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Friday, July 30, 2010

You Shall Remain Nameless

Minimal effort expended in this "Dear Author" letter.  But I guess that's the point, right?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Needed: Your Mental Powers

I sent the new, new manuscript off with revisions as discussed with Agent 99 (referred by this fancy dude).  Here was the return email received: "Fantastic! It sounds like you've done a lot here. Just so you know, I read on my weekends, so will get back to you early next week. I'm really looking forward to reading."  That means this weekend all you kind mice might wish to create a collective mind-meld of good and positive and hopeful thoughts about 99 and my novel, which you will remember I started writing in 1997. Are you up for it?  Should you choose to accept the mission, you will find a place reserved for you in literary heaven.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Proof of Authenticity (Yesterday's Post)

Oh ye of little faith and big conspiracies! Yesterday's anonymous poster so wants you to know s/he is no scam artist, or double agent from AuthorHouse, that s/he sent me these fine documents of authenticity:

There's also this:

From: Anonymous Sent: Yesterday To: Shane Duff Subject: Self-Publishing Question

Dear Mr. Duff,

Thank you for informing me of the AuthorHouse discount. I have a couple of questions about self-publishing (not necessarily regarding the offer specifically).

I do have an almost completed children's/young adult novel (~ 60,000 words), which I was about to query with a children's book literary agency. I'm also working on other projects, including a collection of horror stories.

Can you tell me a bit about the differences/advantages between self-publishing & following the regular route of literary agents? On the AuthorHouse website, I saw an attractive package for 795 pounds. If I were to choose this option, would I obtain similar benefits that I would receive with a literary agent & publishing house? I've read of opposing views on the necessity of an agent & I am confused.

Also, I reside in [name of place]. Would this be a hindrance in signing a contract?

Thanks for your time,
S. Ali

And this:

From: Shane Duff
Subject: RE: Publishing with AuthorHouse
To: Anonymous
Date: Yesterday

Hi [Name of Writer],
     Thank you for the response. I just want to ask for your contact number, if you don’t mind so that we can discuss about publishing over the phone. For your manuscript, are their pictures included? Are they in black n white? Or colored? How many are they? I just need to get this information so that I can offer you a package. We have different package for colored books (children’s book). About the £795 Basic Paperback Package, your manuscript will be in paperback and you can insert up to 10 black n white pictures for free. But for the cover of your book, it will be in full colour, laminated at no extra cost. You can also add up to 48-740 pages for this package.
     About Traditional publishing, they may or may not give authors money upfront. Some authors receive zero money upfront and these are real publishers,. But if the traditional publishers gave you money up front an advance, you want see a dime of those earned royalties until your book has paid back the money that they gave you upfront. Plus they keep the rights to your books for a duration of time.
Literary agents talk money to traditional publishers. But it’s like this, unless you get a legitimate Literary Agent to represent you, to me self-publishing is a better choice for un-published, unknown and new authors, even vanity publishing is a better choice for such authors. For the rich, subsidy publishing is the choice; because they want have to lift a finger after they have written their books. So if authors have tried several times to get their books published by traditional publishers and have tried to get a legitimate literary agent and fail, go for it. Only 1% authors achieve that traditional publishing success. I just wouldn’t keep waste my time with traditional publishers nor legitimate literary agents. Because they make up all kinds of excuses as to why they can’t publish your work and literary agents make up all kinds of reasons why they can’t represent you and a lot of the time, it’s because they are bombarded with other works. I have read a lot of traditional published books and vanity, subsidy and self-published books by authors and they are all the same. There are bad books by traditional published author and good books by traditional published authors and the same with vanity, subsidy and self-published authors. If it’s a good story, then don’t keep begging traditional publishers and literary agents, the story needs to be read and enjoyed, so publish it. Focus on getting people hooked on your works, so you can build your audience. You know what this means; the money will follow.”
     Here at AuthorHouse we allow you to retain all the rights to your book and be in charge of every part of the process. From the cover design to the layout of the interior pages, all work is done to your vision and specifications. AuthorHouse makes your book available for sale through over 44,000 resellers and online bookshops world wide. No other self-publishing company in the world has a larger network of retailers. As an author, you should make sure that if a customer wishes to purchase your book, they are able to do so from the most places possible. Every AuthorHouse title is custom-designed from the ground up to your specifications. There are no templates used like many other publishers, so your book is not a "cookie cutter" book and is not lumped in with other similar books. It is important that your book looks different from others you are competing with to set your book apart and have the competitive advantage necessary. AuthorHouse does not take 6 months or more to bring your book to market, like many other publishers. We are well-staffed, so the process only takes 3-4 months with the option of having your first paperback in your hands.
With AuthorHouse, we believe that all books should be given a chance to be published and that all authors should be published. Therefore, we accept all manuscripts (with the exceptions of pornography and hate material). In this age of technology, we still believe in the personal touch. During each step of the process from submitting your manuscript to the production stage to the publication and all the way to the promotional stage. You will have a personal contact to guide you through each step and to keep you up-to-date during the process. We do not force you to buy hundreds or thousands of books. Our “print-on-demand” technology allows us to print just one copy or thousands of copies of your book. In addition, we print them only after orders are placed, which means your book will never go out of print as long as AuthorHouse exist.
     We have an open-ended contract, so your always free to go if your not satisfied with our services. All you need to do is to sign up with the package so that you can avail of the promotion that we have for this month. It’s okay if your in Trinidad, I will be the one to fill-up the forms for you and process the payment. It will be more convenient in your part as well. Hope I was able to answer all your questions. Just inform me if your ready to proceed so that we can sign you up for the package and start the publishing right away. Rest assured that when you publish with us, your in good hands. I’ll wait for your confirmation.
     Thank you.
     Best regards,Shane Duff, Publishing Consultant, AuthorHouse UK Ltd.,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Urgent Question: Author House

