"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, September 8, 2008

Students! Pay Attention!

So Karen Syed mentioned Yahoo!Answers in her blog one day and I thought, hey, it's my dream job calling - sitting in a big comfy chair while I give everyone my opinion. I went to the Books & Authors section and started answering questions. This is what I found:

1. Most of the questions seem to revolve around the Twilight series and whether you, like, really really like it, um, and, like, how much do you love Edward, and aren't you just so bummed that Stephanie Meyer isn't going to finish Midnight Sun...? Yeah, in mostly those words, only not as well written.

2. Some of the questions are of the "I was supposed to read the book and do a report but could you just tell me the plot and help me answer the questions" variety. I want to answer these, but the reply box doesn't have a good, animated laugh.

3. The questions I like to answer have to do with: how do you publish a book, how do you cure writer's block, how do you find an agent, how do you think of a story to write about, etc. Some of the writers appear to need help on their spelling and grammar, but these are the questions I like to answer.

The only thing I don't understand about all these questions is, why do people ask them over and over if they've already been asked and answered? I mean, the questions on this website never stop, and there are at least 2-3 a day asking "how do I get published?" Can't anyone do a search?

Some of the answers are frightening. My favorite is always, "Find a list of publishers and send your whole manuscript to each one." Yeah, there's a good way to make friends and influence people.

I offer the same advice that's been pounded into me, via writer's conferences, author/editor/publisher websites, blogs, etc. "Write a good query letter. There are books and websites that show you how to do this. Then go to the library and check out Writer's Market. They list agents and publishers, along with the types of books they represent, and whether they're accepting new clients. Find agents and publishers who take your genre and send them the query letter, plus any materials they request in their submission guidelines. Do not send them anything else. If you get a lot of rejections, consider joining a writer's group or attending a writer's conference, where you can share your work with other writers and get their feedback.

I wish I could just store this answer and push a button.

What I really wish is that I could tell SurferDude what he needs to do when he asks if someone will write his essay on Catcher in the Rye that's due tomorrow. READ THE DAMN BOOK, JOCK-O!

Yahoo!Answers hates that language.

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