Thursday, July 08, 2010

BookEnds Pet Peeves

We’ve done a lot on pet peeves on queries and everyday agent life, but I don’t think we’ve done anything yet that focuses solely on the blog, and I’m sure that some of these will hit home for our regular readers as well. So, as usual with pet peeves, in the grand scheme of life none of these are really that big of a deal, but they drive us crazy nonetheless . . .

Blog comments that exist solely to promote the commenter's book -- for example, "Great post. My new book blah blah blah is just out, and I wish I'd had this info before I sold it/published it/whatever."

Similarly, the ones who post a comment saying something like, "Great post. Check out my blog on a similar subject."

Comments that seem to exist solely for the purpose of criticizing agents and the entire publishing process. Usually the author in these cases picks out one sentence of the original post to harp on.

Authors who read all the comments and then harp on something someone said as if it came from the original post.



adam.purple said...

Great post, but my god, you framed your em dash with spaces!?!

My new blah blah book blah blah blog gives an entire history of that discredited practice, in case you are interested.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Well...I do not have a book to promote so I do not fall into that slot,Drats.

Don't bother to check out my blog 'cause I don't have one, similar subject or not, double drats.

In no way would I criticize an agent or the publishing empire...if I did I believe the writing industry gods would come around and bite me in the arse.

Commenting on what someone posted regarding the original post, or someone elses post, GUILTY, sorry but I'm a mouthy bitch, with strong opinions and I have a hard time standing by, or in this case 'sitting by', and not make a comment when someone is acting like an oaf. What me an oaf..never.

Okay, I'm in your house and I will try to zip it up so as not to tick you off...Jessica, esteemed leader of the agent gods.

Anonymous said...

I guess the reference back to their books is another way of trying to market their books. Kind of funny but gotta admit they may be hitting their target audience? But it's kinda sleazy.

Karen Schwabach said...

Wry wryter, I too am guilty of responding to comments, but don't feel guilty about it at all. My own pet peeve is when people *don't* bother to read or respond to other people's comments, and so seven or eight people say the same thing as if no one else had said it.

Phoebe North said...

Great post! Check out my blog with information about my book.

Just kidding. I've actually done the blog post thing, but only when I thought a blogger might be genuinely interested in it as a reaction to what they were writing about.

Martina Boone said...

Here's a peeve- we had someone post multiple comments with links to shoes they're selling! Very aggravating :/ I just went through and had to delete them.

As for the ones you've enumerated, amen!

BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...

Let me make myself clear. I like when people respond to comments. I don't like when they berate me for a comment they read as if I was the one who said it.


Megan Burke said...

so so so so so true.

and I was about to say, 'come read my blog for something similar!' until someone beat me to it!

i know that pisses a lot of people off, and it pissses me off too.

i too had a bunch of comments saying 'great post. now, come buy my product' and i was all DELETE.

i think if you're comment is engaging enough, interesting enough, i'll want to look at your blog anyway - without you demanding me to.

Red Ruffansoar said...

Hey, come on now!

the main reason any of us are here posting answers is that we're not writing our fricken books. So we might as well be engaging in flame wars and trying to call attention to our mostly fake selves.

My thought on query writing??

It is an incredible discipline and art form. Somebody once told me their key to figuring it out was to watch thirty or forty movie trailers and get a sense of how the trailer narration sets things up. It is not necessary to see the movie. You have to understand how a good movie trailer piques your curiousity and sets up a situation for a story.

I used to tell people its like trying to pick up a woman who obviously wants "to go" but requires the magic words and has already heard every single pickup line ever delivered and it aint gonna work on her.

It is easy to say this. I've written a number of killer query letters in my life. I am currently finishing up a second novel and will soon have to crank up that machine all over again. O Joy! O Dread!

BUT on the other hand if you know how Hitler died, but can't say who got stuck with his job for three very surreal weeks in may 1945, you might wanna check out my novel set in that period

Unknown said...

Hang on! Was this a list of pet peeves or a writing contest? If I do all those things, do I get an ARC or something?

(I'd go back and reread the original post, but I was too upset by her comments about comments selling shoes.)

((Yes, I did that on purpose.))

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Read, Red 9:50

Did he read the whole post?

Need I say more.

Jessica Peter said...

