Thursday, December 22, 2011

MAJOR QuickBooks Suckage

A few days ago, I got a call from the Product Manager at Intuit for QuickBooks 2012.  Nice guy.  Wanted to know if it would be okay for him to email me some responses to some of my comments that I made in my prior reviews of QuickBooks.  Hopefully, before he does that, he'll read this post.

I bank at JPMorgan Chase.  It's a smallish bank with branches only in every state of our nation (well, not sure about Hawaii and Alaska, actually).  They are also very technologically behind.  I mean, sure, you can take a picture of a check with your iPhone and it counts as a deposit, but don't try that with a Blackberry!  I jest, of course.  Chase is huge and very on top of the technology for banking.

I have used QuickBooks to send transactions to Chase for years.  I even used the BillPay feature for a while, but gave it up because I found it too unpredictable.  I'd put in a date and then the software would tell me I was too late and change the date, etc.  But for simple transfers, it was a breeze.  Until recently.  Recently, it's a car wreck, pure and simple.  I've talked to Chase and they asked me to email my log files.  Alas, the email address I was given did not work.  Still, Chase insisted it was a problem with QuickBooks and I don't have reason to doubt them, especially since I'm scheduling transfers on 12/21/2011 and getting back messages saying "The transfer will be effective as of the end of 11/02/2010."  Huh???!



And it really does put the transfer back in November 2010.  The only way to fix it is to delete the transfer and then manually create a new one on the right date.

The other really fun thing that's been happening is that bank charges are not downloading into QuickBooks.  For example, I received a wire of funds.  Chase charges me $15.00 to receive that wire (yes, that sucks, but right now we're talking QuickBooks suckage not Chase suckage) and if I then turn around and wire the client his funds, Chase charges $25.00 to send that wire.  Each of these charges shows as a "Misc. Debit"  However, it seems that since I upgraded to 2012, these fees are not downloading.  So only because I know they exist and I go look them up on the Chase site and manually enter them, do I know they took place.  Things could get ugly without knowing about those charges, right?

So is this Intuit's problem or Chase's problem?  I'd argue both.  Though I've avoided the fees for years, Chase does charge a fee for the "privilege" to download transactions from their servers to QuickBooks.  If it isn't working right, I think the response should be "Holy sh^t!  Someone get Intuit on the phone."  Not, "Well, have you called Intuit to tell them about the problem?"

I did call QuickBooks support today.  I think the rep was in Manilla.  And despite speaking pretty good English, he seemed to have no understanding at all that I'd found a bug in their program.  I asked for a tier two rep and was put on hold for so long, I hung up.  Tomorrow I'm going to call the Office of the President at Intuit again.  And maybe I'll try the Office of the President at Chase.  Maybe someone from one of those offices might be inclined to call the other and get some kind of investigation going.

Of course, it could just be my copy of QuickBooks.  I could try and reinstall, but until someone tells me that's what I should do, I'm operating under the assumption that it's not my problem, it's QuickBooks'...or maybe Chase's.

Z

Friday, December 02, 2011

The November Monthly Round-Up

As a literary agent, the truth is that I'm only going to be in business as long as I keep selling books, and to do that I need books to sell.  Thus, submissions are actually an important thing in my life.  But like everything in business, priorities often shift.  But I do make an effort every month to both make progress on my submissions and also to report to you where I'm at.  So here, without further delay, is...the November Monthly Round-up!

In November, we...

  • Received 68 queries; declined 9;
  • Received 2 sample chapters; declined 12;
  • Received 2 proposals; declined 0;
  • Received 3 manuscripts; declined 1.

As of December 2nd, we have...

  • 166 eQueries to read;
  • 1 proposal to read;
  • 14 full manuscripts to read.

We are currently waiting on the following requested materials:

  • 5 sample chapters;
  • 1 full manuscript.

My goal is to get through all of the eQueries by the end of the year.  I have two of those fourteen manuscripts out with a reader and hopefully I'll be able to look at a couple before the end of the year.

Thanks, as always, for your patience.

Z

So What Do You Think of Self-Published Authors?

So, I'm curious then where you stand on authors who self-published (orig, not backlist) but are doing well? Not those pulling Amanda Hockings, but well. Do you see a way how agents could help them to do even better? Can an agent come in after the fact and open new arenas for them? Or is well not enough? Just curious. 

The short answer is that even the Chia Pet sells millions every year.  (This year, I'm getting Chia Obama!  Okay, seriously, is that not just a bit disrespectful and even borderline racist that there is a Chia Obama?)  How many crappy TV shows have stayed on the air season after season?  Germans really like David Hasselhoff's singing???!

Okay, that's a bit snarky.  I'm sure there are many excellent self-published novels.  Alas, over the years, none of the ones that have been sent to me have been that great.  I did take one on for representation in 1994 or so, the title of which I have completely forgotten.  It didn't sell.

I remember reading a review of Amanda Hocking's works.  It was not favorable.  Then again, I know plenty of editors laughed at David Gernert when he was an editor at Doubleday and paid, I think, $250,000 to acquire THE FIRM.  Now he's Grisham's agent and laughing all the way to the bank.  Plenty of editors have told me over lunch that they would not have acquired THE DA VINCI CODE, because they didn't think it was that good a book.

Now I enjoyed THE FIRM and found it to be a perfect "popcorn read."  Very good pacing.  But I thought it was written at an eighth-grade reading level.  I couldn't finish THE DA VINCI CODE, because I grew up reading Hardy Boys novels and then I moved onto more complex fiction.  THE DA VINCI CODE, bestseller that it is, is not complex fiction and is, I feel, not much more than a Hardy Boys novel.  I'm not even sure it's at an eighth-grade reading level.

So what's my point?  Well, the market is the final decider, though it's a shame that what that often means is that works with lower common denominators succeed better than more complicated works of fiction.

Now, could an agent help those self-published novelists do better?  Perhaps, but it depends on a few factors.  For example, is the book truly well-written and not just selling?  Because people who acquire books for foreign publishers or for movies or for audio tend to be "book people," meaning they may turn up their noses at anything that's just selling but isn't also well-written.  I have shopped books by at least one New York Times bestselling author and editors turned them down because they didn't like the story or didn't find the jokes funny.  C'mon!  The guy sells.  Put aside your personal opinion and make the house some money!

But if an author self-published and said to me, "I worked with Beth Lieberman or Ed Stackler [or another quality freelance editor I know], and then I had the book professionally copyedited by a copyeditor who has edited over one hundred novels for Random House, and I had it professionally proofread after conversion to ensure it was clean, and I've sold thousands of eBooks and really want a deal with a 'real' publisher,'" I'd certainly be interested.  But if the author just wrote it, self-published it, and didn't go through a true editorial process, I would have less interest.  Strong sales might be enough to get me to look, but in the end the person has to be a good writer, in my opinion, or I won't take him or her on.

Z

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Been Dying to Meet Me? Here's Your Chance!

Just a quick note to mention that I'll be attending the Southern California Writers' Conference in San Diego, Presidents' Day Weekend, February 17-20th.

Here's the link:  http://www.writersconference.com/sd/.

Hope to see you there!

Z