Monday, October 29, 2007

Lashing Out

Recently I heard about someone who'd received a rejection from a literary agent. The agent had given the author advice on how to get her work up to scratch. This advice--I don't know whether it was warranted or not--didn't go down well. In fact, the author sent a blistering, bridge-burning reply.


Some rejections kill. The good R's are those that tell you where you've gone wrong. You're a professional. Don't reach for the poison pen (or keyboard) to tell the agent or editor they're in the wrong business if they can't see how fabulous your book is. You just might give yourself another handicap in getting out of the slush pile. It's a tough biz. Kvetch to your friends in private. Fantasize all you want about "getting back" at The Agent Who Hurt Your Feelings, but don't act on it. If you must correspond with the agent at all after a rejection, a simple thank you will do. Then move on.

People in publishing talk. You don't want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Argue a point after a rejection and chances are your next query to that agent or agency will be trashed. Is getting the final word really worth the trouble?

To prove there are hundreds of other agents to query, check out this terrific new resource called Lit Match. It's a huge database of US, UK, Canadian and Australian agents and you can also register to keep track of your submissions.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Which Grease Character Are You?

My brilliant CP Stephanie Kuehnert and I were talking about Grease and which characters we wanted to be. Steph identified with Rizzo, the tough-talkin' broad with a golden heart. When I was five, I wanted to be Sandy, post-makeover. Never mind the fact my parents would never let me wear a black lycra cat suit then (that I did much later in life--and only once).

Who did you want to be? Frenchy, the dithering lost soul? Kenickie, who knew only two things: girls and cars? Danny, who could dance, sing, and pollute waterways simply by washing his oil-slicked hair? Sandy, before she turned from wholesome hick into a chain-smoking vamp?

(Okay, I'll admit it--I wanted to be good Sandy just as much as I wanted to be bad Sandy. And if you're ever in a karaoke bar with me, you'd better pray Hopelessly Devoted to You isn't on the playlist.)

The dance-off is my fave scene in the whole movie...

...and I love this scene too.

When bad perms happen to good people.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Just the Facts, Ma'am

In my day job, fact-checking is paramount. You've gotta be a nit-picker if you want to make it there. So it makes me itchy when I find errors in published material, like a magazine.

If one particular mag's astrologer wasn't so spookily accurate, I'd stop buying it every week. More and more howlers are slipping through. Last issue, there was the headline "Unchartered waters" instead of "uncharted" and they'd spelled The Who's Pete Townshend's name without an "H". They're using hyphens where they shouldn't ("high-school student") and solidifying compounds where a hyphen is vital for clarity ("topranking"). I know - it's a travesty.

In his blog, Style & Substance, the Wall Street Journal's Paul Martin challenges readers to spot the paper's daily flubs. I could spend hours of my two-week holiday here, but I really should get a life.

Monday, October 1, 2007

More on the Nudge

Editorial Anonymous has stepped up to fill the stilettos Miss Snark left behind. She's (I assume she's a she) a children's book editor who's happy to take publishing questions. In this post she encourages writers to politely nudge editors every three months if necessary.