard Ford, Michael Faraday, Scott Adams, and Leonardo da Vinci were all dyslexic.

    I could speculate that they might perhaps send an agent an improperly formatted query because dyslexia is manifested most often in poor spelling and other writing errors.

    And perhaps DaVinci would have sent a little sketch of his work... Oh, wait! That is a no no!!!

    That blog exists for one transparent reason. And her objective is not to inform. She thinks she is entertaining and funny. She uses "queries" as the subject and a smokescreen for her own agenda. She should find an open mic room.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. @ Tahereh: lmao!! I almost spewed fanta on my keyboard cos of you!!

    @ Marjorie: I’m sorry I posted “script”. I live in Britain. Maybe that’s the confusion. When I said script, I meant a student’s written answer to an assignment you gave them, which is another way of saying homework. But if you insist on script and homework being different, then it’s cool.

    How does she [Janet Reid] have so much time to engage in what activities?:
    By activities I suppose you mean her posts on queries or the fact that she regularly puts stuff up on her blog? You do realise Nathan Bransford posts as regularly as Janet does, right? And they’re not the only agents with blogs – there are plenty others out there, let me assure you, and they post on their blogs. A lot. I sincerely doubt agents read queries EVERYDAY. Come on, they must have time for other things, like blogging.

    No wonder she [JR] is behind her work:
    Ok, how do you know that? Have you seen her client list lately? Her clients aren’t exactly complaining, are they? How is she behind her work? Even the posts on her blog – these are simple posts. Max 10 paragraphs. Sometimes just links. She’s not writing stories on her blog; she’s just posting bits of useful information for aspiring authors – how can that possibly stop her from doing her job properly? Hell, Nathan Bransford posts longer stuff on his blog; I don’t see you saying he’s behind his work.

    Authors who send queries don’t read her [JR] blog:
    Well, they damn well should, that way they won’t send her mugs. Everyone knows the first rule to querying an agent is RESEARCHING that agent. That includes visiting the agent’s website. In Janet’s case, her website is in fact her blog. If I wanted to query Nathan, I wouldn’t go to Curtis Brown’s website alone. I’d go to Curtis Brown AND Nathan’s blog. After all, who are you writing the query to – Curtis Brown or Nathan Bransford? Nathan, right? So go to Nathan’s website and get info from him. Same with Janet – go to her website/blog and get info from her. If people did that, they would know she’s not asking for a mug or Starbucks cups. She’s asking for good queries, which she’ll read for free, and if she likes it, she’ll sign you up FOR FREE, and get you a publisher. FOR FREE.

    Do you think the majority of agents are fixated on the construction of queries or interested in the content of the project?
    Yes, I think ALL agents are fixated on the construction of queries, and I’ll tell you why. A good query is the only way – the ONLY WAY - to showcase a great project. A bad query completely hides how great a project is. If someone wrote a rubbish query, there’s absolutely no way Janet or any agent would be able to see how good their project is. Which is why writing a good query is essential! Plus, these agents receive like 500 queries every two days! If out of that 500, 499 were well written queries, why should Janet bother suffering through one bad query because it may or may not be about a totally awesome project?

    Writing a good, professional query helps YOU as the author flesh out your project in the best possible way, and it also helps HER as the agent SEE how truly great your project is. These people don’t get paid to read YOUR query. Be a little sensitive and at least write something she can properly read and not get a headache at the same time.

    Not all the famous people you named are authors of fiction, or major/majored in fiction. And I guarantee the ones who are or were authors had to write good queries to get representation from agents. Hell, Nathan Bransford shared J.R.R Tolkien’s query for the Hobbit which got rejected. If a legend like Tolkien can take his time to write a damn good query, what gives anyone else the right to send a mug to an agent as a bribe? What that person did was completely out of order, and Janet had every right to post it: “Everyone, look at this mug. Someone sent it to me with a query. Please, do not do this. It will get you nowhere.”

    The funny thing is some people will repeat this stunt.

