• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Alone In the Dark

Hi Betsy,I read on a recent blog post that you’ve been reading screenplays.  Do you, as an agent, represent screenplays?Also, and I’m sure different agents would give different answers to this, but I trust your opinion so I’ll ask you: an article I’ve written has recently been published in an e-zine but it is entirely unrelated to the novel I’ve written and for which, I am seeking representation.  Should I still include the fact that an article of mine has been published in my query letters to agents?

Thanks for your time,

NO and  No. My screenwriting agent dumped me so we are in same boat, except that I would sooner send a pair of Spanx than an unrelated article in a submission.

Dear Betsy:

I am a long way away from this becoming an issue, but I like to think positive, so I thought I’d get it ironed out in advance.  When authors sign books, they don’t, like, use the same signature they do for signing official documents, right?  Will I have to make up a different, autograph-only signature for my ravening hordes of fans?

Thank you for what I am sure will be both a fine kicking of my milky-white ass and an excellent answer.  Love you, byeeee!

[anonymity appreciated!]

Dear John Hancock: I usually hire a few Labradoodles to do my signing, so I can’t help you. And then I get my thumbprint changed, and my eye color, and I start eating fish for breakfast.  Love, Me.

Any other questions?

22 Responses

  1. We do Love, You, Betsy. From the bottoms of our grifting hearts.

    But you’re making this shit up, right?

  2. Is it wrong that this makes me feel better?

  3. I am reluctant to ‘bother’ you about really important stuff that I know you would have an interest in, and I am utterly dismayed that you read that stuff and reply to it, even facetiously. Milky-white ass, indeed. . .

    Sorry about the screenplay thing. It wasn’t a good idea.

  4. I will just, when the time comes, sign a big XXX.

  5. I’m with Tetman; I love you.

    But honestly, Tetman, would she make up “ravening fans” and “byeee?” I think not.

    • Wait a minute, peeps. She said her screenwriting agent dumped her. Not having ever had an agent, I don’t know how serious this is. Are you okay, Betsy? Should we have a group hug, or do the comments here constitute a reasonable facsimile of one?

  6. My eyes zoned in on “Send a pair of Spanx.”

    To which I can only add “stat!”

  7. Dear Betsy,
    Most agents are very clear on what they represent and what they want to see while others make mention of wanting to see everything even if it’s outside of their stated list. Are you in the former or latter category?

    It has to be daunting wondering whether or not it could have been you bringing the Gnomes in Spanx: The Seedy Underbelly of Gardens to fruition…

  8. Spanx? That some sort of fetish thingy? The pic reminds me of my sweet little Bichon Frise whom we lost a month ago. Bichy boy was the sweetest. Bittersweet memories.

  9. Setting aside the normal caveats–everyone’s different, there’s no one way to write–what do you tell your writers about outlines?

    After a novel tanks, is there anyway to squeeze a few more bucks from it? Can I throw in a few werewolves, search-and-replace the character names, and try to sell it as a new book with a new title?

    Barring any contractual language that covers this point, is there any way to get the rights back from the publisher after a book has stopped selling but before it’s officially out of print? I know agents sometimes ask for the rights back, and maybe get them, maybe just foreign, whatever–does it simply depend on the publisher’s mood that morning?

    What’s the downside to changing pseudonyms every three months and selling each book as a ‘debut novel’? (Until one hits the list, of course, and then retroactively claiming all the previous titles.)

    What is the big industry association, the AAP? Do they suck at lobbying? Are they underfunded, idiotic, or just focused on corporate profits instead of the health of the industry? Why do I suspect that that’s a stupid question?

  10. I’ll put my head on the chopping block because I’m sending out submissions. I’ve been approached by a foreign publisher about my book. Plural if you include the e-guys. A translator has offered to take on the project no payment up front. It’s important to me it’s published in my mother tongue first so I’m not pursuing this until I realize there’s no way in hell I’ll get printed here. Will any agent care to hear this if there’s no formal agreement? Right now it’s not included in my query.

    If I were to argue the point, I’d say maybe the foreign rights would cover part of the expense to produce my pos, or at least throw some pocket change the agent’s way making it a little softer risk, but I’ve never worked in the book industry so…. ?

    Feel free to make fun of me. I have a thick hide (with lots of padding).

  11. Thinking that, should I ever have the opportunity to send an unrelated article in a submission, the memorable Spank reference ought to save me.

  12. I broke up with my agent, don’t have a blog, or a following, ignore my Twitter account in favor of ass in an office chair writing. Sure, I feel like a loser. But the real question is when I resubmit for representation should I act like I’ve never been married, tell them all about my boring divorce, or what?

    • Oh this is a good one.

    • I was actually just in this position. If you’re published, you should mention it and merely say you’re looking for new representation. Once you hook new agent, you can explain what happened.

      If you broke with agent, because she never sold anything, then I wouldn’t admit it in query. Unless you’re submitting same project, in which case, they definitely need to know. If you’ve got a fresh project, it’s probably better to pretend you’re fresh person.

  13. in a world full of writers increasingly interested in trends/brands/superficial shit, how do you counsel writers when their writing isn’t “true” to the character, story, etc.?

    e.g. i recently read a (published) story in which a teenaged boy smelled a teenaged girl’s hair and it smelled like hydrangeas–what 16 year-old knows what hydrangeas smell like? this really threw me out of the story.

    what, if any, are the challenges of providing feedback to your clients given this kinda thing?

  14. My manuscript is written in various crayon hues on a long ass roll of brown paper bag material. I think most of the words are spelled korrectly. Is it acceptable to submit as is? I mean, I am kind of pushed for time and all. Also, when I’m published will I have to clip my hair(s) for the jacket photo or do they airbrush all the things that identify me as not too far removed from a Neanderhtal?

  15. Do you think they’ll let me play the protagonist in the movie version of my book? And direct it as well? Seems reasonable.

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