Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oh I get it, you wanted a pierced toe, so you shot yourself in the foot!

Cause that's really the only way these queries made any sense:

1. How do I query you?
Well, uh, lemme see.
On second thought, don't bother. This question demonstrates a frightening inability to do any kind of scouting around at all. This bodes ill for presenting yourself as someone I'd want to work with. By and large my clients are bunch of ferociously talented people who love to dig into things and figure out how they work be they sentences, novels, query letters or vampire shapeshifting mechanics.

2. What can you do for me?
Don't put this question in a query letter. Not even if you have the Nobel prize in literature. You can talk about what you're looking for, your goals etc if you must (but even then, NOT in the query letter cause I really only care about the writing at that point).

IF we get to the point that I would like to offer you representation I am perfectly prepared to discuss the benefits of having an agent in general and me in particular. Until that point, this kind of question is prima facie evidence of a person who is tone deaf about how words work. Again, that bodes ill.

3. I've adapted a screenplay.
I don't care if you adapted a haiku to get the novel. And if you adapted a screenplay my first question is was it YOUR screenplay. You might think that an obvious thing, but it's not. I get fanfic kinds of things in here ALL the time. People don't know they can't write novels about Mickey Mouse becoming Amish and moving to the country with Minnie and Pluto. Well, they can write them, but I sure as hell won't consider them. If you need an explanation of why, let me know.

I think these queries annoy the hell out of me because it's so damn easy to figure this stuff out. There are a gazillion blogs, a myriad of websites, and a dozen books on how to write a query. This stuff isn't even the hard part.

I need a drink.

Thank god for Eric Stone's donation to the cause:


FIONA said...

That whole reading the submission guidelines thing is for lesser mortals, obviously.

Thanks for the laugh.

dan radke said...


Why wouldn't you consider a novel about Mickey Mouse becoming Amish and moving to the country with Minnie and Pluto?

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

mmm octopus sushi and sake.

Mags said...

I'm so glad I let my nose piercing fill in!

acpaul said...

"Vampire shapeshifting mechanics?"

I thought you didn't do fantasy?

Is there hope for us SF&F types after all?

austexgrl said...

...And, so, Janet, will you not post a comment you do not agree with? Even Ms Snark would do that!!

H. L. Dyer said...

Well, you know I know how to query you. Too well. *snort*

Kelley said...

yep. far too well over here. *sigh*

but let's get to what's important--I heard somebody mention something about drinks.

C.J. Redwine said...

I'm not sure the octopus is going to give up the drink ...

Justus M. Bowman said...


I wondered the same thing when I read her post.

Ulysses said...

"I don't care if you adapted a haiku to get the novel." -- Ha!

I love reading you when you're cranky. That probably does not say anything good about me.

Mike Keyton said...

I want to read about Micky Mouse living with Minnie and Pluto in an Amish community, and maybe Donald Duck as Harrison Ford.

KP Sheridan said...

Probably not a good idea to query you about querying someone else then, huh?

Crimogenic said...

It is okay to send you an e-mail stating:

Dear Janet,

I would like to query you with my fictional novel but I'm not sure if you represent YA/Fantasy/Romance/Thrillers? Please advise if I can query you with my memoir.


Clueless ;)

Tom Segerson said...

That Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Pluto and Donald Duck as Harrison Ford in the Amish community thing? Been done.

They called it "Witless".

KP Sheridan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KP Sheridan said...

Ok, so what about having, let's say, Reggie the Rat and Reggie's wife, we'll call Rennie? Rats in Amish country? I'm smelling Best Seller here...

We'll call it Dutch Vermin...

Haste yee back ;-) said...

THE GOLDEN BB... a story for Mike Keyton

As the yarn goes, seems D. Duck was shot in a Duck hunting accident... well, it was a horrible accident for D. Duck, but it was table fare for the guy in camouflage. And I here tell it was a lights-out dead on shot to the head - a "Golden BB, they call it! D-Duck never knew what hit 'im.
Now, the problem was, ol' Camouflage is several Ducks, (air chickens), over limit - not uncommon in Arkansas. So, on the way home, he pulls over a horse drawn black carriage and bargains away the excess of his hunting bounty to the Amish guy drivin' the rig. Price - a spankin' new knotty pine rockin' chair
Unbeknownst to ol' Camo, newcomers visitin' the compound, that being Mick and his friends Minn and the Plut, were ridin' in the back of the carriage a hootin' and hollerin' all joyful like as they's rummagin' through the new furniture woodworking' tools they just bought at the GIT-ER-DONE general store.
Well, one look at D. Duck and Minn set to cryin.' Mick got so upset he spun in circles and tied his tail in a full-out double half-hitch knot. Plut lost all interest in their new enterprise of furniture makin' and said he was, "Gonna take to the jug!" About that time this Harrison Ford fella came walkin' down the road and noted all the
distress. (Camo had long since run for his cabin and comfort of his porch and new rocker). Mr. Ford was gonna say "words" over D. Duck 'till he noticed a curious thing. There weren't a mark on D. Duck - NOWHERE. Seems, Mr. Ford done seen this before, so he slapped D. Duck hard on the fanny. Mr. Ford knew D. Duck just passed out from fright when he heard the shotgun. D. Duck had always wanted to fly high and wild with his free cousins, but he just dint have the nerve for it when leads-a-flyin."
D.Duck coughed and wheezed back to life and swore off flyin' wild. They all hugged and kissed and made over each other, except Mr. Ford. He sauntered on down the road whistling for Bob Whites!

