Pub Rants

Category: Snark

Unleashing My Inner Snark?

STATUS: I have to say that the world of agenting is good right now. We’ve been having auctions and pre-empts at Frankfurt for Sarah Rees Brennan’s THE DEMON’S LEXICON. It is always fun when a title has international appeal.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THAT VOICE AGAIN by Peter Gabriel

This is interview week for me. I’m finally catching up on all the requests I’ve received. I have to say that most interviewers pretty much ask the same questions, but I got a really interesting question today.

The interviewer asked me why I decided to go with the “nice approach” when blogging and do I ever long to release my inner snark and just let it go in a rant a lá Miss Snark.

Well, I decided on the “nice” approach because that is basically who I am. I’m nice. That doesn’t mean I’m not tough (and I’ve heard through the grapevine that editors often call me that damn demanding agent in Denver). I’m just polite. So when Miss Snark was around, I never felt the need to unleash my inner snark because Miss Snark was around to attack the topic. I never had to.

Boy do I miss her because there are times when I want to pull out my hair and let it go but I don’t. It’s not my style. I’m not certain I could pull it off with her panache.

For me, Miss Snark had the perfect way of sharing the brutal truth with her razor wit while still keeping an eye on the goal of helping writers.

I know lots of people won’t agree and Miss Snark would probably shake her gin tumbler at me in defiance but that’s what I miss the most. I could be nice because there was Miss Snark to be snarky.

Goodbye Miss Snark! I’ll Miss You

STATUS: A little sad. See below. Just a heads up to let you know that Chutney is doing well. Her stomach is giving her occasional problems but you don’t really need details about that.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SAVE A PRAYER by Duran Duran

I heard the very sad news this morning when a friend emailed me the link. Yes, it’s true. Miss Snark is retiring.

Why am I sad? Because she would often say (and rather bluntly) what I could not as a non-anonymous, very nice literary agent.

She could be our mouthpiece for the truth that needed to be said without any sugar-coating. And I know I’m not the only agent who felt that way.

But don’t worry, I don’t have any plans to end my blogging but I can sometimes sympathize with Miss Snark and Jennifer Jackson. Some days it’s a real stretch to come up with a topic worth blogging about. As long as you don’t mind a few blog lights here and there, we’ll probably be fine.

Now on to the topic that still has me steamed. I’m particularly enjoying the S&S’s most recent press release where they manage to dance around everything but the real issue—that without sales thresholds for POD copies, there’s no way for rights to revert (which is not in an author’s favor) despite all those good proclamations about how this is really a benefit to authors. Read the press release for yourself right here.


Oops. Did I just do that aloud?

So some key phrases: “we are willing to have an open and forthright dialogue on this or any other topic.

I guess I’ll soon find out.

Another key phrase: “to keep the author’s book available for sale over the term of the license.”

Well two things here folks:

1. We have OOP clauses so we don’t have to specify an exact term of the license in the publishing contract because once it’s out of print, rights revert (when sales thresholds are included that is).

2. As discussed with my contracts manager, we would be open to specifying an exact term for the license but at the moment, we didn’t have to because we had very specific Out of Print clauses that made the term of the license clear. And the vote is not in yet on whether S&S will be “open and forthright” about a dialogue concerning license term limits specified when negotiating the initial Grant of Rights.

I guess I’ll soon find out about that as well.

Scammers At The Gate

STATUS: Fridays always make me happy.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? The line up begins again on Monday.

To give Publishers Weekly their due, they allowed the dubious purveyors of the Sobol Awards to air their opinions about their contest in the Soapbox section of the Oct. 9, 2006 issue of the magazine. It’s entitled Barbarians At The Gate? Scammers at the gate more like.

Here’s the link if you think it worth your time to peruse. I think your time could be better spent.

First, have you noticed that legitimate organizations and contests (those above approach because they actually are operating with a writer’s best interest in mind) have no need to defend themselves?

Second, I find it curious that Ms. Weeks actually didn’t address any of the issues raised by Miss Snark and others about why this contest is a scam.

In her 60 seconds Soapbox, Ms. Weeks basically says that the Sobol Awards provide manuscript critiques for so many writers who otherwise would never get any feedback at all. (Huge eyebrow raise here because really?)

It’s my understanding that there are lots of venues for writers to get wonderful feedback and critiques for their writing without paying a dime. They are called critique groups.

And there are other organizations with minor membership fees (fees that are then used to actually advocate for their members) where writers can join the various local chapters to get their manuscript read and critique. Organizations such as Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and that’s just to name a few.

And yet, according to Ms. Weeks, it’s the Sobol Awards who will raise those deserving writers out of the unknown by getting them representation by Sobol Literary Agency, which actually hasn’t sold anything. Sounds like some prize.

My favorite part is when she says, “You’ll notice they [the winners] are not locked in the dungeons of Castle Sobol for the balance of their careers. They take their checks, their published novels and then can pick among the many agents anxious to represent an author whose value has already been proven in the marketplace.”

That includes some interesting assumptions—such as any winner of the Award would actually get their book published to start. Considering the track record of the agency (which is nil) that will represent the winners…seems like a big IF to me.

And for better reading, check out what Preditors & Editors has to say about Sobol Literary Agency.

Basically, it still comes down to the fact that the only ones benefiting from the Sobol Awards are those who profit from the “registration” fee.