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Welcome to the blog and site of Iowa Author Buzz Malone. I always enjoy hearing from readers. Please leave comments and send me emails to let me know what you think. Your opinions matter more than you might think. Your words inspire me more than you could ever know. To find out more about my writing and books, please click above on the book titles or email me at buzzdmalone@gmail.com

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Expert Interview on Literary Agents

During the course of wasting the vast majority of a year researching how to find and query literary agents, I've done a lot of reading. I've read countless books and articles and blogs on the subject.

Second to almost none, my favorite have been blog posts by authors (that I've only heard of in blog posts) who talk about how to "choose an agent" or how to "hire an agent." Invariably, these include telling little tidbits in them, like, "...my first agent, who was recommended by an author friend of mine...blah, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc."

I thought it would be useful to my own readers to reach out to one of these experts and conduct a more thorough interview.
Me: That was an awesome blog post you wrote about how to "choose a literary agent."

Expert: Thank you. I know, right?

Me: For my readers, please share with us how you got your start.

Expert: Well, I wrote this awesome manuscript. It was totally awesome, too, because I have a masters in English Literature and I know exactly where to put my commas.
Me: That's very important to know. My readers would love to know how you got your first agent?

Expert: Well, I had finished my awesome manuscript, and I was talking to my neighbor about it...

Me: Your neighbor?

Expert: Yeah. He's a New York Times best selling author, and he said that I should totally go to this big pitch conference that was coming up in New York. He said that his agent would be there too, so I should totally go and show him my manuscript and he would let him know that I was coming.

Me: So, what happened next?
Expert: I totally took my manuscript to the pitch conference in New York City.

Me: How was your experience there, at the conference?
Expert: It was terrific! It was the best experience of my life! I paid $3,450.00 to attend the conference, plus another $3,800.00 for the hotel, which was no big deal because my hubby and I live next door to a NYT bestselling author, so cash really isn't a problem.

Me: Well, that's good. You're very fortunate that you could afford that. Not everyone can.
Expert: Yeah, well, that's what separates the people who really want it from the ones who aren't that serious about it. Anyhoo, I got to listen to B-list authors talk for a whole week, and then I got to present my work to someone from an actual literary agency!

Me: Wow. That sounds great. How did that go?
Expert: Well, the agent and I spent a whole bunch of time going over my manuscript and he said that it was totally awesome and deserved to be published! We just had to make some changes to it first. So, we spent the entire weekend going over the manuscript and making it perfect!

Me: So, what sort of things did he want you to change?
Expert: He said the commas were all perfect. We just had to have everything else rewritten, and we added zombies to it and packaged it as a Young Adult novel. We sold it that following Monday!

Me: That sounds great. So, what made you decide to choose another agent?

Expert: Well, I was talking to some of my other NYT bestselling author neighbors, and they totally said that I shouldn't be paying so much for postage. So, I started shopping around by having them call their agents for me, and then I finally settled on one who didn't charge for postage at all! I totally thought I should blog about it so, you know, others could benefit from all of my knowledge and experience.

Me: We are certainly glad that you did. You're posts have been extremely beneficial, especially the parts about making sure to have NYT bestselling authors live next door.

Expert: No probs. It's my way, you know, of giving something back.

Me: Thank you.

Expert: Don't mention it.

Thanks for Reading!

Note: If you're reading this blog in Europe, please drop me an email at buzzdmalone@gmail.com I would love to know how you heard about it! Thank you!


Good Feelers With Jenna!

Jenna CosgroveJan 29, 2013

I don't see what's so bad about that. It's a standard rejection. Also, it was not 'spammed' to you. A reply to a query you send to someone isn't spam - it's a reply.

Buzz MaloneYesterday 7:14 AM

Jenna, Thank you for that very insightful comment! Now that I've viewed the entire situation through your 'glass is half full' perspective, I realize that I was horribly mistaken. Good luck with your future in literary career management.

Jenna CosgroveYesterday 7:07 PM

Hey Buzz. I love snarky people. Snark away, however in your quest for representation you might find that posts like yours are more detrimental than anything. 

