Monday, April 30, 2012

what the querier meant to say: publishing euphemisms for all

A few days ago, the Guardian posted this handy guide to decoding publishers' euphemisms at the London Book Fair:
We don't have sales numbers yet – trust us, you don't want to know
I loved the opening – boy, the middle needs work
National publicity and marketing campaign – there's no budget, so you're on your own
I've read the book – I've had it read
To which INTERN would like to add:

Queriers' Euphemisms:

This is my first novel: 

I have nine other manuscripts in various stages of completeness sitting on my hard drive: three hilariously angsty ones I wrote in highschool, three hilariously pretentious ones I wrote in college, two post-college attempts at science fiction that ran into unsolvable plot snarls somewhere around the Xxordon Galaxy, and a NaNo about two old ladies who sneak around shooting people with poison darts.

This is my first novel that's really, actually ready to query. At least, I think it is. *deep breath*

NIGHTS OF SWEATY ENTANGLEMENT is complete at 95,000 words:

NIGHTS OF SWEATY ENTANGLEMENT is 95,000 words long. And it's complete in every way, if by "complete" you mean "spell-checked."

I am a long-time fan of your publishing blog, Irascible Agent:

I left one comment on your blog ten minutes ago.

Thank you for your time and consideration:

In the name of the father, and the son, and the holy ghost, amen. *kisses rabbit foot* *twirls sage bundle* *buries five dollar bill in the back yard* *commences checking in-box*

Authors' Euphemisms:

I bought these boots with money from my advance:

I used my advance to pay off my health insurance, car insurance, cell phone, electricity, gas, and internet bills and to purchase one hallucinatorily overpriced block of goat cheese at the food co-op. I found these boots in the alley next to the dumpster.

I'm working on my web presence:

I have spent approximately ten thousand hours looking at other authors' web presences and despairing of ever being as popular, friendly, good-looking or sociable as they are.

I'll have that Author Questionnaire back to you by Friday:

I will spend between now and Friday freaking out over the fact that no, I do not have any "friends, acquaintances, or professional contacts in the national media" and wondering it that LA Times reporter I met at a party one time and awkwardly Facebook friended counts as a professional contact.

Line edits are going great:

I have not changed out of my unwashed Goodwill bathrobe in six days and the neighbors are starting to worry.


But seriously, if anyone can help INTERN out with that "friends and acquaintances in the national media" thing, she will let you borrow her (extremely soft and fuzzy) Goodwill bathrobe. Oh, fine, you can borrow it anyway. Just don't wash it.


  1. I have no answers for you, INTERN. My apologies, but thank you for the laugh.

  2. The bio I just emailed my UK editor involved a herd of buffalo, so I don't think I have the kind of connections you're looking for. Though I did know some people on my high school paper at one point.

    1. dang! if only INTERN had joined her high school newspaper then she wouldn't be in this quandary. congrats on the buffalo, BTW!

  3. Umm.. I don't know about making friends and acquaintances, but if you'd like national fame really really fast, you can go the scandal route.

    Try to go for something both involving nudity and sacrilege, that is also unintentionally hilarious and make sure someone youtubes it.

    (Nudity or Sacrilege alone have totally been done to death. You'll have to go big.)

    (No, I don't have any national media friends either. :( But I did giggle over your page, and I left you a comment, so uh.. will you be my friend? I promise not to wash your robe, I have my own Snuggie to live in.)

    1. all hail the Snuggie!

      what kind of sacrilege do you think would be best? goat sacrifice? nude goat sacrifice? mild swearing?

    2. Well, I was personally planning to go with streaking through the local Synagogue wearing a bacon bikini, but I can't get past the waste of bacon. :(

  4. Yikes, I am waaaaay too honest for this biz, and I don't know anyone in national media, I'm so sorry. (See? Honest?) Oh, wait, I do know one person. She's already in my author's questionnaire :)

    1. you can never be too honest :) congrats on finishing your own AQ!

  5. I love everything about this. :)

  6. I love "this is my first novel" :) YUPS!

    I have contacts in Japan and Barbados. Guess I'm publishing here or there?

    1. "this is my first novel" has got to be the world's most common query lie...

      PS you could really work that Barbados thing!

  7. In my mad rush to read as many queries as possible so I can learn how to write one, I did notice another common phrase that I must ask about. Is the phrase "my novel has series potential" really just a euphemism for, "I already wrote/have detailed outlines of the next two novels in the trilogy"?

    Because that's always how it reads it me, even in the most awesome query letters.

  8. Don't forget, from the author camp, "OF COURSE I have experience with non-fiction." (After all, I *did* write for my high school newspaper.)