A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Few Things I Don't Want to Hear in 2006

Since everyone is coming up with shit for 2006, I thought I would join the club. Here are some phrases that I hope I never hear from wannabe writers in 2006 (although I will):

If you just read the whole manuscript…
Translation: I don’t know what the fuck I am doing, but if you read the whole thing and like it, I won’t have to ever learn my craft. I can’t tell you how many writers have rebuked me with this statement when I tell them, after three chapters, that their work is not ready for publication. As if reading the whole crappy book will somehow make up for the fact that they can’t use technique to bring the reader to satisfaction. Puleez…

Anything except “Thank you” from writers I have taken the time to give comments to in my rejections of their work.
This sounds arrogant, I know, but goddammit, I feel like I am giving you sound advice on how to improve your ms, and then I get some bonehead who challenges what I have said. For example, I told one writer that 260,000 words is too fucking long for me to take it on, and besides, his work is over-written to beat hell (most manuscripts over 100,000 words are), and he tells me that I haven’t been keeping reading the NYC best-seller list because Harry Potter is doing fine, or some such bullshit. What? I don’t give a good goddamn what is on the NYC list, his work was overwritten. When an agent—or anyone who has been in the business for 30-40 years—gives you advice, the least you can do is ignore it and not write back that you don’t agree. Say “Thank you” and move on, but don’t argue with me. I may be wrong, but I am usually right on the money. Fucker.

I was just setting up the story/character.
This is an excuse, plain and simple. It translates to: I want to wax poetic and have readers adore me for it. I want to use flowery language and have everyone gush about how wonderful my writing is. Sammy says: Get to the fucking story. Quick. Don’t describe the scene or the character ad nauseum. For God sakes, think of your reader, you selfish prick! Quit making them plow through your crap to get to what actually stimulates them.

The pregnancy test was positive.
This is self-explanatory.

Agents suck. I hate agents.
Would you believe I get writers who tell me this, then ask me to read their work? Yep, it happens all the time. I could do without this, but writers must think that this is some kind of weird psychological turn on, because I keep hearing it. Blah.

More later folks, as I am toasted this evening due to the efforts of a lovely lady who likes to cook naked and has a soft spot for guys who like books. And lots of soft spots in general.

Heh heh.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Is the PA System Working? Can You Hear Me Now?

Post-holiday blues have set in, and not because the holidays are over—they aren’t. But the glut of queries from booger-head writers who got market books for Christmas from well-meaning friends and family have already started rolling in. Today I get yet another one from a dissatisfied PublishAmerica author bitching and moaning about what PA did with his book. I still don’t know if he was really querying me or not because all he did was complain about how his book wasn’t selling and that it was PA’s fault. Is that supposed to coax me into offering representation?

I honestly don’t know what the problem is here. Or maybe I do. PublishAmerica is what it is. It is not a scam business (Sorry, watchdogs), nor is it a trade publisher (Sorry, wannabe writers). It is a business that throws shit at a wall and sees what sticks.

I get letters every day from dork writers who whine that PA published their book but they “are unhappy with the company’s promotion efforts” or that they “can’t get their books into bookstores” or some other shit about PA. I also read a bunch of crap from dumbfuck watch groups who, again in an effort to look like they are champions for poor wittle wannabe writers, came up with a *Shhhh* top secret plan to “trap” PA into exposing itself for what it is (which, if you have been paying attention, is a publisher who will publish anything). From the story I hear, a bunch of dipshit sci-fi/fantasy (oh, excuse me, speculative fiction) writers all got together, lead by some dipshit watchdogs, and wrote a substandard manuscript (according to their definition) and sent it to PA. Guess what PA did? They offered a contract! Of course they offered a contract, dipshits, PA is working on the “throw shit against a wall and see what sticks” philosophy here. Ah ha! There’s the proof! PA will publish anything! Oh yes, and you dipshits are so smart to prove what anyone with a brain already figured out. Wow!! Brilliant!! No wonder so many scams are operating. With this kind of investigative brain trust, it’s no wonder.

