Mark Terry

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Kutting Through The Krap

June 3, 2008
If you visit one of Josephine Damian's sites, you see she has two lengthy posts about interviewing agent Donald Maas. I recommend you go read them, because Donald doesn't sugarcoat ANYTHING. Whether you agree with him or not is an open question, but I found him to be a breath of fresh air.

The first of my questions on the topic was lengthy and detailed: “Donald,” I asked, “when you receive a manuscript or query that impresses you, when you’re seriously considering taking someone on as client, do you google them? If you do, and they have a blog, a myspace, a website, if they already demonstrate the ability and willingness to self-promote, if they already have that publicity machinery in place by the time they query, does that make a potential client more appealing? Does any of that factor into your decision making process?”


Donald sat patiently listening, taking it all in, and when I was done, he said, “I don’t give a rat’s ASS about ANY of that!”


Mark Terry


Blogger kitty said...

I loved Miss Snark for the same reason. A no-bullshit approach in an agent is refreshing. She called her critiques the crapometer for a reason :)


5:07 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Hi Mark:
I couldn't agree with him more. My blog is really my creative journal. It's a writing exercise each morning . . . and a way to keep in touch with writing pals. I have a LOT of lurkers, and I hear from them on email (not sure why they don't post, one or two have said they are intimidated by the intelligent comments section, who knows?). I suppose . . . possibly . . . it's an avenue to increase sales. But I don't think of it that way. And I don't know any agents who really give a crap.

When I got my last deal with a new editor, he did say he went on Amazon to look at my reviews and was impresses so many were really good. He read my Kirkus review for Poker Diaries (amazingly, for them, a good one, as was the one they gave High School Bites), and a couple of other editorial reviews. He felt like it was proof I had longevitiy in terms of quality--that a decent book wasn't some fluke. And he said that carried weight in his mind. He said he had read my blog. And loved that I had a lot to say. But . . . in the end, I don't think that mattered one iota. He had a proposal in front of him. The committee had a proposal in front of them. It either interested them. Or it didn't.

Obviously, it did.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

--I've been leery of the sugarcoated ones largely because it's so far outside my experience. Also, nothing can be that good.

--I more-or-less started blogging because writers were supposed to have one because it increased sales and got your name out there. After 4 or 5 years of blogging, I probably got a couple sales out of it, but not nearly as many as actually having my books in stores does--or even better, on the front tables. Does it get my name out? Only in a limited way, I think.

I think you should blog if you want to blog, but otherwise there's not much point to it. And I really do agree with Maas's concern that for some writers, the blog is a way of scratching the writing itch, when they might otherwise be writing something for publication. In fact, I strongly think that. When I put together ON WRITING for the website, I was shocked to realize I'd essentially written a book-length work on writing without getting paid for it, and that was only a percentage of the blog entries.

5:45 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Love it. I miss Miss Snark, too.

I definitely think one should be aware of the first impression people get when they google you, and control it to the extent you can. I took my name off my spyscribbler site (except for the header, which is an image so google doesn't know what it says) for just that reason. I need my piano teacher stuff to be up there, too. My "SEO" is repairing slowly, but for awhile, you couldn't FIND my studio website underneath all my spyscribbler stuff.

Now it's more balanced, which I'm cool with, although I wish more of the piano stuff I've done would get back on the first page.

I've blogged since 2000. Most of my blogs disappeared, (is Diaryland still around anymore??), and most were under my pseudonym, because at the time, that was most important in my life. Now I do it mostly because, frankly, there are days when I love talking shop more than working shop. :-)

Pseudonym never talks about writing. I strongly believe that blogging about writing won't get you readers, and might even take some of the "magic" away. But I'll keep doing it, mostly because it's my site, and because I love talking about writing. :-)

Plus, talking about books and writing gets my enthusiasm up for writing. Speaking of which ...

7:49 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I have also--speaking of that itch--seen a few blogs where people really pontificate and dispense a LOT of writing advice--and then going a layer deeper at their site, they are unpublished, not really submitting, self-publishing, whatever. And I wonder if all that energy would be better spent honing craft on the actual work itself. (This jumped out at me today . . . I found one blog that blew me away in that regard. The woman is delusional.)


8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it! Too bad he didn't give a rat's ass about our writing either, though....

1:39 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Donald is one of many, many agents that have at one time or another rejected me as a client (or my work for representation, lest I take it personally).

I have always been amused by Janet Evanovich's comment that she was rejected by every agent in NYC twice before she acquired an agent.

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