Buzz Malone8:52 PM

Dear Jenna,
Thank you for taking the time to voice your concern for my ongoing personal struggles. I couldn't agree with you more. My difficulty finding literary representation is clearly the result of my own negativity and has absolutely nothing to do with a skewed selection process that is comparable to purchasing a powerball ticket, unless Steven King happens to be your neighbor. Hopefully, now that I have more fully understood the error of my ways (and attached a picture of a furry bunny and a smiley face to my query letter), the rainbows and unicorns that I seek shall magically appear. Best Wishes! Buzz

Query Revision Every Literary Agent Will Love!

Dear Agent,

Thank you for your recent rejection of my novel. Based on your recent selections, I’ve made some alterations to my story query letter. By avoiding the tiresome theme of actually writing quality literary fiction, I’ve updated it to better hold your interest (also, I've included a picture of some sparkly things at the end!). I think you will find this revised version far more interesting and marketable! 

The only thing worse than taking screaming kids on a road trip is being saddled with a cantankerous octogenarian angry vampire. On his journey, Walter Mitchell will leave in his wake, an ecstatic Iowa nurse, an agitated Tennessee restaurant owner, a chafing Georgia state trooper, and an affronted Florida gas station attendant love struck teenager with a vampire bitten neck.
When four nursing home residents vampires are drawn together, it is only due to the inescapable bond of being the only lucid males at the Meadow Brook Assisted Care Home. One of them, Walter, is loud, obnoxious, rude, and following multiple strokes, downright mean at times a vampire. Under normal circumstances, it’s all the other three residents vampires can do to share a table with him. When a dying mobster zombie shows up and regales the unlikely quartet with a tale of buried cash something magical in Havana, Walter is obsessed by it. 

Walter is convinced the mob werewolf clan is going to kill him for stealing pocket money  something magical from their dying boss if he doesn’t get away from Meadow Brook soon. Even that doesn’t stop him from giving the stolen cash (their traveling money) magical fairy beans away to a young nurse hobbit he is hoping to woo become platonic friends with. Now, Walter must try and make it all the way to Cuba, the magical fairy land, and find the buried treasure, before his unwitting vampire partners discover he’s broke. The mob werewolves didn’t kill him, but that doesn’t mean his already reluctant traveling companions won’t leave him for dead undead. Walter will have to use everything within his manipulative arsenal batman belt to ensure the pensioners vampires make the journey, and get the loot…together. 

LOSING MEADOW BROOK, an 115,000 word humorous adult fiction Young Adult Fiction, follows this improbable foursome of runaway geriatrics vampires on the most disagreeable road trip of their lives. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Literary Agent Rejection Complaints Rejected

Jenna CosgroveYesterday 9:40 PM
I don't see what's so bad about that. It's a standard rejection. Also, it was not 'spammed' to you. A reply to a query you send to someone isn't spam - it's a reply.
Buzz Malone7:14 AM
Jenna, Thank you for that very insightful comment! Now that I've viewed the entire situation through your 'glass is half full' perspective, I realize that I was horribly mistaken. Good luck with your future in literary career management.
I was apparently wrong about my feelings regarding the literary agent's choice of words in her Form Rejection Letter. Stating that she (or he, because God forbid we actually call anyone out on their practices. It might cause them to summarily reject my queries without actually reading them...oh, wait, they're already doing that) had chosen poor words in the spammed out rejection response was wrong of me and I apologize to the literary agent involved, Jenna, and all of my regular readers (hi mom!).

