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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: etiquette, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. All About the Offer Etiquette (And How to get a Fast Pass!)

You're querying, and you get an offer. NOW WHAT?

GOOD IDEA:  If you get an offer of representation, and it's an agent you would not be sad to work with*, you should absolutely let the other agents who have the full or partial** know, to see if they want to read quickly and maybe hop on board the Offer Train. You might phrase it something like: "Thanks so much for your interest in AWESOME MANUSCRIPT! I've had an offer of representation, and I've told the offering agent*** that I need a week**** to get my ducks in a row. So if you are also interested, could you please let me know by [a specific date a week or so from now]?"

PROBABLE RESULT:  This will always get me to take a look at the ms if I haven't already, or to read faster if I'm already reading. However, it will also have me reading toward NO. In other words, unless I absolutely flippin LOVE this book, I will pass rather than get into a beauty contest over it. I can't make somebody Revise and Resubmit if they already have offers, after all! The good news is, you can safely assume that anyone who DOES end up entering the fray at this point really is keenly interested in the book.

* BUT WHAT IF I DON'T WANT THE FIRST AGENT?  IF on the off-chance you query somebody, they offer, and then when you speak to them you realize that you don't share a vision for the book at all and you really would be sad to work with them -- I STRONGLY SUGGEST you simply and graciously decline their offer but DO NOT let the other agents know and make them rush. You are more likely to get a thorough read and a fair shot if the agents aren't being rushed.

** BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ONLY HAVE QUERIES?  Say it's the same situation as above, but you also have a bunch of just-queries out there who haven't had time to even possibly request a full -- by all means, feel free to reach out to them as well and see if they'd like to see more. Something like: "I know you might not have even seen this query yet, but I wanted to reach out to you because I've had an offer of representation. If this query seems like something you'd be interested in, I can give you a week with the full. Otherwise, no worries, I understand you might not want to rush!

Again, I will probably glance at the query and decide in a split second if it seems worth my time to pursue. Usually I will step aside, but sometimes, rarely, I'll decide to get the full and then it is the same deal as above. Happy to read, reading fast, but reading toward No.

*** BUT WHAT IF THEY ASK WHO THE FIRST AGENT IS? Well then, you tell them, if you want to. It's not a trick question. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I ask for three reasons: 1) I'm curious/nosy. 2) I'm interested in who my competition is -- I'm friends with a lot of agents, and if you've also queried a colleague and I honestly think they'll be better for you, I'd probably stand aside (or else offer myself but say something kind like "you really can't make a bad choice here" while inwardly seething at my frenemy. JUST KIDDING. Or am I?) and 3) I want to make sure it's not a schmagent or scamster. I like writers and I don't like people who dupe them!

**** BUT IS A WEEK ENOUGH TIME??  You can keep the first agent on the string for a week, even week and a half, no problem, totally normal. Two weeks, OK, if there's a major holiday or BEA or something involved, but they'll start to get a little antsy. Anything longer than that -- or if you have a "firm deadline" then extend it -- and they'll very likely feel like you are just out there using them as bait to fish for "better" offers. That's an ugly feeling. After all, they did everything right - they read quickly and had an offer for you with no fuss or muss -- why are they getting treated like a chump?

I've gotten an "I have another offer of rep, please read quickly" email at all kinds of inconvenient times: While on Hawaiian vacation. At an SCBWI conference. At the Bologna Book Fair. During Christmas break. Guess what? In all those cases, I was able to read and come to a decision within the given time. It's not rocket surgery. Believe me -- if these other agents really want to work with you and your book, they can figure it out in under two weeks.


I recently got a query from somebody. An hour later, I got a note saying, basically, "I have an offer of representation, but I really want to work with YOU! Can you read immediately?" AN HOUR? Well that's extremely odd, and a glance at the query told me it would have been a pass for me in any case, so I wrote back something like, "This is not a great fit for me, so I'll stand aside, but congrats on the super-speedy offer! Wow!"

I then immediately told a colleague on gchat about the odd exchange -- not naming names or anything, just "Hey, this really weird thing happened at work today."  She looked through her inbox and found the exact same situation, with the same hour-later update, from another day. We told another colleague via email. She found the same query, same update, but with a few key words changed, from the week before. Say what?! That went out to an agent list-serv. Within a half hour, we'd found twenty or so different agents who had had the virtually the same query from five different "aliases," each of whom "had an offer" an hour later and wanted a quick response. All of us passed. Some of us had asked the person "who made the offer?" and the response was nebulous.

WHAT THE. Is somebody telling people this is how to query? Is it a maddening new micro-trend, or just one person with a lot of email accounts trying to be clever? Either way, STOP IT. And YES, we talk to each other.

Yeah I know. I shouldn't really have to tell a bunch of grown-ass adults that LYING IS A NO-NO, and a bad way to start a relationship that is meant to be based on trust, but. Apparently somebody out there is giving the verrrrry bad advice that writers should try and game agents. I could give you a laundry list of reasons this is a super bad idea, but I am pretty sure the perpetrators of this piece of dubious "wisdom" will never read this, and all of YOU are smart enough to put it together on your own.