Who in the fuck didn’t know this? Every agent I know, and most editors, get letters from wannabes “published” by PA all the time. The quality of this stuff is lower than a snake’s balls, and the books are over-priced to beat hell. Excerpts from books on their website speak for themselves. Who buys these books? Mostly beleaguered family and friends who would buy twelve copies just to get you to shut the fuck up about your so-called writing career. PA has to make a profit somehow, and they make it off of gullible authors who are so desperate to get published that they force themselves to believe that PA is anything except a means to an end.

What gripes my ass are writers so new that they didn’t get this. If you want to be in publishing, you should know how the whole damn process works. Learn this before you start querying. How does a book get published? How does it get to a bookstore? What can an author do to promote his/her work? What is quality writing? Do you know anything except that you want to be rich, famous, and be able to write all day? Fuck, who doesn’t want that?

And I don’t have anything positive to say about the fuckheads who spent time and energy trying to out PA in an effort to claim another notch on their scam-fighting wonder leotards. When you have someone protecting your ass from something you should have figured out yourself, that isn’t watchdogging, that is mommydogging, and it perpetuates ignorance among the unpublished masses (who then get published by PA and send me queries trying to get me to bring their book to the big boys at S&S…as if).

If you have been turned down by every publisher everywhere, maybe your work sucks. In that case, maybe PA isn’t a bad choice for you, if you don’t mind giving up the rights to your work d’art. Your family and friends will be able to get copies, and you can buy a bunch, too, and contribute to PA’s ongoing efforts to publish lots of stuff and hope for the best. It isn’t mediocrity at its finest, but even lower than that. And our President thought that HE was special!

Of course, no agent or editor will touch your PA masterpiece unless it sells about 10,000 copies or so, and then the agents and editors will be calling you, not the other way around, so don’t worry the pretty little artistic right side of your brain about it.

As for watch groups and their groupies, why don’t you do something that could really help someone beside yourselves? PA is such an obvious target that it didn’t take a genius to figure out they are making money some other way besides selling schlock to the masses. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would say that watch groups deliberately try to make it look like you give a shit about protecting writers, but the misinformation you perpetuate throws them off the track (it seems) so you’ll not have any competition for your own garbage. That’s got to be it. You can’t be that stupid, can you?

Okay, well, maybe. Whatever.

Is it 2006 yet?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ho Ho Ho is Oh Oh Oh if You Look in the Mirror

Tis the evening to be jolly,
so forget porking Sally and
do it with Polly!

Hey, who called me a ho?

Yep, I've already been to one Christmas Eve party this evening and got invites to three more, even though this really isn't a holiday I tend to celebrate. The masses can't be denied, though, so I have on my red velvet boxers with appropriately hung mistletoe.

Tis Ol’ Sammy’s wish that each and every one of you gets what you deserve this holiday season, and for those of you who are of different beliefs, happy whatever you celebrate. As for me, I’m leaving cookies and Scotch out just to see who or what it attracts.

By the way, after the holiday Sammy will explain rebinding since Miss Snark doesn’t know what it means. It’s very hard for me to believe that a literary agent wouldn’t know what REBINDING means since it, at any time, could affect her client’s bottom line. But, as promised, I’ll be taking up that issue while Snark fritters away her time fixing wannabe synopses.

Happy Whatever.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Transit Workers, You Go!

Okay, this is e-goddamn-nough! This bullshit about the transit workers striking in NYC has really pissed me off. You want to know why? Because the greedy bastards who are bashing the transit workers are just like wannabe writers. They want everything for nothing, and they resent anyone who tells them that the world works on give and take, not take only.

First of all, what kind of idiots pass a bullshit law that says government workers can’t strike? Does THAT make any sense? So it is okay for the government to fuck over citizens as long as those citizens SERVE in a capacity that suits the needs of the majority of people in a given location? Herein lies the reasons publishing is ready to take a plunge into the depths of nowhere: Selfish, greedy fuckers from the top of the pile on down, including wannabes who are scratching their way up from the dirt floor of the literary basement, are sucking the life out of the system they so desparately need and want to be a part of.

