Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Truly Garagantuan Miss Snark Index Post

UPDATE: We've posted a new section on our main page, at the top of the sidebar, entitled "Writers' Resources." It's going to be a collection of useful links to tools and indexes of information that will hopefully be helpful for you. You can link to it at

Miss Snark has retired from blogging and this is a sad thing for writers. Since I discovered her late in her blogging cycle I decided to go back and read through her archives and pick out the posts I thought were truly outstanding. Here is the result of that selection process organized by category. Links from Miss Snark to other sites will be within the appropriate category at the end.

The categories are:
Advice (General)
Agent Information, Where to Find
Agents and Publishers: Bad Signs and Scams
Agents: What to Ask/Know Before You Sign
Being a Good Client/Client Agent Relationships
Best Foot Forward
Conferences and Talking to Agents
Contracts Agency and Publisher
Credits/Short Stories/Contests/Etc.
Dealing With the Clueless/PODs and Vanity Presses
Dumb Things, Don't Do These
Finish the Book
Firing Your Agent: Why and How
Follow the directions
Movie Stuff
Novels: Definitions etc.
Partials and Fulls
Publishing Economics
Rights Questions
Royalties and Getting Paid
Submission, General
Waiting for Agent Responses
What an Agent Does
Writing the Book

Special attention should be paid to both the Advice and Dumb Things sections, knowing the stuff in there will save you a world of grief.

Advice (General)

A previous partial index of the snarkives.

Fabulous advice for the question of "when to give up." Never!

a definitions post on publishing basics, stuff like that. Always worth having available.

This bit of Miss Snark's advice showed up in several posts and is a damn good one to remember: "Every single time you hear something about publishing keep in mind who is telling you and what their agenda is. If you paid money to hear them, even more so. If they want you to buy more services from them, remember, they aren't providing services out of altruism, they're making money off your ignorance." This is a good sample of why it's being worth my while to read through her old posts.

Be nice to bookstore clerks and managers, they are your friends. I'd add librarians to that as well, and pretty much anybody else you meet. First off, it's simply good policy and it'll make your life easier and happier in general. Second, word of mouth sells books, and you're much more likely to get good word of mouth if you're pleasant, polite, and not overtly egotistical. If you're a writer, you're a public figure, at least on a limited level.

When not to whine about your reviews–anytime they get your name and the name of the book right. Everything else is gravy. So, don't be a nitwit.

Editorial and agency assisstants have an enormous amount of control over your fate. Being nice to them isn't just polite, it's also business smart.

When an agent talks about having a full list, it means they probably have...a full list. Here's why you don't necessarily want to get a super agent whose already running at capacity.

What to do when you go to the bookstore and discover that someone's already written your book. Hint, the answer isn't throw it away and start over.

Miss Snark takes up Neal Gaiman's call for literary wills. Do you know what would happen to your writing if you died suddenly? Do you care? You should.

Does the person who tells you subject-x will never sell have any real expertise in the area? If they're not an agent or editor chances are good they don't know as much as they think they do.

Yes, you do have to have a website if you're publishing.

Agent Information, Where to Find

This link is to one her comments sections with many suggestions on where to look for agent information.

Agent referral services
--Miss Snark doesn't think much of them (and neither do I.) This is a good post on why.

Agents and Publishers: Bad Signs and Scams

Agents charging expenses, what is and is not acceptable and when. For the record my agent covers expenses out of his own pocket.

Bonus content, a link from Miss Snark to an article on how to avoid scam agencies in your search (written be the excellent Victoria Strauss).

Don't work with fee-charging agents. Just don't. Nota bene, fee charging means reading fees, up-front costs, etc, and not the agent's percent or reasonable office fees taken out AFTER the checks from the publisher start coming in, though in the later case a negotiated cap on total copying fees and the like is not a bad idea. My agent charges no fees but his percentage.

Is the agency you're looking at a scammer? How many books they sell a year matters. Miss Snark dissects an agency come on and points out red flags.

