Motherfucking Mensa (A geek tragedy)

Someone, sooner down the thread, is going to point out quite a simple fact to me. It’s going to be fairly obvious from the subsequent rant but just so they don’t have to waste the pixels on pointing this simple fact out to me, I am going to do it now.


I am Jealous.

Very jealous indeed. I am jealous of Mensa. Not the individual members, I’ve nothing against them, just the organisation in general. More accurately I’m jealous of one particular aspect of their organisation. Namely their ability to get published.

Let me explain. For a couple of years now I’ve been creating my own original puzzles, from scratch. Yeah I know it’s a bit sad but what can I say, it’s a hobby. Over time it has been brought to my attention that I am very good at my hobby and three or four people have now told me, completely independant of one another, “Y’know, you really should try and get those published or something, they’re good”.

So one weekend I compiled all my puzzles together and printed them out on my PC and ended up with about 47 pages worth, not quite enough for a whole book but I could always stick in some filler material or some such thing. Anyway, I e-mailed a few publishers, wrote to some magazines and made a few phone calls to publishing agents, left messages with their secretaries etc…

That was a month ago.

I have heard nothing, not one damn thing. Nil. Nada. zip. Zilch. N-O-T-H-I-N-G!. Absolutely fuck all. “Boy,” I think to myself “My puzzles must’ve sucked, my friends must just have been flattering me. Ah well, it was just an idea anyway. No harm done”.

But then, a couple of weeks after I’d done that I had another look at my manuscript, just out of idle curiosity and thought, “Hang on, these are pretty good. You can’t deny that. I guess they just weren’t good enough”. This reassured me and gave me some hope to try again. All I had to do was check out the competition, see what I was up against and the kind of quality I had to produce so I went down the bookshop and bought a few books.

One of them was calle Enigma’s, and was very good. Logical, well thought out, fun, interesting and challenging problems. The other three were Mensa Books.

They sucked. They sucked more than a Beverly Hills Liposuction clinic once word’s got out that Aaron Spelling is casting a new trashy soap opera. They were utter shite. Dull, boring, uninteresting, worthless, simple, lazy and childish. Not one seconds fucking thought had gone into any of them. It was clear that they’d only been published because of the name, and that people only fucking buy then because of the fucking name. I could do better work than that after a labotomy. Hell, I could do better work than that during a labotomy!

It just pisses me right off. Here I am, doing good quality, publishable material and getting absolutely nowhere but any time some scroteclamp from Mensa has a fucking brainfart they publish it and Mensa makes a million.

You might be sitting there thinking who gives a fuck? It’s just some damn puzzles. Problem is I want to make a living as a novelist and shit like this shows me (a) Just how completely full of shit the publishing industry is and (b) the sort of shit I’m gonna have to churn out to get a story published. This one little experience with a little puzzle book has gotten me royally fucked off against the whole publishing industry and dashed my hopes of ever making it as a writer which has pissed me off no end 'cos I’ve been dreaming about becoming a famous novelist the same way most kids dream about being an astronaut or a basketball player for as long as I can rememeber. Fuck!

Man, I’m too pissed and disheartened to even rant right.

So fuck them- publish the book yourself and sell the damned thing. No sense in getting jealous- just go for it!
I would buy your puzzle book. Make a website and put a few sample puzzles up there and market the thing.


Umm, you are so completely off-base in this rant. Mensa is in no way responsible for your failure to get a puzzle book published. You also need to face up to some unpleasant realities.

A.Rejection. Get used to it. Every author has had work rejected by publishers. Frank Herbert’s Dune was rejected by 18 publishing houses before it saw the light of day. J.K. Rowling had a similar experience with the first of her Harry Potter books. You will be rejected over and over and over again in your writing career.

B.** Mensa is a brand name; you are not. ** Mensa licensed its name to a publisher to print puzzle books bearing the Mensa logo because it is a world-recognized brand. You are not a world famous brand, and so your market value is considerably less. Sorry.

C. Writing doesn’t pay well. A miniscule minority of writers are able to make even a modest living from their writing income alone. Most write novels as a sideline while holding down day jobs. In addition, you will probably not even become famous. Few working writers are. If you write, you must do it because you can’t stop yourself from doing it.

