Author Queries are Queries for a Reason

I’m going through author queries. It’s not a bad job, you get to see how the author responded to each delicately worded comment and carefully considered style decisions.

However, it plucks on my last nerve when I say “AU: Can you be more specific than ‘schmutz‘ here?” and then the author responds “OK.”

Awesome. You know what? I knew you could be more specific. That’s why I asked. You are the one with subject expertise and one or ten more advanced degrees than I have.

Cougar Clause likes to tell me that there are no stupid things, just stupid people. She likes to tell me this after I stub my toe on a door, for example. And then she wonders why I’m so cranky to her and not to other people.

Considering the idea that  there are no stupid authors just stupid author queries (which, incidentally I don’t believe for a minute, but am using for argument’s sake), I might admit that I could have phrased the query better. “Please be more specific here.” But communication is a two-way street. Maybe the author, who, remember, has ten more advanced degrees than I do, should have realized that the query was a politely worded prompt to be more specific.

Are there stupid authors? Does “schmutz” really have a “c” in it? What are your questions?


16 responses to “Author Queries are Queries for a Reason

  1. I’m so glad to hear kitty is feeling better. There is hardly a limit to what we will do for the creatures who really run the house. Spoon feeding it is. How very sweet that is.

    People-pleaser that I am, I would have given you options — how about this? or this? or maybe this?? Which means I’d be on your 4th nerve.

  2. Dear Indy,
    Were I a well educated logician, I could categorize your problematic transposition of things to authors and people to author queries. Not being one of those wise logicians the best I. Can do is, in the style of two way communication, ask you;
    Have you thought about reframing the search for comments from your fans thus: there are no stupid author queries only stupid authors. Please discuss, with examples.

    Can I be more specific?

    Hell no, not at least from the cosy fireside on a frosty middlemarch morning, while my teenagers stir, and my tummy rumbles, and the thrushes sing.


  3. I didn’t know you had a kitty, too. I’m glad she’s recovering from whatever’s been ailing her.

    I’m afraid to say that there are stupid authors. But I want to. I think many authors just need good editors way more than they think. Every time a blogger I don’t know says they have a book out, I go to Amazon to read a couple pages. (I’m compulsive about this.) Last night I did that and laughed so hard I scared the cat.

    First the author ticked me off by writing about slavery off-handedly, through the eyes of a seemingly spoiled, but ‘slave-loving’ southern belle who was so stupid that she got her billowy skirt stuck in a wagon wheel after her driver ran away from her as soon as he stopped the horses. (?)

    After a sentence that told us how the belle wished her mother hadn’t died when she was born, the author has the belle “lovingly finger” her mother’s picture in a locket, then immediately tells us that the woman’s “Papa had not remarried, and with no siblings, Dominique was put in charge of the household.” I got a mental image of a toddler being forced to run things. (It put me in mind of the drunken toddler in the Will Ferrell video, The Landlord.) That’s when my laughter scared Kitty off my lap.

    I like the idea of schmutz having a “c” in it, but that doesn’t make me right.

    • I don’t know how you feel about the book “The Help” (I hate it from a distance), but I believe its given a lot of white authors a green flag to write about race. While I do think they should write about race, they should not be doing it off-handedly. Hm. Possible blog post forthcoming.

      • I agree. Everyone with something helpful, illuminating and true to contribute to the conversation should be writing about race. It actually hurts that so many people don’t get that, and I’m tired of people saying the conversation is no longer necessary. I had a couple of unsettling experiences on the blog in the past year that are perfect examples of why we’re no where near done talking about it.

        I didn’t read “The Help” but I saw the movie on tv and was both reassured and saddened that I found it thoughtful and realistic according to my own experiences.

        I’ll be looking out for your blog post.

  4. Dear Indy fans,

    Ok, I didn’t know I needed to be a kitty custodian to belong here.

    And what luck, I am. I really truly am. I can’t make up names as naff as Wendy and milo, nor tricks as sweet as theirs. Wendy is clumsy. Like how come a Burmese, that acme of elegant positioning can be clumsy. She is. She’s the runt of her litter and arrived to my care without whiskers. Urgent research led to me know that the litter runt will often have their whiskers gnawed off by other kittens. And sans whiskers cats don’t learn gravity and shape and perspective.

    Indy, spoon feeding cats is fine, it’s good, it embeds your compassion, and your patience. After all you need it for stupid authors. I’m sure.

  5. At the risk of sounding obsequious, might i simply admit to being humbled by my copy-editors? The number of times I have reacted with an OMGICBIST(oh-my-god-i-can’t-believe-i-said-that!) to the author queries sent my way by a copy-editor I now know to be in bunny slippers, should make me more careful with what I call a “final” draft.

    Alas, the number of mistakes I make probably suggests it is I who is stupid, not my mistakes, but as long as you point them out nicely (and catch them before they go to press!), I’ll keep trying to do better.

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