Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love Letter To The Book


Guys, I get it. I really do. I think all agent-y types do:

"Everyone sends a query letter. There are thousands
of them in a week. Why would I throw my
hat in with all those other schmucks when I could do something
FLASHY AND DIFFERENT?!?!?!"

Glitter, for instance, is FLASHY AND DIFFERENT!!!!!
No. Stop. Step away from the glitter. Telephone queries (Just. Don't. Ever. Do. It.). Starbuck's cups full of flour (anthrax?!). Hand-made hand-delivered hand-bound queries. These are, unfortunately, worse than useless to us.

Because we're evaluating your book (and A LOT of other peoples' books) based on the writing and the story. Not on your creativity in getting it to us or panache on the phone. Those things are unrelated to your writing or your story. And that means we don't have time for them.

The query process is long standing. It works because it allows us to evaluate a lot of writing efficiently. You have to trust us that this system works, and that we're using it effectively. I don't have time for phone queries, but you better believe I find time for every. single. query. Those writers respect me enough to follow the rules. I respect them enough to read their work.

If you're getting rejections (even of the no response means no variety), you've got to look at your query letter. Does it follow these rules? Once you're sure that's squared away, you'll have to look at your book. You may need some revision. You may need to do another round of querying. It's frustrating. You've worked so hard. We know. But don't go rogue and start getting fancy. We have time for fancy writing, not fancy writers.

12 comments:

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Is this your way of saying you got my query letter filled with cupcake shaped confetti and you didn't like it?


(Kidding)

Josin L. McQuein said...

See, this is why I choose to send my e-queries on virtual stationary that sings when opened. All the glitter stays off the desk and just sparkles on the screen. (Because I use purple sparkle-font.) And to make sure it "pops" I bold everything in 30 pt. type "IMPACT".

To make sure it "really pops" it's a self-deleting e-mail, which, of course, creates a sense of urgency as it unspools before the agents' eyes. They have to read fast or it's gone for good!

:-P

Steve Ulfelder said...

Now you tell me. If two dwarves ride off the elevator on unicycles tomorrow and do an interpretive dance of my query, tell them never mind. But do keep in mind they work for tips.

Bri Clark said...

Ok I love those comments. LOL I can safely say it wasn't me for many reasons.

Mflick1 said...

I have to say this post made me laugh. I am in the process of revising my Q letter (for the 100th time) and stressing and this put a smile on my face! Thank you!

And don't worry, I stepped away from the glitter!

Rachel Searles said...

I have to admit that my first draft of a query letter was pretty freaking cutsie. Thank heavens I've since researched how to do it properly.

Scott Clark said...

Professionalism, respect for time and space, as well as displaying proper query etiquette; these are all good reasons to listen to the agent you are hoping to represent your work. If you cannot listen to their wishes, why should they listen to yours?

Meredith Barnes said...

All well said, and of course I consider the cupcake glitter, self-deleting email, and unicycling dwarves (Steve, I worry...). It comes down to Scott's point. You've got to do the research! Agent-writer relationship is all give-and-take. The agent you choose is going to be 100% invested in you and your writing. Take some time to get invested in your (potential) agents!

Brooks Sherman said...

"Back to film school, @$#!"

Karla Nellenbach said...

So...I take it you didn't enjoy the video I sent you of me doing an interprative dance set to African tribal music? Dang. I really was sure that one was a winner. Ah, well. Maybe a fingerpainted query is more your style? :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love the comments but too bad you have to remind people not to do the basics.

madhu said...

Fantastic post, thank you for sharing.

Letter Templates

Search This Blog

Loading...

Popular Posts

Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?