And Now: How *Not* to Get Published

I have just been the recipient of the strangest spam I have ever gotten. No Nigerians involved, no performance enhancing drugs and (thank god) no goatse double-penetration felch hentai.

No this spam was obviously a labor of love by a single individual who has absolutely the wrong idea about the publishing industry. (My comments in italics.)

Also, here’s a little disclaimer: I do not publish people’s personal e-mails to me. Ever. Even if you act like a jackass, anything that’s actually directed at me I treat as confidential. However, if you send me spam form letters, you are implicitly saying that you want the whole frigging world to see your message whether they want to or not, and thus I reserve the right to comment, in public.

Re: A Best Seller waiting to be published – Discover the Revolutionary New Way to Heal Yourself!…
From: Writer Seeks Publisher <writer_seeks_publisher@xxxxx>

[SWANN: First step to not be published, don’t put your real name on the query, you don’t want those nasty publishers to find out who you really are, do you? Also, be sure to let them know right off the bat that this is a gosh-darned guaranteed bestseller.]

Please only reply to the email links in the text below.

[SWANN: Second step, you don’t want technophobic publishers to even consider responding by phone or, golly, snail mail, so let them only e-mail you back. And you can filter out the Luddites among them by making sure they can’t just hit “reply” but have to hunt down an address hidden in the body of the e-mail. Yeah, smooth]

FAO Publishers & Literary Agents – I have a fully completed and critiqued non-fiction manuscript together with graphically designed cards available for publishing.

[SWANN: Don’t forget to make sure to let them know that what you’re querying them about is “available for publishing” this will help differentiate you from all the people querying publishers and agents about stuff that isn’t available for publishing. Of course, make sure to never ever go to the trouble if identifying the recipient by name, or even profession- that way they know that this gem is going off to all their competitors and they need to act quick if they want a piece of this bestselling action.]

For more information, please read this email or email me at writer_seeks_publisher@XXXXX to request the synopsis, some sample chapters, the card graphics and the promotional website.

[SWANN: don’t forget to remind them to read your e-mail, preferably down in the second or third paragraph. And of course, whenever you mention a website, don’t forget to omit the URL. Can’t have just anyone looking at your promotional materials.]


My Critique company commented:

[SWANN: of course, make sure to let them know if you had to pay someone to look at your work.]

This is an amazing manuscript. Many, many readers will benefit from this material. Thank you for writing this manuscript. This will be a huge success! I do wish you luck with this endeavor. However, you will not need luck. You have an awesome manuscript, and a special gift with words.

[SWANN: Always a good idea to include nebulous and vague puffy quotes by people you fail to identify. It lends an air of mystery to your manuscript, an indispensible component of self-help non-fiction. Make sure they call your MS “awesome” at least once, especially if it’s self-help non-fiction.]

For more information, please email me at writer_seeks_publisher@XXXXX to request the synopsis, some sample chapters and the promotional website.

[SWANN: Make sure you repeat one paragraph of your query verbatim at the end just to remind the reader of your “ special gift with words”]

[SWANN: Of course, it also helps you to avoid publication if you make sure you do not differentiate between authors, editors, and literary agents. It isn’t your job to sort out these fine distinctions. Save yourself time by spamming it to anyone, thus giving you more time to concentrate on your awesome unpublished bestseller.]

Book (un)Covers

Writing and trying to hawk Wolfbreed to agents (news coming on that score, stay tuned) has made me more aware of the growing genre of paranormal romance. I’m seeing it everywhere now, and I noticed something on my last trip to Borders. Now, as you’d expect, if the sexy undead werewolf-hunter novel has the word “Romance” on the spine it will be shelved under romance, if it has the word “Fantasy” there instead, it ends up in SF/F. But even if you don’t see what’s stamped on the spine, I’ve noticed a certain more significant difference on the covers found between the two sets of shelves. . .

Let’s peruse the Fantasy shelf. . .

Now the Romance Shelf. . .

Notice anything?

If Hollywood Ran the World. . .

For anyone who believed that Hollywood is any more interested in free expression of ideas than, say, Microsoft, I want to point out a little story that will probably get a lot less airtime than Angelina Jolie’s attempt to ban Fox News from the premiere of a film about the execution of journalist Daniel Pearl.

A projectionist from Memphis was fired under pressure from 20th Century Fox. What did this guy do? What did the guy do that was so evil that it brought down the wrath of an entire movie studio? He posted a bad review of the Fantastic Four sequel. That’s it. Now, it was an advance screening review, which generally have folks sign a non-disclosure agreement beforehand. But, according to our intrepid reviewer, he was never asked to sign one. This means that he wasn’t obligated to anyone to keep his mouth shut. . . He was fired anyway.

More Copyright Insanity

Ok, I’m playing catchup here, but I just found Mark Helprin’s article about Copyright.

John Scalzi has a decent response to all that and others have gone on at length.

But there was a quote from Helprin I had to comment on:

Were you to have ushered through the many gates of taxation a flour mill, travel agency or newspaper, they would not suffer total confiscation.

Once the state has dipped its enormous beak into the stream of your wealth and possessions they are allowed to flow from one generation to the next. Though they may be divided and diminished by inflation, imperfect investment, a proliferation of descendants and the government taking its share, they are not simply expropriated.

That is, unless you own a copyright. Were I tomorrow to write the great American novel (again?), 70 years after my death the rights to it, though taxed at inheritance, would be stripped from my children and grandchildren.

This set my conservative libertarian teeth on edge. What Helprin is saying is: “When the the government removes its protection of my exclusive monopoly, they’re TAXING me! OMG!” He goes so far in this intellectual dishonesty to say these “rights are stripped” away. I’m sorry, but by the same logic I should now be receiving my grandma’s social security checks.

Copyright is a government subsidy to the creator. Here’s how you tell that its the government giving you something; You’re sitting on a chair you own, I wave my hand, the government goes away. Do you still have the chair? Now, say you have the copyright to War and Peace, I do the same thing, where did the copyright go?

When the government takes away a subsidy, it is not taxing you!

O frabjous day!

Ladies and gentlemen, Wolfbreed is complete! I finished the last scene on Friday, and I’ve spent the last two days running through the draft, doing tweaks and copy-editing. The second draft is officially done. (OK, if you’ve followed the blog and my counters it is draft 1.5)

Even better news: I’ve come a step closer in my search for an agent. I got a positive response to a query, which means I’m sending out a copy of Wolfbreed on Monday. If she likes my writing I think I may have a new agent.