8.29.2010

QUERY LIKE SHEL SILVERSTEIN

a query is clearly a simple small feat
just a blurb with adverbs typed up on a sheet
type a few words same similar synonymous, indeed
add a period, a comma, a semi-colon with speed

some sentences here
a preposition there
backstory, backstory! no what why and where!

one glance and one chance is all you require
your novel idea will never never expire
send first class! overnight! bubble wrap it so tight!
a bestseller in a letter! the next Potter in sight!

so happy! so thrilled! what genius you are!
a cry! and three cheers! the money's not far!

but the process will change just as soon as it sends
sit back and sit tight for the waiting to end
one month maybe two three four five into eight
the victors will find patience before it's too late

hang tight! persevere! don't forget to exclaim!
and in just a few years
we'll be shouting YOUR name!

like Rowling!
like Meyer!
like Tyra
Dan Brown!

keep pushing! keep fighting!
turn that frown upside-down!

happy querying, and happy monday, my friends!! :D

AND HAPPY 23RD BIRTHDAY @TANAGANDHI! may your days be more merry every day!

8.24.2010

i'm sorry.

but my brain is utterly out of order.

if you've emailed me? i'm sorry.
if you're waiting for the contest results? i'm sorry.
if you're looking for me on twitter? i'm sorry.

i've been avoiding the internet. and now i can't even think.

WHY IS EVERYTHING SO FUZZY OH GOD I MUST SHUT UP BEFORE I SPOIL SOMETHING

Mockingjay has broken my brain.

i promise i'll be back by thursday.

i think.

forgive me.

8.15.2010

PIMP MY NOVEL HAS A POTTY MOUTH

GOOD MONDAY, MY FRIENDS!

i hope you had all kinds of spectacular adventures these past two days. i hope you ate popsicles by the bay and hugged dolphins in your backyard. i hope you swung from bamboo branches and jumped into your neighbors' swimming pools. i hope you spent your Saturday gallivanting through the woods and your Sunday stomping through the city. i really only want the very best for you. but! if you did none of those things, i hope you at least ate a lot of oreos. 

IN ANY CASE!

if you had a frabjous weekend, i'm here to make it better. if you had a less-than-frabjous weekend, i'm here to make your Monday spectacular. because today we have an amazing interview with none other than Mr. Eric Pimp-My-Novel Himself! the sales guru of the publishing industry!

if you aren't following his blog, you are missing a limb that i highly recommend you replace. his posts are a daily dose of wit and information, and his [free!] knowledge is available for your consumption at breakfast lunch and dinner. you don't want to miss it.


Mr. Eric Blank (ha! i see what you did right there, sir!) is not only bursting with Genius re: writing, selling, blogging, editing, and publishing in general, but he also happens to be hilarious. and after this interview, you will understand why he is kind of like my hero.

SO! HERE IT IS! 

THE INTERVIEW OF THE YEAR.

(my comments are in red.)

ahem ahem!

1. are you related in any way to Snoop Dogg or the MTV creators of "Pimp My Ride"? if yes, please elaborate. if no, that's okay. maybe you can tell us more about why you started blogging. 

Sadly, no. Though I must admit I am a big fan of Uncle Snoop.

I started blogging sort of by accident. Nathan Bransford had a call for guest posts a little over a year ago, and I submitted a post titled "Book Sales Demystified." It ended up generating almost 200 comments and several requests for a book sales blog, so I started Pimp My Novel.

After awhile, I realized that almost no other industry professional was really focusing on the sales side of things (which made sense, since most of those who blog are agents or editors). Writers and authors seemed alternately overjoyed and dismayed at the information I was relaying (overjoyed at anything that could help them sell their books; dismayed by the fact that they hadn't had that information sooner, or that the industry news du jour was discouraging), but with an overwhelmingly gracious and positive response from readers, I decided to keep it up.

(EPIC WIN.)

2. use seven words to describe what you do on a daily basis.

Blog, snark, eat, coordinate, gambol, despair, repeat.

(gambol is now my new favorite word, JUST FYI.)

3. you go to sleep at night and think:

A. DAMMIT I CAN'T BELIEVE "LOST" IS OFF THE AIR.
B. i wonder how many times i can use the word Pimp in a sentence.
C. i wonder how many times i can pick a fight with Nathan Bransford.
D. i'm so tired i want to punch these bright lights in the face.

Alternately "C" and "D." I also wonder (not without a certain amount of dread) when/whether I'm going to have to sell a memoir by Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber (his current "memoir" project notwithstanding).

(i dont know whether to laugh or cry.)

4. one book you've read recently that blew your mind.