  14. I would agree with you if the mug entry was the only entry devoted to the subject of what not to do. But, her blog is loaded with entries in which she posts queries and it is my opinion it is for the purpose of ridicule and laughs: "the blog show." As a reader, I find it unprofessional to post queries and publicly criticize them.

    And with regard to being sent a mug, I say big deal. So, you take the mug and either use it or throw it away; end of story.. and then reject the query if it doesn't interest you. I think it is a stretch to think it a bribe. It was what the person thought was a harmless cute shtik. End of story.

    It is my opinion she posted a photo of that mug for the blog show, not to be informative in terms of what not to do. And I think the show is offensive.

    I have left negative comments at Nathan's blog as well when I disagree with his entries. So, we can agree to disagree.... but, I also think as soon as a blog entry goes up all the lemmings, like PAVLOV DOGS, rush to flatter her in comments. That to me is worse than sending a mug. It is a transparent gesture that can be viewed as a different sort of "bribe." They blow smoke up her ass with their high hopes. I laugh out loud at the comments: "Thanks for saying this. You are terrific." She should end each entry with "Amuse me, wenches." hahahahahaha

    By the way, I met her at a panel discussion she gave in a local library. The discussion was excellent. She seems like a great agent. I just hate her blog with those entries about those queries.

    P.S. She has posted updates saying she has a pile of queries she has not yet had time to read. That's why I said that.
    And I think most agents look at the content of a project... not the construction of a query. There are editors to clean up a ms. It's the subject that is the draw for readers... not the spelling, grammar, and paragraph construction.

    Have you ever seen Jack Kerouac's original scroll for "On the Road?" 'Nuff said.

  15. Oh Glen, if you could check my blog I´d be really happy!
    Comments feed my soul! Cheers! =D

  16. @ Clara: I'll check it as soon as I reply Marjorie ;)

    @ Marjorie:
    I would agree with you if the mug entry was the only entry devoted to the subject of what not to do:
    So, you’re saying she shouldn’t put up posts dedicated to “what not to do” when sending queries? That really doesn’t make any sense, you know that. Why shouldn’t she? Plus, she only posts the EXTREMELY bad queries, stuff that she’s told people not to do. Like not sending mugs (hence why she posted it). She doesn’t just post every query. If you’re referring to her queryshark blog, then you should know that she didn’t posts those queries because she wanted to – she asked the authors if she could post them and they said yes.

    With regards to the mug:
    I’m sorry, but it’s not as simple as using it and throwing it away. People need to know that they shouldn’t do that when it comes to querying an agent, hence why she told us about it. It’s not a bribe? Are you kidding me? Everyone’s sending query letters to an agent and then someone sends a mug with “You’re the best literary agent in the world”, and that isn’t a bribe? I’m 100% sure if you found whoever sent that mug and asked them, they’d tell you the reason they sent the mug was to try and coerce Janet Reid into giving their query special attention.

    Janet Reid posted the photo of the mug for a show not for informative purposes:
    I guarantee, if you carry out a survey, you’ll find you’re almost alone in this assessment, Marjorie. Like I said, people need to see this and know not to do it. We’ve all heard of stuff like this happening, but seeing it drives the message home: it won’t work; you’re making yourself a laughing stock amongst agents.

    Comment posters blow smoke up Janet Reid’s ass with their high hopes:
    And how is this Janet’s fault? People kiss ass. Hell, the sending the mug was another way of kissing ass. And she rejected that. Which should tell you that kissing her ass or blowing smoke or whatever won’t get you anywhere with Janet Reid. I don’t see how people saying stuff like “Oh wow, you’re so pretty” or “Thanks for saying this. You’re terrific” makes Janet a bad person. If people want to kiss her ass then let them. She’s told everyone before that flattery won’t get her to sign authors – talent will. If they choose to ignore it, their fault, not hers.

    I met Janet Reid, she seemed nice, but I hate her blog entries about queries:
    Why would an aspiring writer hate an agent’s blog entries on how NOT to screw up your query? Puzzling.