More on not working with fee charging agents. If you're already convinced that it's a bad idea you can skip these two posts, but it's a point that should be made strongly and with some frequency. One, and two.

Reputable agencies who charge copying fees and the like also have expense caps. If you run into an agent who doesn't cap them, or tries to collect them pre-sales, run for the hills. Nota bene, my agent does not charge anything but his 15%.

So you made a mistake and got taken in by a scam publisher. It happens and it won't ruin your chances later. In fact you don't even need to mention it to most people under most circumstances.

Agents: What to Ask/Know Before You Sign

A tiny bit off topic, but...questions you should ask before you submit to a publisher, particularly a small specialty press.

Pluses and minuses of an individual agent (as opposed to one who's part of a larger agency). Or, what happens if your agent spontaneously combusts. I hadn't thought about this as much as I should have. It's probably not a bad idea to have a contingency plan in case your agent is suddenly removed from play somehow.

Why you should care if your agent is an LLC or a sole proprietor. Short answer, if your agent dies and had money of yours in a sole proprietor account it will be much more difficult for you to retrieve.

Researching Agents. Who do they represent? Ask. Really. If they won't tell you, worry.

What you should say when you get the call, or more correctly, a good snapshot of the process that leads to said call.

Being a Good Client/Client Agent Relationships

And what to do once you've found your agent is talked about here.

Here's a post on what an agent would like to see in her authors and what they should expect of her. It's more complex than that, but that's the gist. Definitely worth a read.

Advice for when your agent is advocating for what you could write instead of what you do write.

What to do when one agent makes an offer of representation while you still have partials or fulls in with other agents.

Your job is to write. Your agent's job is to sell what you write. Getting the two confused is counterproductive. One thing she failed to mention in this post is the exception of knowing an editor and having them ask for your stuff--she's covered it elsewhere, but it should be mentioned in this context.

What happens if your agent dies? You should probably know the answer to this in advance.

In the category of things to tell your agent, surgery around the time of a book release ranks right up there. So do things like going out of the country for several months at such a time.

Your brand new agent and your backlist. This is how Miss Snark deals with them. Other agents will have different takes. Mine is perfectly fine with shopping multiple books of mine to various editors at the same time.

Don't think of your agent as your bff. Even if you and your agent are genuinely friends, it's very specialized kind of friendship, one that doesn't involve wedding invites, the exchange of gifts, or daily phone calls.

Best Foot Forward

Miss Snark on why a carefully proofread manuscript matters...a lot.

Miss Snark's top ten. Here she's listing the things that make her happy in a client. This is an excellent list focussed on professionalism and demeanor, and these are kind of traits that will endear you any publishing professional you work with and that are well worth cultivating.

When an agent calls you to talk before agreeing to represent you. What is she looking for? Short answer, be polite, be professional, be easy to work with.

Ten things that turn Miss Snark off when she calls you to offer representation.

Conferences and Talking to Agents

What to do at a pitch--hint it's not about pitching.

Talking to agents at conferences: things to say and not say. More agents and conferences.

Contracts Agency and Publisher

Bad agency contracts. As a side note, my agent and I work on a verbal agreement and handshake basis.

A contract is not the same thing as a good contract, or scammers can create paperwork too.

Do not sign anything you don't understand. No, really don't do this. This is always good advice. If you want to make a career in writing, learn about the business. Learn about copyright. Understand what you're selling, because it's not the story, it's the rights.

Joint accounting is a bad deal for the author.

Audit clauses, the whys and wherefores.

Make sure you understand any contract you sign. Also, be prepared to walk away from a deal if the contract is bad enough and you can't get it changed.

Agency contracts. Read them. Understand them. Don't sign them before you've done this. Can you get it changed? Maybe, the chances are not great, though I did get a clause inserted into the contract with my old agent.


Miss Snark's crapometers are a great resource for the writer trying to get a feel for hooks and queries. In each she comments on a huge pile of submitted material from her readers. They are too big to index individually so I'm going to link to the sections of her archives where they reside. First Pages. Synopses one and two. Queries.

