Thursday, July 31, 2008

Scratchin' The Itch

First off let me get back to the rash since I've had so many questions about it. The doctor believes I have had a nasty run in with either poison ivy or poison oak. Guess there was a price to pay for my little fishing excursion to New Mexico.

In all of my time stomping aropujd in the outdoors this is my first infliction from any sort of poisonous vegetation. Maybe it's karma getting me back for my steadfast motto that lettuce (or all things green) is the devil. But the way I see it I have even more reason now to hate things that grow in the dirt. I still contend that salads, carrots, and all other such things are food's food. Let the cows, chickens, and goats, eat the roughage and I'll eat them. And yes Josie, if I developed a steak allergy that would be the end of me.

Let move on to my pursuit of publication for Plundered Booty. I am waiting to hear back from a few trusted advisor and critiquers on my query letter an then once I've made the appropriate changes, I'll start sending out my pitch to literary agents. I'm excited about the possibilities as I truly believed the novel will find an audience but I've had my chops busted before so I know how difficult the process is. And I know the style and manner in which I wrote the book will rub some the wrong way as I've broken many of the so-called rules of writing but I hope that I have learned enough over the years to have broken them with a flair and style that makes the book an entertaining and compelling read.

Boy, do I hope.

One thing I find myself worrying about now is the blog and the things I put forth out into the world. I'm quite proud of the fact I've reached a solid group of readers and hits on the blog. So many in fact hat I dare mention it in my query letter. I can only assume that any agent4ed interested in the query or manuscript will come here. I wonder and worry what their impression will be. What if they are a devote vegetarian? Will my carnivorous habits be enough to turn them against my writing? What about the myriad of typos or grammatical mistakes I make on here? Sure, I could edit heavier but then I either wouldn't have enough time to devote to my actual fiction writing or post very often. I think my writing voice and style come through on the blog but is that enough or will agents expect perfection here as well as my manuscript?

Are the rest of you blogging writer's this neurotic at query time? Do you worry more about your blog when you think some one in the biz might be looking. I know there have been several agents pop in here from time to time but I honestly have no idea what they come away thinking. So if you are one of the few, the proud, the holder of dreams please drop me a comment or shoot me an email and give me your thoughts.

And I'd love to hear from the rest of you as well. We commoners gotta stick together to help assuage each others insecurities. Wish me luck.


David said...

I don't worry about that very much, for two reasons:

1) They don't have the time. Agents are all swamped with queries and reading partials and fulls, let along trying to sell the works of their existing clients. They're not likely to spend time reading the blogs of writers who query them. Existing clients' blogs would presumably be a different matter.

2) Part of the agent-client relationship is business, part of it is personal. You want the agent to know who you really are, just as you want to have a good idea who the agent really is, beyond the business persona.

Angie said...

I'm paranoid about how I present myself as a writer, whether it's my professional persona or my amateur persona. Probably moreso than I should be, or need to be, but there you go. I think it's more of a personality thing -- we are the way we are, and then we look for reasons to justify it all. [wry smile]

I think when you get right down to it, a great manuscript trumps everything. I can't imagine an agent or editor thinking, "Wow, this'll be a great book! I must have it!" and then coming to your blog and thinking, "Good grief, look at the typos! Forget that!" [sound of contract being torn up]

And if an agent would refuse to represent you just because you're a devoted carnivore or whatever, you probably wouldn't want to work with that person anyway. :/


Monnik said...

I wouldn't worry too much either. If people are visiting your blog because it was mentioned in a query letter, I figure you have a HUGE advantage. If they made it that far and wanted more info, they're really interested! And your blog is great, so they'll most likely love what you write.

Even if they are vegetarians. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Man my system is slow today. I personally don't worry much about an agent seeing my blog and being turned off. I seem to turn off agents in general anyway. Not sure why. I've about given up on an agent now.

Good luck with getting Plundered Booty out there. I'm dying to read it in print.

Melanie Avila said...

I started my blog as a side thing to my memoir. I've since finished it (it's in edits) and moved onto another wip, but the blog keeps on churning. I've wondered the same thing about agents and them possibly reading it, so I've always kept them in the back of my head. I don't really censor myself, I just try to remember they could be watching. bum bum bum.

Clare2e said...

