• May 13, 2014

    And… we have a winner!


    This year’s Bad Poetry contest brought to light some truly terrible talent. Writers who spend their time creating thoughtful, sensitive novels can suddenly go all dark when trying to create something awful. So it’s tough to pick a winner when you’ve got so much Badness to sort through.

    For example, Susan M Watkins’ Ode to Loade included this brilliant rhyme:

    The Richter scale dost measure,
    Like yon crashing chandelier,
    Nary less support around me,
    Than a 3-hook Sears brassiere.

    And my buddy Eurovision provided this fantastic piece of bad poetry:

    We’re Slavic girls, we know how to use our charming beauty
    Now shake what your mama gave ya!
    Clap your hands to this music
    This is our nature, This is our call
    This is our hot Slavic blood

    Unfortunately, we had to disqualify the entry, since it turns out these are ACTUAL LYRICS TO A SONG on Eurovision (the European version of “America’s Got Talent,” it serves as sort of an Olympics for Bad Poets). Look for this from a finalist on American Idol soon.

    Continuing the bad lines, Moon People Unite2 offered:

    Lacerations are red,
    contusions are blue,
    a cliff, and a push,
    and a fall from view.
    It questions the validity of friendships.

    Ya gotta admit, she makes you think. And The Emprys, in a truly bad poem, offered this:

    You are like my table–except you have two legs, not four.
    My table is aged, dented, and useful. TREASURED.
    Shellacked glitter, cookie sprinkles, and leftover Mac-and-cheese linger.
    Its face is a window to its soul. Like you.

    You are like a poet, except you aren’t. And those aren’t even the winners! Sensitive artist Sandy Begtur gave us this big dollop of dross:

    If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium.
    Or piano lesson day.
    Or spaghetti night.
    It can’t be Wednesday
    Or I’d remember where I am
    Or what I ate, or what I did.
    And I’d remember you,

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  • May 9, 2014

    The Bad Poetry Contest heads into the final days…


    So here we are on a Friday, and we’re going to wrap up our annual Bad Poetry Contest tomorrow. (In case you’re not part of the in-crowd, we do a Bad Poetry Contest the first week of May every year — my way of celebrating my birthday. And yes, I was born on Mother’s Day. My mom got twin boys that year, which is either a great or a terrible way to celebrate being a mom, I guess… but by the time we came along, she was already a mom a half-dozen times, so maybe there wasn’t that much celebrating left to do.) If you’ve not entered yet, you’re missing out on some great deep and wonderful crud. Examples from this year include this really bad poem from Sharyn:

    She smelled like fried brisket
    And biscuits
    In effervescent chars of chicken finger
    Good night to dreams of broken
    Madness. And frustrated taste buds
    She couldn’t control after
    All we believed and never stopped
    Because chocolate
    Like marzipan
    Tricks minds and melts hearts.
    Farewell sweetness and salty old
    Pickled passion.
    She doesn’t smell like brisket
    As far as I know.

    Or this from MoonPeopleUnite:

    Lacerations are red,
    contusions are blue,
    a cliff, and a push,
    and a fall from view.
    It questions the validity of friendships.

    It’s that sort of deep and meaningful tripe we all want to attain in the contest. There’s also thisfrom Bad Poet Gina [WARNING: FOR MATURE BAD POETS ONLY]…

    Oh love, forbidden love.
    Like a forgotten camp fire that smolders in the forest
    because you forgot to extinguish it.

    Smolder, ignite, BURN
    Fast and free… wild… FIRE

    Burn, burn, burning across the meadow of my loins,
    no chance to stop and quench the fire,
    or I will burn, burn, BURN.

    Just reading it makes me want to burn my computer screen! And there’s much more like that — Bad Poems about Alphonse the

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  • May 8, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Art of Keywords


    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    When I first started working in marketing, I had one task. Read. Absorb. Learn all I could about…parenthood. Well, it was actually strollers and carseats that I was specifically supposed to learn about, but in order to understand the product, I needed to understand the lifestyle.

    And I was 25. No kids. No husband. No interest in the topic of parenthood whatsoever.

    I remember this time of life so0ooo very vividly because I was completely bored out of my mind. I had gone from a job that involved travel and presentations and sales to one that felt as though I were a trapped bird within a computer screen cage.

    Four months later, I was an Internet-smart parenting whiz. I knew the struggles and the panic and the don’ts and the things that they fail to tell you about childbirth. Granted I never actually put my knowledge to use, but that wasn’t the point. The point was for me to speak the parenting language. To learn the jargon and the trends and more importantly…to learn the needs. The desires. The wants.

    And that’s when my boss had me put together a keyword chart. This chart would be the backbone of all of the marketing and writing we did on behalf of our client (who happened to be an internationally-known baby gear manufacturer). It would give us the words to use in our online copy (back when wording was fairly heavily weighted in SEO) and would allow us to position our client as a company that “understands” parents and their

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  • May 7, 2014

    Who's bad? We bad. Bad poetry, that is.


