The Mail I Get: Rejection Edition

How to never sell your book…

We received a submission at Brash Books, the small publishing company I co-founded six years ago with Joel Goldman. After reading the submission, we decided to pass. This is the entirety of the rejection letter we wrote to the author:

Thank you for thinking of Brash for XYZ. Unfortunately, it’s not a fit for us. We wish you the very best finding the right home for the book.

His reply:

Keep printing The same redundant shit Arrogant ass, just remember the title of this book, u will see it on the best sellers list asshole.

And I’m sure he wonders why he hasn’t sold a book yet. (BTW, his submission was awful). So I decided to respond:

I sincerely doubt it… and I say that as a novelist who has actually been at the top of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller lists multiple times. To be a successful author, you not only need to write well, and tell a good story… you also need to have some decent people skills. If I lashed out and called every publisher who politely rejected my work an arrogant asshole, I wouldn’t have achieved my success. How do I know? Because I ultimately ended being published by two of the publishers who’d rejected my previous work. You are clearly the biggest obstacle to your success. You might want to rethink your strategy.

He responded a short time later. 

 
This book has a very complex plot and vivid characterization that you couldn’t have possibly ascertain in the brief time you review my story. is a very complex plot, and profound characterization. This story is very unique, and has major shocking twists at the end! A PHD from Western Kentucky, who was a professor for 38 years is editing it, and compared it to Silence of the Lambs. It is very, very unique story, and intertwines orwellian themes, which compare to today’s political and social upheaval. I DO APOLOGIZE FOR LASHING OUT, NOT PROFESSIONAL AT ALL, sorry just have my heart and soul in this book, and you rejected it in record time, this is not my first rodeo, again I do apologize!

Still a little crazy, but at least he apologized. I guess that’s progress.

The Mail I Get: For the Weatherman Edition

There is are a lot of Lee Goldbergs out there. One of them is a popular weatherman at WABC in New York…and I get a lot of emails meant for him. I always reply and politely tell them they have the wrong Lee Goldberg (which you’d think would be obvious from the face on my website). By the same token, Lee the Weatherman also gets a lot of emails about my books. We met a few years ago and he invited me on his show. It was a lot of fun.

Here is just a tiny sampling of the mail I get for him:

Dear Lee,

Please be advised that Clason Point in the Bronx is pronounced CLAW-son and not CLAY-son.

And another:

Hi Lee it was nice you mentioned the Moon and Jupiter tonight but Saturn was there too.

If its clear tomorrow in fact you might want to mention in your forecast that the crescent Moon, Saturn and Jupiter are gathered even closer together.

And another:

What type of meter is on the wall in your home above the computer monitor?
While watching you broadcast from your home (I assume it is your home) there is a device with many numbers on it in red.
Is that something I can purchase?
Thanks

And another:

Thank you for thinking of Toms River Ocean County NJ. Other channels don’t talk about Toms River. You are the only one who speaks about Ocean County NJ. Thank you, thank you, thank you. BTW, I’m from Toms River.

And another:

Hi Lee- it’s a great idea to tell your viewers the reason for the nightly colors. However, please do it at 5 and 6 pm for the many viewers who are fast asleep at 11:20pm especially kids and my Nursing Home residents. Thanks – please reply if you get this request.

And another:

Hello, Lee!
Could I be of any assistance in reporting weather conditions/readings for the northeast Bronx – Pelham Bay Park/City Island?i.e.Rain, snow, flooding, temperature, barometric pressure, etc.
Basically.. just another set of eyes for this outer area of New York City.

And another:

I worked in landscaping for 43 years. Outside work 6 days a week, plus drove an oil delivery truck in the winter. Always out in the weather. In the last 3 years the wind, especially out of the northwest has been relentless! The only calm is early AM and in summer Bermuda high when dew points and humidity are raging. I’m on LI. so the proximity to ocean and sound and peconic bay, but REALLY…… what’s going on?

When I responded to this guy, and told him he had the wrong Lee Goldberg, he actually replied:

Sorry. I thought that was a little too easy.

