At the risk of repeating myself…

Given how very many PNWA members are or soon will be nibbling their fingernails down to the quick, waiting for replies from those nice agents and editors met at the conference, I want to reiterate something I mentioned last week: A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF THE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY TAKE SOME OR ALL OF AUGUST 1 – LABOR DAY OFF. With most of the editors off on holiday, many agents either take vacations, too, or work shortened summer hours.

Don’t ask me why they do this; it has something to do with the humidity, slow-dying Victorian vacation habits, or other mysteries that we in our fresher Pacific climate cannot even begin to fathom. I suspect the custom dates back to the days when NYC offices did not have air conditioning, and gentleman editors would lounge the late summer away with Edith Wharton characters on breezy verandahs in Newport.

Lemonade, I have no doubt, was sipped. Whatever the reason, a substantial proportion of the folks you want to be reading your stuff are simply not available at the moment.

Stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and consider what lengthy hiatus might mean for work you submitted during this vacation-heavy time. It argues against your hearing back before Labor Day, absolutely regardless of the actual quality of your work. You will be happier, and probably saner, if you make a conscious effort NOT to take the time lapse as a reflection on your worth as a writer, a human being, or anything else.

Think about it. Even if your dream agent’s typical turn-around time is unusually short (and most published agent guides include some estimate in the listing, if only so you can laugh at it with incredulity later), August is going to make the pile she needs to go through substantially thicker than at other points in the year. Even if she herself is not on vacation, she may well be covering for someone in her office who is. For similar reasons, your stop-your-heart-with-rapture editor’s turn-around clock may well not start ticking until 9 a.m. on September 6.

Come Labor Day, there will doubtless be an immense, slippery pile of manuscripts on the agent/editor’s desk. In all probability, your precious packet in the middle of it. Realistically, even with the best will in the world, it is going to take weeks to get through that pile of backlog – and new manuscripts, solicited and unsolicited, will keep coming in with each passing day. It is enough to make even the stoutest-hearted agent quail before the task before her.

Please try to bear this in mind if you have not heard back for a month longer than you anticipated. And please, please do not torture yourself with delay scenarios where your work is being passed from hand to hand, garnering feedback from everybody in the building from the janitor to the head of the agency. (Yes, that happened to Jacqueline Susann, but that was decades ago. Try to live in the now.) 99% of the time, if you have not heard back about your submission, it is because no one at the other end has yet read it.

If you are planning to submit to an agent or editor within the next couple of months, I cannot over-stress the importance of making sure that your good work does not get lost in that awe-inspiring pile of post-holiday hopeful solicitation. At the risk of repeating myself: if an agent or editor asked to see your work, write REQUESTED MATERIALS – PNWA on the outside of the envelope, so that your work will end up in a different, more privileged pile. You probably still will not hear back until Halloween, but at least you will have done all you can to move yourself up in the queue.

Please write on the outside of the envelope, even if the agent or editor in question fell down upon her knees, declared your premise the most exciting thing she’s heard since she first learned to comprehend spoken language, and begged you to overnight your manuscript to her. The average agent or editor meets literally hundreds of aspiring writers during conference season: it is in fact possible that for reasons that have NOTHING to do with your work, your name will slip her mind, or not be passed along to the junior agency folks who actually open the mail and, in most cases, are actually the first readers for submissions.

(Yes, I know what I just said: the agent with whom you had that oh-so-promising meeting at the conference may not actually be the person who reads your submission. Take a deep breath, calm down, and realize that good work gets passed up the reading chain quickly. The assistants are there so that the agent you want is freed of the necessity of reading 600 submissions per week – and thus has time to represent his clients’ work. When you are the client, you will be very, very glad about this arrangement.)

While I already have you in shock, perhaps this would be a good time to mention other points in the year when submissions tend to pile up, so you can avoid sending unsolicited queries then. You already know about the quaint summer custom; December, too, tends to see most of the industry off work, leading to a huge back-up to deal with in January. Two additional factors slow agencies just after the new year: they must produce tax documents for all of their sales, royalties, etc., for the previous year by the end of January — and half the writers in the known universe make New Year’s resolutions to send out queries immediately. Oh, and many agents and editors spend October preparing for, going to, or recovering from the Frankfort Book Fair. And conference season starts in the late spring.

Those of you with fast-calculating fingers may have noticed that these out-of-the-office moments could conceivably cover a full quarter of the calendar year. This, added to hundreds of unsolicited submissions per week AND the necessity of serving the clients already signed, means that from the agent’s point of view, the envelope that means the world to you is yet another demand upon already-stretched time.

And there is absolutely nothing you can do about that, other than understand these factors, try to be patient, and give exclusive peeks of your work only when directly asked for them.

So in the next couple of months, I beg you to try not to read a critique of your work into sometimes agonizingly slow turn-around times. None of these purely structural arrangements have ANYTHING to do with the content or quality of your submission; they are merely conditions of the industry, to which the working writer must adapt – or gnaw her fingers to the bone, wondering what she did in her manuscript to bring this on herself.

Try to be patient. And in the meantime, keep up the good work!

–Anne Mini

The fascinating self

So now I had agents interested – in a memoir that did not yet exist. This is jumping ahead in the chronology a little, but I want to talk today about the core dilemmas of writing a memoir at all.