Now carry on, and may your offers of representation be plentiful!  :-)

0 Comments on All About the Offer Etiquette (And How to get a Fast Pass!) as of 6/14/2014 11:57:00 PM
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2. Editor Etiquette and Kudos

CALL FOR SUMMER ILLUSTRATIONS (must be at least 500 pixels wide)


This illustration by Denise Clemmensen seemed to be a good fit with my advice on Editor Etiquette. Denise was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to view.

Thought I would bring up the subject of editor etiquette, since many of you are new to the Children’s Publishing Industry and may not be familiar with the standards of contacting an editor. I bring this up, because an editor who was nice enough to donate her time to critiquing the first pages contacted me to let me know that she was receiving a lot of phone calls to ask if they could send in a manuscript, even thought they were attending the NJSCBWI June Conference.

Editors are extremely busy and calling them on the phone to ask if they would be interested in reading your manuscript is not advised. I am sure they understand how important your manuscript is to you, but their job and time is important to them. As a writer, we need to respect the editors time.

First impressions are important, so we want to put our best foot forward and not be remembered for someone who interrupted and important project. That is why attending events that allow you to interact with an editor are a good thing to do. The better thing to do would be spending your time getting an agent who editors expect to hear from.

I am not talking about never calling an editor who you have built a relationship with, but always remember they are at work and any call to anyone is a disturbance when someone is working, so in most cases email is a better choice.


Anita Nolan just signed a contract with agent Erzsi Deak at Hen & Ink for representation.

Carol McAllister won Honorable Mention! for Floating Piñatas, another story in her collection for young readers that has placed in the International Writers and Editors competition. This makes four of the six stories winners, thus far. They all center on trickster monkeys here in Puerto Rico.

Ann Rinaldi’s novel “A Break With Charity” was selected by “First Book Manhattan” as a recommended book for Childrens’ Book Week 2014.

Shannon Wiersbitzky‘s WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER is now available in paperback. Published by namelos.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Editors, Kudos, success Tagged: Agent Erzsi Deak, Anita Nolan, Ann Rinaldi, Carol McAllister, Denise Clemmensen, Etiquette, Shannon Wiersbitzky

2 Comments on Editor Etiquette and Kudos, last added: 6/2/2014
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3. On Establishing a Good Line of Credit with Agents

Sometimes people say "YOU CAN'T GET AN AGENT UNLESS YOU KNOW SOMEBODY!" or "YOU CAN'T GET AN AGENT UNLESS YOU ARE PUBLISHED!" - but we all know both of these are myths.

Newbies with no publication credits get agents (and book deals) all the time. But they aren't REALLY newbies of course... they might be unknown, so far, but they've been working on their craft for years. They are good writers. And, I'd venture to say, they've also been mindful of the agents' time and tried to put their best, most polished work out there, and been sure to follow guidelines so as not to sour good will or burn any bridges.

Let's say for each finished manuscript you want to query, you are given a "chit" of sorts. This chit gives you access to x-amount of an agent's bandwidth/time/patience, provided the agent is taking queries.

Since agents are generally benevolent creatures who really want to help writers, they are happy to accept the chit. However, since agents don't know you from Adam and you don't have "good credit" yet, this chit is for, at most, three minutes worth of time. (If you've been referred or you do have other work, the credit line is likely to be a bit longer - but everyone gets credit). Since you have so little time, you'll definitely want to be sure to have followed directions and submitted a really stellar piece of writing!

If the agent is simply not interested in the book, you'll get your same chit back. Better luck next time, no harm done, try again later with a new manuscript.

If the agent likes the book, they will go ahead and give you more credit on that chit. Depending on how much they like the work, you might get a few hours or even a day of credit.

If they end up liking the book but they don't sign it up, you'll get the chit back, likely WITH the extra credit included. Go ahead and use it again next time. Yay!

If the agent loves the book and you become a client, you get a bag full of chits back. You can use them to ask lots of questions, and your agent will likely encourage you to do so, but do BE AWARE: Middle of the night panicked phone calls at home for no good reason WILL cost more than reasonable questions asked by email in the light of day. That being said, the longer your agent knows you, the more you work together, and the more sane you are in general, the bigger credit line you will get (so when you DO have a legit cause for a panicked phone call, don't worry, you'll get heard!)


If your manuscript is riddled with errors, you have clearly never read the submission guidelines, or your work seems like a monkey might have typed it... you might not get your chit back. You can rebuild credit, but it is going to take a while, and you're going to have to submit something different in truly stellar shape next time.

If everything is OK but you pull a weird stunt like re-sending multiple slightly revised versions, or they request the full and you send it but then snatch the manuscript away from them as they're reading it, or they ask for revisions and you say you're on board but then nothing is actually changed... well. Again, you've cashed in your chit. It will take a while to get that line of credit back. It can be done, but it isn't going to happen overnight.

