Saturday, July 12, 2008

Slothful Saturday Scoops

A lazy Saturday morning here, where I am still sitting in my pajamas in front of my box fan on my bed at 11 a.m. The sun is milky, the street is quiet, the day stretches before me, as langorous and unscheduled as a cat.

(I am not sure whether that's a good simile or not, but it's Saturday and I'm feeling lazy (too lazy to find another word so I'm not repeating myself, even). So what the hell.)

Next Kidlit Drinks Night!
And it's a Very Special Swanky Summer Kidlit Drinks Night, on July 29 at 6:30 p.m. We're abandoning our downscale punk digs at Sweet & Vicious and heading uptown to someplace I've always wanted to visit -- the Library Hotel, at 299 Madison Ave. (at 41st St.), and its Bookmarks Lounge, which has an outdoor roof deck. See you all there!

Submissions News, Part I: Most of the June-to-mid-July SQUIDs went out yesterday. The remainder will follow this coming week.

Submissions News, Part II:
I am closing to most unagented submissions for the next two and a half months -- through October 1, 2008 -- to give me time to try to really, truly, once-and-for-all clear out my backlog (the goal is to have this done by my 30th birthday in September, to start that fourth decade with a clean slate). Agented submissions are still very much welcome; or if I have requested a revision of a manuscript from you, or you were at the New Jersey SCBWI conference and have the sticker to prove it, you can still send submissions along as well. But no new unagented or unsolicited manuscripts until further notice, please.

A bit of advice: In this latest batch of SQUIDs, I noticed one sneaky Pete tried to circumvent the one-ms.-at-a-time rule by sending three different manuscripts in three different genres under three different names. The giveaways? The three names all shared common elements; the addresses were all along the same road in a rural part of a Midwestern state; the three manuscripts were dated within five days of one another; and all three query letters began in the exact same way: "Attention Ms. Klein: My manuscript [title] is a [number]-word [genre] about [subject]," in the same font.

Do not do this, people. It is not cool. We editors are not stupid; we notice these things, and they annoy us, and that hurts your chances of getting any of the three ms. through, as I don't want to work with someone who tries to trick me. Send me your one best ms. that seems most suited to me based on what else I edit, and wait your turn.

(My favorite Sneaky-Writer-Outwitted story: Back when I was Arthur's editorial assistant, we received a manuscript set among smugglers in Dorset, beautifully "written" by a woman who claimed to have been working on it for ages. But two things set my antennae humming: one, the "manuscript" was already formatted and typeset into book form, and two, the style and subject matter were distinctly old-fashioned -- still interesting, but not like most contemporary ms. we see, and not in a self-aware retro manner, either. So out of curiosity, I Googled the first sentence, and it took me straight to this page for Moonfleet, on the public-domain literature website Bibliomania.


So I called the number given on the cover letter and the woman picked up. I identified myself and where I worked, and she said "Oh, hello" -- excitement rising in her voice at getting a call from a publisher.

"Yes, I was very intrigued by the manuscript that you submitted. You wrote this book?" I said.

"Yes, I've been working on it for years and years," she said.

So I told her what I had found online -- that the text of her book exactly matched the text of Moonfleet by J. Meade Falkner -- and she said very quickly, "I've never heard of that book or that author," and hung up.

And that was kind of fun, foiling a literary fake. But the practice of faking? Not cool, people. Not cool at all.)

Happinesses of the Season: My new laptop battery (it sustains a charge for three hours rather than five minutes!); cute summer dresses and sandals; sangria; the Frames' Fitzcarraldo and The Cost; This Book Isn't Fat, It's Fabulous, by Nina Beck, which is indeed fabulous (and which, if you know the author, is exactly like spending a couple hours with her), and Paper Towns by John Green, which made me laugh out loud more than any book so far this year; Scharffen Berger chocolate.


  1. could someone be so stupid as to try to get a book they didn't write published? Didn't they think *someone* would know?!

  2. Not the first literary fraud I've heard of; there were anecdotes about a famous author (name forgotten now) who sent around copies of an already published book to publishers and bragged that nobody recognized it. I always thought they just dismissed it.
    Anyway, thanks for Bibliomania and Moonfleet, which I started reading online and can scarcely "put down," as it were (for how do you put down a computer? put to sleep, perhap?) and will have to keep reading it. That woman knew to steal from the best, didn't she?

    Oh, may I put in a plug? I wrote a middle-grade novel years ago and haven't found a publisher, so I'm giving it away at this URL:

  3. Whew! Glad to be one of the slushpile authors who got in under the wire before you took a sabbatical from unagented material! Whew again.

    Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

  4. Thank you for reading our SQUIDS. I'm sure there are other things you would rather do with your time.

    Here's a virtual glass of Limonata and plate of McVities to enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

  5. AND here's a virtual 20-mile bicycle ride so you sweat while reading the manuscripts!

  6. People are strange. When I was an art director for a very big shoe company a woman brought in a very nice portfolio filled with tee shirt and fabric designs. I asked her about the process and she finally confessed to going shopping and giving a pile of designer designs for her assistant to knock off. Busted!

    Stay cool in the summer heat!


  7. Whoa, I've never heard of people doing such crazy stuff!