(Relatively) recently: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, though that book's been out for ten years now. If we're talking poetry (one of my more innocuous vices), it's a tie between Dean Young's Elegy on Toy Piano and Harryette Mullen's Sleeping with the Dictionary. Favorite book ever: Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut.

5. if you were challenged to a dance-off, you would:

A. pull out your iPod and demand to choose the music.
B. kick someone and run.
C. filibuster the idea to death by talking about publishing.
D. ______________________

Invoke Hammertime, then "C." I'm a terrible dancer and excellent bullshitter. (Next stop: congress!)

(AHAHAHAHAAAAA POTTY MOUTH AND HAMMERTIME OH GOD)

6. mac or PC? why or why not?

Mac, because it's what I grew up and am most comfortable with. My dad was a Mac fan for as long as I can remember, and he passed that on to me. I think I learned to type on an old LC or LC II (simultaneously far-removed and not that different from the Macbook I have now).

(this is why we're destined to be best friends.)

7. if you could predict any one thing about e-books, what would it be?

They're coming faster than most people think. I've been estimating they'll comprise 50% of the market by 2015, but it's probably going to be sooner than that. I'd guess the second half of 2012 or early 2013 now.

(OH CRAP.)

8. when you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I think I wanted to be one of those stunt guys that gets set on fire. Fire and explosions were big back in elementary school.

9. how do you take your coffee?

Black, like my money-grubbing, sales-oriented, shrivelled excuse for a heart.

(heeheee. you and The Rejectionist are twins. no wonder you're her VFF (very first fiance).)

10. you know it's time to do laundry when __________________.

I have more quarters than fresh pairs of underpants.

(this image is all i see.)

11. why the need to remain anonymous? is it because of the MTV people you may or may not be related to?

Partly, yes. Mostly it's because I want to be able to continue to blog without anyone looking over my shoulder. Were I to de-anonymize, I would either (best case scenario) be somewhat subject to editorial control via my employer, or (worst case scenario) be forced to choose between the blog and my job. And as much as I love PMN and all my loyal auteurs, blogging doesn't put bread on the table. Or whiskey in my flask.

12. if you had to choose between writing a book, reading a book, or editing a book, which would it be?

Writing a book. As much as I love reading, it doesn't really provide an outlet for my boundless narcissism. As for editing, I think I like the idea of it more than the actual activity.

(i'm basically choking on my laughter. i have nothing to contribute. i can't compete.)

13. two things you think every writer should know.

(1) More than talent, you need discipline.

(2) As is the case with life, nobody in this industry owes you anything. Writing is work; if you work hard, you'll reap the rewards of this business sooner rather than later.

(YES! AIR-FIVE.)

14. have you ever broken any bones? if yes, where? if no, why not?

Yes. I broke the little finger on my right hand while playing football.

15. Anne of Green Gables asks: "Which would you rather be: Divinely beautiful, dazzlingly clever, or angelically good?"

Angelically good, since I'm already the first two. (Is there such a thing as "divine handsomeness"?)

(if your name is Gilbert Blythe, i think Anne of Green Gables wants to marry you.)

16. what's another word for "synonym"?

"Equivalent."

(WOW, MR. ERIC, SIR. VERY IMPRESSIVE.)

17. what's your favorite time of the day? why?

8:00 PM. I'm usually home, I've usually eaten, and I've got at least two hours of free time before bed. (Bedtime is early for us publishing folk.)

18. the first thing you do in the morning is:

A. wonder what day it is.
B. scream. just to get it out early.
C. get to work Pimping Novels.
D. _______________________.

"D" ("All of the above").

(hehehehe)

19. your favorite fictional hero?

The Batman. Hands down.

(TAKE NOTE, BESTIES! it's not "Batman". it's THE Batman.)

20. what color are your socks?

Lime green (argyle).

(this makes you my hero forever.)

21. tell us something you'd never say on the internet.

"That's it, folks. I'm out of opinions."

extra: parting words? encouragement for our writer-friends? anything you care to add?

Don't give up just because someone tells you to; don't give up because you can't sell your very first novel; don't give up your writing time if you can at all help it (remember: discipline); don't give up because you're 17 and unpublished; don't give up because you think you're too smart for the drooling masses that comprise the book-reading public; don't give up because you can't sell your eleventh novel; don't give up because you're 65 and unpublished; don't use semicolons (to quote Kurt Vonnegut, they are "transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college." (No offense intended to any transvestite hermaphrodite readers.)

(BEAUTIFUL BRILLIANCE.)


---

heheee isn't he spectacular, my friends?

QUICKLY, NOW! join his loyal following! i promise you won't regret it :D

NOW YOU TELL ME!

