Keith Snyder
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10 Things You Should Worry About

PJ Parrish recently posted a list of 10 Things Writers Should Never Worry About.

I disagree. It's very important to worry about these things, and PJ should be ashamed for trying to keep newcomers out of the business. Here are 10 real answers. I'm a giver.

1. Should I use Word or Wordperfect?

The industry standard is LotusNotes. Do not use anything else.

2. Will a publisher or agent steal my idea if I submit it?

Yes. That's how the rest of us get our ideas--and why we're so dodgy about it when asked "Where do you get your ideas?" on panels. Your manuscript will be read for ideas only, not for craft or execution. If the idea is sellable, it will be sold. To me. I will write your book better than you could, and I will get seven million dollars for it. You will get nothing. Because I am an industry insider and you are not.

Don't like it? Choose some other business, you pansy. We all have to pay our dues.

3. Do I need to get an agent?

Here's an Industry Insider Fact: Agents love getting all excited about the books you think you'll write as soon as your Writing Study has the right kind of paneling in it.

Remember the Professional Writers' Rhyming Creed:

Got no hook? Got no book?
Don't delay! Pitch today!
Agent! Agent! Agent!

4. What if they want me to change it?

They're stupid. Tell them so.

5. Should I include a CD with my submission?

Of course not. You should include Minidisk, double-layer transcoded and authored to autorun as Region-0. Anything else marks you as an amateur and permanently invalidates your secret pass to the Industry Insiders' Sneering Potluck, even if you bring Jello Loaf.

Remember: We do not like losers!

6. I don't want my mother to read the sex scenes, bad language or the character I modeled after my alcoholic Uncle Harvey. Should I wait until she is dead?

Success in publishing requires a thick skin. How do you expect to make it in this business if you can't handle a little matricide?

The fact that you're asking this question at all marks you as an amateur. Your name has been added to the Industry Insider DO NOT PUBLISH list. Go back to your little life. You blew it.

7. I'm querying an agent. Should I send my first chapter or my best chapter?

Accepted practice is to send a ten-page collection of your best sentences. Number them down the left side. Format with .25" margins, using 9-point Holiday Snowflake or Happy Easter Carrot fonts.

8. Who should I dedicate my book to?

An Industry Insider Trick of the Trade is to use the following dedication:

"For all you losers who didn't recognize my genius."

This will ensure that your future industry relationships will only be with the right kind of people.

9. Should I include my picture with my submission?

The publishing business is like any other business. The days of publication based on merit are over. Sending sex pictures demonstrates that you understand marketing--and this is attractive to publishers and agents. They want to see that you know what your audience wants. So show them!

And remember: This will be your dustjacket photo.

10. My life is kind of busy right now. Should I wait until (fill in the blank): my kids go to college, my wife gets her promotion, my basement is finished so I can set up a home office, I finish night school, I have more time, I have more money, I have more energy...?


You should.

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