Thursday, October 7, 2010

Inappropriate Intern?

Many of you have probably heard about the great debate over former twitter user InternAmie's use of the hashtag #queryslam to document her current slushpile finds. Sadly, the backlash she received forced her off twitter and, from what I can tell, has opted to turn her blog private.

This, dear readers, saddens me greatly. Twitter has been a great place to connect with fellow interns, and I feel as though there's a quiet bond between us, even though we don't know each other very well. (For those of you who enjoy following industry people on twitter, interns included, I have a growing list here.)

I'm sure Amie meant no harm by her comments; from what I've seen, many others believe she was just trying to be helpful. I've always found agents/interns who use the #queries hashtag to be incredibly useful. I myself learned a lot from that thread, and adjusted my query letter accordingly. Much of what's been said over the past few months has been nothing but helpful to me and my fellow querying writers.

That being said, I think we interns walk a fine line when trying to offer our help. After all, we're still learning, too.

Because I don't read many queries - I spend most of my time reading manuscripts - I've never felt the need to participate in the #queries hashtag. Obviously, I have nothing to say. But even if it were the case that I could add something to the conversation, I doubt that I would. From experience, I know how personal queries are to a writer. You've slaved over it for weeks, maybe even months. You know it inside and out, and I'm pretty sure I'd be able to pick my query out of a supposedly ambiguous reference online. I wouldn't be bothered by it because I'm always open to critique, but I know many others don't feel that way. And in this case, I think it may be best to err on the side of caution. Perhaps it might be best to follow that age old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." We don't always have to learn from others' mistakes; we can learn from their successes as well.

The fact that I religiously read SlushPile Hell probably makes me a raging hypocrite. Oh well.

However, I'm pretty sure that those tweeting queries never meant any harm by it. I've done my best, as an intern, to offer help when I can. I've been using the #interntips hashtag to continue what I did here on my blog all summer. With all the backlash about #queries and #queryslam, I was afraid that maybe I'd crossed that boundary, too. I've spoken to a lot of my writer friends about this, and they've assured me that what I'm doing is fine. I've tried to keep my tips as general and free-of-association as possible. Many, MANY authors make the same mistakes, so the things I've said always apply to more than one person.

However, I want to ask you, dear readers, what you think. Do you think #interntips (both here and on twitter) crosses that thin line? Because I don't want to offend anyone, and if I have, then I profusely apologize.

I'll leave you with this endearing article from agent Janet Reid: Not All Interns are Idiots.


  1. When I was younger, I'd take offense at any rejection, slight or piece of constructive criticism. Now that I'm older and more seasoned, I welcome informed advice from those in the know, like yourself. You're in the "thick of things," as they say, and most writers never get that insider vantage point, so anything we can learn from your experience will be greatly appreciated; keep it up!!!!

    Now to go read some...

  2. Thanks, Rusty!

    I agree. When I first started writing, I was much more sensitive about what was said about it. But you develop a thick shell when you're querying, and over the years I've really learned the importance of critique. Glad you've found the tips helpful!

  3. I think #interntips are a great resource for aspiring authors. I never saw a problem with #queryfest either. I was bummed when she stopped posting.

  4. I never saw a problem, either. But to refrain from hurting anyone's feelings, I think it's best if I, personally, keep my intern tips to a minimum. I've saved the old lists, though, and will probably write up articles based on some of them.

  5. I totally understand where you're coming from. I look forward to reading the articles. :)