The Sweet Smell of Texas Sized Freedom

Last night, something wonderful happened. It was at a little bar and grill along the San Antonio River Walk where we stopped to eat. The host asked if I wanted to sit in either the "smoking or non-smoking" section. It's been so long since I had anyone ask me that question that I nearly didn't know how to respond.
After all, in Iowa, smokers have been confined to back alleys, a football field removed from any door, where we share dark corners with crack addicts and heroine junkies.
Sure, it started out innocently enough, when they asked us to sit outside and smoke, you know, so the people inside the office didn't have to breathe in our toxic emissions.
But pretty soon, the people inside the offices started walking out the door and complaining about the horrible smell that was getting on them from the smokers standing outside.
Then, all of the buildings started passing bans on employees smoking anywhere on the grounds. This meant that in the city, thousands of office workers would leave their buildings at lunch time, cross the street, and stand in front of the buildings directly across from their workplaces...and smoke.
But, I'll be damned if the non-smokers still weren't happy. They complained that the strangers smoking in front of their building were almost as offensive (but not quite, because at least they didn't have to look at Janet from the third floor again, because who can stand her anyways, let alone when she is standing outside, enjoying a cigarette) as their co-workers smoking...
...and we were forced to smoke in dark, hidden alleys, behind trash dumpsters, with these people.
But NOT in Texas! Because in Texas, the heroes of the Alamo fought to ensure that our freedoms would always be free.
And since that day at the Alamo, Texans have embraced their right wing religious fundamentalism and prayed away (in tongues!) anyone who threatens the freedom of smokers just like me!
If my trip across Texas has taught me anything, it's that Texans hate abortion (I stopped counting at fifty anti-abortion billboards), but love their guns and smokers (in certain outside places at restaurants).
The perfect world combination of the two??? (I couldn't find one with a kid holding a cigarette AND an assault rifle).
So, I knew that it was incumbent upon me to go ahead and smoke that cigarette in the outdoor smoking section of that restaurant. It was practically my duty to honor the freedom loving Texans who had fought for my rights, and prayed to little baby Jesus, and handled snakes, until the smoke hating, do-gooder lefties had all abandoned the state. 
And when the old couple at the table next to us complained to the waiter about the smoke, and I almost put my cigarette out...
...I already knew where it was all headed.
Instead of putting it out, I took another drag, inhaling the smooth, refreshing flavor of tobacco smoke, and exhaled.
Like the heroes who defended the Alamo, I stood my ground until the freedom haters had left the table, hopefully returning to whatever left wing state they had come from (probably retired literary agents from New York City, because no other single group is more restrictive upon individual liberties than they are, which must be true, or why else would we all have to choose only between vampire novels and books about zombies?).  
With the freedom haters gone, I ordered another beer and lit up another Marlboro, sucking in the sweet flavor of Texas sized victory (and 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing compounds).
So, here's to you, Texas. I'm going to miss you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Very Disconcerting Signs

So, I saw this billboard on our way to San Antonio. It immediately made me say, "Jesus (because everything in Texas must begin with an acknowledgement of little baby Jesus, followed directly by the heroes of the Alamo), I sure am glad that I'm NOT going to Laredo."

Which is probably not the intention that the creators of the sign had in mind, but it is exactly what it made me think. You see, I'm from Iowa, so I find it difficult to keep up with the current events in Laredo, Texas. Without the sign, I might have been inclined to say, "Laredo" Sure. What the hell. Why not stop in Laredo?"

With the sign, however, I am more inclined to think, "Holy shit, if they have to put up a giant sign telling me that it is safe in Laredo, then there is no way in hell I am going anywhere near the place! Good God (and baby Jesus, and the heroes of the Alamo), they don't even put up signs like that when you're going to Detroit, and that's Detroit, for Christ sake!"

So, Just for fun, I dropped by the website. It's pretty much what I had expected. It's got some terrific non-information, like, "...homicide rates lower than Houston..." and doesn't that just scream family vacation destination?! Laredo...at least we're not Houston!
Anyhow, it got me to thinking about other signs. What was wrong with the old management, I wonder?
Okay, that one is actually pretty good.
But this is exactly the same concept behind the Laredo sign. I can't tell you if their restrooms were really clean or not, only that Lorri refuses to stop anywhere that advertises their "clean restrooms" on a road sign. Apparently, she would rather roll the dice at more questionable facilities, where such pride in the cleanliness of their restrooms is not quite as overt.

Ideally, I'd like to try my luck at a truck stop in Laredo that ALSO advertises clean restrooms on roadsigns. I'd think it would sort of be the best of both worlds, you know?
Has anyone EVER seen one of these signs in a restroom that they'd like to give a Zagut star to? (What's that? Yes, I know that Zaguts are for restaurants. Yes, I'm sure there is some sort of award system for truck stops. No, I don't care enough to look it up.)

