I try not to hate any group as a whole, but lately Russians have been making this difficult. For instance, they hit this blog with about a thousand times more spam than people of any other nationality. And last weekend, I was hanging out with some friends at our regular bar, a place called James Beach in Venice, when a blonde Russian girl with a pretentious hat walks up to me and says, “Move your dumb ass off that chair so I can sit down.” I look at the girl, and point out some empty stools across the bar. The blonde Russian then decides to stand there and call me and “asshole” over and over, apparently believing that this would bully me into moving from the stool. I turn my back to her and keep talking to my friends. After a few more minutes of being ignored, the girl puts her hand in my lap. I shook free from her hand and continued to ignore her. Then she started yelling again, and continued that for a while longer until she finally went away, or maybe she didn’t. She could still be there for all I know.
The point is that almost all of the Russians I have encountered lately are not just rude, they’re downright deranged…which brings us to the ridiculous amount of spam in Russian that this blog receives. Some blog entries clearly attract more spam than others, and it seems to be determined by the title of the blog entry. I don’t know which catch-words the Russians go for, but the blog entry titled “’God Loves the Great Western Forum,’ says Prince” has proven to be the big winner, receiving a staggering 742 spam emails in Russian.
And you know what, glassy-eyed Russian girl who put her hand in my lap only to be told by my friends that I have a wife, and then responded by yelling “asshole” at me about 15 more times…you can go fuck yourself, along with all the Russian spammers. I’m never giving you my bar stool. And every single one of the 742 Russian spams has been shit-canned by me, never to be seen by anyone. I won’t be bullied, especially not by some obnoxious fucking lowlife Russians.
Now you all have a good day. And watch out for any Russians who want your bar stool, or think you want to buy illegal pharmaceuticals from Eastern Europe.
Hola! I’ve been away for a while, and here are some reasons why…
I’ve been busy as hell with some writing gigs apart from this blog. I’ve also been traveling with my wife and our baby, who’s now 7 months old. My wife’s job required her to go to New York Fashion Week. (I know – nothing says “me” like NY Fashion Week.) And since I’m not out-of-place enough in the tents of Fashion Week, my wife’s company also put us up at at the groovier-than-thou Mondrian Soho which was overrun with fashion folks and frantic trend-lemmings.
So we’re staying amid the mobbed screaming chaos of crazed man-bitches and stuck-up coke whores…with a baby! It was madness. To their credit, the entire staff of this ultra-hip hotel could not have been friendlier or cooler with the baby. In fact, the hotel people were awesome. We needed to keep the baby bottles in a champagne bucket, and the room service guys were happy to keep it continually loaded with ice. In fact, after a couple days, they were stopping by just to see the baby, who by this point had charmed the entire hotel.
Baby is a champ! She seemed to instinctively know when to turn on the charm and win over the jaded New Yorkers, every time it mattered. Cab drivers, waiters, everybody. She didn’t cry for a minute on the flight there or back. (God, I hope that lasts.) I was grievously dreading being “that guy” with the baby on the plane, saying “sorry” over and over. But for all the nasty looks we received while walking on the plane, baby was cute as can be the entire time, and all of those nasty face-makers can suck it!
After our Nick-and-Nora-with-baby hotel stay, we navigated the crowds and gridlock of the 9-11 anniversary and the U.S. Open, and rented a car to drive out of the city. We then discovered that there is currently construction the entire way from Newark to Trenton (seriously, wtf?), and then made our way along the east coast so that baby could meet a bunch of her relatives. It was great.
But now we’re back, and I’ve got the writing gigs somewhat contained, so it’s time to return to Getting Published the Hard Way…
I’m not Jewish, but who cares – Happy Rosh Hashanah!
On the opening day of their new year, many Jews perform a ritual called Tashlich, where they gather at a large natural body of water, empty their pockets and toss pieces of bread into the drink. I’ve always loved this idea. While I’ve never actually done it, I see people doing it along Venice Beach every year on Rosh Hashanah. Like many Jewish religious customs, it works nicely on a metaphorical level, at least for me.
Anyhow…I hope everyone who celebrates this has a smashing new year!