    Most agents look at the content of a project, not construction of query. Editors are there to clean up the MS:
    Thinking like that will get you nowhere in this industry, honey. Honestly. When I read this bit, I had to laugh. I’m not trying to ridicule you, but you really believe this? Ok, are you a member of AW? If you are, take this post, put it on a thread and asks for agents to vote and see what happens. You actually think agents are concerned about only project and not query? That’s like saying just because I have a first-class degree in Software Engineering I shouldn’t bother filing a job application properly, because after all, I’m the one who’s going to be doing the job, not the application. If I filled the application in any way I choose, rather than FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS AS DETAILED BY THE EMPLOYER, the employer will ignore my ridiculous attitude and think: “Yeah, he’s great for the job. Forget that he didn’t listen to ANYTHING I said about filling the application.”

    *Continued below*

  17. @ Marjorie
    Every agent rules writers must follow. They hammer on issues with writers not following these rules every time. They post it on their blogs. Hell, they even link to Janet’s blog when Janet puts up examples of how NOT to write a query. I’ve already explained this issue before. Not writing a proper query fails to convey your project adequately. It also makes things harder for the agent. It’s like writing a query without putting a word count and expecting the agent to ignore it. Say what? You think they will? Or writing a query and blabbering about yourself instead of your project. Or writing a query and telling agents “My mum read it and loved it.” Or writing a query and saying, “I haven’t finished the book yet. It’s still in development.” Or writing a query with spelling and grammar errors and paragraph constructions and expecting agents to ignore that and think: “Yeah the idea is awesome. Even though the person can’t spell or string a simple sentence without abusing the English language.” You know what agents think when they see a query that’s filled with spelling errors and grammar errors? They think the writer is so incompetent their manuscript must be filled with the exact same errors.

    Writing a clean MS, void of grammar and spelling errors, shows your quality as a writer. Writing a good query shows your quality as a writer. Editors and agents aren’t going to slave over your manuscript to correct grammar and spelling errors that YOU shouldn’t have missed. No MS is perfectly clean – but as a writer, you must strive to for perfection. There are hundreds – thousands of people trying to get published. You think agents/editors are going to waste their time over an MS that is really bad when their jobs would be easier if they focused on the other – oh, I don’t know – thousands of clean MS’s? MS’s with little to no grammar errors? Ok, if that’s what you think, then go ahead and send a bad MS and query to an agent.

    Yes, I have seen Jack Keroucac’s original scroll. So what? Jack Keroucac pulled that stunt when he was already established. (Plus it was 1951. Today is 2010 – you wanna write on scroll too? Did all the laptops and word processors which have the ability to CHECK SPELLING AND GRAMMAR ERRORS disappear?). JK Rowling and Stephen King can write their next MS’s using text language, on tissue paper, and their editors and agents won’t talk trash. Are you Jack Keroucac? Are you King? Are you Rowling?

  18. Glen:
    First of all, you misquoted me.
    I wrote: "By the way, I met her at a panel discussion she gave in a local library. The discussion was excellent. She seems like a great agent. I just hate her blog with those entries about those queries."
    You have me saying: "I met Janet Reid, she seemed nice, but I hate her blog entries about queries..."

    Second: You are not familiar with the chronology of Jack Kerouac's work. His scroll was no "stunt." It was the way he chose to write his book because he was creating "spontaneous prose" that had a certain rhythm and flow. And it was written on a scroll before any of his books were published; he was not already established. The book "On the Road" was the book which gave him popularity, and that was the book he wrote on a scroll.

    I may not be a Kerouac, but I won a major beat poetry contest. Check it out:

    My opinion is that she is sarcastic in her entries and they are efforts to be funny. It is not for informative purposes. My opinion is given support when you read the reactions of the readers: "winced thinking that this person will now be humiliated on the blog..." and this: "I laughed long and loud..."