This sign says to me, "You had better pick your shit up and keep this place clean, because we sure as hell aren't going to do it."
And then there is my own personal favorite. You see, I'm sort of a rural hillbilly from Iowa. Nobody in Iowa ever dreamed of having a restroom and NOT allowing someone to use it. THAT is a big city concept (probably designed to keep out literary agents, who are widely known for smearing fecal matter on the walls and wiping boogers on the mirrors. Nasty Bastards).

I experienced this for the first time when, in my relative youth (and at a time in my life when I still suffered from some form of acute irritable bowel syndrome), got off a subway ride in Washington, DC, only to discover that there were no public restrooms available anywhere, causing me to respond with a poop right on the convenience store counter (okay, not really, but I would have liked to).

Whatever the case, it still pisses me off whenever I see the sign anywhere. And it's almost always at a place where the dirty little guy behind the counter apparently hasn't showered in six weeks (maybe all of his running water is off?), like he is worried about my ass being that much dirtier than his that he has to keep from sharing the same toilet with me, or worse, God (and little baby Jesus, and the heroes of the Alamo) forbid that he actually provide toilet paper to customers, or anyone who hasn't bought a three dollar, ten year old hot dog out of the rotisserie rack (no. It has to be to keep the literary agents out. It's the only thing that makes any sense really).

Whatever. It makes me wish I was in Laredo though, where you might get killed by roving Mexican drug cartel members, but at least you'll be able to take a shit when you need to.

Thanks for Reading!


NYC Literary Agents = The Walking Dead

I honestly don't know what I am most excited about, the fact that I have a reader, or that one of them actually took the time to email me and ask a question. Either way, I'm very impressed, so naturally, I will answer it to the best of my ability.

Reader: "Buzz, aren't you afraid that your negative attitude regarding literary agents might cause them to reject you?"

Buzz: "That's a great question, Reader. No."
Let me explain. A New York Literary Agent has no feelings (you can say whatever you want about them, and if you write something they think will sell, they're going to get their 15-20% cut, even if it is a 300 page manifesto railing against their dog). However, anything that truly has no feelings, either has a heart that is several sizes too small (and even that couldn't possibly explain spam form rejections really), or no heart at all. And I think we all know who (or what) has no heart...
That's right, the undead. It's totally true. NYC Literary Agents are most definitely the walking dead. Who else could sit at a computer and push the rejection spam button all day? What other possible explanation could there be for so many books being published about vampires and zombies and werewolves and any other undead thing? And what else could explain the damned Fifty Shades trilogy??? Only the undead could have passed that crap off as literature. 
No. I'm not afraid. One morning I'll wake up to discover that overnight, fifty million people visited my blog, and I've become THE next big thing! And NYC Agents will be falling over themselves (you know, because the undead are very uncoordinated) to sign with me...
And they'll be like, "Hey, I loved that stuff you did about agents! You are brilliant! It's so true, babe (because I figure they'd use words like babe). We have got to do business together. We could make a killing!"
And they'd be like, "Sign here, and I'll even give you a few stories about my dog. I've never liked him much anyways."

And that's that. Thanks for the question!

And thanks for reading!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Worst Literary Agent Rejection Ever

And, we have a winner! I just received the single worst literary agent rejection in modern history.
Okay, so a couple of questions immediately pop into my head. First, is this a form reply? Second, if it isn't a form reply, then why is she telling me that she only provides editorial feedback to her clients?

Thank you for your query.  I have reviewed it and decided to pass.  Please note that I only provide editorial feedback to my clients.

Thank you for thinking of _______________ and I wish you the best with your writing in future.
Was there something wrong with my query? Or my manuscript? What kind of editorial feedback is she talking about? OMG. What have I done wrong? What's wrong with me? Why do I even bother getting out of bed in the morning? This is awful!
Oh. Nope. Wait. False alarm. I just 'googled' the rejection and it turns out, it's just another automated spam form response again. No worries. No cause for panic. It's not a terrible manuscript (as far as you know), just a really shitty response form letter. Thanks for caring, literary agent lady.