The Mail I Get: Recommend Me Edition

Two weeks ago, the same day that my new novel BONE CANYON came out, a complete stranger sent me an email on Facebook asking me to recommend him to my agent:

Hi Lee: Need to ask a question. Do you have an agent, order you publish yourself? If you have an agent, can you refer me to him/her. I have completed a novel, 60,000 words. If I send a cold-call query to an agent, I get a polite response. If I send a query to an agent with a recommendation, I get feedback. So far, feedback has said my manuscript is “well written.” But that doesn’t mean they will represent it. Asking for your input and a recommendation to your agent. Thank you, Ben

I didn’t reply…because I was very busy promoting my book and I really didn’t want to deal with his request. Two days later, I got another note.

I sent you the above message. Would love to get a response.

I didn’t reply to that one, either. The next day, I got an email through my website:

I left you a message on your Facebook page but never heard back from you. Can you read it and respond?”

This time I responded. I said: “I am represented by an agent and no, I will not recommend you to her. What an outrageous and inappropriate request to make of a complete stranger. Why would I do that? I don’t know you and I don’t know your work. And no, I don’t want to read your book. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject.”

He wrote back on Facebook:

You’re an asshole.

Then he followed up with an email saying:

What an asshole you are. I won’t expand because I don’t want to hear your pompous diatribe. So I’ll leave it at that.

I responded:

From screenwriter Josh Olson who, in his great 2009 piece in The Village Voice, said it best when dealing with a person like you:

“At this point, you should walk away, firm in your conviction that I’m a dick. But if you’re interested in growing as a human being and recognizing that it is, in fact, you who are the dick in this situation, please read on. Yes. That’s right. I called you a dick. Because you created this situation. You put me in this spot where my only option is to acquiesce to your demands or be the bad guy. That, my friend, is the very definition of a dick move.”

Here’s the rest of his wonderful essay on guys like you:https://www.villagevoice.com/…/i-will-not-read-your…/

Your emails to me make it very clear why you’ve had no success finding an agent or getting published. You might want to rethink your approach going forward. Good luck!

Ben responded immediately:

You are still an asshole.

A bad guy.

A dick.

A jerk.

I am very secure in my writing. Based on past experiences, I am very secure calling you the above names. You made your position know. I get it. But you are pretty insecure otherwise it seems. Now asshole just walk away. Take a frickin hike.

Regards,

Me

Five minutes later, he added:

Response 2

From now on, just send me or people like me a one or two sentence response saying you are in no position to read a manuscript and offer recommednations. That’s all you need to do. But you make an asshole case out of it trying to shame people. It shows you are pretty insecure or at least very petty. You need to rethink your approach to dealing with well-intended writers.

Now I’d had enough. Here’s what I wrote:

Wow, are you full of yourself. Let’s recap, Ben. You sent a note on Facebook to an author you don’t know (or, apparently, don’t know anything about). You began by asking this question:


” Do you have an agent, order you publish yourself? ” 

If you’d done even the most basic research about me, you’d know the answer to that question, that I am a #1 New York Times bestselling author who has been published by Penguin Putnam, St. Martin’s Press, Random House, etc. But that was too much work for you. And if you’d ever opened one of my books, which I’m sure you haven’t, not only would you know if I have an agent or not, you’d also know their names, since I thank them in my acknowledgments. So, strike #1 for laziness, poor research and a complete lack of professionalism. (Add poor-proofreading: “order” instead of “or do” in your dashed-off, “cold call” email)


You went on to ask: “If you have an agent, can you refer me to him/her.”

You are now asking a complete stranger to make a personal recommendation, leveraging their hard-earned reputation and hard-won personal relationships, on your behalf… a huge ask, even for someone who actually knows me or even, at the minimum, my work.  But you don’t acknowledge that. You think it’s nothing. So, strike #2 for ignorance and rudeness. (Add poor proofreading: you forgot to add a question mark to the end of your question, which again underscores the unprofessional, dashed-off nature of your “cold call”).


You go on to say: “If I send a cold-call query to an agent, I get a polite response. If I send a query to an agent with a recommendation, I get feedback. “


So, you’re saying  I should do this for someone I don’t know because my relationship with the agent will help get you feedback. In other words, you’ll get more attention from the agent because she feels a responsibility to me, the person who recommended you. 


And you’re making that request with no acknowledgment whatsoever of the significance of what you are asking. And you don’t even ask politely. So, strike #3…for presumptuousness, ignorance and rudeness.


You go on to say: “Asking for your input and a recommendation to your agent.”

Now you are asking an author you don’t know, or even know anything about, to not only recommend you to his agent (twice, I might add), but now you also want him to give you feedback…another big ask. So, strike #4 for nagging, ignorance and rudeness. 

