Query Roundup 11/10

As of 4:32 pm on Saturday, all of my queries have been answered. I had 246 queries in my inbox.

I requested 1 manuscript.

YA fantasy that sounds unique and amazing.

I regretfully passed on 2 manuscripts.

Another YA fantasy that had a really cool premise, but I just wasn't grabbed enough by the writing.
Adult romance with science fiction elements. Really cool premise, but I wasn't sucked into the voice in the first pages.

This is a new one for me, but--don't admit in your query that you don't actually read or enjoy books.

Along those lines, remember that the best way to present yourself is in a professional manner and as someone who will be lovely to work with. Agents want to represent good books, yes, but we also want to forge a great working relationship with our writers. Even if you are bitter, disillusioned, or desperate (It's a tough industry, I get it), try your best not to show it.

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Unknown said...

I have two questions, if you don’t mind?

1. “...wasn't grabbed enough by the writing.” – Is this one of those subjective things that might vary from agent to agent, or is this a hint for that writer to go back and revise some more?

2. Do those pour souls who queried the close but not close enough, “regretfully passed” manuscripts get a personal rejection? A.k.a., is there an easy way for those two to know that you are talking about them?

Thank you for your time.

Unknown said...

Hi John,

1. It could be subjective. I've certainly passed on books that have gone on to sell. But it's also probably a hint that the author should go back and look at those first pages. There's a strong chance if it doesn't grab me it might not be grabbing other agents too.

2. No. I respond to all my queries, then write up the blogpost. The manuscripts I've passed on but I'm still thinking about are the ones that I specifically point out.

But I can say that anything fantasy gets me to read the pages because writing a query for a book set in a fantasy world is super tough. And sometimes it's just easiest to look at the pages and see if the voice stands out.

Unknown said...

Very good advice. I hope you get find a project soon that's everything you want it to be. :-)

Unknown said...

Thank you Suzie.

One follow up (hopefully), just to be clear, if you thought the writing, voice, etc. were horrible (or some simile of horrible) your form rejection would not include statements like:

• “I don't feel I'm quite the right agent for your project.” – implying another agent might be right.
• “regretfully going to pass” – meaning there is some sorrow behind the decision.
• “Good luck with your submissions” – implying the author should be sending more submissions.

Instead, your form letter would include statements like: “I'm just not grabbed” or “This isn't different/unique enough to stand out.” or “This just doesn't sound very commercial.”

I’m referring to your September 17th post when drawing these conclusions.

In other words, you would not sugarcoat a response to a query that is blatantly flawed?

Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you for your time.

Unknown said...

John--to answer your question simply: No.

Everyone gets a form rejection which says the same thing, It's not for me, I'm regretfully passing, good luck with your submissions. These are all true statements. (I'm regretful because I always want to find something good). It's not that I'm sugarcoating--it's that I don't give personalized responses because it eats up all my time. Also, the truth is I don't get that many queries that are straight up terrible. I get a lot that are okay, but I just don't have time to request and read okay, I have to look for amazing.

That 9/17 blog post is from when I did the "I can handle the truth" contest and I gave everyone a line of personalized feedback. (This took me an entire weekend where I did almost nothing else).

Kessie said...

I'm just flabbergasted somebody would admit _in a book query_ that they _don't like books_. Uh, maybe they should go try another profession, like bricklaying?

Unknown said...

Thank you. I thought maybe agents had 2 or 3 form letters they went to depending on what message they wanted to send. Now, I know better. Everyone is always so nice in how they reject me. They never say anything derogatory about my work. They just tell me it’s not for them. I guess I was hoping for a silver lining.

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this forum. It is noble. You seem like a good person and I wish you nothing but the best. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions.

Megan Hand said...

This is great advice, thank you! I think that if we are trying to make it in this business in the first place, shouldn't we be keeping our most positive foot forward at all times? I know it's difficult, and I haven't really begun my query journey yet, but I'm looking forward to it, rejections and all. It can only make me stronger. Though I will say, four years of music school kind of beat the self-consciousness and insecurities out of me. Not that I don't have them, but you learn that taking everything personally does not make you a better performer. Same goes for writing, and just about everything really.

And, I couldn't help but chuckle at the comment about not enjoying reading. That was hilarious!

Unknown said...

Thank you for your continued sensitivity to the life of a struggling writer mixed with constant encouragement, it is very appreciated. I hope you are having a lovely weekend, Suzie.

Guppy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guppy said...

I can't imagine what sort of purgatory a person goes through hearing that their writing might not have grabbed the attention of an agent, but at the same time they don't know for sure if it was their piece. Any advice for those left in ambiguity of whether or not their writing is just plain awful or just not a fit for the agent?

Unknown said...

My advice: query widely, keep writing. If your query doesn't get requests, revise and try again. if you get requests but then passes, revise your writing. If the first book doesn't work, query another book, enter contests, go to conferences, have a beta reader give you feedback.

Freda Cameron said...

Your website says that there is auto-reply, but I didn't get one with my query tonight. I didn't get a mailer daemon bounce either. Is your auto-reply still on?