D. Learn your craft.Your post, if it is representative of your writing style, is poorly written and riddled with elementary spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. In order to be a competent writer,let alone a great one, you must learn the mechanics of English composition. Moreover, you also need to read voraciously. You need to read Hemingway, Faulkner, Twain, and other great prose stylists. You need to absorb as much of the richness of other people’s styles as you can, so that you will eventually find your own voice.

If you want to publish puzzles, start small. Try to sell individual puzzles to games magazines. Learn about the market. If you create crossword puzzles, try to inteest your local weekly shopper into publishing one.

Gobear. If you want a sample of my storywriting check out this thread.

I’ll admit I’m not as good as I think I can be but the thing that’s annoyed me (and you see this in fiction as well) is what you mentioned in point B. It’s the brand name that’s doing the selling, not the work itself.

I guess that’s just the way of the world :frowning:

Gomez, I feel your pain.

I too want to be a writer, and I know what it’s like to hear nothing from an agency instead of getting an answer. I sent in a short fictional piece to White-Wolf RPG publishers - just a writing sample - asking to join as a freelance contributer. The VP was very enthusiastic - replying via e-mail the same day he received my sample, saying “you obviously know how to write” but sadly informing me he didn’t need any ‘fiction’ at the moment, he needed game material, so could I send him an outline for a book proposal?

I did so, and he called me the day he received it asking for more.

I sent more.

This was five months ago.

I haven’t heard a thing back, and I’ve sent a few follow-up e-mails. So I guess I’m SOL. :frowning:

Which really stinks. But when they open up their side-project fantasy/sci-fi publishing company, I’m hoping they’ll think of me. :smiley:

You can’t stop now though. If it is your dream to write, then write. Keep writing. Submit everything to everyone, be tenacious and never give up.

(I haven’t taken my own advice, of course, but I have a serious lack of publishable material - I have to start rewriting things. smiles)

Also self-publishing is a good idea, at first. So is having a webpage to promote your puzzles.

Good luck with it. Writing is hard, hard, hard work!

You haven’t given it enough time. Only a month? You’ll be lucky to hear from anyone in less than two months time. Give it six months. Also, check to see if you submitted correctly. Calling is usually a big no-no. Emails to publishers? They might not have even glanced at them.

Re-read gobear’s post. Closely. Then read it again. Those are the facts of the publishing industry. I’ve written two novels and I’m about 20% of the way through a third. Not even a nibble. No one has even asked to read the things. No one cares that I’m a frequent freelance contributor to a magazine.

I’m not a big puzzle fan, but, for what it’s worth, I’ve noticed that MENSA puzzles really suck. They’re just so unimaginative.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re used to hearing unsolicited advice, so here’s a couple thoughts:

What about picking one or two of your best puzzles and submitting them to an appropriate magazine? Or even

The idea is that once you get a few puzzles published, even for free, you can put it on your resume, and it makes you seem more legitimate to publishing companies.

Hell, I’m a Mensan and I will freely admit that most Mensa books suck. I had the displeasure of buying a few before I got in, and two after (one was actually a gift for me) and all of them have been dull, not very difficult, and poorly written. I recall one with math puzzles that used the same set of a half-dozen layouts repeatedly throughout the book. Some of the puzzles could not be solved with the data given (had multiple answers) and some were so easy it required only two pieces of the data provided.

I gladly take the books published by Games Magazine anyday. They are original, creative, and well-written (though mistakes do slip through).

As someone mentioned before, perhaps you could try submitting one or two of your puzzles to the magazine, see if you can land something there. It will not necessarily pay well, but if what they say about book publishing is true, it can’t be much worse.