Writing memoir seems at first to be an easy project, doesn’t it? After all, you’ve already got material (the ups and downs of your life), a supporting cast (your kith and kin, in all of their lovable imperfection), villains (everyone who has ever been mean to you, and boy, are they going to be sorry!), and of course, a protagonist you know very, very well. All you have to do is write down what happened in your own inimitable style, throw in some philosophic-sounding paragraphs about the meaning of life, the nature of familial bonds, etc., and you’re home free, right?

Better still, the common wisdom continues, since a memoir is non-fiction, you need not write the whole thing before you start to pitch the book to agents: all you need is a good proposal, with a chapter or two of the finished work. An agent falls in love with it instantly, and suddenly, your woes are the object of sympathy, apology, and critical praise; overnight, Nicole Kidman is playing you in the movie.

If this is actually your experience, I can only say Somebody Up There is very, very fond of you. For most of us hapless memoir-writers, the process is not so easy – and writing the blasted thing, unfortunately, is the easiest part.

Even if you are one of the lucky few blessed enough to find writing your own life a piece of cake, there is an invariable stumbling block: other people are going to read it, and their opinions on your life may not be yours. Other living rememberers may be problematic.

Even if all of your kith and kin are 100% behind your project in theory, they may not be so happy when you start calling them on inconsistencies in the time-honored anecdotes. Who the hell are you, some may well ask, to say that I’m contradicting myself? Or that Great-Aunt Maude’s perennial tale of her parents’ trekking across the continent in a covered wagon was historically about 50 years too late to be absolutely accurate?

Obviously, in this situation, you will be much, much happier if you have documented everything everyone has ever told you, as well as a reference for every outside piece of history that you cite. Most prospective memoirists are already aware that they might have to prove the truth of their contentions to, say, the editor who buys the book or, in the worst-case scenario, in a court of law, but very few memoirists I know realized that the toughest audience of all to convince would be the very characters who people the book: their kith and kin.

I received a terrific question today about how one goes about gathering the kind of documentary evidence you will want to have in hand before you go up against any kind of critical audience for your memoir. It’s such a good question that I want to answer it at length in a later posting. For now, suffice it to say: it would behoove you to document up to your eyeballs, but even then, please do be aware in advance that your kith and kin may well not thank you for telling the truth as you know it.

Allow me to reiterate: memoirists tend to get a lot more flak for telling the truth than telling lies. Actually, in my experience, this is true for any kind of writer: there will always be some disgruntled ex-coworker who will insist after you hit the big time that he and he alone was the basis for your best character. It is counter-intuitive with memoir, though, where the whole point is that the writer is telling the truth with insight and verve.

At least, that’s how writers tend to think of it. Non-writers, alas, tend to cast it another way: if your version differs from theirs, you’re a liar; if it is the same as theirs, you have invaded their privacy. Rend your hair and discourse about the necessity of the creative mind to express itself as much as you like; show the family videotapes of every writing teacher you have ever had saying “Write what you know!” but in all likelihood, your Cousin Alice or some other holdout will remain obdurate that there are only two alternatives: you are a liar, or you are a betrayer.

This, if you have wondered, is why one so often reads interviews with famous memoirists where they deplore not having written their entire opus as fiction.

Now that I have gotten you good and scared, let me beg you: under no circumstances should you self-edit while you are writing in order to minimize the possibility of kith and kin misunderstanding. Good memoir tells the truth: compromise that vision, and what do you have? I fail to see how an honest memoir COULD be from anyone’s perspective but the writer’s.

And in any case, this strategy seldom works. Since everyone has secrets, the cropping-up of a memoirist in the family can lead to a near-paranoid fear of outsiders looking into even the parts of family life that are relatively innocuous. You may feel, and with good reason, that your presentation of a traditional family Thanksgiving is a miracle of understatement and a paean to the Norman Rockwell-like bonds of love around the dinner table – and then be astonished to learn that your impeccable piece’s reputation amongst your kith and kin who have not read it is of a grisly, murderously satirical free-for-all that would have made the Marquis de Sade blush. And this may puzzle you, because you will naturally feel that your depiction of family life accurately reflects your point of view – so what is Cousin Alice saying, that you have no right to your opinion?

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture how quickly the resulting intra-family conflict can escalate.

The truth is, some people just have an instinctively negative reaction to the very notion of being written about – and thus analyzed – that borders on the superstitious. Cousin Alice is, in all likelihood, picturing a Jerry Springer Show-like mêlée, where upsetting secrets are revealed in front of millions, and total strangers in the audience suddenly jump up and accuse poor Alice of being a lousy human being.

Now, in actual fact, Cousin Alice is probably not the villain of your story at all — other than that incident where she tied your braids into a Gordian knot when you both were eight, and you cried and cried when the hairdresser sliced most of your hair off – but there’s probably nothing you can say that will convince her of that. You can show her that the braid story is, at most, a page and a half out of a 400-page manuscript that otherwise depicts her as Mother Theresa, and she will still feel tremendously hurt that you have written such a nasty book about her. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about that.

I have, alas, personal experience with this kind of hurt feelings. My memoir (working title: IS THAT YOU, PUMPKIN? LOVE, LOSS, AND THE FINAL PASSIONS OF PHILIP K. DICK, subject to change at the publisher’s whim) focuses primarily upon my quirky relationship between the ages of 8 and 15 with the science fiction writer who was my mother’s first husband, as well as his relationship with the rest of my family. Now, I have never discussed our relationship with any of his biographers, my story is new to print, but Philip’s life is pretty well documented, with half a dozen major biographies gracing the shelves.