    So I got some great news today — I don’t have cancer. Yay! I’ve been waiting (semi) patiently while the labs were running their tests, but I got the news this evening — a nice phone call to get during one’s birthday week. It was a hard day — people fighting over blog posts, haggling with a contracts person, arguing over a movie project, and having to say some very hard things to someone we’ve worked with several times. Frankly, it was looking like a lousy day. But then, BANG! The phone call, and suddenly the birds are singing, the sun is shining (um… except that it’s night), God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world. Amazing how one’s perspective can change in an instant.

    And what could make me feel better than a steamin’ pile o’ bad poetry? If you don’t know, we do this every year the first week of May — invite writers to send us their worst. Some of it rhymes, some of it is free verse, some was clearly written by people with drug dependencies. This is my unique way of celebrating my birthday. But don’t send me a birthday poem, or you’ll be disqualified (and possibly roughed up by the Poetry Police). Instead, we want poems that offer deepfulness, that reflect your struggling artistic side, that brings your true bad self out and parades it around for everyone to gag over.

    And this year we’ve got a fabulous Grand Prize — an actual hard copy of MOON PEOPLE, the book voted as having the best reviews of any bad novel. (Check it out. I mean it. Go to Amazon and look up the 81 five-star reviews of MOON PEOPLE. They are brilliantly bad.) So what are you waiting for? Go to the COMMENTS section and give me your true bad self!

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  • May 6, 2014

    In the midst of news and controversy, Bad Poetry marches on…


    So HarperCollins is buying Harlequin, a couple people are claiming Barnes & Noble is going belly up soon, F+W Media is getting totally remade, the royalty reports for everyone are giving us hard news on publishing numbers, my friend Amanda is being raked over the coals for daring to reveal the dirty secret that some lawyers pad their numbers when working on book contracts, and Author Solutions is being sued by, um, nearly everyone in the Western Hemisphere, apparently. In the midst of all that noise, you know what you need?

    That’s right… Bad Poetry. So thank goodness it’s our annual Bad Poetry Contest, which goes on the first few days each May, as my own little celebration for my birthday. Glad you’re here, and hope you’re coming to add to the badness. Just take a look at yesterday’s introduction, them jump into the comments section and offer your own heaping’ hunk o’ haiku. The winner will receive a fabulous grand prize of the worst-reviewed book on Amazon — which, you have to admit, is another reason to go on living. So get your coat and grab your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep. Just direct your feet, to the Bad Poetry side of the street!


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  • May 2, 2014

    Our annual BAD POETRY CONTEST starts today!


    Okay, everyone, set your questions for agents aside for a week, because THE MOST IMPORTANT WEEK IN THE PUBLISHING YEAR IS HERE AGAIN. I’m speaking, of course, about our annual Bad Poetry Contest — the time when writers, editors, agents, and publishers all come together to share their true inner selves, which are all bad. This isn’t just art. It’s a chance to reveal your true badness, by writing a wonderfully awful poem. (Let’s pause for a moment of silence.)

    It’s my birthday week, and we celebrate on the blog the first week each May with bad poetry. So bring it on — your
    horrible haiku, lousy limericks, terrible tankas, smarmy cinquains, awful acrostics, crappy couplets, dreadful diamontes, appalling acrostics… You get the picture (even if it’s clouded by my atrocious alliteration). For those not familiar, I’m a poet on the inside. Unfortunately, those poet genes seem to have decided to reside in my colon, so all the poetry is crappy. However, there’s a rich history of great writers creating awful poetry. Ogden Nash was wonderful at it. Dorothy Sayers tried her hand at it. PG Wodehouse once wrote, “With a hey nonny-nonny and a hot cha-cha, and the sound of distant moors…” (He did. Really.) You see, rather than droning on about the meaning of life, they understood that people who love great writing tend to take themselves too seriously. So every once in a while we need to sit down, relax, and let somebody whack us on the side of the head with a board. Here’s your chance to do some whacking.

    This is all done because I don’t actually represent any poetry, since it can’t make me any money. And also because I’m just not deep enough to understand why someone looking at a stupid red wheelbarrow drenched with rainwater is supposed to be some sort of damn metaphor for life. (To me, a red wheelbarrow drenched

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  • May 1, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Future of Literary Agents in a Digital World


    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


    All this talk about hybrid authors and self-publishing, and there’s one question that is bound to surface:

    Are agents a dying breed?