If you reveal yourself to be a class-A jerk by doing something like responding to a civil form rejection (or frankly ANY kind of rejection) with vitriol or threats - you cashed in your chit for good. In fact, you set your chit on fire. No more credit for you ever. (But what do you care, right? You have to know you are burning bridges when you send an email like that.)

Make sense?

PLEASE NOTE: THERE AREN'T REALLY QUERY CHITS. (But man, wouldn't life be easier if there were?)

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4. Potty Training Books for a Diaper-Free Existence

And then there's potty training. It's a world unto itself, with special videos, portable potties, stickers, colorful underwear, and, of course, books. But the pay-off is huge: a diaper-free existence. We're big readers in our household, so why not read about it, too?

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5. Pour with Confidence

ONE DAY, in my early 20's, I was visiting a friend who worked in a pub. It was mid-day - there were a few customers eating sandwiches and having beers, but no other employees. Suddenly, her phone rang. It was a family emergency - she had to leave! She looked around - realized there was nobody to cover her. She tossed me the keys - showed me how to ring the register - and left me to cover the rest of her shift. Well.

This was a beautiful day in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Bars there don't just stand empty - soon enough some tourists came in, and some regulars - a couple of people I kinda knew, but mostly strangers. I'd never worked in a bar or a restaurant, but there I was, suddenly in charge - so what could I do? I had been to theatre school. . . so I acted like a bartender. I chatted. I poured beer. I mixed drinks. The thing is - mostly people ask for either beer, or for things with two ingredients - Jack and Coke. Gin and Tonic. Easy peasy! If something came up I didn't know, I'd turn my back for a minute and cheat with the Mr Boston's book.

When a tap ran out, I called that one "out of order." When the ice ran low, I filled a bucket. When the lemons ran low, I chopped up some more. When somebody asked about food, I scurried back to the kitchen to tell the (surprised, but not easily ruffled) cook.

You've heard the phrase "fake it til you make it" -- well, that applies here. Nobody KNEW I had no clue what I was doing. So I pretended I DID know what I was doing. Not only did I pretend I knew what I was doing - I pretended I was GOOD at what I was doing. And guess what? NOBODY FIGURED IT OUT.

They gave me a job. Somewhere along the way, I actually did learn not only what I was doing, but also, how to be pretty good at it. Soon enough, I was training new bartenders. And I taught them my trick: POUR WITH CONFIDENCE. 

The biggest mistake that most brand-new, totally un-trained bartenders make is . . . they are hesitant. They touch the bottles like they are about to break, and pour like they are pouring into a dainty dolly cup at a children's tea party. When they do that, customers totally pick up on it, even if it is subconsciously. When customers feel like they aren't in good hands, they get skittish. A hesitant or weak bartender will get fewer or lower tips, and they'll certainly have less fun on the job.

So even if you ARE new, pretend like you know what you're doing. Stand up straight. Look customers in the eye and smile. Actively listen to what they are asking for. Grasp the bottle firmly, and pour like you mean it. Give them what they want with a minimum of fluster and a bit of flourish.

I hear what you're asking. "OK well, thanks for the trip down memory lane, weirdo, but what does this have to do with ME?" Well, my little chickadees, the same principle applies to approaching agents.

If you were a bartender, you probably wouldn't introduce yourself to a new patron by crumpling up an old dishrag and throwing it at them, or by creeping up to them and bursting into tears. Those would be BAD INTRODUCTIONS. So. Begin as you mean to go on. When you are approaching an agent - DON'T say "I don't really know how to write a query" or "I don't know how to be a writer" or "I'm not really a writer" or anything of the kind. I get this all the time. Daily. But I mean - hello, this query letter is all I know about you.

If you treat the query letter like a professional introduction that it is, I'll accept it. If you tell me you're a writer, I'll believe you. If you tell me you're "bad at queries" or "not really a writer" or "a clueless newb". . . well, I'll believe that. Is that really what you want me to believe?

Obviously there is such a thing as going overboard. If you say "this book will make your dreams come true!" or "I'm the second coming and a rock star rolled into one!" or "you'll be making a huge mistake if you pass THIS up" or similar . . . well that's just being a big-headed jerk-slash-crazyperson.

Don't be over the top -- but DO be confident and professional, even if you don't exactly FEEL those things. If you can do the wordy equivalent of standing up straight, looking the agent directly in the eyes, smiling, and giving them what they're asking for with a minimum of fluster and a bit of flourish. . . well, you may or may not get an agent this time, but you will both project and get respect.

Pour with confidence and get those tips, babies!

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6. Tame Your Manners at K.A.M.P.™ Safari, by Loretta Neff | Dedicated Review

This is an educational tool that children will enjoy reading on their own or in a group setting being led by a teacher. Thank you, Loretta Neff, for providing a well-written and entertaining resource that teaches important life skills.

