Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Speaking in Tongues

People in the media tend to speak very differently than everyone else. Especially people in publishing, who invented their own language long ago. Today I will offer a glimpse inside that strange and wonderful linguistic world, culled from my very own experiences engaged in loquacious debate. I will use examples from Literary Agents and Editors, to give you an idea of how they use discourse.
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What Agent Says: "I'm not going to take that offer to my client."
What Agent Means: "You cheap ass motherf&*$%#, you're a gigantic media conglomerate, make me a real offer."

What Editor Says: "Let me run this up the flagpole and see how high I can go."
What Editor Means: "I know, down to the penny, how high I can go, but I want to make it seem like I'm important."

What Agent Says: "I have a good offer, but not enough to take it off the table."
What Agent Means: "I have $10,000."

What Editor Says: "This proposal really spoke to me."
What Editor Means: "I want to be this author's best friend, then take him home and name him George."

What Agent Says: "I have a strong mid five figure offer."
What Agent Means: "I have $25,000."

What Editor Says: "I really can't go any higher than this."
What Editor Means: "If I ask the publisher for one more penny, you're going to find me beaten to death in an alley with my throat slashed by a P&L sheet."

What Agent Says: "Let me know what you think of this idea..."
What Agent Means: "I haven't signed this client yet, but I want you do the work for me before I spend time and energy working with him/her."

What Editor Says: "I really believe deep down we're the best house for this..."
What Editor Means: "I can't offer another penny and it's time to test out my salesmanship..."

What Agent Says: "I'm not going to overagent this..."
What Agent Means: "I'm already overagenting this, but if I make ironic self evaluations you won't hate me as much."

What Editor Says: "I wasn't able to get enough traction in house to offer on this."
What Editor Means: "I didn't like it and didn't bother showing it to anyone else."

What Agent Says: "I want to know where you're at so I can plan my timetable for closing."
What Agent Means: "I want you to tell me you like it so I can tell other publishers I have interest and try to start a feeding frenzy."

What Editor Says: "We see this as a big book for us..."
What Editor Means: "...assuming people don't forget how much they liked it six months from now."

What Agent Says: "I have strong film interest. The studio involved rhymes with Garner Smothers."
What Agent Means: "I'm full of crap."

What Editor Says: "We're really hoping word of mouth will help this book."
What Editor Means: "We're not doing jack squat in terms of publicity, so the author had better have a big mailing list."

13 Comments:

Blogger M.J. said...

Brilliant post!!

11:12 PM  
Blogger Bernita said...

Erm...What does "over agent" mean???

9:14 AM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

I hurt from laughing so hard.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

Thanks for the translations. I'm starting a job at a literary agency so I guess I should get some practice deciphering.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Jordan Summers said...

LMAO! Oh, the truth is painful sometimes.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Tempest Knight said...

OMG! *chokes on her Coca-Cola* Aren't these the truth? Amen.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Too funny! Great insight for newbies like me.

The scary thing? The linguistics change, but the language remains the same no matter the industry.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Atyllah said...

Great insights. Nothing like calling a blunt shovel a spade.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Allison Winn Scotch said...

Love it!

9:51 AM  
Blogger sbsr said...

Oh no! You're spilling trade secrets! Now I have to come up with some other bullsh*t to tell agents & authors. ~a humble editor

2:54 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

SBSR, I'm curious to know the editor behind the mask...can you reveal youself?

4:01 PM  
Blogger Nicola Marsh said...

This is hilarious!
Will keep an eye out for my editor or agent using any of the above!!

8:15 PM  
Blogger psonica said...

Great site loved it alot, will come back and visit again.
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7:51 PM  

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