    Maybe. I mean some freakish thing could happen that changes everything and puts the final set of nails in the Literary Agent coffin, but the way things are shaping up, my answer would be “no.” We aren’t a dying breed, and here’s why…


    I’m no expert on the history of the literary agent, but it’s quite clear that the role was developed out of necessity. The typewriter, and later email, made it ridiculously easy for anyone to pound out a terrible novel and send it to the best editors the industry had to offer. Those terrible novels would fill up the queue, thus suffocating the really great publishable novels. Editors, whose time is valuable and limited…and who also have a tendency to spend much more time analyzing a manuscript than an agent does…eventually turned to agents to help weed through the bad and find the good.

    While we tend to think that indie and small houses are there for the unagented, the fact of the matter is that these publishers are more than willing to work with agents. In fact, they many times welcome it. They love when someone else has vetted the material before they even have to give it a look. And consequently, an agent can many times get a faster response from them than your typical unagented author. Why? Because there is a sense of professional responsibility.

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  • April 30, 2014

    What would you ask a literary agent? (the wrap up)


    A handful of leftover questions from our month of “sitting down with a literary agent” series…

    Can a person who does not aspire to fame be a successful writer?

    Of course. Some writers are looking for fame, but in my experience most get into writing because they have a story to tell. By the same token, some writers embrace the “fame” aspect of getting published, and love the attention it creates, while others hate it, and just want to write and maintain their privacy. There are plenty of examples of both. Perhaps this is getting skewed today because of social media, which can sometimes make it seem like every author is required to be an extrovert. But my feeling is that there are a lot of introverted writers, who don’t seek to be everywhere, all the time, commenting on everything.

    If I have a really well-written book, how can I meet literary agents?

    You can go to conferences and meet some agents face to face. You can go to a book show or industry event and get in touch with agents. You can talk to published authors about their current agent. You can look at Chuck Sambucino’s Guide to Literary Agents, or Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. You can go to the Association of Author Representatives website, or to AgentResearch.com. You can find out who the busiest agents are, or which agents tend to work in your genre by joining Publishers Marketplace and researching their database. Or I suppose you could do it the old fashioned way and try to get a face-to-face meeting by sending them a fabulous proposal and showing up to talk. No matter what you do, spend some time researching the agent to make sure he or she is a fit, what they require in a proposal, and how they work with authors. You can also go to Predators & Editors

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  • April 29, 2014

    Wrapping up our visit with a literary agent…


    All month I’ve been inviting writers to send in questions about what they would ask a literary agent if they could just sit down for a face-to-face chat. Here’s the latest bunch of questions as I try to wrap up the series…

    I’d love to figure out how to connect with an agent at a conference without coming across as a stalker. When I saw you in Indy, you were always surrounded by people vying for your attention. I don’t want to be a psychotic sycophant.

    First, you can often sign up for a meeting with an agent during the conference. Second, if all the slots are taken, try to find that agent and simply ask if there is a time to meet. (Be aware: There may not be. I always try to arrange my calendar with meeting times, but sometimes the days get filled.) Third, you may be able to catch an agent at a meal, or just after a workshop. Fourth, offer to help an agent out — maybe drive him to the airport, or offer to be the person who sets up and helps tear down. And fifth, I appreciate you not wanting to be a stalker. We’ve all had those crazy types who just don’t seem to have figured out the social grace it takes to have a polite conversation during the down times at a conference. Be aware that manners count, agents prefer people who act like they’re relatively normal, nobody likes to feel they’re constantly being pitched, and having a nice chat somewhere over a cup of coffee may be better than setting up the hoops and sparklers so you can do your special presentation on your new manuscript.

    Is it in the author’s best interest to acquire her own copyright for her book? I’ve always understood that it is. How can an author acquire those rights? And do publishers usually agree to that,

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  • April 28, 2014

    Having a Nite-cap with a Literary Agent


    We’ve been taking the month of April and inviting writers to send in the questions they’d like to ask a literary agent. So if you could sit down one night, over a nite-cap, and ask a literary agent anything at all, what would you ask? These are the questions I’ve received recently…

    How important is it for my agent to be knowledgeable about the specific genre I write in? If he or she have the same contacts at publishing houses as most other agents, is it important to find an agent with genre-specific connections? For example, let’s say I typically write women’s fiction, but want to do a New Adult series, and my agent says she knows nothing about NA. Should I be concerned my proposal won’t get the right treatment from editors?

    Agents tend to work in certain genres. So we make connections with editors who work in those genres, and develop great relationships with people and publishers. So yes, it’s nice if you can work with an agent who has relationships with editors in the genres in which you write. That said, most agents are also willing to grow their business. So if you came to me with a really good proposal for a genre I’ve not worked before, I would admit that to you, and either say, “You might want to find another agent to do this one,” OR I might say, “You know, this isn’t a field I’ve done much work in, but I love this proposal — let me do some research, make some calls, and I’ll come back to you so we can develop a plan.”

    I noticed you were highly critical of agents who sell services to authors. I approached an agent I met at a conference to discuss my book. He rejected it for representation, but said they had an editor who could work on it, and I paid about $700 to

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