    Glen, you miss all of my points. I have valid points, and while you may not agree with me... there are many with whom I communicate who do. I would have preferred to communicate about this with her directly. But, she does not publish my comments. In fact, i see only applause in comments at her blog. I prefer to read a more balanced set of comments at blogs.

    You have misquoted me and have not been factually correct, so further dialogue here is pointless. Good luck with your endeavors.

  19. Doing a Columbo here:
    re: "Thinking like that will get you nowhere in this industry, honey. Honestly. When I read this bit, I had to laugh. I’m not trying to ridicule you, but you really believe this?"

    Uh, yes I believe it. And... I do not want to get anywhere. I am exactly where I want to be. I am a 63 year-old woman and I was a teacher for 35 years and I also do stand-up comedy in major comedy clubs here in NYC. I won a contest at Stand-up NY comedy club to find NYC's funniest teacher. I am also in an improv group that performs in NY.

    I believe that because I KNOW authors who cannot write properly and they were published. One woman is quite high profile. Her blog is filled with spelling errors and poor punctuation. She wrote two books and both were cleaned up by her editors. So, I believe that based on my discussions with authors.

    "Honey?" That sounds a little condescending... I am 63, lol.

  20. I think Marjorie makes some good points. Janet Reid gives some good advice but is overly picky about things like use of elipses. She will never find a diamond in the rough like Jack Kerouac as Marjorie implies by mentioning him.

    A good agent should be able to see the potential worth of a book no matter how the query is written, though of course a good query letter helps by making it easier for them to do so.

    But Reid has her rules and makes them clear on the blog, though not so on her website, the incomplete info from which people might send a query. She should refer to her blog on her website.

    Another question is whether she chooses to post and critique from all queries or only those sent to the blog where they know they might get posted.

  21. @ Herman: Janet read has posted a query on her blog and said something like, "I read this query and I rejected it because of the author refused to use an elipses." When she posts examples of bad queries they are examples of really bad queries. Marjorie's point is that she shouldn't have posted the whole thing about the mug; that it was unnecessary. I disagree.

    There are limits to which Janet or any other agent can reject queries, Herman. Agents won't reject queries because of one missing comma. That's senseless. If you wrote a good query that showcased your work properly and missed a comma, there's a good chance she'd probably ask for a partial or full.

    As for spelling or grammar errors, as writer, having those in your query is not an excuse. It doesn't showcase your talent in anyway. How can you have a word processor and not be able to write a query without grammar errors and spelling errors???

  22. @ Marjorie
    [[I wrote: "By the way, I met her at a panel discussion she gave in a local library. The discussion was excellent. She seems like a great agent. I just hate her blog with those entries about those queries."
    You have me saying: "I met Janet Reid, she seemed nice, but I hate her blog entries about queries..."]]
    Lol Marjorie, I haven’t misquoted you in anyway. The only misquote I can concede to is the “she seemed nice”, where instead you said “she seems like a great agent.” Other than that, those quotes are pretty much the same thing – the message being you don’t like her blog posts about queries, which is exactly what I wrote.

    Jack Kerouac writing on a scroll was a stunt. It being a stunt doesn’t mean it was a bad thing to do. People pull stunts all the time. He attempted “spontaneous prose” and decided to write on a scroll. There are plenty of authors who have done spontaneous prose and wrote on computers and typewriters, so I don’t see how writing on a scroll isn’t a stunt. A good one, in the end – and a great book, it was. I’m not denying that.

    And I am familiar with Jack Kerouac’s book chronology. On the Road was not his first publication. “The Town and the City” was.

    Yes, you won a major beat poetry contest. But we’re not talking about poetry here. Plus you didn’t write a query, get an agent and get a publisher. I think these are two completely different aspects.

    I’ve read and re-read the blog post we’re talking about, and I fail to see the sarcasm you mention. All she said was “write a book I want to read, don’t send a mug to me”. You find it offensive that she posted the story on her blog, because, obviously, a lot of people visit her blog and the person who sent it would be humiliated. If Janet had gone on to expose the person’s full name, I would agree with you that what she did was wrong. However, she didn’t. She took lengths to hide the person’s identity but posted about it to let other people know if they’re planning anything similar, they shouldn’t. How is that wrong??