Credits/Short Stories/Contests/Etc.

On the utility of selling portions of a novel to magazines.

A really smart way to sort short story markets for who to send to first. My rule is to start with the top paying market and work my way down, with provisos. First, I weight markets that have good turnaround times. Second, I weight markets that are looking for the kind of story I've written for whatever reason; I've sold to them before, they've put out a call for left-handed werewolf carpenter stories, (if you're newbie) they hold slots open for new writers. Third, I weight markets by prestige. Snark's post talks about a great way to look at prestige.

On why an agent may not find your MFA to be a credit worth mentioning in the query. With further notes from an article Miss Snark linked. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I don't possess an MFA myself, but I spend a great deal of time with academics (I'm married to one) and I think graduate school has a lot to be said for it on its own merits, though perhaps not in writing. It's certainly been my impression from my own discussions with editors, writers, and agents that Miss Snark is expressing the opinion of an awful lot of publishing professionals here, and the case made in the article is one that should be read by anyone interested in writing great books.

On whether or not to include possibly unsavory but professional credits in your cover/query letters. The answer is it depends, but probably yes.

On mentioning those seventeen novels you've got tucked under the bed. Don't.

Should your academic credentials go in your query letter--probably not.

From an agent's point of view, the value of a magazine sale isn't in the size of the check, or even in getting a check. It's in the credential that says a reputable editor thinks your stuff is worth printing-emphasis on reputable. The magazine has to have a seriously respected name if it doesn't pay pro rates.

What to do about embarrassing earlier publications when you're looking for an agent or publisher.

Dealing With the Clueless/PODs and Vanity Presses

That moment when you realize that the person you're talking to has no clue that there's a difference between reputable publishers and subsidy presses. Been there, done that, chewed the knuckles and then explained things.

Some notes on the differences mentioned above in terms of writer as salesperson for self-published product vs. respected artist. Miss Snark does not think much of the product model, and neither do I.

Because it's fun, how to deal with family who want to know about the cousin who's "published" (vanity press) and why you're not doing as well.

Dumb Things, Don't Do These

Never lie in your cover letters or queries. It's dumb, and counterproductive. Miss Snark's take, and the Making Light post to which she links. The Making Light thread is funny, but everything you really need to know is in Teresa's initial post at the front of the thread.

Don't do this. The value of "this" here is sending sample pages to a published author cold. This is good advice. I do read unpublished authors and offer advice, but only very occasionally and only where I have a previous relationship with the author.

Appalled. Really appalled. Queries by idiots. Not something you need to read, but funny, and it'll remind you that the competition for book slots is considerably smaller than the list of everyone who thinks they're competition.

More from the what not to do files, or how to really annoy an agent with the phone.

Trying to force a request for pages by not giving the agent open ended questions is a dumb idea.

Don't be difficult to work with. Really. It's not a good idea because it often means people will stop working with you.

Pre-blurbing. A bad idea that should be stepped on vigorously.

Don't say nasty thing about your publisher in public. It's a dumb idea and this post gives a good rundown of why. Follow up on dissing your publisher.

Don't shoot yourself in the the foot by responding to rejections in an impolite way. Don't do this. Ever.

Never two-time an agent who's working with you. This is a great way to end up with no agent and a bad rep.

Bad advice from the pros. Contract lawyers are much more expensive than agents.

Never cold call an agent or an editor. It's a really bad idea.

Why you shouldn't vent about rejections online. It's a bad-bad-bad idea since agents and editors are also online.

If you believe you know more about how your books should be pitched than your agent does, you probably shouldn't have an agent. You are also probably wrong.

"Creative" queries. Really really bad idea.

Finish the Book

Why agents hate queries for unfinished novels.

Selling on proposal. It happens of course, but only if you've got a proven track record in the book biz.

Never try to sell an agent on an unfinished novel. It wastes both of your times and isn't going to win you any points.