And there wasn’t a single “please” in your entire cold-call email, a big strike #4, for having no common courtesy.  

But you didn’t stop there. When I didn’t answer you immediately, because really, what could possibly be more important in my life than responding to a complete stranger, you asked me two days later to respond. When I didn’t, you then prodded me again, a day later, through my website:

“I left you a message on your Facebook page but never heard back from you. Can you read it and respond? Thank you”

You not only hit up a complete stranger for a big favor, you now had the chutzpah to insist on an immediate response… and to complain when you didn’t get one (and, once again, the word “please” seems to be missing entirely from your vocabulary…because the whole world owes you their time and attention). 


I’m sure you have no idea how rude and inappropriate that is, but we’ll set that aside. This may come as a shock, but I have a few other things going on in my life (for example, if you’d done any research on me, you’d know I had a new book come out last week and have been busy doing scores of interviews every day). I have no obligation to you… certainly not to drop everything to engage with you. 


But no, in your mind, there is nothing more important, more time-critical, than you and your needs…even to someone you don’t know and know nothing about.


And when I did respond, (“I am represented by an agent and no, I will not recommend you to her. What an outrageous and inappropriate request to make of a complete stranger. Why would I do that? I don’t know you and I don’t know your work. And no, I don’t want to read your book. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject…), your reply was:


“You’re an asshole.”


Amazing. And you have the gall to try to school me on how to behave? Your arrogance and cluelessness are astounding. You aren’t a “well-intended writer,” but you’re certainly an ill-prepared, impolite, and self-defeating one. You asked me for feedback. Well, now I’ll give some to you. 


The proper response from you to my reply would have been an apology, an acknowledgement that what you were asking was out of line and ill-considered, and that you now realize that it was a foolish way to approach an author for advice…especially one you don’t know…and that now you know no better. That you don’t blame me for being irritated, you would be, too. 


That might have led to something productive. Instead, you doubled down on ignorance and arrogance…and responded with a crude, childish insult that proved me right: You aren’t someone who deserves my help…or *any* successful author’s help. 


No, Ben, I am not an asshole. What I am is a successful author, screenwriter, TV producer and publisher who is very busy…and doesn’t have much free time. Even so, over the last thirty years, I’ve taught and mentored writers across the United States and all over the world…in classrooms, in seminars, at conferences, and on-the-job. The difference between those writers and you is that they’re smarter, more professional, more polite, and a lot less full of themselves.


You’ve made many dumb, cringe-worthy mistakes in your interaction with me…and instead of responding now by telling me that I’m an ugly, smelly, talentless, creepy, petty, vindictive, Godless asshole, shithead, bastard, prick and overall terrible person, don’t respond to me at all. Instead, think of this as a learning experience and rethink your deeply flawed strategy of “cold calling” authors you don’t know (or know anything about) for help. You need a new approach….because your current one sucks…and works against you. 

Lee

His reply was entirely predictable:

You really took all that time to write this. Wow I must have really got on your nerves. You are sick. You need help. Ask your therapist if this is logical. 
As I said a simple two sentence reply at the beginning would have sufficed. 
I’m not even going to read this
I’m just going to delete it
Good night

I don’t think Ben, with his attitude, is going to have much luck finding an agent or getting his book published.

The Mail I Get – Grab Bag Edition

From the grab bag…here’s a bunch of recent mail that I’ve received and my replies:

I’d like you to adapt my unpublished novel XYZ for the screen or perhaps a TV series. It could also be multiple movies. It’s about XYZ. In the alternative, I hope you will refer me to a producer who might be interested.

I replied: I’m not interested in adapting your book and I can’t think of any screenwriter or producer who would be. Studios don’t buy ideas. They buy the execution of ideas (i.e. who is writing it, who is directing it, who is producing it etc). And they don’t buy books that aren’t huge bestsellers. Since you aren’t a brand-name author, or a first-time author with a bestselling book, there’s almost no chance in hell of anybody reading it or buying it. I don’t say that to be mean, but to give you a realistic view of your chances. Your best bet is to get the book published and hope it does well enough critically or commercially to attract Hollywood interest.

