Saturday, 25 April 2009


You don't need to read this. You know it already. You're clever and wised up and you've seriously been paying attention over the last few weeks. However, there may be someone in a distant corner of a distant land who is trying to get published but has been going around with eyes closed, brain in neutral and a deluded grin on his/her face.

If you know such a person, please direct him or her to this post. And now get ready to roll your eyes in tired incredulity.

Answer me something. Suppose there was an agent who worked on his own and didn't have an army of secretarial staff. And suppose the agent, as with so many agents, had put clear submission guidelines on his website. Suppose one of the guidelines was,

"Please do not phone me or send your manuscript electronically unless you are already my client."

And supposing this then happened:

The agent's phone rings. It is an unknown voice. The agent knows from the sound of the anxious breathing and the distinctive sound of toffees being unwrapped that this is an aspiring writer looking for an agent. (New readers of this blog may need to refer here for elucidation of that point.)

Hello, I wonder if I could have your email address so I can send you my manuscript.
Agent: Have you read my submission guidelines? They're on my ....
Yes, I know, but it just seemed like a waste of paper and stamps when I could so easily email it to you.

is a waste of paper or stamps or time or money or effort or blood or tears or sweat or coffee or chocolate or wine or years off your life to achieve your aim of publication. Nothing, do you hear?





Otherwise, either
(major crabbit old bat alert ...):

  1. Since you can't read, I'll bet you can't write, OR
  2. You are letting your great writing down by not reading and following the guidelines which are given to you free, repeatedly, and simply
Unusually succinct post by yours truly, don't you think? And nary a hint of all those silly colours I used to shower you with in the early days when I was carefree and irresponsible.

Tomorrow I will bring you a little bit of word play and a teensy competition (I knew that would get you going) to indulge you while I disappear for a few days. Four days out of blog-shot. How will I cope without you?


Weronika said...

I laughed harder than I have in a while. :)

Sound advice, Nicola. Sound, sound advice.

morphine-moniza said...

aw you will be missed. I need you so I can procrastinate and avoid school work.

Barb said...

I liked the colours.

Just saying.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Speaking of deluded dimwits.
I have noticed something of a trend. When an agent or editor posts a list of rules about making contact or querying, people start trying to make some wriggle room.

For example - An agent might say 'do not send emails with links showing me how to read the rest of your submission/more chapters' because I won't read it. If I'm interested, I may follow a link to your blog, but only later.'

You would think that was pretty self explanatory.

Many writers will then comment and say 'that's good advice'.

Then one or two dimwits will start to say 'but what about attaching my blog address in the email anyway, surely it can't hurt?' and someone else will say 'you can have your blog address in your signature if you like, but it won't make any difference' and then the original dimwit then says 'well then, I'll just query the agent and tell them to go to my blog. I have to try something different to get their attention.'

Ebony McKenna. said...

Sorry, that was supposed to be in preview but it posted anyway . . .

my point being, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make her drink.

Or as Dorothy Parker once said, 'you can drag a horticulture but you can't make her think.'

Jo Franklin said...

On similar lines and akin to the worst query letter thread - I recently heard of someone who sent a 7 page query letter to a top agent they had a personal introduction to. Needless to say the agent gave up half way through page 1.
Why waste an opportunity like that?
I have to gain solace that maybe my sane letters will stand out amongst the crud.

Nicola Morgan said...

Barb, oh thank you thank you thank you - another person with a soul.

Ebony - "I have to try something different to get their attention" - yeah, like er, write something great in the first place?? You are so right.

Jo - exactly. Your common sense will stand you in great stead

Moniza - you can manage without me, really. You can.

Weronika - happy to oblige!