Firing Your Agent: Why and How

In the bad agent issues category, she linked to an excellent post on how to fire your agent.

More on firing your agent.

Bad agent = worse then no agent. Lazy agents who don't bother to give good advice edition.

If you want to look for a new agent, you have to fire your old agent first

What happens to manuscripts out with editors when you fire your agent mid-submission?

Follow the Directions

When submitting to editors and agents, follow the directions.

Another entertaining round of follow the directions when subbing to an agent, along with some suggestions for what not to put in a query.


Miss Snark thanks you for writing.

Agents outside of New York, which she feels are perfectly fine. So do I--my agent is not in New York.

On putting together and pitching anthologies.

The agent's drink of choice--pure silliness.

Miss Snark growls at the Sunday Times for stupid investigative journalism tricks. The gist is that they did a report by sending a couple of chapters from previously published and award winning works off to some editors who all rejected it. Miss Snark notes that they sent directly to editors, unsolicited, that there's no mention of cover letters, that the work was almost certainly dated, that there was no effort to target appropriate editors, and that the appropriate editors would have probably recognized something familiar about it and bounced it for that very reason. It's kind of a fun read.

Book Expo America--Don't go to pitch. Bad idea. If you really want to go, go to learn.

Small presses and how to see if one might be right for you.

Why some deals get posted at Publisher's Marketplace and some don't.

What to say when your writing buddy sends you something to read and it turns out that while they may be to your taste, their work is not. This one is funny, and for anyone who reads stuff in draft a familiar story.

Networking with the pros, or how win friends and influence people. I have mixed feelings about this. Her advice is basically sound, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea of networking for networking's sake. Making friends who can help your career is great since they probably share a lot of your interests, but doing it only because they can help your career smacks of using people and that's not okay.

The differences between homage, tribute, and plaigerism. It's really not that hard.

Anyone writing genre fiction has gotten some variation of "when are you going to write a real book?" Here are some lovely answers to that question.

Anyone who writes has also run into the cousin/uncle/friend-of-a-friend who wants to get you to do some editing for them. Here's one way to say no.

Getting a U.S. based agent when you live beyond the borders is hard, which frankly, sucks. Here's Miss Snark on why she's reluctant to deal with writers who live beyond the edges of the USA.

When is copying not a problem? When it's learning and it doesn't get submitted.

Movie Stuff

Movie rights, let your agent worry about them until somebody offers. Pretend they don't exist and work on the next book. Obsessing over them leads to madness.

What do to do about that boilerplate contract grab for film rights.

Notes on screenplay stuff. High among them, don't get anywhere near Hollywood without an agent. It a shark tank. I agree.


Writing nonfiction and how it's sold–the non-fiction proposal.

Yes, you do have to write a proposal for your non-fiction book even if it's finished. That's just how it is in the world of non-fiction.

Novels: Definitions etc.

The too long and too short of it for novel length. My own take on this is that her too long note is spot on but that her too short leaves out another category exception, YA which can be as short as 40k.

A bit more on synopses and a note on excessive novel length.

What do they mean when they say they want new and fresh and how unique is too unique?

Smart thing to do when trying to figure out word count for a given genre. Go to the bookstore. I'd add one additional note to her criteria, make sure you've got first books by new authors.

Partials and Fulls

When an agent requests your book, how long do you have before the request expires? Not very.

The topic on this one is date specific requests for a partial, but the most interesting bits are down at the bottom where she talks about what to send along with the requested partial--important advice.

Things to send with your requested partial.

Three chapters really means three chapters, apparently regardless of length. No sure how I feel about this one-the 77 pages referenced is that far from the 50 that I often hear as 3 chapters standard. I do wonder if the answer would have been different if three chapters meant 15 pages or 150.

Publishing Economics

. She didn't think much of it in professional terms at the time (2 years ago), and I doubt that opinion will have changed too much. There are a number of credible venues out there now, especially for short market F&SF, but as far as books go, not so much.