Which would you rather be: Divinely beautiful, dazzlingly clever, or angelically good?

here is a HEART especially for you: <3


8.04.2010

THE AGENCY GATEKEEPER IS TEAM GALE

AHEM AHEM!

make yourselves presentable my delightful friends, because today we have COMPANY! that's right. brush off the cookie crumbs, tuck in your shirts and comb your hair, because The Agency Gatekeeper is here for tea and tiny sandwiches!

if you're at all familiar with this sort-of-anonymous Agent-Blogger, you'd know that Gatekeeper (GK for short) loves a good cup of tea and homemade pastries almost as much as a good book. but this mystery agent is not only an expert on etiquette and dinner parties, she also happens to be one of the sweetest bloggers on the interwebs. her posts are a wealth of information punctuated by the kind of charm and courtesy so often missing in society these days. in fact, pretty much every writer i've stumbled across has recognized her as nothing short of gracious and kind.

i'm so honored to have her with us today!

SO! if you're not following her blog, make sure you CLICK QUICKLY and subscribe!

BUT BEFORE WE BEGIN! i must preface this post with a bit of an apology.

we pretty much JUST DISCUSSED the importance of concise-ifying blog posts, but Gatekeeper's interview answers are just too awesome to edit. (FYI: i've restrained myself from commenting on her answers in order to ameliorate the aforementioned-concise-ifying issue.) but i hope you don't mind my making an exception in this case, because you definitely don't want to miss out on what she has to say about writing, querying, and the importance of gummy bears. he heee

HERE WE GO!

1. what inspired you to start a blog? why the decision to remain anonymous?

Two years ago, I was about to speak at my first conference and was afraid the writers would throw produce at me. What helps that kind of nervousness? Preparation. So I made my very first rejection data pie chart, and uploaded it the easiest way I could think of: on a blog. Then I realized that people were actually reading the thing, and asking questions. I like to be helpful, so I kept updating it. The rest is history. It's (quasi-) anonymous because I do occasionally worry about writers coming after me with pitchforks, torches, and really sharp pens.

2. what's the very first thing you do when you arrive at the office?

I fire up the computer, start the electric tea kettle, and (if it’s summer) fix myself a giant glass of ice water. There’s also usually a tangerine Emergen-C in there somewhere. By afternoon, my desk has a minimum of three beverages.

3. your favorite place in NYC?

I spend a lot of time in coffeeshops (like Grounded, on Jane Street in the Village) and lounges with velvet furniture and exposed brick (Madame X, The Bourgeois Pig—which has the best fondue). Also, like everyone else, I think Park Slope is adorable. It’s got more writers per capita than any other postal code in the country, and it shows.

4. your absolute favorite thing about Young Adult literature?

I don’t care how old you are: you remember your teen years, and vividly. There’s something about that time period that never quite leaves us—it’s the intersection of the good parts of childhood (imagination, excitement, the belief that so many things are possible) with almost-adult sophistication. This lends incredible freedom to the work, because these readers are not only very savvy and able to understand complex themes, but also not yet settled into the typical adult mindset of “This is possible, this isn’t; I’m going to go to work and be responsible and boring every day and no the world is not magical.” I think the best YA works pinpoint the most interesting parts of those years and take them, metaphorically (sometimes paranormally), a step (or ten) further.

5. describe yourself in 5 words.

Bicoastal (I need both California and New York in my life). Kind. Creative. Observant. Passionate. 

6. complete this sentence: "query letters are all about the _______ and never the _________."

Feel, rules. Agents aren't looking for perfection; they're looking for that indefinable spark that makes us think, "Yes! I can't wait to read this!"

It's similar to the feeling you get when you find something amazing in the bookstore--but even better, because we're the very first person (well, of a pool of agents and critique partners) to read this. Also, we know that we can just pick up the phone and call the author—and they’ll be happy to hear from us. How cool is that?

It’s old advice, but it’s so true: go look at the book jacket copy of works in your genre. That’s prose designed to get people interested, and that tone and style are often successful in queries.

7. when you read a really awful query letter you're thinking:
A. DEEP BREATHS DEEP BREATHS
B. maybe i should've been a dentist.
C. i wonder what i'll make for dinner tonight?
D. OTHER:_______________

A combination of C (A Trader Joe's is opening near our office--I'm ridiculously excited) and D. I often wonder how far I can go in terms of turning a query letter into a blog lesson about query letters--without, of course, abusing the privilege I have as an agent.

8. how much caffeine do you need to survive the day?

An average day is one cup of tea right when I get to the office, a cup of black tea after lunch, and--if I'm going out--a French press coffee around five. (My boss finds the best coffee.) However, if I have too much at once, I experience a rush of feeling brilliant, which can be dangerous.

9. gummy bears or marshmallows?