So I came into the memoir-writing process with two major misapprehensions: that everyone who was close to Philip was by now quite used to being written about, and that my private interactions with a man now dead for 23 years were in fact a part of my life and his, and no one else’s. By coming forward with the story, I thought, I am really the only living person being exposed to scrutiny.

Other people, as it turns out, do not agree with me on either point, and in this I am not alone. I can’t tell you how many of the memoirists I know have been subjected to insults, intimidation, and yes, even lawsuits to try to prevent them from telling the truth as they see it. By their kith and kin, who often have not even read the book in question. The mere mention of the possibility of family secrets being exposed makes some minds leap to litigation, just as it makes other minds leap to Jerry Springer. Dealing with such minds is an occupational hazard of telling the truth.

Prudence prevents me from going into the details of the ensuing debates, but P.S., I’m going ahead with the book anyway. However, it has placed me in the uncomfortable position of having to write a member of my extended family (who, incidentally, is neither my cousin nor named Alice, so don’t start conjecturing) out of my own life story, at her request, and my interpretations of events that concerned only me and people long dead have come under the scrutiny of people who had nothing to do with them. And, truth compels me to add, as hard as dealing with these necessities has been, it was a piece of cake compared to what other memoirists have endured.

Leaving aside for the moment the issues of differing points of view and strong views on privacy you may abruptly learn that your nearest and dearest cherish, most of the successful memoir-writers I have known have found it downright disorienting to have their personal memories be the subject of debate at all. It is good to be aware in advance that as soon as your book is purchased, someone you did not know three months ago will feel free to comment familiarly upon the last thirty-five years of your relationship with your mother, sometimes in ways that would have caused bloody noses on our elementary school playgrounds. You will just have to smile, nod, and take notes.

Let no one say that a writer’s life isn’t interesting.

The moral is: write what you know to be true, and remember that you are actually under no obligation to show your work to your kith and kin before it’s published. Cousin Alice may not concur, of course, but let that be yet another thing about which you agree to disagree. As an honest memoirist, you may find a whole new world of issues to disagree over opening up to you and your loved ones.

Courage! And keep up the good work.

– Anne Mini

Swimming in the agent sea

When I heard my name announced as the winner of the NF/memoir category at the PNWA conference last year, my first conscious feeling was naturally elation. My second conscious feeling was complete and utter doom. Yes, I know that sounds ungrateful, but it’s true. What had I done to myself? To recap, I had just won a major book award for a book I had not yet written. There was a slight possibility, I felt, that people would now start asking to see the book.

Let me backtrack a little and talk about what it is like sporting a rainbow-hued finalist’s ribbon at a conference. First, everyone stares at your stomach, all day, every day, because that’s where the ribbon tends to waggle. A lot of sweet people will come up and congratulate you, which is very nice indeed; a significant minority will edge away from you, scowling. And the agents and editors will notice you in a crowd. When you stop an agent who is walking down the hall in order to try out your pitch, she will generally act as though she is pleased to meet you. It’s a revolution in manners for all concerned.

(Have I said enough yet to convince you to try your luck in next year’s contest? Read on.)

When you win one of the top three awards in a category, and you are issued a blue, red, or white ribbon to tickle your stomach, all of the attention paid to your abdomen roughly triples. And if you win the first place award (along with the snazzy gold Zola pin), it’s like walking around all day in the glow of a very hot spotlight. Suddenly, agents and editors can recognize you from across the room – and often will come over to talk to you, just as if you were a person.

There is a good reason that they recognize the first-place winners – and since so few of my PNWA friends seem to know about these perqs, I’m going to talk about them here. The primary benefit is the winners’ breakfast at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. on Saturday, the morning after the award ceremony’s late-night partying. Basically, they throw all of the winners into a room with some croissants and all of the agents and editors for an hour or two.

If you happen to be good at giving your pitch while choking on a stray piece of pineapple, this is the venue for you. Otherwise, it’s rather like giving a press conference while being mauled by affectionate lions. The moral: eat before you get there. In fact, eat heartily before the awards ceremony on Friday, because trust me, once you win and for the next two days, every time you try to stave off starvation, some perky soul will appear in front of you and ask to hear all about your book. Pleasant, of course, but hell on the blood sugar.

My memory of the event may be skewed, of course, because I had only slept about two hours the night before – Cindy Willis, the wonderfully talented winner of the novel category, and I had been whisked off to a party with such precipitation after the award ceremony that I had to give my mother the big news on a cell phone while dashing down a hotel hallway. At the party, our significant others were mysteriously kidnapped and held outside our range of vision, and Cindy and I were each asked to give our pitch about 45 times while people kept handing us food and drink that we were never allowed to consume. We were both so stunned that we clung to each other like the Gish sisters in ORPHANS OF THE STORM.

This is what I remember best about the aftermath of winning: sleep deprivation and being asked to repeat my pitch anytime food came within half a foot of my mouth. Fortunately, I’d had friends who had won these awards before, so I just kept repeating like a mantra: “Of course you can see my book proposal. But not exclusively.”