…And just like in Max Ophuls’ Le Ronde, we are back to where we started, complete with charming French raconteurs and Simone Signoret as the prostitute. Ah, the wistful carousel of life…
Here it is again:
Go to a bookstore and find books that are similar to yours. Then look in the “acknowledgments” section for the name of the author’s agent. In no time at all, you will have a list of agents who represent writers like you. Now all you have to do is contact these agents to ask them to handle your book…
I have endured the long haul and truly put this little bit of expert advice to the test. Did it work? Not really…but there are some worthwhile lessons to be learned here…
By the time the book “similar to yours” is in your hand in a bookstore, several years have passed since the agent first took it on. By now, since the book is in your hand, the agent has probably moved on to bigger things and is not interested in your first-time book the way he or she was when they signed the author currently in your hands.
In fact, I have since learned this from other agents I’ve contacted who deal in books similar to mine. Yeah, maybe they had a hit with someone like me (and in some cases, not like me, unless I’m like the I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell guy, which I’m not.) These days, that agent is handling celebrity memoirs and only interested in 7-figure advances, which I’m definitely not getting. Now he wants Serena Williams or Anderson Cooper…not me or anyone like the other un-famous clients he had when he was just starting.
As for those agents who are more concerned with literary endeavors, as opposed to outright starfuckers, the ones who had successes with complete unknowns a few years ago are mostly now hoping to sign established authors…and make more money than your book, or a book by any unknown, will probably bring them.
Realistically, you need the next agent no one’s heard of yet. But how do you find this agent? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s most likely not by following “What the Experts Tell You To Do.”
So now we know. Yep…after many months, and some rather questionable behavior on my part, we have determined that it’s pretty much bullshit.
The “experts” only say this because they’re trying to get rid of you. This advice sounds so unimpeachably logical that it’s hard to question without being dismissed as a bumbling novice. But now, because I have pursued this advice to its most tedious lengths, you don’t have to.
The particular agent whom I chose to pursue – ”Becka Twist” – has soft taste, a soft selling style, and whether she realizes it or not, seems to only mostly handle women. I hadn’t noticed that her client list was almost entirely female (all except two). However, if I had noticed that, I wouldn’t have thought it would matter that much. But maybe it did…On further reflection, it turns out that at her old agency, Becka handled mostly women who humorously chronicled their single lonely lives, like Cathy in the comic strip. Then Becka stepped away to have her baby, returning during the “Twilight”-fueled YA boom, and moved into Young Adult fiction.
This was a while ago. Based on my recent surveillance, it would appear that Becka is moving back into non-fiction. However, instead of concentrating on women who are unhappily single, she now handles women who complain about their babies. Becka seems to be cultivating a new client list of modern-day Erma Bombecks.
So maybe I picked the wrong agent to stalk. Big deal. I still managed to track her down at her home, break through her reluctance and bond with her, and then charm her into reading and discussing my treatment. It’s just a matter of determination and time now. So maybe the expert advice is worthwhile, if you know how to apply it. It may not uncover the right agent for you, but it can demonstrate if you have the right skills within you to succeed…kind of like when young Harry Potter first discovered his talent for speaking with snakes.
Besides, I think it’s good to turn the tables on a random agent now and then. Keeps them all on their toes.
THE BITTER END
After seemingly endless machinations, I have finally succeeded in tracking down Becka Twist and convincing her to read my one-page treatment. At this point, I’m so beyond considering Becka a viable agent to handle my book that it’s somewhat laughable. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want her to want it…
“I love this treatment! What a story!” Becka says, “And the writing is fantastic!”
“Cool. Thanks,” I reply.
“But with my new agency, I’m really concentrating on the Young Adult market. And I’m only handling fiction these days. I left most of my non-fiction writers behind at Quarto.”
“Kaythanksbai!” And with that chipper, young adult catchphrase, I hang up on Becka Twist. After all these months and finagling, the joke’s over and I’m done.
As Maya Angelou said, “Achievement brings its own anticlimax.” Because the second this particular conversation with Becka Twist began, the whole adventure ended for me. I have lost whatever interest I ever had in Becka as an agent. This grew to become all about me and my ability to get to any agent I choose, and that has already been demonstrated.
I can hound and stalk and worm and charm my way into any situation that I will need to. I have followed What the Experts Tell You to Do to its bitter end, maneuvering around every obstacle in my path. So I hang up the phone, and smile.
Fuck her. I’m going to get published.