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7. Etiquette - it’s not just a French word

I traveled to Washington, D.C. on business yesterday. I flew in just for the day so I had quite a bit of airport time in a less-than-twenty-four-hour period. We all knw how tiring it is to traverse the airport these days - the undressing, the redressing, the lines, paying for things that once were included or the inability to bring a drink from one side of security to the other and the probability of paying huge fees for one while you wait anxiously for your flight.

But none of this troubled me so much yesterday, despite challenging weather, as an event that happened in a most unlikely place - at least in my experience. Perhaps I'm getting use to the "fun" of traveling these days or perhaps I'm in denial, but other than being tired, the thing that bothered me the most occurred in the restroom. Ah - got your attention!

No sooner did I sit down on the porcelain pedestal to do what one does in this setting when I hear the loud voice of what sounded like a young woman enter the restroom. It wasn't difficult to surmise that she was on her cell phone. People just talk differently on their cell phones - loud and uncensored.

Okay, that seems to be something more and more difficult to avoid these days, but what happened next really shouldn't have happened, especially in a public/semi-public location. The young woman entered the stall next to mine and continued to talk on the phone while she did her business. In a sudden moment, the sense of privacy and respect for boundaries was gone. Call me old-fashioned, but the idea of talking with someone while urinating - or while they're urinating - rates high up on the yuck scale.

Yet, I've even heard stories where people talk on their cell phones while having sex. I hope this is one of those urban myths, but given the blurring of social etiquette boundaries, maybe not.

Perhaps this would be an interesting character point in a story but I strongly suggest that nobody call their editor, agent or other representative in the publishing industry while taking care of such private matters. Some events just shouldn't be done simultaneously despite the drive in society today to multi-task. Besides, often the porcelain pedastal is the only place I get a chance to rest - why would I want to mess with that!

5 Comments on Etiquette - it’s not just a French word, last added: 5/8/2010
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8. April Query Stats

I promised. So here we go...

  • Total: 351
  • Requested: 8
  • Categories of Requested: 3 MG, 3 contemporary YA, 1 YA fantasy, 1 narrative nonfiction 
  • Queries with attachments: 15
  • People who wrote thank you notes: 18

So compared to last month, I saw a 22% increase in queries. My request rate also went up a little. But...it's still only just shy of 3%. (Isn't that scary?) And again, there were some spam queries that all the agents I know, and some I don't, were CCed on. I delete those right away, mark as spam, and don't count them. 

My thoughts...


There were a few notable events in the query pile this month that show me how little people must research ahead of time. There was one email in a pink font on a flowery pink background. My eyes hurt just opening it, and I didn't even care what the content was. Had it been on paper, I'd have expected glitter and perfume. There were also several letters that barely qualified as letters. Either incredibly casual, like "Hey there, can I send you something?" or just reeking of "I don't know what I'm doing." Those are hard to deal with, but by and large I try to find what the book is somewhere (if it's there) and send a rejection.

There's also still that weird syndrome of a lack of sample pages. I really think every listing of mine says: please include the first 3-5 pages of the manuscript in the body of the email. If it doesn't somewhere, can someone let me know? 

I included the number of thank you notes I got for my form rejection letter. It's nice when people are polite. It's less nice when they also ask me if I can recommend another agent. I don't write back to these.

But at least compared the number of people who are still sending me attachments, there are more polite people than sloppy people. The number of unsolicited attachments I got DOUBLED this month. Probably a fluke, but it goes to the point that a solid 10% of people just aren't paying attention AT ALL. And many more just plain don't get it in the first place.



I seem to be on a middle-grade kick, which is good. I'm looking for good middle-grade, so my requests fit that bill. The concepts on each of these seemed promising, hence the requests.

Obviously the narrative nonfiction was an exception, since I so rarely do those books, but I loved the writing. 

As for the YA, the contemporary YA seemed to be stronger this month in terms of writing and premise. I may also be burned out of dystopian and fantasy. Bear in mind, I already represent 3 authors who have published or about-to-be published dystopian novels. As much as I love them, I'm going to be picky. I don't want to be a one trick pony.

And that's April! Time to dig into May...and I enjoy this now, so stay tuned for the next installment next month.

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9. Poll: Whose Responsibility Is It?

A few months ago, a lot of you guys yelled at me for switching things up on you by saying that I wanted to be notified of an offer even if you'd only queried me. The rational (I believe) for why so many people were pissed at me was that so many agents want things different ways, and how on earth can you be expected to get it straight? (I still think that's lame, by the way.)

Well, today I was contemplating adding another form rejection (I have a few I use for different reasons) that would be sent to all queriers who seemed to have missed the boat on how to submit to us properly to begin with. But I am hedging on this one. Mostly because I'm not sure it's my job to do your work for you.

I think I'm part of a group of agents who goes ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty in terms of educating the writer community. We blog, we Twitter...we go to conferences galore. But is this good will or genuine responsibility? I think it's a little from Column A, a little from Column B, personally. More from Column A though.