Here’s a question I got about MONK:

 I’m a teenager who has become a HUGE fan of Monk just 8 years too late!!  I grew up watching the show with my Dad. Not so long ago, I discovered that there was a BOOK SERIES. My heart quite literally jumped out of my chest!!  THE CHARACTERS WEREN’T DONE!! Over the next 2 days I went to the library and checked out 10 Monk books, and I can’t stop reading them!!  THEY ARE SO GOOD!! About 2-3 times every book I get teary-eyed because the characters you’ve described in the books are so heart-wrenching.  Why did you write the series from Natalie’s perspective?

If my “detecting skills” tell me anything, you probably chose to write the series from her perspective because the television series is already told form Monk’s perspective.  We get the chance to understand him thoroughly, so it only makes sense to write from the perspective of the closest person to him… literally of course.  

I replied: I wrote them from Natalie’s perspective because I think it humanizes Monk. It gives us a necessary distance and, at the same time, a perspective to frame what we’re seeing. In a way, Natalie’s eyes become the replacement for the TV screen that was between us and Adrian Monk. Also, a little Monk goes a long way. You can overdo the joke and all the obsessive/compulsive stuff. By telling the stories from Natalie’s point of view, we aren’t with him all the time. We get some space, a breather from his shtick, and I think that’s important. It’s also a conscious homage to Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe, who were seen as well through the eyes of their assistants.

And, finally, here’s a question I got about screenwriting:

I stumbled across your post Diagnosis Murder & How to Plot a Mystery, while looking for information on adapting a low-budget, niche, middle grade, mystery book series into a TV script of what seems to be 22-25 pages for a 30 minute show? I found a good article on sitcoms, but not a good breakdown for a kids’ mystery series. Is there any chance you can direct me to a script/page-timing outline? Or any information on this specifically?

I replied: No offense intended, but if you are asking about script page/timing, that suggests to me you still have a lot to learn about the principles of screenwriting. There is far more involved than knowing whether a page of script translates to a minute or five minutes of action (it depends whether its a one camera or three camera show and what is on the page — how many locations/sets there are, what action is involved, and how fast characters speak. Page count is not the issue you should be concerned with. There are “hour long” shows with 45 page scripts and 69 page scripts — every series is different). I recommend Richard Walter’s ESSENTIALS OF SCREENWRITING, Pamela Douglas WRITING THE TV DRAMA SERIES, William Rabkin’s  terrific WRITING THE PILOT, Alex Epstein’s CRAFTY TV WRITING, and SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING by William Rabkin and yours truly.

She wrote back:

Thank you very much for your quick response. I know very little about television scripts. But will get the books you mentioned.

The Mail I Get – Convicted Conman James Strauss Edition

You’d be stunned how any people have reached out to me to share their horror stories of being swindled or harassed by convicted conman & fake TV writer James Strauss… everybody from aspiring screenwriters to stiffed shopkeepers, from enraged military veterans to swindled conference organizers, from stiffed restaurants to stiffed Hawaii vacation-home renters. There’s been a surge in those emails in the last couple of weeks. I guess he’s stirring things up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, perhaps the only place on earth that hasn’t learned that he’s a total fraud. Here’s an excerpt from one of the many emails that I’ve received:

I live in Lake Geneva Wisconsin and today The Geneva Shore Report, which this James Strauss owns, told bold face lies […] saying [my] church and former pastors were in cahoots with the fire department where people were to vote.  His bold face lies and hurtful newspaper needs to stop. Please don’t use my name. But can you help my community?! And please hurry.

James Strauss’ mugshot, taken before he was sentenced to federal prison for fraud.

It’s YOUR community. YOU do something about it. If you, as a resident, don’t have the guts to stand-up against him, under your own name, and reveal him for what he is, how can you expect people who don’t live there, who have no stake or interest in what is going on, to do anything about it? Here’s an excerpt from a very lengthy email I received:

I am asking you to please not publish my name. Frankly, we cannot afford to feel the wrath of Mr. Strauss’s mean-spirited writings and video “reporting”. I am a long-time resident in the Geneva Lakes Area in Wisconsin. Sadly our lovely resort community is home to The Geneva Shore Report, a mean-spirited rag of a “newspaper” for which James Strauss is the creator and editor. He promotes his rag as “The most feared newspaper in America”.

I am writing to you because Mr. Strauss is damaging good people in our community. Mr. Strauss has made accusations via innuendo and flat out lies about our now retired pastors of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Chaplain on our Lake Geneva Fire Department, [and] slandered Karen Stein of KS Ministries who, out of her own pocketbook, invested a healthy half a million dollars in a clean and sober living house. What can I do to expose his con man lies? Please help!

