Wednesday, June 22, 2005

How not to become a respected author

For the last year or so, word of an aspiring SF author by the name of "Robert Eggleton" has been circulating through writers' grapevines. This writer, you'll notice, shares a name that is quite similar to Bob Eggleton, the famous genre artist. They are not one and the same, although Robert doesn't make this clear in most of his emails--and emails he sends.

Robert has been emailing his novel--unsolicited--as an attachment to unwitting and unsuspecting writers everywhere. He started out with fairly high-profile authors, and has apparently just now worked his way to the bottom of the barrel, moved said barrel and dug down a few feet to find yours truly. The email I got was essentially a variation on those others have gotten, opening with complimentary small talk and then asking for a critique/review/blurb of said novel. How is this wrong? Let me count the ways.

First off, boys and girls, never, ever send someone an unsolicited attachment, especially one that's larger than 1 meg. Clogging someone's inbox is a fast way to endear yourself to them, youbetcha. If you really want to make them remember you, send your magnum opus to authors who specifically tell you not to, out of the fervent belief that said manuscript's sheer brilliance will show them the error of their ways. And above all, if one of those hoity-toity literary snobs decline the singular (or in this case, plural) honor of reading your work, send them a snide and bitchy message telling them what weasle-brained hacks they really are. If anyone calls you on such boorish behavior, you can simply explain it away by claiming naivety (but never let on to the fact that way back when you began your email campaign, at least one writer took it upon themselves to explain to you why this was an unprofessional way of going about things, and why you shouldn't continue these antics. The advice, obviously meant to keep your work languishing in slush piles, should be immediately discarded).

What we have here, sadly, is yet another case of a would-be literary Wunderkind wanting to cut to the front of the line, because they're far too intelligent and talented to fight their way up through the much and the slime of slush like everyone else. If Wunderkind could just find that one patron, that one kindly writer willing to pass along the secret handshake, then all the doors of publishing riches would immediately be flung open to him and life would be peaches and cream from then on. The trouble with these Wunderkinds is that they've already got it figured out in their heads, and no matter how one tries to point out the fallacy of such thinking, the only thing that's accomplished is that said newbie grows more and more convinced that the veteran writer is a selfish obstructionist, more threatened by the newcomer's talent than anything else.

It also doesn't help when Wunderkind opens his/her letter to a multiple-Nebula-Award-winning author by saying "I don't know who you are or have read any of your stuff, but here's my book you need to read." Writers talk amongst themselves, and that kind of dirt travels pretty fast. I'm just saying, is all.

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  1. Thanks for the comments. I'm learning with some limited success.

    Let me tell you a story (I'm 54):

    When I was 16, I bought the first car owned in my extended family, a 1961 Comet. My aunt, Grace, asked me to drive her and her children, my cousins, to D.C. to visit her oldest son who was stationed there in the Air Force. I agreed. A couple of hours into the trip, I told Grace that we were low on gas. She responded that she didn't have any money, but to stop at the next church on the side of the road. We did, and an few minutes later the preacher came out with a bag full of sandwiches. We did the same thing every church to D.C. and back. When we got home, she and I splt the profits -- I got $300.

    True story.

    It's also true that I'm compelled to cause Lacy Dawn to reach America. She has a message that shouldn't be held back -- that of child maltreatment framed in an ironically outrageous and fun story. A percentage of any profits have been formally designated to go to prevent child abuse in West Virginia. I learned from Grace that anything is possible.

    Stand in line if you want, but Lacy Dawn intends to get in front of you. She has to before it's too late.

    Robert Eggleton

    P.S. I've tried very hard to use "Robert" although I've been "Bob" all my life. The famous artist knows that because we've communicated about our common name.

  2. Anonymous2:41 PM

    Goodness. Someone should just give Robert the secret handshake (or The Secret, as it is known in some circles) and have done.

    Then he could use it to get a publisher and move from "They won't tell me The Secret!" to "They won't advertise my book, they gave it a bad cover, that's why I'm getting lousy reviews and nobody buys my book!"

    It's too bad, but some people just don't want to know how to write well. (Why were preachers in every church assembling sandwiches for this man and his aunt? Where did the money come from -- They sold church sandwiches? To whom? And why? I'm so confused. Do you suppose the road trip is relevant to anything?)

  3. Anonymous6:45 AM

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  6. You were warned, Eggleton. Add "Spamming another writer's blog comments" as on of the many things you shouldn't do, that you go ahead and do anyway.

  7. Anonymous3:51 AM


    Thanks, but I don't understand the last comment or your actions. I'd appreciate clarification, and this is a sincere request. (What is the difference between a blog and a forum? When does one know when a site is merely a commercial for a product, like on TV -- click, click -- or open to self-promotion or discussion?)

    I apologize if I've done something that you think is inappropriate. As you know, mainly, I'm trying, with very limited resources, to promote "Rarity from the Hollow." If you have any recommendations toward this objective for me or others similarly situated, please let me know. As soon as the cover art is finished, my son will help me create my own site and, if you want, you will be welcome to post anything that doesn't violate public policy (promotion of illegal activities or extreme profanity, etc.) Thanks again.

    Robert Eggleton

  8. Anonymous3:11 AM

    He's Egged so many sf forums, that it's good to have blog posts like this to warn moderators that he is only there to Egg himself (in every connotation of the word).

    He has blazed his Eggy trail across the internet, his MO's being a pretence of misunderstanding, abuse to keep the convo going, and proudly flaunting rules.

    Who cares about the book?

    As an example of how not to market a book, he is perfect.

  9. Holy mackerel.

    I was doing some web searching on this guy because he's still out there, spamming message boards (I moderate one). Finding that he started over a year ago with this stuff is just depressing.

  10. Ten years later, he's still doing it. I've published fanzines with circulation that could charitably be described as "in the dozens" and I've gotten a review request from him.

    1. Wow. I'd forgotten all about him until you reminded me. Thanks a bunch! :-P