So I am going to ask YOU, my faithful readers, and hopefully some not-so-faithful readers who like having opinions to answer the following questions:


  1. Whose responsibility is it to make sure you submit properly? Mine or yours?
  2. Where does my responsibility end? 
  3. And more specifically: should I bother with an extra form rejection for Those Who Do Not Seem To Get It?


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10. The Politics of Offers

So I'm going to do a little Q&A now about offers of representation. Obviously there are going to be a lot of permutations and probabilities of these scenarios so I won't be able to cover everything, but after asking for the main questions on Twitter, here we go:


1. How do I know when I want to offer?

 I know I love a manuscript when want to tell people about it the minute I finish reading it. But I don't always know if I want to offer until I talk to you. Sometimes the manuscript is great, but I have notes. Sometimes I want to make sure you're not crazy. Usually I get to the end of the phone call before saying, "So, I'd love work with you and offer representation."

2. Do I pass the manuscript around to the agency first?

Often enough. We're a small agency, so that's really only one other opinion. But it's nice to have a second thumbs-up, especially if I'm a little on the fence. If I'm 100% in love with it, I might just want Caren to read it so she can be equally excited about it. But we also work on different kinds of projects, so if I want to sign a picture book, or Caren is signing a new romance author, it doesn't make sense for us to share, since we're not really qualified to judge. Ultimately, my list is my own, and those are my choices.

3. Do I always revise before offering or revise after offering?

There is no "always." Sometimes I see potential but not enough to use up more hours. Sometimes I know the work isn't that much, so I should grab it. I go with my gut on this one. No hard-fast rules.


1. Can you query more agents if you have an offer on the table?

Well, this is a funny one. Suppose you're only part-way through querying and you start to get responses faster than you thought. But you still wanted to query a few more agents that you like. Can you rush a query out to them? The short answer is: sure. It's a free country. I've advocated before for letting even the agents who only have a query know that you have an offer--more options are always good.

But you have to do it understanding that those agents might not get to it in time. If I take 2 weeks to read, then I might not see that email until you've already made a decision. 

Now, agents sometimes do this with editors. We start to get interest, so we submit more widely to create MORE interest. But I have relationships with those editors. I can call and say, "Hey, can you read this quickly? It's going fast." Because you don't have a relationship with those agents, you can't exactly say that.

And you also have a problem of not wanting the offering agent to wait too long. But...if you think you stand a chance at getting more interest, do whatever you want as long as you understand the risks.

2. How do you go about talking to an agent's clients?

This is easy. You ask the agent who is offering if you can speak to his/her clients. They will likely say yes, and if they don't, then that's sketchy. In this situation, I will consider which client of mine would be the most helpful to speak to, based on what they write and their overall situation. (Every case is different after all.) Then I'd put you guys in touch. 

What you shouldn't ever do is go behind the agent's back and get in touch with clients without asking first. Those clients have their loyalty to me first, so they'd say "Uh, is this person legit?" And you also look like a creepy if you're looking for contact info through back channels. 

It's a different story if you already have a relationship with an agent's clients already. In that case, it's a little more fluid, and hopefully the agent knows about t

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11. Let's Take It Nice and Easy

Two things have popped up this morning so far on Twitter that make me sit on edge. And both have to do with the potential for carelessness that comes with the writing and querying process out there.

First, is the lovely National Novel Writing Month. The infamous NaNoWriMo. Where you start AND finish an entire novel in one month. Second, queries sent from mobile devices.

Now, neither thing is particularly offensive, but both can lead to some undesirable outcomes. I'm not anti-NaNoWriMo. I actually think it can be pretty great for getting your butt in the chair and making you finish something. Deadlines are incredibly helpful for that. But the product of NaNoWriMo should not be treated as a final product. It's hard not to see the bump in my queries in December and January from these submissions.

You need to then put the book away, come back later, edit it, read it again, show it to your critique group, edit it again, and then maybe go out on submission with it. Like anything else, good books are not rushed. Take your time, get it right. 

As for the queries sent from mobile devices, I already had 2 writers argue with me on Twitter that this is okay. The content of the message is matters--not the medium. Point taken. And I'm not saying DON'T do it. But I want you to think about it. Mobile devices are not meant for intensive, detailed work. They are meant for on-the-go keeping-an-eye on things. I have both an iPhone and iPad, and I use both frequently for productivity. I'm cool with that. But I know for myself that I am more prone to typos and errors when using those devices than on my computer. 

Also, my files aren't on my mobile devices. There are here on my laptop, neatly organized, alongside my tracking spreadsheets so I can keep good records. I would never pitch editors and send out manuscripts from my iPad. Would you want me to?

It's possible more of the problem is that I can see the "Sent from my mobile device" signature. So a simple solution is just to delete it before sending. But, I'd encourage you to think about your process and whether the mobile device best suits it. 