I told him this: I’m sorry to hear that Strauss is continuing to ruin people’s lives…but there is nothing I can do about it. I’m not a journalist or a cop. The best advice I can give you is to spread the word that he is a convicted conman and fraud who spent years in a federal prison for swindling people. It’s information easily found on the Internet.

Outside of the Lake Geneva folks, I recently also got a desperate email from an aspiring filmmaker (he asked me not to quote his email on my blog) who was wary of doing free work for Strauss, who promised in return to use his contacts to help the kid break into Hollywood. This poor kid was shocked to learn that Strauss has zero legitimate Hollywood experience and asked me what he should do. My answer was simple: walk away. Strauss is a pathological liar and convicted felon who will screw you over.

It’s amazing to me that Strauss is still able to con people when the truth about him is so easily found in a google search. The way I look at it, anybody stupid enough to get into business with him deserves what they get.

The Mail I Get – Long Overdue Monk Edition

I’ve been getting lots of questions about my MONK series. Here are just a few of them.

Hi Lee, quick question about the Monk books. I know they’re stand-alones, but did you intend for the characters to have gradual progressions from book 1 to book 15, which wouldn’t necessarily require the reader to read them in order, but that the reader would get more out of the overall storyline arc if they *did* read them in order?

Yes, particularly after MR. MONK IS CLEANED OUT and onwards through my last book, MR. MONK GETS EVEN. Also, early in the series, the books MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY and MR. MONK IS MISERABLE (aka Mr. Monk Goes to France) take place basically within hours of each other, so those are best read in order.

Love the Mr Monk book series. I’m in need of a jacket cover for a hardcover book “Mr Monk on the COUCH”. Any idea where I might be able to go and get just the cover?

I don’t have a stack of dust jackets in my closet. You’ll have to buy a used book. There are plenty on Amazon and ABEbooks.

I just finished reading your last book on Monk and something bothers me. Where was the daughter of Trudy – Molly? How is it possible that she was not at the wedding Ambrose and Yuki? After all, she is part of the family. Why she was not invited to the wedding? Was there any reason why you did not mention Molly Evans in your book? Please reply.

If memory serves , I had Molly appear in “Mr Monk on The Road” and I felt that was enough attention paid to her. The character appeared briefly in the last episode of Monk, so she barely registered as a character . She wasn’t monk’s daughter, so she wasn’t related to him or Ambrose. Her character barely existed in the tv show. I saw no reason to spend any more time with a character that viewers and readers didn’t really know or care about. That approach has proven correct since you are only the second person, out of the tens of thousands of readers who bought the book, to bring her up to me in the years since the novel was published. 🙂

Thanks for writing the Monk series. I love them. I love the way you have developed the characters, especially…all of them. I am just very disappointed that you are not going to write any more of them. If you change your mind I shall rejoice.

Thank you, but to quote a cliche, the ship has sailed on the MONK books. I won’t be doing any more. I think writing fifteen books and three Monk episodes is more than enough Monk for me!

I was wondering if you still talk to the maker of monk because if you do I was wonder if you could ask him to make a monk movie! I would love that and I know a lot of fans would love it too!

Andy Breckman wrote a MONK reunion movie several years ago for USA Network. But, from what I understand, it ended up being too expensive to produce.

I’m a HUGE fan of the Mr. Monk book series and the TV series! I’m having a very hard time finding your first book, “Mr. Monk Goes To The Firehouse” so, I was wondering if you could send me a copy at your earliest convenience. Here is my address. Please sign it, too.

I’m so glad that you enjoy the MONK books. I don’t know why you’re having troubles finding MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE. It is widely available from hundreds of booksellers, in some cases for as little as one penny plus postage! That said, I’m not a bookseller nor do I send out free copies of my books to anybody who asks.

I am a huge fan, I have seen the Monk tv show and read all of the Monk books.  How do I go about obtaining a copy of the short story Mr. Monk and the Seventeen steps?

