Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Night At the Question Emporium

Dear Ms. Reid,

You blogged recently about writers foisting their manuscripts on published authors. Is it also an automatic "bad bad bad idea to read feral manuscripts" if the writer has some legit writing credits and wants a blurb/recommendation for a query letter? I'm the writer in this scenario, with a magical realist novel about a Palestinian family in West LA, and think a comment from Diana Abu Jaber would strengthen my letter.

I met and spoke with Ms. Abu Jaber several years ago, and we both live in Portland, Oregon. I know some people who have taken her classes, and I'm active in the writing and workshop community here. All that to say, there is a tenuous connection, perhaps enough to earn me some not-crazy credit. Finally, if it's indeed not a "bad bad bad idea," is there a best way to approach an author with this kind of request?

Thanks for your time, and for your blog.


Well, given I sold a book based in no small part on the blurb Diana Abu-Jaber gave it, I think you're right that she would be of help to you.

Here's how it works though. You have to have more than "tenuous connection." Take a class from her, attend her readings (try not to look like a stalker here, it will defeat your purpose!) OR have someone who knows the both of you write what's essentially a letter of introduction.

Portland's writing community isn't huge (well, per capita it's huge of course) and it's filled with kind and generous folks. I'm honored to represent quite a good number of them myself. Nose around. Your manuscript isn't feral if it comes with an introduction and a plate of baklava.


Margaret Yang said...

Nathan Bransford blogged about this on Monday. He assigns "levels" of blurbs when he sees them in queries and is good at figuring out how tenuous the connection really is.

Just sayin'.

Jessica said...

Oh, thanks Janet! This is great to know.
LOL, even though I really don't know anyone "famous" yet.