Hey, yo: Can you mice please chime in on the following question before Thursday? We need to help this dude figure out what to do re: self-publishing.
     Dear Writer Rejected: I received an offer for a potential discount (~ 200 pounds) if I sign up for a self-publishing package by this Thursday (29th July). Is this really a wise idea for me? I want to be published; I've read of success stories, but I don't want to spend money, not receive any profit, and particularly not have any sort of exposure. I don't want to be swept in amongst the waves of nameless authors. This UK company has an impressive reputation (AuthorHouse). I was just about to send my synopsis and query letter to the Caroline Sheldon Agency. What's your advice? I've got until Thursday to take advantage of a very generous discount. Thanks, Anony-mouse

Monday, July 26, 2010

Failing One Day At A Time

Now this Slate article really speaks my language.  I first conceived of my present novel in 1997 and am still revising today, but, yes, we fail (or we quit) a little at a time.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Update: Rewrite (version #2) Nearly Accomplished

I've finished the new rewrite for the new, new agent (Agent 99, as we shall call her henceforth), and I have a few of my peeps giving it a once over to make sure I haven't somehow gone over the edge. The good news is that I think 99's suggestions were very astute and make the novel stronger in a lot of ways.  There's only one item (easy to implement, but has a huge impact on the book) that I'm not quite sure I'll keep, but happy to give it a whirl and see how it feels on a fresh read down the road. From our conversation a few weeks ago, 99's voice is echoing in my head: "With this kind of book, the manuscript needs to be perfect to sell."  Ah, perfection, my old prison guard.  I thought I had long ago gotten rid of you!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Scandal Might Be Overstatement

Here's an article I'm not sure I understand about a current "scandal" at the Paris Review. Really? Because the new editor isn't a poet? Is that what fuels this....zzzz....Oh, sorry. Fell asleep.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Change Your Frame

While I do not personally like the agent in this lovely story (knew her once), I do like her advice to Les Edgerton. Especially since it's the kind of advice that turned this writer's 86th rejection into 1 precious acceptance.  Interesting read.

Monday, July 19, 2010

They Bring You Lunch in A Basket There

Have you ever been to MacDowell, the artists' colony?  I think it was one of the all-time greatest writing experiences of my life. The company and food were great; they even dropped off a midday meal right on the doorstep of your little cabin in the woods. The second time I applied, they turned me down, which was a little mean, if you ask me. I would apply to Yaddo, but I hear it's haunted, and, quite frankly, I'm afraid of ghosts. Can anyone confirm or deny? What's your colony experience been like?  Did you have sex with lots of people? That seemed to be quite a common activity at MacDowell when I was there, but not me. I'm kind of shy that way. Anyway, I did write a lot.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Me, Rejected; You, Jane

Tarzan was indeed not in Rand McNally's future plans. Big misjudgment on the King of the Jungle, who must still be pulling in residuals and royalties.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Stiff You Could Cut Yourself

This rejection was sent in by a poetic mouse:
Contemporary Poetry and Poetics
     Thank you for offering Valparaiso Poetry Review, the opportunity to consider your submission for publication. After careful review, I regret that the work does not suit the current needs of VPR. I hope you will think of Valparaiso Poetry Review in the future, and I look forward to reading more of your work. I also wish you the best of luck in placing your current submission elsewhere. Again, thank you for your interest in Valparaiso Poetry Review.
     Sincerely, Edward Byrne, Editor (Valparaiso Poetry Review--in case you forgot from the previous 4 mentions)*
     *I added this part.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Binkster (Binky Urban) Gets Honors

