fosteronfilm and I had a lovely evening last night with yukinooruoni. He introduced us to Sports Night, a short-lived television series comedy-drama. It’s excellent (which is undoubtedly why it was canceled). The dialogue is superb, lightning fast and keenly clever, and the story lines are poignant and moving. It’s a good blend, humor and drama. Like humor and horror, it’s a formula more writers should really try to tap into. Humor is an excellent tool for undercutting tension as well as for making characters sympathetic.
We only made it through the first disc and a half (or so), but yukiooruoni kindly left the DVD boxed set with us so we can watch the rest of them. I’m quite looking forward to it.
I’ve been doing some overhauling of my eugiefoster.com website–mostly adding GoogleAds (if folks want to help out a struggling writer for free, gimme some clickage or download Firefox) as well as sprucing up my Amazon.com “buy” links. While testing my pages, I noticed a recent guestbook entry: “A great site where one can enjoy the thought of a great mind long departed. Cheers for the good work!” Um, did I miss something? “Long departed”? Last I checked, I was still pretty lively, up and kicking and all.
Well, I finally did it. I’ve received so many submissions from seriously misguided writers who are under the misapprehension that Tangent is a publishing house (the amount of clueless that that denotes truly boggles) that I’ve composed a form letter to reply to them. I did my level best to maintain a professional tone and not let my extreme incredulity come through:
Dear Mr. XXXX:
May I respectfully suggest that you reconsider your marketing strategy? Tangent is not a fiction publisher. We are an industry publication that specializes in reviewing genre short fiction.
As such, I am going to pass on your proposal, unread.
I highly recommend that you peruse professional writing organization websites such as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (www.sfwa.org) in order to gain a better understanding of how to identify appropriate markets for your work, as well as to familiarize yourself with the industry-accepted method of submitting your work to editors and publishers.
That doesn’t come across as snarky, does it? I tried really hard to reign in the snark.
A couple passes and a rewrite (a la fosteronfilm‘s first reader input), and I culled nearly 400 words from “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.” First draft loaded up to Critters. Rah!
I don’t think it sounds snarky.
I think you should add, “We are an industry publication that specializes in reviewing *already published* genre short fiction.”, to make sure that there is definitely no misunderstanding. And, no, I don’t think your letter was snarky at all. 🙂
That didn’t sound snarky, speaking as someone with experience at giving and receiving snarky comments. Eugie showed an impressive level of restraint in the face cluelessness.
Adding the *already published* is BRILLIANT. And not too snarky.
I want more snark!!! 🙂
i’ve heard nothing but good things about sports night. and i know one of the stars of the series went on to star in six feet under. i’m adding the show to my netflix queue now.
I remember when I first saw the promos for Sports Night, thinking “Great, a sports sitcom starring young white guys. No thanks!”
I didn’t start watching it ’til year two, and man, I regret that! I think it’s one of the best things that’s been on TV in quite a while.
It was a bit disconcerting watching West Wing occassionally, because Aaron Sorkin recycled a few bits from Sports Night, but they were good bits, and I forgive him. =)
I have the DVDs now, and when I’m down, I pull them out.
I will always love Jeremy. And when I try to convince people to watch Sports Night (“A sitcom about a sports show, no thanks!”) I tell them “Watch until Jeremy rants about hunting. If you’re not addicted by then, no need to keep going.” No one yet has made it past that scene unaddicted. 😀
Re: the form letter
They’ve got to learn somehow. Go ahead and use it.
Re: Fiction Submission
LMAO!!! I was thinking about writing something similar, but since you beat me to the punch and did it so well…
You? Snarky? Never!
But it leads me to wonder if those (ahem!) folks ever bothered to look at Tangent let alone read anything on it. I guess some people have no common sense.
At least you’re trying to help them. I mean, you could just as easily tell ’em:
“This seems like just the thing Locus and/or TV Guide are looking for. Give them a try.” 😀
Personally, I would have been snarky. Anyone who looks at the Tangent website knows that it doesn’t publish fiction.
Sports Night was genius for all the reasons you stated. I think that was the series that inspired the “dramedy” genre.
I’ve gotten much snarkier from editors, especially in my early days. 😀 I wouldn’t worry too much about the snark level…anyone who submits unpublished fiction to Tangent probably deserves what they get (speaking, of course, as someone who probably made some mistake like that herself, sometime in the past.)
It’s definitely not too snarky. It’s a masterpiece of diplomacy, actually (I would have been incapable of writing anything like that, ever). And as many people pointed out, you only have to check Tangent’s website to *know* that you don’t publish fiction.
To the Dearly Departed Eugie Foster,
I am appealing to you and your vast ectoplasmic powers, to assist me in gaining publication with your former publication, “Tangent.”
I have a lovely story about a boy and his dog. It is a little slow in the first 5000-words, but then it really picks up and gets exciting.
Yours in life,
That doesn’t come across as snarky, does it?
Um… a little, actually, yeah. But my opinion seems to be the minority one, and in any case, these folks probably deserve a little snark. This kind of correspondence would make me cry, but then again, I wouldn’t make such an egregious mistake in the first place.
what would scare me is the idea that folks this miguided might take their stuff onward to such pastures as PublishAmerica. But you included that helpful little SFWA plug, so as long as they’re curious enough to look at that, they can help themselves. And if they’re not…well, there’s a lot of sparrows, out there.
I’m in the minority, too. It was a bit snarky, but the SFWA suggestion might prove helpful. I’m sure you’ll find the right blend. After all, you could be downright mean if you were of such a mind. (The dearly departed seeks revenge, and all that rot.)