If you’re this upset one month after submitting what you acknowledge was not a complete manuscript or even a polished partial, just stop. You can’t handle this biz.
No matter how good you are, you’re going to get rejected and ignored most of the time.
One month? Here’s a clue: Even if the guy was eagerly awaiting your package and loved it when he started reading it, it might take more than a month for you to hear.
And you probably don’t want to hear this, but you went about the whole thing half-assed. (You sent “about 47 pages worth, not quite enough for a whole book but I could always stick in some filler material or some such thing.” And you
e-mailed a few publishers, wrote to some magazines and made a few phone calls to publishing agents, left messages with their secretaries etc…") Book publishing is a game with a lot of protocol, rules, expectations, and taboos, but you jumped in without looking and then pitched a fit because it didn’t work.
Even when you know what you’re doing, it’s not an easy business to be in. It can be brutal on the ego sometimes. But it’s a copout to blame Mensa for their success in publishing just because you don’t want to dig in and work your ass off to get published. Writing good material is only half the job. THEN the hard work starts – getting it published.
Sure would be nice to be one of those famous, successful novelists, though. I wonder how they got that way. Think it took more than you did?
– GregAtlanta

And in fact sometimes predictable. When you can tell by the style of a puzzle how you’re supposed to solve it, you wonder if they just make up a “key” of sorts and then just put lots of letters out there. Sort of like mass-producing puzzles. In other words, very little thought/creativity/effort, lotsa $.

I understand the anger, but Mensa is really no different than Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, etc. It just happens to be a group, rather than an individual. The fact is that if any of the above mentioned authors wrote a book that was just crap, it would still get published, whereas something by an unknown probably wouldn’t.

If you’re going to be upset at Mensa, you should also be upset (or jealous, or whatever) at every big name writer who no longer has to prove himself sending manuscripts to fifty different publishing houses or every famous actor who gets a role without auditioning or every politician who gets face time on TV despite being a complete moron, or every, well, you get the idea.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the free-lancer. Wish I had a dollar for all my rejection slips. Editors are :wally.

But I’ve had some, small success - short stories, herpetological articals, some biker stuff, and so forth. Most of my writing now is on the web, unpaid (sigh).

I’ve sent manuscripts off, WITH the SASE, and never seen them again. Letters to the :wally were ignored. Of course, I never again submitted even an insult to these publications, even though the manuscripts were small loss due to my having copies. Lots of copies.

So, here’s a little advice: DON’T throw the manuscript ‘over the transom’. It probably won’t even get looked at. ALWAYS send a query letter first. One of the free-lancer’s biggest expenses is postage. If a query letter is unanswered in a reasonable amoumt of time(two weeks, or so), the publication isn’t worth submitting to and you’ve saved yourself some hassle. Write LOTS of qurey letters. Send them to all of the publications that might be interested in your work, and even some that might not. I’ve never used E-mail for hard copy, but it might be worth a try. Writer’s Market will go into this, I’m sure (as I’m no longer hitting the fish-wraps, I’m a little out of date).

One thing to remember when you get depressed: The publications WANT your work. But they want it submitted in a professional manner. Free-lance writing is one of the most competive fields that you can enter. There are a LOT of us out there. The :wally only wants to see the best for his publication.

In short, you gotta do it all exactly right, from the creation of your work through it’s submittion

Go out and buy a copy of Writer’s Market. You can find it at the library, but their copy will be out of date. You can, however borrow a copy of Writer’s Guide. The rules of good writing haven’t changed much over time.



True Story, just publishing in general.

Classmate of mine invented a game. Took it to Milton Bradley to get help in distributing it. M-B laughed in his face. Took it to a small publishing company in Northern California who normally published books. They published the game and it was a hot hit in the California area, then spread nationwide. Milton Bradley then paid him BIG bucks to get the game. He’s now a rich man. :smiley:

Moral: Take it to a small publisher and help out (splitting the revenue, or whatever) just to get started.

Hey, just might work!

Good Luck.

We’re all in suspense! What game is it??

I think J. K. Rowling didn’t give up after rejections.


A certain relative of mine is a bad writer who belongs to Mensa. I’ve seen a Mensa magazine that published the bad writing of him and his fellow Mensans, and I agree with the OP. If a Mensa member wipes his ass he can get the stain on the toilet paper published.

I also agree that you should try publishing some of your puzzles on the Web. If they’re interesting, at least you’ll get an audience, and possibly a publisher’s attention.

Jump to Conclusions.

to tell you. Pigmania. :smiley:

The name of the game apparently has changed to Pass the Pigs. Shows you how much I play it :D. BTW my classmates name is David Moffat; appears he still owns the rights to the game. As far as I know, last time I talked to him he was building a mansion in Mexico. :wink:

Some information from the 'net.