    Lol having spelling/grammar errors on a blog is not an indication of a person’s proficiency as a writer. And editors do not clean manuscripts for authors. That’s a complete misconception. Authors revise their manuscripts before sending it to their editors. Editors read through manuscripts, use their red pen to identify errors and whatnot, and then they send it back to the author. The author then “cleans” the manuscript. Editors don’t sit in their offices retyping entire manuscripts and cleaning them for their clients.

    I’m glad you’ve made it already, but your line of work has little to do with novel writing or the sort of thing Janet Reid handles. That doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re talking about; it just means that maybe things are done differently amongst comedians concerning how they submit their works to agents. This is how it’s done in this business, and if you’re not a part of this business, or don’t research the business as someone who’s hoping to get into it, either as an author, an agent or an editor, then you cannot possibly understand why Janet does the things she does.

    On calling you “honey”, I wasn’t trying to be condescending. I’ve called older women honey before and they didn’t take offence. But if you’re against it, it’s cool.

  23. I am sending this again. I do not think the first copied with the proper characters.

    Well... I was actually angry at Jack Kerouac's scroll being called a "stunt," so I ran it by a group of Kerouac scholars with whom I communicate online. Simon Warner, of University of Leeds, gave me permission to post to you his reply. Here it is:

    "Stunts are pieces of cynical and calculated promotion. This was the least commercial thing Kerouac, possibly any writer, has ever done. He had a great story that took six years to emerge because he wouldn’t compromise on his vision. He could have killed his career stone dead. He didn’t for reasons we know about. About as far from a stunt as I can think of....Don’t think your correspondent understands the word."

  24. Jack Kerouac's vision did not require a scroll in order for it not to be compromised. He could have written everything on paper or something else. I read the book. It's a great book. Jesus Christ did not write it. It's not a holy book. It's not the greatest thing since slice bread. Hence, scroll = stunt. If the scroll wasn't a promotional device, why is it that when anyone talks about "On the Road" the first thing they say is, "it was written on a scroll"? The publishers could have kept that bit secret. It was a stunt, simple. A damn good one. But still a stunt.
    And there's no way Kerouac's career could have ended based on that one book. If his publishers didn't like it, they'd tell him and he'd write another one. Again, something Simon would know if he actually knew how this industry worked.

    But whatever the case may be, Jack Kerouac is a legend. The man can write on a wall and still get published.
    Every other person these days must write on a Word processor - fact. They must write on A4 paper with 1-inch margins - fact. They must use a spell checker and clean their manuscripts - fact. They must write readable queries - fact. That is my argument. That is Janet Reid's argument. That is the argument of anyone and everyone who want to or are already a part of this industry.

    PS: I read the complete statement based on this quote you used to support your argument: "I winced thinking that this person will now be humiliated on the blog"
    It goes on to say: "but I realized that anyone who reads this blog would know better, and wouldn't send the mug. So, instead, I wince thinking that this person will send this same mug to many agents."

    In the end, whoever this person is, what they did was pretty darn daft. I don't mean to sound harsh, but that's the truth. And, like the person who wrote the comment, I wince thinking that other agents will receive similar "gifts" from the person.

  25. 1. re: "but I realized that anyone who reads this blog would know better..." Perhaps he did not read the blog, but only read her website.

    2. re: "something Simon would know if he actually knew how this industry worked"

    Simon is an author with a series of published books. He is a brilliant well-respected scholar and an accomplished academic. Google him.
    We are completely done here.

