Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why You Got Summarily Rejected Today

At 2am on Tuesday morning, I'd reduced my incoming email pile up down to 20 pending. It had taken three days to pare it down from 186.

This morning I have 144, and that's after I pared out all the DorothyL posts, the queries that go in a separate file, and the thank yous that didn't need a response. 144 left. It's 9:40am. I have to pick up the phone and dial for dollars starting at 10.

Your query arrives. It doesn't have anything in it but an excerpt. I don't know if it's crime fiction, true crime, memoir, what. I don't know if this is the opening, the closing or the middle.

I say no. Is this the wisest, most judicious, most careful decision? Maybe not. But at this point, all I want is fewer emails.

There's a reason that query letters have a certain form to them. There's a reason I ask for a hook before I ask to read the pages. I'm not doing that to make you crazy. I'm doing it so that when you send me an email, I don't go crazy, and auto-reject you.


Heidi said...

When I applied for a very competitive teaching position years ago, the school received over 200 applications for one slot. The first thing they did was separate the applications into handwritten and typed. The handwritten ones were thrown away without even looking at them.

There is a sense of quality and professionalism that comes through in that first view a potential employer, or an agent, has of you.

Even if a querier is a heck of a writer, if they can't follow guidelines or attend to the details they are probably going to be hard to work with. Even within the creative process, there has to be some uniformity or all would be chaos.

Just_Me said...

Deep breath, you'll survive this too. Somewhere in the unending slush-pile is the perfect book with its perfect author just waiting you to pull them from the pile of dross, dust them off, and let them shine.

Keep going. You'll be okay.