The market for an as yet unsold book is not counted in readers it's counted in editors buying that type of book. I hadn't thought about this in quite this way, though it's exactly how I've always thought of short story markets.

Libraries are good.

Notes on the used book market, which contained this absolute gem, "ARCs are fearsomely expensive. MORE expensive to produce on a per unit basis than the actual book itself."

Publishing and profit, why it sucks to be a midlister.

Diminishing sales and the death of an author's name.

A truly excellent explanation of royalties and discounts and the economics of publishing and books stores.

An industry post on some of the differences between small and large presses in terms of book availability, marketing clout, etc.


Book taxonomy for queries. Category vs. description. Notes on how to label your book for agency consumption.

Mirroring, or tailoring your query toward the specific agent by looking at the adjectives and adverbs the agent uses to describe what s/he's looking for and putting some of them into the query. I'd never thought of this but it's very smart.

Querying an agent with a new novel after a previous reject.

A couple of guest posts on querying multiple agents at the same agency. Brian DeFiore. Jenny Bent and Lucienne Diver.

A two page query letter is better than a badly formatted one page letter. A properly formatted one page query letter is better still.

E-queries and how do you send pages if not via attachment. Guest blogged since Miss Snark doesn't take them, with some general advice as well as the formatting stuff.

Make sure to safelist the agents you're equerying in your spam blocker if you want to actually hear back from them.

Querying weird stuff. Or what to do when you've written something that doesn't fit into the usual linear novel box.

Don't simultaneously query multiple agents at the same agency.

If you haven't received a response to your query in two months chances are it's lost. So, go ahead and send it again.

Most queries aren't so hot. That doesn't mean the agent won't read your stuff.

On e-queries, do make sure that you check them with a couple of email services for formatting problems.

What to say in your query if you want to come across as doing your research but not as a stalker.

Novel queries really don't need biographical information. Or, you don't have to be a lawyer to write about them. In fact it might be better if you weren't.

Things agents like to hear in a query letter, that suggest the writer has learned some things about the agent in a good way.

A good list of what is and is not important in a query letter.

Great stuff on how much plot to include in a query and how that differs from what you include in a synopsis.

Personalizing a query letter. Do you really need to do more than make sure it's got the right name and address and the like? Mostly no.

Another listing of stupid query mistakes. I find these fascinating, in part because I can't imagine why someone thought that most of them were a good idea.

How to write a hook an excellent primer.

Why you should write the best query you possibly can? Hint it's a tough old business and the query is the first piece of your writing the agent sees.

Ten things you can do to wreck your query letter.

How should you put your website info in your query? A simple technical question with a simple answer.


Form rejection letters and the contents of her slush pile. It's always good to remind yourself that rejection letters don't mean anything more than no.

Rejections of the love the writing, the idea is not right for us variety.

Good advice on how to say thank you to an agent who turned you down this time, but did it in a way that makes you happy or want to try them again.

Thanking an agent who's rejected your work. This is fine if it's just a "thank you" and not a "but wait." Apropos of which, don't argue with the rejection or go back and say neener neener. My note: Not only is that impolite, it's also a really dumb career move for more than just the reasons Miss Snark lists. Publishing is a small world. We all know each other and "idiot" stories get around.

What does an agent owe a writer who submits to them? A decision. That's all. No explanations, no second chances, just a yes or no. This is harsh, but I agree with it.


Querying an agent on a revised project.

On resubmission of reworked material, (fine if time has passed) queries to agents, (ditto) novels to publishers, and (bad idea) pages to agents who haven't yet responded to the original package.

Requerying, the don'ts.


A Miss Snark link: In which the practice of free rewrites is discussed. A free rewrite is when an editor says I love this but... and then convinces the author to revise without a contract or any other sort of promise. I've seen this happen to a number of folks in F&SF with much work and wailing and gnashing of teeth going into a project that the editor then fails to buy.