Next up: We’ll discuss the lessons to take away from What the Experts Tell You to Do. Also, now that this is done, at some point, I think I’ll tell some stories about agents who have pursued me to uncomfortable lengths, just to keep things balanced.
There have been several agents whom I have very politely (at first) passed on, and I was going to leave them out of this. But since a few readers of this site have contacted me to question my aggressive methods, I guess we’ll share some tales from the flip side…
THE LONG HAUL…
Weeks pass. I’ve sent Becka a couple more emails to her query address, which I have now decided is useless. With a little digging on Publishers Marketplace, and enlisting the aid of Simon’s assistant Bucky, I eventually figure out Becka’s “good email.”
So I email Becka at her good email address. Then I email her again. And again. July turns into August. Just so we’re clear, I’ve been actively pursuing other (and frankly, better) agents for ages now, so What the Experts Tell You to Do has become a fun, little, obsessive exercise in establishing how determined I can be. And apparently, I can be pretty fucking determined.
Becka won’t respond to my emails, but now I’ve got a giant bug up my ass to see this game through to the end. So I start calling the Twist Agency to try to talk to Becka. Sometimes a soft-voiced assistant answers and takes a message. More often than not, I get voicemail. I’m pretty sure that Becka’s new agency is a wee start-up that she does from home with her new baby.
Soon, I’m calling Becka Twist several times a week. She never gets back to me, and I don’t care. I keep calling her, whenever I’ve got some down-time and need a distraction. Each time, I leave a message that sounds like it’s the first time I’ve called. My messages are as friendly and happy as can be. By the 10th message, I imagine that Becka is probably growing a little concerned. By the 25th message, I’m pretty sure that Becka is completely terrified.
Am I stalking her? Yes. Do I give a shit? NO! Because this is what the experts say to do, so it must be the correct thing.
Today’s lesson: It’s a thin line between persistent and creepy. But this has grown oddly cathartic, and rather fun.
We interrupt this regularly scheduled post to bring you breaking news about the impending Babygeddon. Baby’s mom (aka my wife) has to go away for a few days, leaving me alone with our beautiful 5-month-old baby daughter. While I’m sure this will be terrific, and I remind myself of this every few seconds (There – just did it again!), you never know how things will go with a 5-month-old, especially since she’s our first and every single day is an entirely new world.
Oh, I’m sure it will be fine.
That said (every few seconds), Baby and I will proceed with our intended plans to have a keg party, possibly re-do the living room and end up in an O.J.-style marathon “slow speed” chase on the L.A. freeways .
We’ll pick up the saga of Becka Twist, as well as other fun stuff, post-Babygeddon…
AN INTRIGUING TWIST…
A few weeks after the crushing blow of Becka Twist’s seemingly permanent maternity leave, I get this communiqué from the front lines, where my spy Simon has uncovered some useful intel.
There was an item in this week’s Publishers Weekly I thought might interest you. “Becka Twist” has started her own agency, The Twist Agency, based in Brooklyn, and she can be reached at this email address: email@example.com
A new lead! I’m back on the case, and immediately email Dina Swell to see if she can help me in any way. I’m hoping Dina will call Becka and tell her to represent my book, but after some friendly email chatter, the best I can get out of Dina is this:
I hope Becka likes your book as much as I did. She’s a great agent and a great friend. Good luck!
Such a great friend that she never told you she was leaving Quarto to start her own agency? Hmm… Not exactly what I was hoping for, but I don’t really know exactly what their relationship is. Besides, what I squeezed out of Dina is definitely good enough to use when I contact Becka, as in “Hey there Becka, I was just talking about you with Dina Swell, who’s a big fan of my book, etc.”
So now it’s time to send a query to Becka’s new agency. Of course, I usually try to track down the agent’s “good email” as opposed to this crappy query line, (SEE “POWER TOOLS” http://www.how-2-get-published.com/?p=236 ) but since this is a brand spanking new agency, maybe the query email address is still fresh enough to actually reach Becka. Probably not, but let’s find out…
So I fire off a new query to Becka Twist: Dear Becka, Blah blah vampire emergency blah. I know you’ve had huge successes with Xxx Xxxxx, Yyyyy Yyyy, and other favorite authors of mine. I would be absolutely thrilled if you would consider my book, Zzzz zz zzz Zzzzz…
Now we wait…again.
Today’s lesson: I warned you this story was long. But I will not give up!