My point? SLOW DOWN. Everything is rushed these days. We seem to think if it's not moving fast it's not good enough. I say we begin a counterrevolution to bring back care, diligence, and contemplation. Who's with me?

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12. A Small Post About Etiquette

As everyone knows, there is always a polite way to go about doing things. In this age of reality shows where screaming makes you famous and atrocious behavior makes you money, this concept is sometimes forgotten. However, there are people (like say me and every other editor and agent on the planet) who appreciate courtesy. In fact, it will make you look more professional than the rude louts we all cringe at having to deal with. So, in that spirit, I have compiled a small list of polite things to consider when making an electronic submission.

  1. If you are doing multiple submissions, you need to send multiple emails.
    I am not saying you can't do a simultaneous submission if the editor/agent doesn't require exclusive submissions. That's fine. What I am saying is don't use the exact same "Dear Editor" email and then type a bunch of different editor emails into the To or Bcc field creating a mass email. For one thing, we can tell when this has happened, even when you use the Bcc field. (It's pretty obvious.) For another, it means that you haven't taken the time to personalize the email to anyone which means you probably haven't bothered to learn if your manuscript is even a good potential fit for the editor's list. You can use chunks of your cover letter for every editor (the pitch and bio paragraphs won't change much), but otherwise you should carefully consider each person you submit to, and make slight changes to suit that editor. Just as you shouldn't make xerox copies of a cover letter and stick it in a bunch of submission envelopes, you shouldn't send carbon copies of your email cover letter. Besides being kind of rude, it makes you look lazy.
  2. Do not make demands.
    Unfortunately for submitters, editors are the ones with all the power. (And let's face it, most of us only have a little bit compared to the Senior Editors or Editorial Directors or Publishers or other departments like Marketing that have a say in acquisitions. Very few have my luxury of owning the whole show.) We decide what is printed, when, and in what format, and our decisions are controlled by market forces as much as they are by our own tastes. This means that authors are in no position to make demands. Besides being annoying, they make you look clueless.
  3. Do not tell me that passing on your book would be stupid or the greatest mistake of my life.
    Do I really have to explain this one? No one, including me, likes having their intelligence doubted. It almost instantly puts a person in a negative mood no matter how much they try to resist it. Why would you want a person who is about to read your manuscript to now be in a less than stellar mood? And let's face it. I've done (and will do) many stupid things in my life, but passing on a manuscript has never even come close to making the top 1000.
  4. Do not lie to me.
    Lying makes you untrustworthy, and no one wants to do business with someone they can't trust. So, don't tell me that I critiqued you at a conference and asked for the manuscript if I didn't. Don't tell me your manuscript is under consideration with XYZ editor at ABC house if it's not. I will know if you're lying. Trust me.
  5. Do disclose if you are doing a multiple submission.
    They're fine with me, just tell me you're doing it. Also, let me know if it's under consideration at another house (an editor has told you he/she is considering it) or another house has offered for it. Although if you do have an offer and are submitting to me in the hopes of starting a bidding war, don't bother. I don't do bidding wars or participate in auctions. Finally, let me know if you are agented. (Because from that moment on I'll need to be talking to him/her not you.)
  6. Do not email asking for progress on your submission.
    If your m

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13. Terrible, Awful, Horrible Manners by Beth Bracken

5 Stars Pete has terrible, awful, horrible manners.  He burps and he toots, and he picks his nose.  Mom and Dad are secretly horrified.  Okay, maybe not that secretly, but Pete, he just doesn’t care.  To him, good attention, bad attention, it’s all attention, and he loves attention.  Pete talks with his mouth full, never [...]

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14. ProTips for Published Authors pt 2: THE BOOKSTORE EVENT

Desperate in Vermont asks: What do most authors DO at bookstore events? Do they simply read from their work? Or do they tell stories about the writing of it? What do CUSTOMERS like them to do? What do BOOKSELLERS like them to do/not do? What makes one author event more successful than another? Are there any no-no's I should be aware of?

Oh sweetheart. I've got bad news: There is no formula for a successful event.

But the good news is: If you have a good attitude about it, your event is highly unlikely to be a failure.

I've been a bookseller for a long (LONG) time. For many years I was an events coordinator. I had events that were insanely, unexpectedly fabulous - and events where somebody wound up crying in the fetal position. And everything in between. I know I've told these stories before, but I have to repeat them.

Once at a store in San Francisco, on a night when the Giants were in the playoffs AND it was the storm of the century (a storm so bad that the heavy glass & steel back door of the store LITERALLY FLEW OFF ITS HINGES)... we had an event for a fairly little-known cookbook author. Not a soul showed up, but the author and her assistant, and the three booksellers. We had a great conversation and ate cookies the author brought. She was absolutely charming and gracious and understanding, signed books, told jokes. And on the back of that event, all three booksellers were so delighted by her that they sold that stack of books...and the next...and the next... and the book became a bestseller for the store, for years. Yay!

