Thursday, October 15, 2009
My brother-in-law is also a writer. If you think about the series Psych, he writes something like that except with superheroes. The novels are based on a comic strip series which he did through high school in his school newspaper. He is a talented artist and he knows how to write to entertain. He's really funny.
He's not doing everything he can to understand the publishing industry, right down to editing his work before sending queries in. Then when he queries, he isn't following the submission guidelines - and I think this is partly because he isn't looking up how to write a proper query or cover letter. You have looser agents out there, but from what I can tell some are sticklers for form. So many agents point out that if a person doesn't follow submission guidelines, this generally shows a lack of respect and first clue the person would be a difficult one to work with.
I just glanced at something he sent out, and felt myself squwinging (yes, that's a word in my dictionary) when I saw the unorthodox query style and punctuation and grammar errors in the first chapter (which he sent to an agency I know only wants to see the query). <- These are amateur mistakes, and those he'd figure out if he signed up with a critting group and took advantage of the websites and books I've subtly pushed at him.
The other thing is this guy is nearly fifteen years older than me, and is higher up on the family-respect rung. This means that when my next older sister and I sounded the alarm when he submitted his first novel to a shall-not-be-named-defamable-vanity press-that-everyone-intheknow-avoids-and-loathes, nobody listened.
He learned his lesson... sort of. I freaked out when I saw he is touting the first book as a publishing credit, not knowing that it is very much a discredit.
He was in danger of making the same mistake all over again when he found another defamble vanity press, because apparently vanity presses are the only presses opening doors to him. The traditional presses and agencies are gently turning him down because of the errors above.
My question for the void - how do you help people like that?
I do like the guy and want him to do well. And somehow I want to help him and set him right without telling him outright that he has been burning his bridges left and right and needs to take a year or two off of querying until the publishing industry forgets his trespasses.
The other problem - in real life, I'm not as pushy as my adorable little green-eyed mascot. This isn't the first time I've seen a query of his that is ALL-WROOOOONNNG and felt compelled to set him right... somehow. The last time, I pulled my parents aside and discreetly told them to talk to their daughter about talking to her husband about what he shouldn't put on queries. I printed up a thing from Predators and Editors and highlighted a couple things on there to be passed over in his direction. I'm still not sure if the message got to him.