Saturday, February 14, 2009

Add this to your list of hard and fast rules!

It's on the DO NOT side of the page.

Do NOT quote rejection letters of any kind in a query letter.

NO exceptions to this rule. None.
If you think you have an exception, think again.

There's no way it will help you and it's pretty much instant rejection when I see "Agent Q at XYZ was very impressed but chose to pass because of her busy workload" because I know you are quoting a form rejection. How do I know? See text of MY form rejection on previous posts.

Here's the other thing: if Agent Q passed on it, I'm not so full of myself (despite all evidence to the contrary) that I instantly think oh lo! that slithery competitor missed the chance of a lifetime and I'm going to show her.

Nope, what I think is aha, she doesn't think this will sell.

The only time I'm interested in what other agents think about your work is when they are clamoring to read it and represent you.

If you think that's unfair, I didn't say it was. What I said was this is how it works.
Two entirely different things, and the smart querier will waste little time fretting about fair and just get on doing what's effective.


Sarah Jensen said...


Shadows said...

I promise to read your entire blog before submitting queries of absolutely ANY kind. Thank you for whipping us into shape. I think. ;)

Rick Daley said...

Wow...How often do you get queries like that?

It's like applying for a job as a bodyguard and listing on your resume that you recently got your ass kicked. Not much business savvy to that strategy.

Eric said...

Well, I just don't know. I once got a rejection for a short story I sent to a group of "gentlemen's magazines," that said: "I loved your story. It was extremely, fall on the floor laughing, funny. But our readers are looking for something that, well, they can spend some private time with. They want erotic, not funny. Sorry."

Now were I to quote that to you in a query for a humorous novel, correct me if I'm wrong, but it might just pique your interest.

Janet Reid said...

Sorry Eric.

First, if the story or novel IS funny, it will be obvious when I read it. Telling me something is "fall on the floor laughing, funny" is almost sure to backfire.

How many times have you read something that someone said was "hilarious" only to discover they were clearly nutso. (for me anyway, daily)

Tell me it's a comic novel, then let me find out if it's best read on the floor to avoid that falling off the chair with laughter thing.

And don't quote rejections. Even the ones you think are great and make you happy. DO NOT DO THIS.

Cathy in AK said...

Quoting other agents shows that the agent you are now querying isn't at the top of your list. I know agents realize writers are querying far and wide, but it isn't very smart to tell one "You were my choice AFTER Agent Q." No one wants to be considered the consolation prize.

Julie Weathers said...

I agree with Cathy. I figure the only thing the agent wants to know is what my book is about, a bit about me and xyz editor asked me to submit.

Who wants to hear they were number 41 on the list of dream agents? What if the writer got the plague from kissing all those other agents?

gael lynch said...

I'm amazed that any of this even needs to be said.
Not that I'm so smart (far from it!)...but we are supposed to be promoting ourselves, right? That means no negative associations, ever! Kind of like saying, "Here's a piece of old shoe leather. My dog didn't like it b/c he had a toothache at the time...but you try it!" It's that creative whiplash...we do love our babies, so we get lost in the storm sometimes. Glad you can set us all straight, Janet!

December/Stacia said...

Yeah, this strikes me as akin to trying to get a guy to ask you out by telling him that your ex-boyfriend said he liked you but you just weren't really good enough in bed for him.

BJ said...

gael lynch

I laughed. Because I've done that. Someone gave me some goose jerky. I don't care for jerky myself, so I gave some to the dogs. The dogs didn't seem to know what to do with it. I gave it to my sis's boyfriend and found out it really did taste awful. I'll never live it down, that 'the dogs wouldn't eat it so I gave it to Kevin'. Good thing he's a good sport. :)

Dal Jeanis said...

It goes along with, "Don't tell the gal/guy you're asking on a date why the last one didn't want to go."

The truth - it doesn't matter.

New day, new person, new agent.