The short story is actually a chapter from one of the MONK books… MR. MONK ON THE ROAD. All the short stories that were published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine were excerpts from the books that just worked as standalone stories

The Mail I Get – Scammers Edition

Even in this age of easy self-publishing, the scammers are still out there… and there are still plenty of suckers. I recently ran into an author who not only “published” his book through Authorhouse, he also paid them extra to buy positive reviews for him in the worthless “self-published books” versions of Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Not only that, he was seriously considering a sleazy marketeer’s $25,000 campaign to “get his book on bestseller lists” by paying people to buy copies and leave positive reviews on digital platforms. He firmly believed that this is how Stephen King, John Grisham, Janet Evanovich and others get their books reviewed and on the bestseller lists. I, of course, told him was wrong and that he’d been swindled. Afterwards, he emailed me this plea:

Okay, so I’m ready with open ears to figure out how to get my book marketed, put on best seller lists, then get it made into a movie. I asked you last week if I could send you a copy to take a look at, cause it’s pretty damn dynamic. I know you have your own writings to take care of, but If there’s anything at all you can do to help me, I would be more than happy cut a nice juicy percent of gross profits…of everything. Please, please, please guide me in the right direction and if possible, drive the damn car for me.

The first thing you need to know is that Authorhouse is a notorious scam that operates under several names (Author Solutions, iUniverse, xlibris, etc.). They prey on the desperation of aspiring authors and squeeze them for every last penny they can get. Don’t pay them another dime for anything. You’ve been swindled out of enough money by these crooks as it is. Here’s just one of many posts out there about the Author Solutions/Authorhouse scam. The good news is that people have finally gotten wise to their con and the company is in a downward spiral.

But before they crash and burn, you should demand that Authorhouse revert the rights to the book back to you, along with the PDF and Kindle files that you’ve paid for, and pull the book from sale. Your book is ranked at 2 million on Amazon, which frankly means you aren’t selling any books anyway, so you aren’t risking anything by yanking it. Nobody knows the book exists.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time to help you untangle yourself from Authorhouse or to walk you through self-publishing your book. But before you consider self-publishing again, or marketing your book to real publishers, you should really go back and rewrite the manuscript. I read the Amazon sample and, I mean no offense, but it needs substantial editing by a professional. It’s bloated with endless, dull exposition…and isn’t ready to sell to anybody. Rewriting the book under the guidance of an experienced freelance editor, or a knowledgeable creative writing instructor (perhaps through UCLA Extension), is really the best use of your resources now rather than investing time, effort, and money self-publishing a book that is unlikely to find an audience in its present form.

The Mail I Get: Booktweep Edition

I’ve been getting spammed with emails lately from an awful book promotion service called Booktweep.

We saw your book “The Pursuit: A Fox and O’Hare Novel” at Amazon. We would like to help you in the Promotional efforts of “The Pursuit: A Fox and O’Hare Novel” to boost the number of sales and ranking. We will act as an extra helping hand in marketing your book so that you can get more time to write your next one. You can check our website and discuss your promotion queries and your Book Sales target. For more info just visit our website and write to us. Our website is https://booktweep.com/product/signup/

So I took a look at the Booktweep website. It’s a mess. Basically, you pay them $14.99 a month and they will send out terrible twitter ads about your book.  Here are three examples of their work:

CnqnWbWVMAAZ_mL

 

CnqmQzSWgAA2-8I

CofRrqkVIAAjDhP

I sent the promotional visionaries at Booktweep this note:

Here’s some advice for you on your promotional efforts.

1. Research the authors you are contacting. If you had looked into me, you’d know that THE PURSUIT hit #1 on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists on its debut four weeks ago and that we don’t need your tweet help.

2. Hire someone familiar with the English language to write your twitter ads. The ads you are running now humiliate you and your clients.

3. Hire someone familiar with the English language to write your website. It’s embarrassing and unprofessional to have phrases like this as subject headings on your website:

Why to choose Booktweep?

How it works?

So, why to wait ?

(FYI, the correct phrasing is: Why choose Booktweep? and How does it work? and So why wait?)

In addition to those inept headings, you have phrases like this:

5.8 Millions Tweet Impressions

15.7 Thousands Profile visits of @Ebookjunction

Million and Thousand do not need to be plural. Someone familiar with English would know better.

I could go on and on. Why would anyone pay you to promote their work when you do such an awful, sloppy job?

The Mail I Get – Screenwriting Advice Edition

Direct-Mail1I get a lot of emails asking me for advice on selling stuff to the networks. Here’s a recent one:

I have a friend, historical romance writer, who, after thirty-something books, is interested in writing something for Hallmark and/or Lifetime. Just out of curiosity, since you’re the only TV writer I know, any idea what a basic screenplay advance/pay/etc. would be for a simple made-for-TV-Hallmark-type screenplay? Or who she might turn to for that type of info?