How sad.

So far, I have not heard anyone stand up for the transit workers and say “Way to go!” or anything positive. All I have heard is people bitching and whining, and articles detailing that hospitals are running out of blood and poor Joe Schlepdog Workerfuck can’t get to Starbucks on time to serve the anal retentive assholes standing in line complaining about having to share body sweat with three other co-workers in the ride-share lane. I haven’t heard anyone supporting the transit workers in their efforts to fight for the rights of people who have somehow become the slaves of the sort of middle-class-that-doesn’t-exist drones who really believe that if we all just take it up the ass from the corporations, they will take care of us. I don’t believe it, and I never have.

And I have never believed that literary agents should take it up the ass from writers who believe that they are the all important end-alls. You aren’t, and I think that the transit workers have proven, in the same spirit, that commuters need them more than transit workers need pinhead mother-fuckers who believe that getting to Scrotum and Sons to build widgets is the most important job in the fucking universe.

You hear me transit workers? This literary agent is with you. I, too, get shit from people who believe that without them, I would be nothing. Without them, I would have fewer dickhead queries to answer, that’s all. I find it appalling that most people in NYC, including top elected officials and the courts, are fighting against people who are just trying to keep from getting screwed. But that is how publishing is, isn’t it? Everyone loves an agent until he sends a bill for postage and handling, or until he tells a writer that she isn’t going to get 6 figures, but only 5 instead. Then he is nothing but a useless pile of shit.

So I say “Go transit workers!” The hospitals should have had enough blood in supply in case of a natural disaster (or terrorist attack, if you can imagine anything like that happening in our fair city), so if a transit strike affects their supply, how ready for an actual disaster are they? Pussies. Someone needs to kick some medical ass. The dumbfucks who are bitching because they have to get to their law offices of Get, Get, and Getmore so they can fuck the little old lady down the street who has a savings account but no way to sweep her walk to make it safe for passersby just a little harder can walk to work--might do their fat asses good.

Me? I can work at home if need be, but I haven't had to. I would walk miles in the freezing ass cold in my underwear to support people who just want to make a living. And you should to. Shame on you, NYC, and shame on greedy wannabe writers.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sammy's SAT Prep For Writers

For those of you smart enough to not have kids for whom you will spend approximately $2,000 on standardized testing materials so the little darlings can get into college and spend more of your money at the University's health center trying to explain to the doctor how the shot glass got stuck there, let me explain analogies. Simply put, these questions test your verbal acuity by evaluating your ability to connect words and discern the relationships in their meanings, or something like that. They look something like this:

turd:dog::______:faucet (When reading say, "Turd is to dog as blank is to faucet.")

Here are your options: pickles, orange, water, hairspray. Take a minute to pick your answer...

La la la la la la la
La la la la LA la la la la

Did you pick "water"? YES! The answer is water because a turd is something that comes out of a dog, and water is something that comes out of a faucet. Good job! Now you are ready for my weekly entry in Sammy's SAT Prep For Writers. Here we go...

1. the idea that Jesus had a kid:Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code :: blow job lips:_____________

Did you say "Angelina Jolie’s career"? If you did, you get a point. If not, you suck as much as those lips could if they wanted to. The connection: The idea that Jesus banged Mary Magdalene and had a kid is the driving force behind Dan’s best-seller book. The idea intrigues and beguiles and--dare I say it?--titillates. It sure isn’t his writing that woos readers, but the idea of something exotic and forbidden, no matter how dorky. Who gives a flying fuck if Jesus pro-created? The same thing goes for Angie’s lips. The driving force behind her career is those lips and the imaginations of every casting agent out there, as if she would give them any. If you look any further you'd find a skinny, almost scrawny, gal with big titties and a smirk. And don’t give me any shit about her “humanitarian” endeavors and how I shouldn’t pick on her. You want to be a humanitarian? Give all your billions you made off of pretending(?) to fuck girls to the relief effort, then you are a humanitarian. The same thing goes for Dan. Wanna promote religion instead of exploit it? Do something good with all the zillions you got off of people who bought your drivel thinking it would lead to some kind of enlightenment.