  26. I'd just like to say a few things, mostly in response to the conversation going on here:

    1)I like the way Janet Reid uses sarcastic humour to make her points. Personally, I think it's a great way of getting across a message in a fun and informative way.(It's sort of the first rule for writing anything effective...Use your voice. Hers happens to be a bit snarky and sarcastic and that's cool, especially because she seems to genuinely want to help). Of course, with the internet and distancing in play, this sort of thing can be misinterpreted as hateful. But I think it's pretty evident from the amount of time and effort Janet sinks into critiquing queries over at queryshark that she wants to HELP aspiring authors, rather than bring them down.

    2) In the post in question, I believe it's mentioned that sending a mug, while ridiculous, may be something a newbie wouldn't know is wrong. So she's acknowledging the fact that people might not know, and taking this opportunity to educate. And it's all well and good to say her blog readers would know, and she's just preaching to put on a show to her choir. But honestly? When I first started to send queries agent blogs, Janet's included, were just freaking helpful to me. I didn't know a thing about how the process was going to work, so when I first started googling, embarassed to say so, but yeah the mug entry woulda been news to me (not that I would send a mug, ever, but more the fact that you lose instead of gain brownie points by sending one).

    3. With regards to queries...Love em or hate em, we all have to write them if we want to sell anything to anyone (sure, there are a few exceptions to this, but the majority of people...). See, the problem with listing off a large slew of examples about past authors who were dyslexic and wouldn't have been able to cobble together a query is that, well, publishing has changed. Maybe in the past it was viable to not write query letters, but the fact is that in those days only the elite were literate, and of the elite very, very few chose to write. The small pool of writers to choose from meant there was more time available to read entire manuscripts rather than queries. Now there are hundreds of thousands of writers looking to get published. Hearkening back to an idyllic past system is pointless, because that system wouldn't work for us anymore.

    4)Quite frankly, I don't see use of "f*ck" as particularly insulting. Especially as a response to something as presumptuous as the comment about agents needing to be grateful to writers who send them queries, because they're earning them money. Because the majority of people in the slushpile can't write for peanuts (basic stuff, grammar, spelling etc). Besides, I think it's a really unhealthy for either writer or agent to be more "grateful" to the other. Because an agent-writer relationship is more like a partnership than an employee-boss one, and both parties should treat the other as an equal.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Cheers inkspatters. You've pretty much said everything I've been trying to tell Marjorie.

    @ Marjorie: Simon could be the Queen of England and I still wouldn't care. In the end, all it proves is that he's a scolar and a Jack Kerouac fanboy. Nothing more.

    Besides, that's not even the bone of contention here. We weren't talking about Jack Kerouac - we were talking about Janet Reid's blog.

    In the end, your anger towards her only confirmed your petulance and incapability to accept truth and fact, especially when the truth is a hard pill to swallow for you. You claim you're not planning on getting published; that you've made it in life. So why do you care what Janet posts with regard to queries? What's your business at Janet Reid's blog? Every other person who goes there are aspiring writers, and they enjoy learning from her.

    You remind me of those old people who are pissed off at how the world is today and complain about the good old days - in the good old days we didn't need computers; in the good old days we didn't have to wear short skirts and high heels; in the good old days we didn't have to write queries; blah, blah, blah.

    Get over it. Everyone has.

  29. I am not angry with her. I told you, I think she must be a great agent. She may be "the world's greatest."

    Let me give you a huge heads up. You can go to agents' blogs and flatter them all day in comments... it still won't get you published. Your flattery is just another version of a mug. After a while, you sound like an agent's fanboy.

    As a result of this exchange, my blog reached 4,700 hits. Maybe this old fart brought you some readers. I performed a service. I bring in the blog readers. I helped you. You should thank me.

    I am thanking YOU. As a result of this exchange, guess what? I got some comedy gigs.

    But, I now do not think you deserve the audience I bring. You showed fangs in attempts to win some dopey points and you personally insulted me. So, I really GOT OVER this blog. This morning, I got over this blog faster than I got over what I had for dinner last night, if you get my drift.

    If you answer me I will conclude you are becoming addicted to this. I will worry about you perhaps getting carpal tunnel and I will have to send you mittens and the names of some deprogramming centers to GET OVER ME!