It doesn’t really matter what Hallmark or Lifetime pays for a TV movie… the chances of her selling a script to them is nearly zero. They order very few tv movies, and the ones they do buy are usually from production companies they’ve worked with before (or with whom they have output deals). Most of those companies  produce their films in Canada to take advantage of tax benefits etc. Or the films are co-production deals involving Canada, France, Germany, etc, which are necessary to make a film for the extemely low license fee that Hallmark and Lifetime pay (they need foreign presales to off-set the cost). The Canadians have a very strict point system that governs whether a production gets the tax credit…the point system is based, among many things, on how many Canadians are working on the production. In most cases, the screenwriter has to be a Canadian or non-American. The other problem is that if they do use an American writer, it will be someone who is experienced and adds some cache for foreign pre-sales. Its extremely rare for a TV movie to be based on a spec teleplay written by a newbie. All that said, I believe the current cable TV movie writing fee is $38,966 for a 90 minute movie, $51,064 for 2 hours (that’s the actual runtime of the film, not the film with commercials, etc).

If your friend is a major, bestselling author, she would have better luck selling her book to a studio, which would then hire an experienced screenwriter to do the adaptation. Screenwriting is a LOT harder than authors think it is. There’s more to it than telling a story in a screenplay format.

The Mail I Get – Advice Edition

59_bigPeople are always writing me for advice about TV and publishing, not that I have any great wisdom to impart. But that doesn’t stop me from replying anyway.

Hello Mr. Goldberg:
I was referred to you by a friend of your friend XYZ…I am 64 years old and I have a screenplay that desperately needs a place to go, and your name was delivered as the unquestionable favorite.  Please let me know if you might be able to provide me any guidance or wisdom. Should you not be able or interested, (she tries to put away that big pouty lip), your suggestion of someone else would be greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, I don’t have good news for you. In fact, I have very discouraging news for you. Everybody in L.A. has a screenplay they want to sell. You are one of thousands…and you’re competing with them all, inexperienced and experienced screenwriters alike. I’m neither an agent nor a studio exec, so there’s really nothing I can do for you. I don’t know of any agents who are taking on new clients (they are having a hard enough time selling the scripts written by the experienced clients they already have).
The best advice I can offer is for you to contact the Writers Guild of America to see if they can give you a list of signatory agents who are accepting unsolicited screenplays. The other thing you should be aware of is that ageism is rampant in Hollywood…and if you haven’t already established yourself in the business by 30, you are considered elderly and out-of-touch with popular taste 🙂 I’m 54 and feel ancient when I go into meetings…and despite my extensive credits, it’s still a hard sell for me. I’m just telling you this so you realise that you’re facing a very steep, uphill battle.

I am sure you get a lot of emails and maybe this may not reach you, but here’s hoping. I am an aspiring actress/model and went to a meeting with XYZ at Culver Studios last week. He claims to have been a director/producer for NBC/Universal but the IMDB just doesn’t seem legitimate. He also claims to be married to actress XYZ but there is hardly any information on her either.
He says he wants me to come and work for him and learn the business to become an assistant producer and star in his upcoming movies, but things just aren’t adding up. I called NBC Universal and asked them if his name was on the employee list and was not.  Due to all of the scams and human trafficking which he spoke a lot about, I want to be safe. Do you know how I can navigate safely through this industry and or have any advice for me on how I can obtain legitimate information and backgrounds on producers and directors?

Well, it sounds like you already checked this guy out and learned that something is very fishy. His picture on Imdb also seems amateurish to me… as if by standing beside the studio gate, which anybody can do, he’s trying to confer legitimacy on himself. I’d steer clear of him. Keep in mind, anybody can rent studio space. Just because their office is on a movie studio lot does not mean they are legitimate. In addition to imdb, you can check out producers with the PGA (Producers Guild of America) to see if they are members… or, if they are writer/producers, you can check with the WGA (Writers Guild of America) to see if they are members (or if their companies are guild signatories). You can find out if a director is legit by contacting the DGA (Directors Guild of America) and seeing if he or she is a member. If they are offering you acting jobs, check them out with SAG (Screen Actors Guild) to see if they are signatories or if there are any issues with their company that the union knows about. Lack of produced credits on imDb and non-membership in one of those guilds would raise a big red flag for me.