Another time, I held an event for a bigshot author. 150+ people showed up, on a gorgeous day when they could have been doing ANYTHING. She was angry that so few were there, and she SAID so. She was insufferable and rude about the whole thing, even though people had come early and waited hours to see her. She complained within earshot of the crowd. When she left, we boxed up the books we hadn't sold and returned them. Feh.
Get the point? Yeah. So now. In no particular order. Tips for before, during & after the event.

Tip #1: DON'T BE A JERK. Smile. Introduce yourself to everyone on staff. Be kind. Even if nobody shows up - believe me, the booksellers are as much or more mortified when that happens than you are. A thank-you note to the store events coordinator after the event is not required, but is nice, particularly if they did a great job & you connected with them in some way. Remember, you have a whole career ahead of you... and booksellers tend to have long memories. When they think of you, they should remember your sweetness!

Tip #2: INVITE PEOPLE! For pity's sake, drag your friends, family, facebook friends, old school chums and whoever else isn't nailed down along with you. The bookstore can advertise all day long, but let's face it, unless you are well-known, the people most likely to show up are people that you can kick in the shins later if they don't. If not a lot of people show, you'll be glad of the company - if the event turns out to be packed with strangers, you'll be happy to see some familiar faces in the crowd. IF you send an invite out to people and you get a lot of RSVPs, you should definitely let the bookstore know a week ahead of time so they are sure to have extra books on hand.

Also, before the event, be sure to advertise the event yourself as much as possible, and always link to the bookstore holding the event on your website or blog. And after the event, if you have a blog, mention what a great time you had and put a picture!

Tip #3: Don't oversaturate your market. If you have a couple of different bookstores in your immediate area, don't book events with both of them for the same title in the same month. You'll be cannibalizing your own audience - even your most hardcore fans and friends are unlikely to come to the same event twice. I suggest doing a "launch party" at one store, and perhaps offering to be on a pane

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15. How hard is it?

I know the etiquette rules of email are loose and casual. That's OK.

But when you email someone you barely know, asking for a favor, no less, is it too much to ask to see "Dear Stacy" at the top and "Sincerely" at the bottom, or at the very least, your name??

Yes, I see your name there on your email address. I also see it in your canned signature at the bottom. But I want a tiny little inkling of courtesy. And effort.

I really don't think that's too much to ask.

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16. The Social Pests Classified

The Overzealous Drinker

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Even at parties, the overzealous drinker would route the glass and never stops until he falls flat all over. One glass does not suffice. He protests against a strict ration. Usually, this kind is never satisfied until he has his fill. Even after having enjoyed a movie, he passes by a bar to drink. Oftentimes his friends would bring him home dead to the world.

The Overzealous Host

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He feeds the guests to the point of satiety. If he finds that one is on a diet, he makes fun of the guest and heaps food even against the guest’s will. This host tries to appear kind and concerned by giving more than what is asked for, thus it makes him an ill-bred person.

There is the host who gives one kind instead of the type the guest likes. When one asks for a drink of water, he gives cola, or if the request is a glass of juice, he gives beer.

Another kind of overzealous host is the one who never stops talking or peering into your faces. He does not allow the guests to enjoy themselves. Instead, he monopolizes the conversation and he will not wonder if he finds some already snoring on the chair or others leaving early instead of enjoying a longer stay.

The Fashionable Pest

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This other kind of social pest can get on your nerves by trying to show off the latest signature clothes, watches, acccessories, or gadgets. The style pest would always be wearing the latest fashion trend even if it does not complement his or her physique. They don’t want to be outdressed or outmoded and they would be the ones reeking of the latest perfume brand.

The Whiner

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They always have something to complain about. They are not satisfied with the weather. If it rains, they want sunshine. If it’s sunny, they wish for rain. They start the conversation with a complaint about the traffic, the government, the economy, the employment, the spouse, etc. Their list of complaints is endless.

The Debater

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These people will never let you win an argument. You’d see them everywhere, even in banks, grocery cashiers, and most of all in social gatherings. They love to start a topic and look for people who will disagree or argue with their beliefs, and will never stop until the other concedes.

These are only a few examples among the many kinds of social pests. The bottom-line is, we must be sensitive to the needs of other people. Let us not be too self-serving to the point of disregarding or disrespecting others. We are humans, and as social beings, we must live harmoniously with others.

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17. Authors gone wild!

by Jim

I was going to blog about this on Monday after the delightful and amazing Michelle Rowen called my attention to it. At the time, much of the content was missing from the web. Thank you, Guardian, for hunting it down.

Long story Twitter-short: Bad Amazon review makes author lose damn mind!

I can totally relate to Flood’s opinion here that watching an author have a spectacular public meltdown can be incredibly compelling stuff. Know what makes it even more special for an agent? Their clients’ lack of involvement!

This whole saga is really worth tracking through for examples of what never to do once you’re a published author. Don’t get defensive. Don’t respond to reviews on Amazon. And for gods’ sake, DON’T blame your editor!!