Even through my haze, I could recall what had happened to my friends who had promised exclusives to the first agents who approached them after they’d won contests. It’s not true every year or at every conference, but there is often a certain amount of rivalry amongst the agents about who is going to carry off the major category winners. The rivalry over one friend’s brilliant humorous novel reached such a pitch that one of the agents started crying because she had granted a faster agent the first exclusive. Other winning friends were asked to overnight an entire manuscript to New York, only not to hear back for a month; to rush home, print out a copy of the manuscript, and deliver it to an agent’s hotel room in the dead of night, only to learn weeks later that the agent in question did not even represent that genre, and to promise to refuse to talk to other agents at the conference, lest the writer be blandished away. And these instances were all at PNWA, which is known as one of the more genial conferences nationally.

Being sought-after by a gaggle of agents sounds like an odd situation to fear, I know, but the inter-agent competition does not necessarily work to the benefit of the author – and actually, these competitive foibles underscore a problem most writers have at conferences: judging how sincere an agent or editor’s interest is in your work. How can you tell from a fifteen-minute conversation with a total stranger if this is the right agent for you? What is the difference between liking an agent personally and seeing in her an instinctive connection to your work? Your gut, hopped up on adrenaline (and possibly operating without other sustenance), may not be the best barometer in the moment.

So I just kept repeating my pitch and my mantra, parrot-like, collecting cards from agents and editors and scribbling notes about what each wanted to see on the back. Cindy did the same, once I was able to fill her in on the strange stories of yore. All the while, our significant others lurked in a far corner of the room, waiting to carry us off to grab a couple of hours’ sleep before the 7 a.m. lion-mauling.

The advice of my formerly winning friends turned out to be right on the money: about half of the agents asked for exclusives. Because we had declined, Cindy and I both ended up sending our work to a broad array of agents simultaneously, which truly worked to our advantage. Not every agent asked to represent it, of course – put their initial interest down to competition-induced hysteria – but enough of them did that both of us had the wonderful luxury of choice. And that, in a world where it’s so hard to get an agent that good writers often search for years to hook up with the right agent, is luxury indeed.

So I have good reason to have infinite respect for the writers’ network word-of-mouth wisdom. Let’s all help one another in every way we can.

Your day will come. In the meantime, keep up the good work!

–Anne Mini

Chance favors the prepared mind

The great thing about getting serious about being a writer – and yes, there ARE upsides to struggling for years on end – is that you can add so many nifty gadgets to your bag of writing tools, ones that will allow you to produce work quickly and revise it with dispatch. And how do you acquire these tools? Not merely by sitting in front of your computer every day, typing feverishly in an otherwise empty room, but by sending your writing out, sharing it with other writers, workshopping it with people you trust. Through getting feedback and applying it to your work, you not only improve your manuscript, but also to add skills to your repertoire.

Once you have those tools assembled, you can move rapidly from one writing project to another – Edith Wharton, for instance, claimed that once she became a professional, she never went more than a week between projects. Ideally, you want to hone your craft (to use a phrase I hate, but it does convey the message) to the point that if you were handed a brilliant story idea by the Muses today, you would be at work on it by tomorrow morning.

That’s how ordinary mortals make livings as writers, generally speaking, not by producing one or two works per decade – or per lifetime. I once met a brilliant writer at an artists’ colony, a short story specialist who squirreled herself away in a corner to sob after she gave a reading. The praise for her story, which was honestly excellent, had been tempered with constructive criticism from the writers in the audience. I tried to comfort her by pointing out that the feedback had been overwhelmingly positive; averted eyes and “Gee, that was great” commentary is generally reserved for public readings of books that aren’t that good. Couldn’t she see that by offering her substantive feedback, her fellow writers were showing respect for her work?

She shook her head as violently as if I had suggested that she throw herself off the nearest bridge. “You don’t understand. I worked on that story for eight years! I thought it was perfect!” She looked crushed. “Now I’ll have to revise it again before I send it out.”

I sympathized with her, but privately, I found myself thinking that she might have better spent those eight years acquiring, in addition to an honestly lyrical writing style, a thicker skin and a more rapid revision pen. Had she launched this story on its professional trajectory, say, six years sooner, via readings or a writers’ group or a contest, she might well have gotten the necessary feedback to perfect it many years before.

Everyone’s writing cycles run within different timeframes, of course, but professionals produce work, get it out the door, and move on to the next, yet most struggling writers will hang their hopes on a single piece. All too often, the piece in question is one that has not been seen by human eyes before the query letter is sent or the pitch is made, or at any rate, by human eyes that do not belong to oneself, one’s mother, one’s partner, or one’s best friend. As marvelous as these first readers may be, they are unlikely to give one unbiased feedback – and a hunger for unbiased feedback is one of the most important tools in the writer’s kit.

You have only to talk to a random selection of people standing around in the hallway at any writers’ conference to see for yourself how important this particular tool is. Secretly, most aspirants walk away from their first writers’ conference crushed that their single pieces were not instantly pounced upon by the perfect agent and carried off like trophies to New York, where they naturally would sell instantly. Despite the fact that this scenario almost never happens, most of us expect it, and question our talent when it doesn’t occur, not our professional readiness.

Yet scratch the rare overnight success, and there’s usually a decade of preparation lying underneath it. You have probably heard the story of the PNWA’s own Jean Auel: walked into the PNWA conference, met the perfect agent, and CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR was sold at auction for what was at the time the highest advance ever paid a first-time novelist.

An overnight success story, right? Unless you count the years she spent polishing her writing skills and essentially home-schooling herself into a doctorate-level understanding of anthropology. Never was an overnight success more earned by years and years of hard work.