IMHO, your blog IS part of your professional persona, so the typos might not be awesome if inevitable. But, as you said- job, family, fiction for publication- there isn't time to tweak it all. I'd rather have the typo or misspelling than no daily Travis, and I think other readers (also pro or pro-am writers like me) would agree.

The query pitch and MS are most important, however, given that Plundered Booty is supposed to be funny, and that this blog so often is, too, it's a net positive. The kind of people appreciating you here are exactly the kind of people who'd buy PB. *raises hand*

We're not enough to make you a bestseller yet, but enough to show you're not in left field and that you're hard-working and dedicated to producing lots of great content. Also, we know from here that you're attending conferences and making other professional opportunities for yourself. I'm not suggesting that anyone will read every post, but all those check boxes do happen to be things an agent or editor look for. You're already reaching and growing PB's audience!

preTzel said...

Yeah, what Clare said.

Travis -

When I read your posts I inevitably find almost every typo, blunder, and grammatical error. When I read my posts I miss everyone of them until someone points them out. That's how it works.

That's why we have others read our work so they can see what we miss.

As for agents reading your blog - again, what Clare said. It's who you are, an extension of you as a writer, and I think they will be happy they read it if they so choose to.

That being said - thank the heavens you are not contagious. I was *really* worried because you commented over on my blog and then I had an itch on my head and then on my leg. I think I should go shower because that might be causing the itches instead of you. LOLOL!

Lana Gramlich said...

Don't worry, hon. Very few people even bother to SKIM blogs, let alone read or examine them in depth! Not to mention that we should never be afraid to be ourselves.

writtenwyrdd said...

If the itching is really severe, an oatmeal bath might help. I don't get poison ivy very badly, but if you put a couple of cups of oatmeal in a sock (preferably a nylon knee high, which you might be short on in your sock drawer) and drop it into a warm tub, then soak in the resulting milky water, you might find some relief. Also, pat the slimy sock-turd thing on your skin and let it air dry on. You'll smell a bit like cereal, but the oatmeal gooey stuff will help with the itching. (Or you can blow about 8 bucks on a bottle of Aveeno.)

Re vegetables, look back to my Ask The Doctor post from a couple of days ago. I think you might have been the one to write it, based upon your commentary.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It has never occurred to me that anyone other than people like me read my blog. Once or twice, I've been proven wrong, but on the whole, I think blog surfing is probably something some writers do instead of smoking. It's healthier but probably just as much a waste of time. But addictive personalities will find something, won't I?

yellowdog granny said...

ouch!..hope you get a nice cure for the itch and good news on the book...

Packsaddle said...

Just make it an ebook and circumvent the hater vegans.

Or, offer a lifetime supply of salad trays to the winning agent.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I might go against the grain here, and I don't know what your hits look like. But I would hesitate to mention your blog in a query. From what I understand, agents consider it amateur, unless, you know, someone's giving you a book deal off the thing. (Then you CALL the agent of your dreams and ask them to handle the contract.)

Just my 2 cents.

Stephen Parrish said...

Most agents interested in you will check out your web presence, including your blog, even if just briefly. I wouldn't mention the number of blog hits in a query letter unless the number is very impressive.

J. L. Krueger said...

I'm with you on the food! I'm a devoted carnivore...I eat veggies to appease the spouse ;)

For me a great desert would be another piece of steak...dripping blood!

I can't imagine an agent having much time to check out blogs.

Junosmom said...

I would only mention the blog if it were somehow related to the business you are seeking, in this case writing. Blogs are more online journals for most people, not examples of their best writing. If the agent wants to know more about you the person after accepting the book, then send them to the blog. Otherwise, it seems you are using your blog readership numbers to justify the importance of your work. I suppose you are saying that because you have a number of readers, people will love your other writing and buy the book. I wonder if that translates? Would you have the same audience? I say let your work stand on its own merit. It is either worthy of publication, or it's not. BTW, I had a friend publish on

And as for the rash, glad to hear it's something more simple. It does remind me of the time...Oh, there's tomorrow's blog.

Junosmom said...

PS I would be interested in a blog on how you built your blog readership.

Josephine Damian said...

I am Travis Erwin's query bitch.