Like Neil Gaiman, I will claim not to be posting this because it’s funny in a tragic way (even though it totally is) but because it’s an extreme reminder of why the heat of the moment is NOT when to respond to one’s critics.

(via GalleyCat)

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18. Chasya's Questions Corner: On Resubmitting

by Chasya


I had a manuscript on submission and got double-digit requests for fulls. All were rejections. I had material out to a dozen or so agents when I realized, after a year plus of rejections, that the novel wasn't publishable. I withdrew my manuscript from submission from all the agents and told them I was doing a massive overhaul. All agreed to look at the new work when I was finished. Fast forward two years: I saved about 25% of the old MS, added some subplots, tweaked some characters, and heavily revised the plot. I'll be ready to query soon. I would first like to approach the agents from whom I withdrew the original MS. I still have all the emails, but is it too late to approach them and say, "hey, remember me? I'm back! You wanna take a peek?”


It would be one thing to resubmit the manuscript with the attitude that these agents have been waiting with bated breath for two years to read your material, but that’s clearly not what you’re doing. There’s no harm in dropping them a line to ask if they’d like to see it in it’s different/improved state. Remind them of who you are and the circumstances that led you to withdraw your material. If they’re still interested in having a look they’ll let you know.

We need your questions! Send them along to news@dystel.com.

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19. SCBWI Conference Tip: Try Not To Piss Off The Editors

And here, as a public service announcement, we share with you the inestimable Arthur A. Levine, Vice President of Scholastic Inc. and the Editorial Director of Arthur A. Levine Books, taking a momentary break after a full day at a SCBWI conference:

Paula Yoo, as the befuddled what-not-to-do-er
Arthur A. Levine, as Arthur A. Levine

Behind the camera "evil" mastermind... Lee Wind

--Posted by Lee Wind

13 Comments on SCBWI Conference Tip: Try Not To Piss Off The Editors, last added: 2/1/2010
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20. How I Read Queries

Dear readers,

After the balagan (Hebrew for "utter madness") that arose this week after I suggested it might be nice to let agents with queries know you've gotten an offer, I thought it might be helpful for me to give you a rundown on how I tackle my query pile. Especially because several people mentioned that my 2-3 response time on queries just isn't fast enough if I want to stay on top of the hot projects. (I think that's totally unfair, by the way, but I'm not arguing with you anymore.)

So the first thing you should know about how I read is: I read everything in the order it comes in.

There are almost NO exceptions to this rule. It's the only way to make it fair and democratic, and to keep myself organized. This way I don't lose track of requests, I can easily label things, and clear things out by date. (Sidenote: We here at CJLA use Google Apps, which has the BRILLIANT label & filter system of GMail. I have distinct colors for QUERIES and REQUESTED. Every email with the word "query" or "submission" in the subject gets automatically filtered into the QUERIES folder. And emails are threaded, so I know if I have responded.)

  The only time I will jump ahead is if I see a name that is referral, or if someone is letting me know that they have an offer on the table. Those are special circumstances. Everyone else goes exactly in the order in which they came. Everyone gets treated the same.

When I had fewer queries coming in, my habit was thusly: every morning, over my cup of coffee, I would read the queries from that same day a week earlier. So on a Monday I would read last Monday's, etc. Now I'm a bit busier so this doesn't happen as often. But I'd like to get back to it since it kept me timeline. Now I most often read 30 in a batch, which is a little more draining. But I am still within 3 weeks on response on queries, and nothing exceeds that. If it does, then it got marked as spam because you did something silly like send it to me and 50 of my nearest and dearest agent friends. 

When I open your letter, I usually do a quick eye scan for both format and keywords that look interesting. These are speed reading tricks. The more cleanly formatted emails are more pleasing to the eye and are usually more inviting for closer reads. The jumbled ones are less so. If there is an attachment, you are most likely going to get a rejection letter, because I explicitly say don't do that, and it's 2 extra steps for me to read what you sent, plus you could be trying to poison me or my precious laptop.

Once I kind of have that initial sense of what I'm looking at (and haven't seen that it's clearly not for me), I read the letter more closely. Unless it's a genre I don't handle in the slightest, I move down to the sample pages. (Unless there are no sample pages.) The sample pages are a real deal clincher for me. If the concept looks good, those first few pages better match up. And if there are no sample pages, well, that concept better be freaking AMAZING for me to request it. It has happened.

Every now and again, there's something interesting about a query, but I'm not sold, so I set it aside for a few hours or another day. But I hate seeing lingering things, so I get back to those quickly.

Now, once I request something, I smack that extra label on that email, so those are tracked also. And I tackle those by the same chronological order as the queries. The timeline is less strict here, because my request-rate varies, but if I see that a manuscript came in 2 weeks ago and I haven't looked yet, I'll speed up. 

I have a feeling you would probably like some stats. I do not have any at the moment. I am, however, doing the following: I am keeping all March queries and responses, and I will do a round-up of one month's worth of queries and detail stats in early April.




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