Contrary to the unfortunately pervasive myth of the writing genius who sits down at a keyboard for the first time and instantly produces, on his first draft, a work of such staggering genius that agents fall down and weep before it and editors cannot touch it with a critical pen, most good books, and pretty much all great ones, started life as a first draft that needed work. Crucial tools that a writer needs in his kit are the flexibility to recognize that, the courage to go out and find feedback he can trust, and the tenacity to revise accordingly.

“Yeah, right,” I hear you saying. “Anne’s a fine one to talk – she won a contest, and BOOM, she found an agent and sold her memoir before her FINALIST ribbon had time to wrinkle. What could she possibly know about waiting for results of her hard work?”

Oh, how I would have loved it if that were the sum total of my writing life, but it wasn’t like that. I published my first piece when I was ten – and I have been adding tools to my kit ever since, under very unglamorous circumstances. I have written everything from travel guide entries (I like to think that my LET’S GO piece on recognizing and avoiding poison oak in Pacific forests is a minor classic) to wine tasting guides (the trick is recognizing that there are only a few adjectives that can legitimately be applied to any given varietal) to political platforms (where so much as a comma in the wrong place can misrepresent an entire policy). Most of my writing experience for publication was on very, very dull topics – but it taught me to write economically and quickly, to be open to critique, and to meet my deadlines, all invaluable tools in the writer’s toolbag.

Having these tools was the key to the swift progression of my post-award life – and, if you must know, to my winning the award in the first place. All right, I am going to be honest with you: when I won the Zola Award last year for my memoir, IS THAT YOU, PUMPKIN? LOVE, LOSS, AND THE FINAL PASSIONS OF PHILIP K. DICK, I had not actually written the book. To be precise, all I had written were what the contest required for entry: the first chapter, the synopsis, and the title page.

I hope all of you out there who have been waiting until your book is perfect before you enter it in a contest find this encouraging. Consider entering contests — especially those like the PNWA, where entrants are guaranteed significant amounts of written feedback — before your work is completely polished. Get your work out there where it can be seen, if only for the experience.

So when a writing friend dared me in February to prepare an entry with only eight hours to go before the contest deadline, I looked upon it as an interesting challenge, one from which I might learn something new. Since I was used to writing on a tight deadline, the chapter tumbled off my fingertips in six hours, the synopsis in half an hour. A quick spell-check (you’d be surprised at how few contest entrants remember to do that), and I was off to the post office.

I want to point out something very important here. I certainly would not have been able to do this if I had not spent YEARS preparing for that day professionally: years sharpening my writing skills so that I was confident that I could write with speed and accuracy; years going to conferences and getting tips on what contest judges like to see in a manuscript; years meeting writing deadlines, and years being brave enough to show my work not only to prospective agents and editors, but also my writing peers, people I knew would give me honest, unsentimental feedback. In a way, I had spent my entire adult life preparing for that day.

So believe me when I tell you: chance favors the prepared mind. Cram that bag of tools as full as you can.

I really did intend to write the book someday, honest I did. There aren’t that many books that show positive relationships between young girls and men in their fifties, and so many of the biographies and articles that have been written about Philip K. Dick are filled with myths about his life – myths, I should add, that he often originated himself. I knew that someday, I was going to have to write a book to set the records straight at last.

But since there was no chance that I was going to win the contest, I figured I had years. I looked upon it as a wonderful opportunity to gain experience I would need later on, when I launched the project for real. Pitch the book, test the waters, and garner some names of agents for down the road. In the meantime, I had a novel that I wanted to finish and ship off to my writing group before I pitched it at the conference.

I had just wrapped up BUDDHA in June when I received the notification that PUMPKIN was a finalist in the PNWA contest. I was pleased to win the five dollars from my friend, but still, I wasn’t too nervous. I had a pitch ready, in the unlikely event that anyone would want to hear about my memoir, and being a finalist could only help me promote my novel. There was no way I was going to win, right?

Except that in this case, chance did indeed favor the prepared mind. Hooray for a well-stuffed bag of tools – and the effort I expended acquiring them. Every last socket wrench helps.

Keep up the good work!

– Anne Mini

Post-conference etiquette

Many of you are no doubt busy prepping your work to send out to agents and editors that you met at PNWA, or perhaps are gearing up for a second round, or working up nerve to send out queries before the end of the summer, so I thought it would be a good time to pass along some do’s and don’ts for presenting requested material. This may be old hat to some of you, but this is precisely the sort of wisdom that tends to be passed only by word of mouth amongst writers.

DO write REQUESTED MATERIALS — PNWA in big, thick pen strokes on the outside of the envelope. As you probably know, agents and editors receive literally hundreds of missives from aspiring writers per week. If they asked for your work, it belongs in a different pile from the 500 unsolicited manuscripts and 1500 query letters.

DON’T write REQUESTED MATERIALS if they did not actually request your work. Instead, write PNWA with the same big, fat pen on the outside of the envelope, so they know you’ve been professional enough to attend a conference and have heard them speak.

DO write PNWA – FINALIST/PLACE WINNER (CATEGORY) on the outside of the envelope if you did get honored in the contest. Both the fiction winner and I (the NF winner) did this in 2004, and every single agent thanked us for it. It kept our work from getting lost in the piles.