On Twitter, I "met"/"followed" an agent who started "following" me (gotta join Twitter to understand this in the equivalent of "friending" on MySpace, not stalking behavior).

Anyway, the agent stopped by my blog (linked on my Twitter home page) and sent me a private message about something they read on my blog.

Travis, in my query re-write, "you" will NOT mention this blog at all. (Sex and Stephen are right). The question is: Will you go with my version of the query or one of your other advisor's queries?

Thanks for the shout out.

Now that I have a bit of agent interest, I'm definitely re-thinking what I put out there on the web, and the closer I get to publication, the more I'll rein it in/taper off blogging.

Agents definitely read what we write here AND make judgements about representation based on how we come across.

Josephine Damian said...

PS: I've also read if you come across as a raving psycho on your blog, an agent won't care if your MS is great. A lot feel if you're a problem person, it just ain't worth it.

Josephine Damian said...

Some great advice on query writing on this agent blog:

Stephen Parrish said...

Josephine is correct. The commenters here who are saying agents don't have time to enter your blog address or google your name are speaking from experiences radically different from mine.

Watch how many hits you suddenly get from New York City when you send out a batch of queries. The agent-author relationship is a serious one; they will research you just as you research them---if they're interested.

You've got nothing to worry about. Unless they're vegetarians.

Miladysa said...

I hope your itching ceases soon!

Good luck with the book I hope you get a bite or several :-D

I do worry how I am perceived on my blogs, not by my fellow bloggers but by my family. I think my writing would be more adventurous and raw if I wasn't worrying what my children or grandchildren might think...

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Travis,

You have some really great advice here. I have only a comment. If an agent bothers to Google you, then that agent was interested in your query and wants to know more about you.

Anyone reading this blog will find out that you are an interesting and entertaining fellow. That can't be bad!


Bina said...

Oh no Travis. Poisonfreakingivy. That God, at the ripe old age of 43, I have NEVER been inflicted, either. But my son. Oh that poor boy. He looks at that stuff and breaks out!

Wish I could help on the writer front, but as I'm sure you know, I'm no writer, I just play one on TV.

That's not as funny as I thought it would be! LOL

The Anti-Wife said...

I'm "itching" to read your book, so I hope you find an agent and publisher soon.

holly said...

i don't have any advice except that i can tell you i'm just remaining optimistic in the face of the rejection letters. i keep telling myself that i'm going to have to get *those* along with the acceptance ones. (see, i said ones. i'm optimistic). BELIEVE. :) but you do. so that's good.

i think i didn't list my blog because i didn't want the publishers/agents looking at it - but because i'm doing children's books, it would look even *odder*.

Anonymous said...

i worry, like you do, about any professional opportunities being thwarted by my blog. but then i tell myself this:

my blog is part of my writing process. i think readers dig that kind of thing.

my blog is an expression of part of me. i think readers dig that kind of access to authors.

publishers are interested in writers who are not afraid to do the work to attract audiences: at the very least you show that you care about a "public" that you have a more or less regular commitment to thinking about writing. there's a lot of good that your blog shows about your writing life.

WordVixen said...

I haven't heard any agents complain about perfection in blogs- so long as you're not blasting them, other agents, or editors on it. And your voice certainly does come through! I think any agent who's interested enough to click through to your blog will be more inclined to offer representation (or ask for a partial or full) because of it.

Your blog shows your devotion to your writing, as well as your voice, and an established fan base. I wouldn't be surprised if every one of your readers bought multiple copies once your book is published. :)

That said, I've only ever heard of agents googling or reading the blogs of unsigned authors if they're already interested. If you're using your real name on the query, they shouldn't have any trouble finding you on their own.

Debbielou said...

If the agents do read your blog - you'll be "quids in" ( rolling in the money).

I understand that JK Rowling was let down several times by agents before Harry Potter was finally printed - so think positive thoughts and keep on going.

I want to know if you tried the " sock turd" as suggested by writtenwyrd ?? !!

If your "itch" was in the palm of your hands - that's an old wives tale that you will definitely be expecting a cash windfall - Scratch away !

Mary said...

I worry about that, too.

Josephine Damian and Stephen Parrish are right: some agents will check out your blog.

And it sometimes makes me a little self-conscious about my blog posts. It’s a tough one… :)