In other news, legendary agent Amanda "Binky" Urban, "of the size-4 jeans," as one of my old agent friends used to jealously call her, took home one of industry's most prestigious awards this week:  the Maxwell E. Perkins Award from the Center For Fiction. The prize was established on the deck of the sinking ship in 2005; the Center for fiction was found in 1820 as the Mercantile Library of New York and is dedicated to celebrating, supporting and furthering the creation and enjoyment of the art of fiction.  Other prize winners include Nan A. Talese (Doubleday), Gary Fisketjon (Knopf), Drenka Willen (Harcourt) Gerald Howard (Doubleday), and Jonathan Galassi, FSG). Wouldn't you like to see the short list of the non-winners? (Sonny Mehta, anyone?) Well, maybe not; guess it's sort of a snooze unless you know and care about the roster.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And The Winner Isn't....

Oh, people, people, people. When will you fools see the light?  How could this beautiful, model-type writer person beat out our beloved angel, Jacob Appel?  The man had entered four separate manuscripts, been semi-finalist and finalist for almost all of them.  But does anyone ever choose the dude to bring him to his just place on top of the heap of the literati?  No.  Why is that? Why? But here's what I will tell you: dude's time will come. We just have to be patient.

Friday, July 9, 2010

You're Not Actually Unpublishable (WTF?)

From an anonymous reader, whose work was too good for this journal...obviously. "Hi [First Name of Writer]: Unfortunately we've decided not to include your story in this issue of The Incongruous Quarterly. We all liked it - you're a good writer, and you've got a great way with detail. The eventual consensus among the editors, however, was that it's not actually unpublishable. The weird nature of our mandate means that if we think your story could find a home somewhere else then it doesn't really need us, which was what ended up happening with your piece. Thank you for thinking of us, though, and we'd love to see more work from you in the future.  Emma Healey, Editor-In-Chief, The Incongruous Quarterly."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Contest Blog

In case you are a contest-enterer, or would like to become one, this clever mouse started a contest blog for you.  I went through a period of entering a lot of contests and won a few, but lost a bunch.  It was an important period in my life because I wasn't sure how much of a writer I still was since I'd been working on my novel for forever and a day. Sometimes a third-gendered person just needs a little positive feedback by way of getting published or winning a prize, I guess.  Invariably, the other mice will scratch in some comments about what a waste of money/time/space/and/life it is to submit fiction to contests, but there's a time, place, and reason for it for some peeps.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is the Sky Falling?

Now what do you think a publishing publicist is going to say, Huffington Post?  "Yes! Everyone duck?"  I think not. She can't even muster more than six paragraphs to defend her argument.  More interesting is the New York Observer article she cites to detail the question of the impact of technology on film and the existence of audience.  I don't know, though, is spectacle ever really in danger of becoming extinct?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Keeping It Real...In Hell

This one is from Hell Gate Review, sent in by a reader: "Dear Writer: I like the raw energy of this poem, but I'm going to pass. Send us more stuff in the future. Keep it real, RenĂ© Georg Vasicek"

Monday, July 5, 2010

How To Curb Suffering

"Writing as a form of suffering is no longer possible when you publish yourself," Garrison Keillor told an audience at the Authors' Guild Gala. "When you become your own publicist, you have to interview yourself."  True, I guess.  Not sure I understand what it means.  Go here for more. p.s. Happy Independence, Rosemary Ahern.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jacob Appel Again

Here's another good one from the mailbag. Should we ask the reader to detail his/her plan to "stop" our favorite winning author?  That seems too diabolical. We'll take it as a joke...because it is kind of funny.

"Me Again, W,R. My roommate received her contributor's copy of Cutbank today, and guess who's in it! If you guessed our very own Jacob Appel, you'd be correct. He won their yearly prize...not a surprise...but, and here's the kicker, he won their yearly creative NONFICTION prize. It looks as though Appelonius is branching out. Who knew? Soon none of us will be safe. Got to admire the fellow. And stop him."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Keep The Agent Focused

Here's a little Q&A email from a reader.  Thought it might be of interest.
Q. My manuscript caters for young adult/ mature children, so I've found a good children's literary agency. However, my genre varies, as I also write horror, thrillers and occasionally plan to attempt philosophical drama. If a children's/young adult's agency is willing to represent my first work, will they be willing to represent such radically different genres? Should I even bother to query these genre specific agents, or should I look for a more general one?
A. In my experience, agents have little pea brains, so it's best not to distract them with too much of your magnificence.  One letter = one message seems to work best.  You can add a general statement about your other works, but keep the focus on your Y/A book.  If all goes well, and your horror/vampire/fantasy book needs representation, maybe your Y/A agent will help you find the right person to rep that project too.
Anyone else want to chime in with an opinion?