DON’T send more material than the agent/editor asked to see. (A big pet peeve for a lot of ‘em.) This is not like a college application, where sending brownies, an accompanying video, or a purple envelope could get you noticed amongst the multitudes: to NYC-based agents and editors, wacky tends to equal unprofessional —- the last label you want affixed to your work. And don’t spend the money to overnight it; it will not get your work read any faster.

DO send a polite cover letter with your submission. It’s a good chance to show that you can maintain appropriate boundaries, and that you are professionally seasoned enough to realize that even a very enthusiastic conversation at a conference does not mean you’ve established an intimate personal relationship with an agent or editor.

DON’T quote other people’s opinions about your work in the query letter, unless those people happen to be well-known writers. If David Sedaris has said in writing that you’re the funniest writer since, well, him, feel free to mention that, but if your best friend from work called your novel “the funniest book since CATCH-22,” trust me, it will not impress the agent.

DO mention in the FIRST LINE of your cover letter either (a) that the agent/editor asked at PNWA to see your work (adding a thank-you here is a nice touch) or (b) that you heard the agent/editor speak at PNWA. Again, this helps separate your work from the unsolicited stuff.

DON’T assume that the agent will recall the conversation you had with her about your work. Remember, they meet scores of writers at each conference: you may not spring to mind immediately. If you had met 468 people who all wanted you to read their work over the course of three days, names and titles might start to blur for you, too.

DO mention in your cover letter if the agent/editor asked for an exclusive look at your work. If an agent or editor asked for an exclusive, politely set a time limit, say, three weeks or a month. Don’t worry that setting limits will offend them: this is a standard, professional thing to do. That way, if you haven’t heard back by your stated deadline, you can perfectly legitimately send out simultaneous submissions.

DON’T give any agent or editor an exclusive if they didn’t ask for it – and DON’T feel that you have to limit yourself to querying only one agent at a time. I’ve heard rumors at every conference that I have ever attended that agents always get angry about multiple submissions, but truthfully, I’ve only ever heard ONE story about an agent’s throwing a tantrum about it – and that only because she hadn’t realized she was competing with another agent for this particular book.

Your time is valuable. Check a reliable agents’ guide to make sure that none of the folks you are dealing with demand exclusives (it’s actually pretty rare), and if not, go ahead and send out your work to as many agents and editors who asked to see it.

DO consider querying agents and editors with whom you did not have a meeting at the conference – and tell them that you heard them speak at PNWA. Just because you couldn’t get an appointment with the perfect person at the conference doesn’t mean that the writing gods have decreed that s/he should never see your work.

DON’T call to make sure the agent received your work. This is another common agenting pet peeve: writers who do it tend to get labeled as difficult almost immediately, whereas you want to impress everyone at the agency as a clean-cut, hard-working kid ready to hit the big time.

If you are very nervous about your work going astray, send your submission with delivery confirmation or enclosed a stamped, self-addressed postcard that they can mail when they receive your package. Don’t call.

DO send an appropriate SASE for the return of your manuscript – with stamps, not metered postage. I always like to include an additional business-size envelope as well, so they can request further pages with ease. Again, you’re trying to demonstrate that you are going to be a breeze to work with if they sign you.

DON’T just ask them to recycle the manuscript if they don’t want it. There are many NYC offices where this will seem like a bizarre request, bordering on Druidism.

DO make sure that your manuscript is in standard format: at least 1-inch margins, double-spaced, every page numbered, everything in the same 12-point typeface. (Most writing professionals use Times, Times New Roman, or Courier; screenwriters use exclusively Courier. And yes, there ARE agents and editors who will not read non-standard typefaces. Don’t tempt them to toss your work aside.)

If you are submitting a nonfiction book proposal, send it in a nice black or dark blue file folder. This is not the time to bring out your hot pink polka-dotted stationary and tuck it into a folder that looks like something that flew out of out of Jerry Garcia’s closet. Think of it as a job interview: a black or blue suit is not going to offend anyone; make your work look as professional as you are.

DON’T forget to spell-check AND proofread in hard copy, not only the manuscript, but also your cover letter. Computerized spelling and grammar checkers are notoriously unreliable, so do double-check. When in doubt, have a writing buddy or a professional proof it all for you.

DO give them time to read your work – and invest that time in getting your next flight of queries ready, not in calling them every day.

DON’T panic if you don’t hear back right away, especially if you sent out your work in late July or August. A HUGE percentage of the publishing industry goes on vacation between August 1 and Labor Day, so the few who stick around are overworked. Cut them some slack, and be patient.

DO remember to be pleased that a real, live agent or editor liked your pitch well enough to ask for your work! Well done!

DON’T be too upset if your dream agent or editor turns out not to be interested in your project, and don’t write that person off permanently; s/he may be wild about your next. Keep your work moving, rather than letting it sit in a drawer. Yes, it’s hard emotional work to keep sending out queries, but you can’t get discovered if you don’t try.

DO take seriously any thoughtful feedback you receive. As you may already know, boilerplate rejection letters are now the norm. If an agent or editor has taken the time to hand-write a note on a form letter or to write you a personalized rejection, you should take this as a positive sign – they don’t do that for everybody. Treasure your rave rejections, and learn from them.

Yes, waiting to be discovered is hard – but in the meantime, keep up the good work!

– Anne Mini

Who am I, and how did I get here?

I am PNWA member Anne Mini, and I am going to be hanging out on this site to answer your questions about the writing life and the publication world for the foreseeable future.