Hm, thanks for these pet peeves. They give me some food for thought. Though personally, I kind of like the "great post - check out mine of the same topic" sort of posts, as long as they actually are related! If I'm reading about something here, something else on it may strike my fancy too.

Marsha Sigman said...

Those things irritate me even when it's not my blog!

ryan field said...

I've been reading publishing blogs for a long time, and it always surprises me when one comment on the thread that is totally unrelated to the actual post takes on a life of its own.

Tex Deductable said...

Pet Peeves?

punctuation weenies

People who take offense at everything.

People who aren't in this for the money, for cats sake!

People who think their stoopid lives are of any interest to the world in general and think you might want to write it for them for 50% of the royalties....

Dale Bishop said...

I have a feeling you're holding back in the pet peeve department (smile). These are far too polite.

Rufus Leaking said...


Ya know what really Effen' Pizzes me off??

This whole subsidiary industry that exists to make money offa literary writerly wannabees

By that I mean, writers confrences and MFA programs and all these useless things that really exist only so useless burned out writers can have incomes and opportunities to boink misguided women and gay boyz.

I remember seeing an advert in Writer's Digest saying "Explore the Writer's Life in New York City!!!"

I mean give me a break!

These things exist to make losers with access to a money stream feel like they matter.

Anonymous said...

your pet peeves happen all over the internet. I understand that it is a pet peeve, but all of those are things that you would expect to happen.

btw, I have a new book on the subject (I'm kidding)

joanQ6 said...

*raises hand politely*

I'm not guilty of blog-flogging, but I can understand why some aspiring authors do it. There's so much pressure to have a platform and Facebook fans and Twitter followers and a well-read blog -- all before you send the first query. Personally, I think all that takes away from developing as a writer, but I can see why some writers feel compelled to self-promote. And, yeah, it's usually self-defeating, pompous and sleazy.

Tricia said...

Great post. And Red and Rufus your just messin' with us right?

dwight mannsburden said...


You're right about blogging taking away from your time and focus as a writer, but in these days of modern times you don got no farquing choice.

and no, I/we ain't messing wiv you.

I'm offended you'd ever suggest it.

And yes, Who was Hitler's successor and why should you kere?

Unknown said...

I can understand a certain bitterness about the process or urge to make a shameless plug, but, like everything, publishing has its own culture and etiquette.

I find posts and comments like these to be pretty helpful in giving an idea as to what you want to air to the world (lest you get some answers/explainations for your frustrations) and what's best left between you and your glass of scotch.

Carol J. Garvin said...

The writing community is a fascinating place, and I occasionally peruse some of the running conversations, but when they don't relate to the initial post I skim and skip. It's the blog author's article/opinion/advice that interests me most.

I can appreciate how frustrating it must be when commenters are self-serving. It seems downright rude. Don't you sometimes want to tell them to go rent space on a billboard?

jill said...

Ha! This made me laugh because I posted a link to my blog in your comment section on yesterday's post. But in my own defence, you did say that you would like to read a blog on the subject of e-Readers!! Sorry :(

jjdebenedictis said...

I take a small-minded, petty delight in deleting those "Great post! **self-pimp**" comments from my blog.

Where is your marketing guru now, spammers? Mwahahahaha.

S.D. said...

I haven't sold/published/whatever yet so I can't promote that.

I dislike internet arguments and attacking or harping on bloggers.

And my blog is neglected and pitiful.

So yeah, I couldn't peeve you on here if I wanted to.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I don't mind people pimping out their own blogs so long as their comment doesn't consist solely of "I wrote a post on a similar topic. Go read it." But if a publishing blog happens to comment on something someone else has recently written about, I don't mind learning about the existence of that post. It's a way for me to read another perspective or side of the story. I'm not going to check the profile for each interesting commenter I come across to see if they've written anything interesting lately, but if they mention that they've written about an issue I find interesting, I'm more likely to give them a try. It could help some writers build that all-important platform that is so often written about. Those commenters should put more substance into their comments, though. (More like this: "Interesting topic. I agree with ____ but wonder about these potential ramifications of the issue. I actually wrote a post about it [link] recently, where I debated [summary]. It's a pretty complex issue, and blah blah blah...") Five words and a link = spam.