Didn't get this one? Well, there will be other challenges to come. Study up!

Editors Should Be Seen and Not Heard

Godammit, I hate newbie editors! Almost as much as wannabe writers, if you can imagine such a thing. Why? Why? Because they are full of themselves, stupid, and have no taste in books (or anything else for that matter).

See, I have been working a big sale, and this schmuddling of a pissant editor has been fighting me every step of the way. There’s a rhythm to how this shit gets done, but Numb-nuts the Brown grad insists on nit-picking every goddamn detail to death, and talks a lot about “in good faith”, which are words I really don’t use when I negotiate with a publisher, mainly because I have no faith in their being good. They think they can’t make money unless they somehow screw a writer, and it is just a matter of which screwing they think they can get by with at the time. Most have learned by now that this bullshit doesn’t get past me, primarily because if there is any screwin’ to be done, Sammy will be the one doing it, baby. But Junior hasn’t picked up on this so far.

And Numb-nuts constantly reminds me that he worked on a book with a celebrity (think of the David Hasselhoff variety), and uses that to try to impress me and get his own way, the little prick. What the fuck to I care if you held hands with Ivana Trump while she got her snatch waxed?

Do you know how many times I hear this shit a day from editors? “Oh, I worked with so-and-so on his best-seller” or some shit about the movie star they “worked with” (translation: shook hands with once before his book came out). So what? I got a blow-job from Big Bird while Oscar the Grouch fondled my balls. Whoopee. You know what it got me? Feathers in my pubs, that’s what. (Juuuust kidding, Birdie, just kidding.)

See how ridiculous this shit gets? Who cares? But that’s the problem with these dipshit editors who want to go toe-to-toe with ol’ Sammy, or any agent, I assume. It becomes less about the book, and more about ego. What starts out as a simple negotiation turns into a cockfight of the worst kind. Do these fuck-ups forget that they are only as good as the last fingerfuck behind the copier they gave the cutie-pie in Marketing? You know, Marketing? The department that used to be told what to do, but now calls the shots much of the time? Yeah, them, dipshit. Better exercise those fingers, Nummy.

What happened to the people in this industry who weren’t in it for the ego boost and bragging rights? Where did they go? I have a female acquaintance who teaches high school, and, God help her, likes it, and she told me once that there is no room for the teacher’s ego in the classroom. The kids will eat you alive if you step on your own dick because you’re blinded by your high self-esteem, especially if you have nothing to back it up. If that’s the case, it looks like I might be having some baked editor for dinner, doesn’t it?


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Forums? I'm Against Ums!

God, please help me to stay away from writer forums!! Why can’t wannabe writers get the clue that unless you are well along in your path toward being an established novelist, you do not query a literary agent or even talk about getting one?

Actually, the post that ruined my breakfast was on a different subject. It went something like this: Do agents always have to have control of my money? Why can’t I have the checks mailed from my publisher to me, and then I send my check to the agent? On the surface, this is not a bad question, and I can imagine every wannabe on that board nodding and mumbling to themselves. This sounds good, right? Why shouldn’t I control my money?

Well, dear wannabes, in the first place, it isn’t all your money. Fifteen percent of that royalty, advance, or otherwise, belongs to your agent. The other part of this is that the agent, in every case, has more clout than you do and can get your money when a publisher decides not to pay on time—not a rare occurrence, by the way. The other part of this is that the U.S. Treasury owns part of this money also and wants to know who got what. If you, the writer, want to take care of hiring an accountant to do such things as issuing 1099’s, I’m sure that can be arranged.