When the PNWA approached me to start blogging here, I was a bit nonplused. Yes, I won the Zola Award in 2004 for Nonfiction Book/Memoir; yes, I signed with an agent I met at PNWA within a few months afterward; yes, my memoir sold to a publisher before the next PNWA conference. Yes, my learning curve for the past year has been rollercoaster-like. But wouldn’t they prefer to have an industry insider hold this spot?

Then I started to think about how different the post-signing process has been than what I expected, about all of the million little things I wish someone had warned me about in advance.

To tell you the truth, I was a bit shell-shocked at first, despite the fact that I came into the marketing and sale process much better prepared than most first-time authors. I run a small freelance editing business, so I have held a lot of authors’ hands through the rigors of being compressed into print. I have seen novels totally rewritten five times over in accordance with the whims of editorial hirings and firings; I have seen academics’ bids for mainstream NF recognition misdirected by marketing departments who apparently had no idea what their books were about; I have seen time after time good books scuttled by bad titles that editors swore would make the difference between indifferent sales and the bestseller list. I thought I was prepared for what might happen to me.


In the slightly more than a year since I won the contest, I have signed with an firecracker of an agent who apparently sold my memoir as she was being wheeled into the maternity ward; wrote, rewrote, and re-rewrote a NF book proposal, discovered that advances and contracts are not always the pleasant, straightforward arrangements that we authors would like them to be, had my title changed thrice, and been threatened with a lawsuit if I published my book at all.

I have, in short, learned a lot very fast.

I am glad to be able to share my experiences with my fellow PNWA members, to show you the mistakes I made (so you may avoid them) and generally learn the lay of the land. Feel free to ask me anything about the agent-finding process, query letters, conferences, residencies, editors, or the publication process as far as I’ve gotten into it.

I may not always know the answer, but when I do, I’ll tell you the truth – and when I don’t, I usually know whom to ask. Standard disclaimers about all of this being my opinion and in no way a guarantee of future success if you take my advice.

So fire away. I’m here to help, so don’t be shy about sending in questions, whether they have to do with my subject du jour or not. I’ll just keep yammering away until I hear from you.

In the meantime, keep up the good work!
– Anne Mini

Mengenali Live Chat Pada Judi Bola Online Resmi Terpercaya

Mengenali Live Chat Pada Judi Bola Online Resmi Terpercaya. Saat ini website judi online seolah jadi bintang di beberapa kelompok. Ini karena keuntungan yang didapat, banyak bettor bettor yang telah sukses dengan menekuni judi online tersebut,yang sedang tergabung dengan bandar judi, bandar judi online, Bandar online, dan Bandar online paling dipercaya.

Apakah itu live chat pada judi bola, Dan apa manfaatnya?

Dalam taruhan perjudian bola, pasti Anda kenal dan seringkali dengar kata live chat kan? Tetapi muncul pertanyaan apa sich live chat online? Buat apa sebetulnya live chat online tersebut? Dan bagaimana pemakaiannya?. Artikel ini datang untuk menjawab dari demikian beberapa pertanyaan yang ada di dalam pikiran Anda.

Live chat situs judi bola pertama kalinya dibikin untuk menolong Anda beberapa pemain taruhan judi online yang alami beberapa kesusahan ketika bermain taruhan judi online. Dengan timbulnya live chat , bila beberapa pemain taruhan judi online alami kesusahan, karena itu kesusahan itu akan secara cepat terselesaikan tak perlu menanti dengan lama.

Tehnis pemakaian dari live chat ini sendiri, nanti beberapa pemain akan dituntun dan dibina oleh customer servis berkenaan kesusahan yang meliputi pertanyaan dan keluh kesah yang diterima. Di website taruhan sah, tentu saja live chat ini benar-benar menolong beberapa pemain untuk cari taktik dan strategi untuk memenangi taruhan dalam perjudian bola tersebut.

Dalam kata lain live chat ini sendiri menjadi tutor Anda saat bermain perjudian pada agen judi online. Tetapi perlu catatan, live chat di Judi Bola sendiri memakai bahasa inggris dalam operasionalisasinya . Maka dalam kata lain, memerlukan pengetahuan dan perlu dilakukan pertajam kekuatan bahasa inggris Anda dalam Lakukan live chat tersebut.

Tetapi untuk Anda yang kurang pengetahuan nya tendang bahasa Inggris Anda tak perlu cemas karena ada dengan bahasa Indonesia. Beberapa orang cuma ketahui manfaat dari live chat online tersebut cuma untuk menuntaskan permasalahan yang didapatkan beberapa pemain. Tetapi bila meneliti lebih jauh ada banyak manfaat dari live chat itu untuk menolong anda memenangi perjudian bola, yang mana diantaranya adalah:

Hal pertama Live chat dapat dipakai umtuk menuntaskan permasalahan yang dihadapai beberapa pejudi bola saat lakukan taruhan judi online. Kedatangan Live chat ini dapat menolong Anda beberapa pemain menangani permasalahan supaya Anda dapat lancar saat bermain
Keuntungan seterusnya Live chat dapat dipakai beberapa pemain buat memperoleh info atau tahap demi tahap atau how to play dalam perjudian bola online dengan meakukan bertanya jawab dengan layanan konsumen lewat live chat. Dalam masalah ini pemain dapat menanyakan ke layanan konsumen mengenai permainan dan mengenai taktik atau strategi yang dipakai di dalam permainan supaya Anda dapat memenangi permainan itu.