When your editor asks you to do something, do you: A, do it. B, send an email to Miss Snark or someone else asking whether or not you should. C, ignore her. D, something else. I'll give you a hint. It's not B or C, and it's only D if that something else is talk back and forth with your editor to find out how best to approach the problem that made her request that you do A.

What to do when an agent requests revisions. Miss Snark suggests you do them. If not, make very sure you explain why you'd rather not and have a dialogue with the agent on the topic. I'm mostly in agreement with her provided that you as the writer agree that the revisions will make the book better. You are the writer and you have to make the final call on what you will and won't do. But that has to be informed by the understanding that if you won't do what an editor or agent wants, you may not be working with that person anymore. This is a tough one and I think I'll do a front page post on it later.

Rights Questions

Publishing and song permissions, or why public domain is your friend--there and for poetry.

On the copyright of unpublished letters.

Fascinating post on inherited literary properties-what to do with Grandpa's diaries and unpublished novels.

Foreign rights or, am I ever going to get paid? Yes, eventually, probably.

You can't copyright an idea.

Don't register your copyright before you send your MS out to agents and editors. And if you do, don't tell them about it. Of course, this is for books. Screenplays and anything Hollywood is a very different animal.

A nice precis on some of the differences in rights sales for short stories and novels. Or: First rights are for short stories.

More on what the registration of copyright actually does for you: statutory damages. You still don't need to register your copyright before sending a manuscript out. This is just by way of clarification of how the system works.

Ideas aren't copyrightable or, you're all right if the words are different, even if the story is similar. Mind you, if the story is too similar, there's a good chance no one will buy it because it's been done before and quite possibly better.

Rights reversion clauses, a quick explanation.

Nobody steals novel plots. Really, they don't. There's no money in it.

Royalties and Getting Paid

On payment for a published novel, advances, on acceptance, on publication, etc. with significant contributions in the comments.

Book packagers. A question on what to do when you've landed a work-for-hire type writing gig. And an absolutely fascinating post on book packagers looking for work-for-hire writers and the difficulties thereof. This is one of those "I didn't know anything about this corner of the industry" posts that I particularly enjoy reading.

A fascinating post on reading royalty statements, and services that can help authors with making sense of them. And, more on royalties ,like what to do when they go missing.

Submissions, General

Overcoming the fear of sending your work in. Nice.

Submissions and smoking
--get fresh paper and don't smoke around your query because it permeates the paper--something that never would have occurred to me.

Suggestions for what to send when you can't find the submission guidelines for a given agent.

Just stick the thing in an envelope and let it go. On manuscript submission and special handling--hint, bad idea. Boxes edition. Plus, registered mail.

Agents and international submissions, or the trouble with IRCs (International Reply Coupons).

Miss Snark wants you to skip the prologue when sending your first ten pages. Not sure how I feel about that personally but it's worth listening to her reasoning.

Don't put the dedication or acknowledgments page in a submission copy of the manuscript. That's added after a project has sold and (my note) should include your agent and editor for the project.

When you can write requested material on a manuscript. Hint, only if the person requesting it tells you to.

How many manuscripts can you have out to agents at a given time? All of them.

No, you don't need a perfect first line but it sure doesn't hurt. This one is worth the read for the context of this quote: "We set things down when they're bad, not when they're not good enough."

If given a choice is it better to send paper copy or electronic. Electronic. I firmly agree.

A note on the agency slush pile–not only does it get read, most clients come out of it. Really. Truly. She kids you not.

Agents make mistakes with submissions. It happens all the time. That doesn't mean the agent's incompetent, just human. More on that, now with statistics!

Forever stamps. Seems like a fabulous idea. I know nothing about them, but if I were doing the query dance I'd definitely be looking into them.

Email. It doesn't always arrive at the end looking like it look when you sent it. Be aware of this. Make arrangements.


In this section of the snarkives we find several portions relevant to the subject of synopses, something I've talked about before in my pitching/synopses suck series of post here, here and here. Miss Snark thinks they suck too. What does she want in terms of synopsis length? Synopsis vs. outline.