The part that really upset me was this incessant buzz that seems to permeate writerdom. This, “I don’t want to pay for anything so I’ll find me an agent” thing. It drives me nuts. Writers shouldn’t pay for copies, writers shouldn’t pay postage, writers shouldn’t pay reading fees, etc. So, my question to you, dear writ-ahs, is: Who the fuck do you think you are? What talent have you got that makes you think you have that kind of power? So you can write—so fucking what? My ten-year-old nephew can write, but he sure as hell doesn’t demand that I send his shit to editors. And if I did, he would at least wash my car for me. Good lad.

So, you might take this into consideration the next time you open your yap about what an agent should or shouldn’t do: What do I have that’s powerful enough to get people to do things for me—for free? I’m sure that if you send me a manuscript that’s worth six figures, I will kiss your ass for you. Well, I will pretend to kiss your ass (I’ll pucker up, but blow when you aren’t looking). But I can tell you one thing for sure, wannabes, if you get one reject from one agent, your shit will not fetch six figures. When that happens, you should have the first clue who does the ass kissing in your client/agent relationship. If you cannot figure out who kisses (or in some cases licks or sucks) what and when, then don’t bitch when an agent asks you to supply your own copies and possibly even pay for messenger services to get your shit to an editor.

I can’t tell you how many writers grovel for an agent and then, when we sell their work, suddenly, Joe Jockwritah decides that 15% is too much. Why, that book would have sold no matter what, it’s so good, so why not 5% percent? Why not 2%? Why not nothing? What did that stupid agent do that earned him that commission—I probably could have done it myself. Blah, blah, blah. And off rides Jockwritah Joe and his one-hit wonder book into oblivion.

End of story. End of post.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Things We Do For LOVE

Okay, I promised my girlfriend that I would post something literary on my "website." I know what you are thinking, and, yes, I have many girlfriends. If we've done it, er, I mean, dated at least three times, then I call my amor my girlfriend. When we get past 7-8, then she's my special girlfriend. After that, I dump 'em because the next step is "relationship." Well, I don't really dump anyone, I just don't clamor for sex as often and they get the hint and go husband hunting elsewhere.

They will never take me alive.

Anyway, to keep girlfriend 6,075 happy, I promised her I would offer my readers something literary, and what could be more literary than fucking poetry? Without further bullshit, here goes:

My Life by Sammy She-Bammy

There once was an agent named Sammy
whose balls got all cold and clammy.
He lacked a soft mouth from a girl from the south
who could give Sammy some whammy pajammy!

What, you expected Poe?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Checkout That Crack!

What’s that I hear? Cracking? Like maybe ice breaking from where hell just froze over? Yes, that is what I hear! And why? Because Sammy was very, very good today.

How, you might ask? Oh, do tell, do tell!

Okay, I will. I was so very good today because I had a wonderful opportunity to abuse and humiliate a newbie and I didn’t. No, it wasn’t because I was laughing too hard or drunk, although those two things tend to go hand in hand with me.

What happened was I got on a writer’s board over the weekend, just for fun, to see what kind of ridiculously pathetic advice was being tossed around by the board gurus, yo-yo’s or ho-ho’s or whatever. I see this post by some shiny green twerp about how he got an offer on his book but it was low and he didn’t know whether to take it or not. Everyone was intrigued and enthralled and oh so helpful schmelpful. I almost choked to death laughing after I saw the title of his book, which I had rejected out of hand a year ago—hey, what can I say? Crayon doesn’t appeal to me.

Anyway, my first instinct was to post something like, “Dear Jesus, man, take the offer! I’ve seen your shit, and it sucks. Take the money and run!” But instead I just gave myself the Heimlich and moved on. I guess I wasn’t that good, considering I chose not to waste post time thinking that, what the hell, if he doesn’t take the offer, he is going to eventually realize that he should have when Simon and Schuster doesn’t call, and then he will feel like total shit. However, I do get points for not posting it where all the world could see. Except for you guys, of course. But you won’t tell anybody, will ya’? No? I knew I could trust you! Here’s his name and the book title: ******************.
Damn encryption software.