Selain itu Live chat dapat dipakai beberapa pejudi bola saat lakukan registrasi pada agen judi online dengan sang layanan konsumen memberi tutorial lewat live chat tersebut.

Live chat bisa juga dipakai beberapa pemain buat mempermudah pemain saat lakukan deposit dengan cepat dengan verifikasi lewat live chat ke layanan konsumen. Dan Live chat dapat dipakai untuk percepat dan memudahkan proses transaksi bisnis withdraw dengan verifikasi ke layanan konsumen lewat live chat tersebut.

Itulah beberapa ulasan berkenaan live chat judi bola dan langkah memakainya. Mudah-mudahan tulisan ini dapat memberi infomasi dan pengetahuan untuk Anda semuanya mengenai live chat itu yang nanti akan berguna untuk Anda.

Beragam Keuntungan Masuk Di Agen Judi Resmi Sbobet Terpercaya

Beragam keuntungan masuk pada agen judi sah sbobet! Jika kamu ingin bermain permainan tentunya kamu saksikan lebih dulu agennya. Karena agen sebagai salah satunya poin penting dalam permainan. Karena tanpa agen karena itu permainan yang kamu permainkan tidak jalan secara lancar. Tidak cuma hanya itu pada agen sendiri memang memberi banyak keringanan. Apa lagi jika kamu ingin tahu karena itu ada beberapa keuntungan yang dapat didapat.

Khususnya untuk kamu yang kerap mainkan perjudian karena itu kamu akan mendapati beragam jenis permainan di sini. Tidak boleh cemas permainan di sini banyak sekali hingga hal yang kamu kerjakan gampang. Tidak boleh salah pada agen kamu bebas pilih permainan yang ingin kamu permainkan. Khususnya untuk kamu yang ingin tahu karena itu silahkan coba permainan itu. Bahkan juga jika kamu ingin tahu ada beberapa keuntungannya. Bagaimana? Ingin tahu?

Apa keuntungannya?
Dalam bermain permainan tentu saja peranan bandar judi resmi sbobet dalam permainan penting sekali. Karena cuma lewat agen saja karena itu beberapa pemain dapat coba beragam jenis permainan itu. Tidak boleh bingung permainan ini gampang sekali dimainkan bahkan juga ada banyak beberapa situs perjudian yang menyiapkannya. Disamping itu kamu dibolehkan jika ingin lakukan taruhan karena ada beberapa sekali opsi jika kamu ingin mencoba. Berikut keuntungan:

1. Transaksi taruhan yang gampang
Dalam masalah ini saat sebelum kamu lakukan permainan memang seharusnya lakukan transaksi bisnis lebih dulu. Karena transaksi bisnis taruhan ini penting sekali, karena dengan lakukan transaksi bisnis taruhan dapat mempermudah kamu dalam bermain permainan. Tidak boleh salah taruhan dalam permainan ini bermacam sekali. Tapi kamu pun tidak bisa lakukan taruhan semaunya. Tetapi harus sesuai ketentuan yang telah disiapkan.

Tidak cuma hanya itu, bandar judi sah sbobet mempermudah kamu jika ingin lakukan transaksi bisnis. Apa lagi jika kamu ingin lakukan transaksi bisnis sebetulnya gampang sekali tetapi hal yang penting kamu kerjakan cukup tentukan saja sistemnya. Selanjutnya tinggal kerjakan saja taruhan sesuai nominal yang diharapkan. Kemudian langsung bisa kerjakan verifikasi pada pihak yang berwajib. Nanti faksi judi langsung akan mengecek pembayaran yang sudah kamu kerjakan nanti.

2. Ada banyak bonusnya
Jika kamu bermain permainan ini karena itu kamu akan mendapati banyak bonusnya . Maka, tidak boleh salah bonus yang diberi agen ini bermacam sekali jadi jika kamu ingin memperoleh bonus. Tentu saja kamu harus tahu apa persyaratan dan ketetapan yang disuruh. Secara umum persyaratan yang perlu kamu kerjakan ialah harus tergabung ke salah satunya bandar judi. Hanya karena bandar judi saja yang dapat memberi kamu bonus ke beberapa pemain.

Bandar judi sah sbobet sebagai salah satunya agen yang memberi bonusnya. Tidak cuma hanya itu, bonus yang diberi banyak juga sekali. Khususnya untuk kamu yang ingin bermain permainan karena itu harus ketahui persyaratan dan ketetapannya. Umumnya ketetapan yang perlu kamu kerjakan ialah kamu cukup kerjakan deposit saja. Nanti kamu akan disuruh lakukan beberapa perputaran . Maka bergantung keputusan tiap agen karena tentunya ada yang lain.

3. Ada beberapa pilihan permainan
Tidak boleh salah jika kamu tergabung ke agen ini karena itu kamu dapat pilih beragam jenis bermainnya. Namun pada bermain permainan ini karena itu kamu harus menyiapkan modalnya lebih dulu. Karena jika kamu telah menyiapkan modal lebih dulu jadi lebih gampang nanti. Khususnya untuk kamu yang ingin bermain permainan karena itu kamu dapat menyiapkan ini ya.

Bandar judi sah sbobet memang memberi kamu beberapa hal . Maka jika ingin tahu karena itu masuk saja bersama agennya!