A great post on the actual uses of a synopsis, or why the agent wants one. I've got another synopsis post brewing in my head as well, maybe later this week.

Still more on synopses. Don't do them first person. And, brevity vs. flavor.

Synopsis stuff--line spacing.

Synopses, less is more. Miss Snark likes them at 1,000 words or less. I'm not entirely sure I agree with her for F&SF where you have to go into more detail for both world and plot then you do for many other genres.

Synopsis minutia and line spacing.

The purpose of the synopsis. Have I mentioned how much I hate writing these? They suck.

Waiting for Agent Responses

90 days before you are allowed to query on your requested novel MS, minimum.

There are a very small number of reasons that are acceptable for bothering an agent who is looking over your work.

What an Agent Does

What does an agent do besides sell books and negotiate contacts?

Four days in the life of an agent. Great stuff for anyone who wants to know how the industry side of things work, and really if you're a writer you should probably want to know this stuff. I found it fascinating. Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 One thing I found particularly interesting was her description of taking a client to a publisher meet and greet so that the publishers could give the client a once over with eyes to future promotion and the big prizes. That's day 2.

A pair of posts on why an agent doesn't always keep a client up to date on where things are on submission. The opportunity side. The client/agent relationship side.

Why you need an agent even for small deals if at all possible.

Publishing houses and their divisions and policies: A house of mirrors or just a maze. Maybe both.

More agency statistics, clients signed vs, queries, fulls, and partials. Plus some notes on same and why agents keep on digging through the slush.

Writing the Book

On reader sensibilities, which touches on the implicit contract between reader and writer, though it's more a reminder of the reader than anything else.

Write what you love. What she said.

Miss Snark on being prolific. She prefers slow writing. I flat out disagree with her on this. It doesn't matter a jot what speed you write at. What matters is how well you write, and in my experience that's largely unrelated to rate of production. If that's slow, fine. If it's fast, also fine. The trick is building a career that plays to the strengths of your mode.

Miss Snark says, "Read." Read widely in your field.

Here, because it's one of my pet peeves is Miss Snark saying that the old sawwrite what you know is crap. Ya-huh. Right there with her.

Following one of her links, is the Turkey City lexicon–a list of bad ideas and tropes in F&SF stored on the SFWA servers.

Interesting post on the use of brand names in fiction. I would add a note that if you do use brand names in a non-complimentary way, you'd better have a darned good reason if you don't want them to be edited out of your book.

Something I firmly agree with: Even character-driven novels need a plot.


P.S. This is a highly distilled version. As anyone who's looks through the snarkives for themselves will know, this is not an exhaustive list. There's a lot of funny and time specific stuff that I didn't put into the index in the interests of keeping it compact enough to be manageable. I also didn't include any links to her crapometer posts (where she did actual critique of reader queries) an enormous service to writers looking to hone their hooks. I think I've hit the most important stuff, but the list reflects my own biases on what most writers are going to find most useful.


Colleen Thompson said...

This is fabulous info! Thanks for posting. I'd like to link it to my writer's blog at

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I've sent it out to my writers' list and have bookmarked it for reference.

feywriter said...

I'm definitely bookmarking this for reference as well. Thanks for taking the time to organize it. :-)

Kelly McCullough said...

Colleen, please link away.

Anyone else who wants to is more than welcome to link. I'd love to see it get a ton of use.

Kelly McCullough said...

Everybody is most welcome, it was really kind of fun in a borderline obsessive compulsive kind of way.

Theo Nicole Lorenz said...

Oh, wow. I've been slogging through the Miss Snark archives (snarkives?) for weeks. This is really useful, thank you!

A. J. Luxton said...

You're incredibly kind. I tried to read Miss Snark for a while but couldn't keep up; she was just so prolific! Now the resource of her blog is twice as useful. Well done.

Miss Snark said...

holy guacamole! What an amazing achievement this is.

Next gin is for you!