Red Ruffansoar, I like the idea of mimicking a movie trailer, although one has to be careful to not go overboard and include descriptions of every little subplot and minor character. Copying a movie trailer with quick cuts to every scene in the movie, or that make you wonder what the movie is even about, isn't the way to go, but following a well-developed trailer that shows the viewer the main plot threads and characters could be very beneficial, especially for more visual thinkers.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Wow, my first post came out a little convoluted. I clearly need to edit before hitting publish. Anyway, main point is, if you're going to pimp out your blog, make sure your comment at least has some substance of its own.

I came back to comment again because I remembered a blog I love where users can pimp their blogs a little, without actually doing anything. Writer Unboxed has "Comment Luv" set up, so that a link to each commenter's last blog post shows up at the bottom of their comment if they put in their blog's URL. I often click blog links from there if the title of the latest posts sound interesting.

Anonymous said...

red 9:50
tex 11:32
Rufus 12:17

All the same guy.
How many aliases do you have ?

Scary dude!

You got anger issues man. If writers and the industry piss you off so much why not take up fishing.

Suzan Harden said...

So, um, the power's still out and the temps are still in the high nineties at your end of the country?

Frantisek Bezva said...


sounds a little uber regional, don't you think?

You're asking me to direct my anger toward slimy animals with gills. No thank you.

Actually, Ive never been to a fricken writers conference. And I don't have a credit rating high enough to get a stoont loan for an MFA program.

Besides who wants to actually hang out with writers and offer to buy some literary agent a drink?

A thought though: seriously

The internet is a wonderful resource for getting good information for writers seeking publication. You can learn all you need to about agents by visiting different blog sites and message boards. Aside from a certain superficial level of bluster and posturing, people are mostly helpful and selfless.

I'm saying this because we are all an under-appreciated resource. It wasn't so long ago that everything about agents and editors and publishing was a tightly held secret.

Nowadays anyone can learn all the important secrets for free from total strangers like you and I. Do not dismiss this.

Therein lies my peeve about writers conferences andMFA programs. They do not serve a useful purpose, unless you think shelling out bucks so you can feel "Writerly" is actually useful.

Wake up and smell the ether, folks!

Okay, so I've been using a bunch of aliases. Why would you or anyone care? My real name is Brendan McNally and I wrote a mostly-unremembered novel about the last days of Nazi Germany. Is that really material.

What is material is that any of you perfessional writers out there, better get real used to being shameless self-promoters. Why? Because your survival as professional writers depends on it.

Any of you preparing for the querying and submission process, you are in for a Darwinian Experience of the first order and the sooner you rid yourself of a lot of silly genteel notions, the better you will do.

Agents and Editors are Gate keepers. They are not gods.

Good luck to all of you

Sheila Cull said...

Great Post. My Blog... just kidding. Seriously, it was a great Post because you are a great writer Jessica. You and Nathan Bransford are the sole reasons I developed a Blog, after reading yours and his everyday for over a year. You two are the best.

And,I don't have any Followers except an old friend from way back but that's okay because other writers, that spend far too much time alone like me, have great feed back to your Great Posts!

CFD Trade said...

It hits two birds with one stone at the same time. While they promoted, they are also doing an SEO (search engine optimization) thing. It is cool.

Lorra Laven said...

Some years ago, I followed the bread crumbs left by several self-promoting bloggers, ending up at Miss Snark's famous blog.

Without these so-called bread crumbs, I would have missed out on a lot of valuable information about the business of writing over the last few years.

So I want to way thank you Hansel and Gretel. I appreciate you showing me the way.

_*rachel*_ said...

Great post. My new book, How to Annoy a Blogger, was just published by Moonshine Swindles & Scams, and I really wish I'd had this information beforehand.

Lyn said...

The etiquette of commenting varies from blog to blog. Some blogs I read will have 90 comments, all of them agreeing with the post. Do I become nodder #91? That makes my comment useless. If I disagree, I'm called troll. Turns lurking into the lesser evil.

Mainly, just know that if the comment is too long or too emotional, I'll skip it. And if there's too much standing spam in the comment stream, I figure the blog is abandoned.

Very thoughtful post. Thank you.

L.L. Muir said...

Hilarious. I'm sure we've all been guilty of a little flag waving.

Or maybe not. Maybe I should go to comment jail alone...