The rest of the way home, there weren't no more story events... THE END

Now then... I just allowed myself to suck!

Haste yee back ;-)

Mike Keyton said...

Tom, loved 'Witless'.
Haste ye back - you're weird - wear it with pride.

pegasus358 said...

Oh, I could SO go for some of that Macallan 12 right about now. Can you send some through the computer?? Pretty please?

wdhud said...

Kiss the wall mister. You're under arrest.
Who the hell are you?
Name's Ford. I'm with the BTPBQL.
Whats that?
The Beaure To Prevent Bad Query Letters. Do the crime, yea gotta do the time.
What am I lookin at.
This is your third offence, your going away for life with the stuffed octopus.
Noooooo! Please, I"ll never do it again.
Thats what they all say.

Another bad apple plucked from the tree. So, beware, the BTPBQL is watching.

Julie Weathers said...

So, I have to read the guidelines and actually follow them?

It's not enough that I wrote a wonderful mystery, suspense, epic fantasy romance with lots of horses, and humorous overtones fictional novel? I also have to read submission guidelines?

I have been surprised lately so see some agents state they want the submission sent as an attachment, which I thought was the kiss of death.


KP Sheridan said...

I like the "what can you do for me?"

"Dear Ms. Reid,

I have written the greatest thriller mankind has ever known. It is sure to break all New York Times Bestseller records and make books like The Da Vinci Code weep at its feet. I will soon be the supreme ruler of the literary world, and thought I'd allow you to represent me. The question is, what can YOU do for ME?

Please respond as soon as possible lest you lose out on this opportunity.


Del Ushunal

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Why, Mr. Mike, thany you. Momma always said... "Weird is as Weird does!"

Haste yee back ;-)

Heidi the Hick said...

Mickey Mouse goes Amish? Pfff.

Now Wile E Coyote, changing his sneaky violent tendencies, attempting to live a life of agricultural pacifism... THAT is conflict! There's your Man Vs Himself Literary Scenario!

austexgrl said...

YOU Cranky? Yes! Disappointed am I? Yes! You, being Unprofessional? Yes!!
YOU are so much better than this. Think it over, please.
I cannot imagine doing this in my profession.

dare you print this? in full?

BJ said...

Umm... I don't think Janet moderates comments. If a previous post of yours didn't show up, you may have made a mistake. Leaving comments on blogs is increasingly becoming complicated.

I'm not sure what you're talking about being unprofessional...

Julie Weathers said...

YOU Cranky? Yes! Disappointed am I? Yes! You, being Unprofessional? Yes!!
YOU are so much better than this. Think it over, please.
I cannot imagine doing this in my profession.

dare you print this? in full?

I guess I'm missing something. What in the world are you talking about.

Did you sneak into Janet's scotch?

Dare she print what in full? A sentence with the first letter not capped really isn't that dangerous or controversial, just annoying.

Steve Stubbs said...

OK, so you did not like my idea about Mickey Mouse as an Amish Buddhist. How about this: Donald Duck tells Walt Disney to stuff it and becomes a famous brain surgeon. Then his medical practice goes downhill when then discover Donald Duck is a quack. They find this out because Mickey Mouse turns out to be a rat. As they haul Donald off to jail he tells the cops they should have been smart enough to figure it out sooner. The way he puts it: “It’s not brain surgery, you know.”

I see this as a contemporary historical true crime shape shifting time warp cozy. Think Agatha Christie just after sitting on one of her poisoned hatpins. Now what can you do for me and how do I query you?

BJ said...

I think it's been done, Steve. I distinctly remember seeing DD dressed up like a surgeon... and once he starts talking, who really knows what he's saying, anyway?

Now, maybe if DD were a lawyer. It would fit the plot you've given just fine, and who can disagree with someone you can't understand? Perfect for a lawyer!

Twill said...


So I guess you wouldn't be interested in anything like a retelling of the Wizard of Oz story from the witch's part, or Gone With the Wind from the POV of the slaves?

Probably not. They'd never sell.

BJ said...

Twill, it's a matter of getting the permissions. And a lot of the fan-fictiony stuff is current enough that the original owners already have set writers for these things - Buffy, Star Trek, etc. Knew an incredible writer who wrote a great Buffy novel, but was told when she tried to get an agent that it was almost impossible to sell those things. Wicked, on the other hand, is totally unique, told in a world that few people delve into these days. And I believe the author had the permissions before he approached anyone. (I don't know the other one you mentioned.) Neither of your examples fit the 'fan-fiction' definition Janet gave.

Besides, neither of those are mysteries. I don't believe Janet handles fantasy or historical fiction.

Swistle said...

HA HA HA HA HA! Google Reader recommended your blog to me based on other blogs I read, and I LOVE this entry. SO FUNNY. I totally blame the whole "You can be anything you want to be! If you can dream it you can do it! Believe in yourself!" movement.