    AND let's now stick a fork in this exchange and declare it done! Please stop wasting good time answering me.

    Can we all now do a Max Reger? Please.

    Please do not reply. I am not returning to read replies. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

  30. Wait! Look! You wrote: "In the end, all it proves is that he's a scolar."

    Wow! I am fainting over here. Pass the smelling salts. Did your computer which has the ability to CHECK SPELLING ERRORS disappear?

  31. Lol Marjorie, you're a very funny woman, I’ll give you that. You said you're a stand-up comedian – I believe you now.

    As for your dig on my computer and spell checking: I don’t use a word processor to type my comments, so I can't possibly spell check them. Besides, this is a comment section. I'm not writing a query. I'm not writing book. I'm writing a reply to your comment. Lol funny woman.

    I don't flatter agents. I never have. I never will – except when I get my own agent. I give credit where credit is due. You can comb through Janet's blog - I've posted at most three comments since I stumbled on her blog, the most recent being: "This is an epic fail on an epic scale", concerning the mug post. None of my comments on her blog were flattery. I do not know Janet Reid on a first name basis. We don't chat on the phone and laugh about unicorns and rainbows, in case you or any other person reading this is wondering.

    My blog post was about how aspiring writers shouldn't shoot themselves in the foot by sending mugs or Starbucks cups to agents. I even re-posted a #queryfail parody I wrote a long time ago. You came on here and you attacked Janet Reid for addressing the mug. I explained that Janet hadn’t done anything wrong. You went on and on, and here we are. Now, suddenly I’m an agent fanboy? Lol

    I’m a funny guy myself, you see. I tell funny stories. I also like helping people, giving them inspiration whenever I can. So if I’ve helped you with your comedy gigs, more power to my damn sexy elbow.

    Your blog reached 4,700 hits. Wow! Good for you. Really, I feel nothing but genuine happiness for you right now.

    Did you perform a service by helping me bring readers? Hmm ... I don’t know, miss. I don’t want to sound cocky or childish, like how kids argue on the playground over who has more toys, but I must state the obvious: I have one blog and 34 followers – real human beings; writers, mostly – very smart, beautiful ones at that (note: this is flattery. Just thought I should let you know since you clearly don’t understand the concept). You, on the other hand, have two blogs and 9 followers in total. So basically, 34 people get alerts when I post stuff, and at least 30 of them read my stuff. A couple of them even comment sometimes. Hey, that’s fine by me.

    I am puzzled though - this argument is taking place here, on my blog, not on yours, and you’re getting 4700 hits. Man, that is amazing. *Sigh* Oh well, some of us will never be as popular as you are. And since you’re dying to hear me say it: my 15 minutes of fame will run out the instant this argument ceases :( I will miss you terribly.

    I am sorry if I offended you. Honest. I admit I was a little harsh in my last comment in which I called you petulant and other things. I shouldn’t have done that. I only reacted that way because you were making this into a Jack Kerouac thing. So, please, accept my humble apology.

    Marjorie, I have to answer you. When people post comments on my blog posts I get alerts and I have to attend to them. I don’t discriminate – all comments are welcome, as long as they’re not racist or super weird. Just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean I should delete your comments or reject them so they never see the light of day.

    Am I addicted to you? You’re 63. I’m 25. Come on!

  32. I have 2 blogs? Ha! I have 2 blogs that I show on my profile page! I have 5 blogs. I hide 3 because my following has reached epic proportions and I have been the victim of internet stalkers. I am an internet magnet.

    I finally closed one blog when the comments were making me feel like the mother of the Bride of Chucky! That blog would serve as my excellent documentation for a mental disability pension.

    I should open that blog on my profile. It is insane and mad ass funny. It is comedy gold.

    Yes, I am 63 and you are 25. NOT!

    OK, I really have to be done here. I have to take a meeting. LOL

  33. LMAO! Hahahaha! I swear, I haven't had this much fun conversing with anyone before =D


Keep it clean and constructive. Thanks.