They're both part of a balanced diet. Let's keep in mind that there are also gummi strawberries, cherries, sharks, Coca Cola bottles, peach rings, centipedes, white chocolate-covered “polar bears,” and octopi. I love going to Dylan's Candy Bar and filling up a bag with whatever looks good. But I also love camping, and marshmallows do great things when you toss them into campfires or barbecues. Or, you know, toast them. 

10. you know a manuscript is not right for you when ___________.

Often it's a matter of whether or not I want to continue reading—editors, like agents, are human—and if something isn’t holding my attention (even if there is every objective reason to like it), it’s likely that editors are not going to want to read further, either. That said, if I have every reason to not want to take something on, but I can't stop thinking about it (as happened to me last week: I was reading a manuscript that is so not my usual type of fiction, but I kept thinking about it while reading other manuscripts—and the author is now my client), then it's a keeper. 

12. if you could have one magical power, what would it be?

Safe, instant self-transportation. I’d love to live in the country (with a vegetable garden, a grove of trees, and a big, bouncy dog) and work in the city. While that’s technically possible, the commute is very long. Also, I have friends in a lot of different places, and plane travel is not high on my list of fun things to do.

13. PEETA OR GALE? THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

GALE. Oh goodness, Gale all the way. I mean, survival is nice, and Gale is more helpful in that regard. Bread is good too, but not necessary. But let's not test that theory; I'm a total carboholic. Some people need meat. I need carbs at every meal. Not negotiable. 

14. if you could make one grand request to all queriers around the world, what would it be?

Remember that we're human. Wait until you're feeling confident and excited about your work to query--we can tell how you’re feeling when you write your letters.

Tailor each letter, and prove in your first line that you've done your research and know who we are. Vary your sentence rhythm—it sounds simple, but it really does help—and use advanced punctuation correctly. I, personally, swoon at Dickensonian comma-dashes—but they’re not always appropriate.

But, mostly, be writerly: don’t get so nervous that your sentences become cautious and repetitive. A query with definite voice and some errors is much more likely to get a Yes than a query lacking both errors and excitement.

15. when you see someone reading on a kindle you're thinking:
A. LITERATURE WILL SAVE THE WORLD!
B. down with kindle! iPad FTW!
C. maybe if i stand just a tiny bit closer i can sneak a peek at what he's reading...
D. oh shoot. i should really be catching up on the stack of manuscripts waiting in my queue. 

A, C, and D. I'm okay with the Kindle. It helps make books cooler to teens than they have been in a long time. But I still prefer reading book-books (not manuscripts) in hard copy, even though I often carry three or more at a time. I'm not pleased with the current state of e-book royalties, but that's a separate discussion.

16. one book you wish you'd written?

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It irritated a lot of readers (including my friends who love Bender and her quirkiness), and is incredibly weird--but it's also brilliant, tender, profound, and beautiful. And, if she’d been my client, we could have easily addressed the work’s issues together.

17. your dream client?

I've been very lucky-- all of my clients are hardworking, kind, creative, and really interesting. One runs a surfer couture line, and sent me a shirt with a grinning, cartoon swordfish that says, "The swordfish: the ocean's ULTIMATE DUELER." Another called me “phenomelicious” in her acknowledgments—and tells me about her adventures crashing private RWA conference parties. And another takes my suggestions and runs with them in the most amazing ways—we’ve gone through seven drafts, and one of her new scenes in draft five (so I was reading the work for the fifth time) made me tear up on the subway. She’s that good.

I want someone who writes brilliantly—in manuscripts and in emails—who’s pleasant, upbeat, and willing to work hard. I have to trust them to speak intelligently with editors and play nicely with others. And to not call me at 3 am with non-emergencies.

18. stilettos or sneakers?

Neither: flats. When you’re short in NYC, you have to be fast—also, at the beginning of each day, I never know how much I’ll have to walk before I come home. If I’m going out, I like small (2-3 inch) heels. I’m a fan of everything ruched, and most of my shoes have silky fabrics in nifty folds.

EXTRA: anything you wish to add?

I know a lot of writers are worried about the state of the industry--and that’s understandable. That said, keep in mind that many of the major publishing houses predate (and therefore survived) The Great Depression. And do know that agents are here to make sure the industry continues to be fair to writers.

Know that we're personally invested. I know it’s hard to believe this when you get form rejections, but we want what's best for you, and love what we do. I wake up every weekday morning and can't wait to get to the office, fix myself a giant cup of tea, and dive right in to that morning’s manuscripts.

-------
IS SHE NOT AWESOME, BESTIES?
are you not absolutely DELIGHTED with her person?

heheee

now YOU TELL ME! 

stilettos or sneakers??

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