Friday, February 20, 2009

We're just not that into you

Nathan Bransford is a very smart agent.
Nicer than me by a long shot.

He gives good advice on his blog.
Here's yesterday's on the topic of queries for novels: less you, more story.

As you might suspect, the reason I put up the link to that is cause that's exactly how I feel too. And my experience matches his: recently I've seen an uptick in queries that try to sell the writer rather than the novel.

I'm just not that into you.
I am however very interested in your novel.

Nathan says it....but nicely.


Taire said...

It's really not that lopsided. I'm not really that in to you, either, that would be creepy. I just want you to represent my novel!

Sarah Jensen said...

Okay, especially after watching the movie last weekend, this made me roll!
Well put.

T. Anne said...

That's fine. There's not that much of me to be into. I'd much rather the focus be on my novel.

Alatheia Vulner said...

"I'm just not that into you.
I am however very interested in your novel."

Apparently I haven't submitted my novel to you yet, then.

pjd said...

I think novelists misunderstand what they read on blogs and hear at writers conferences. "Sell yourself" was the siren call I heard frequently at the recent San Francisco conference. Couple that with the overwhelming buzz about platform, and many novelists may think that they can't get their novel noticed without selling themselves with a big platform. Makes sense for nonfiction, of course. But novels? All things being equal, a cheery person with a platform would be more attractive than a bad hermit. But usually all things aren't equal.

Walter said...

I find this to be very comforting news. It should be all about the story; that's why people read novels.

Just_Me said...

I love you too, Janet.

And I'd query you if you liked my genre. You don't. And I forgive you for that. Consider my one-less query in your slush pile my present to you. You get to go home one bad query earlier than you would have otherwise. :o)

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Glad to hear that Nathan isn't the only agent who feels this way. I recently read a post by another writer who recommended that aspiring authors get widely published in print, online, etc., and to ensure agents were well aware of all their credentials when querying. Less is more, got it.

Anne-Marie said...

I am also quite comforted by the fact that agents like you and Nathan care more about the product than the history of the writer. I've had a few experiences where the novel I tried to submitwas not mentioned, but was told specifically that I couldn't hope to land an agent unless I had previous writing experience or had published short stories in national literary magazines. Good to know that isn't the only reality out there.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

At this point I think the agents I'm interested in know me well enough without my knocking them over the head with my personality.

When it comes time for me to resume querying, I'll just stick to the project and let the work speak for itself.

Julie Weathers said...

This is another of those things where I get confused. I took Barbara Rogan's Next Level Workshop and the last lecture was kind of a free roll about the book business. I decided to submit my query and synopsis to tune them up a bit.

Barbara suggested I add another line or two about myself. I can't remember her exact words, but the gist was an agent sits there and reads one query after another and then they hit one that makes them smile or think, "this might be a fun person to work with." It doesn't make up for a weak query, but it catches their attention. I suppose it's sort of like the bow on the bouquet.

On the flip side, I've heard people say I shouldn't even mention I was a sports journalist for seventeen years.

Confusion reigns.

Margaret Yang said...

Nathan Bransford = the nicest man in publishing.

I noticed that the most successful queries in Query Shark were the ones without credentials.

(Is successful the right word? You know what I mean, the ones that worked best.)

Are you still doing Query Shark? Love that blog.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Ms Reid:

Herewith I querry for Goat-Runners of the Purple UP Trail. It's a rip off of some dozen western writers but with a new spin. Instead of cowboys, it's all about goats.

Let me tell you about myself. I'm totally irresistible to French Alpines and have a world-wide reputation as a Buck of Distinction winner. I am the first son of my name sake and first grandson of his name sake. I was born on a small ranch not far from the Yakima River, where I proved my self precocious.

During the first Gulf War I infiltrated Iraqi goat herds to spy on the near by military formations. I admit to being a bit distracted while doing this, but what self-respecting Buck wouldn't have been?

I retired from the GASPS (Goat and Spy Person Service) and returned to the thrall of some Pixie or other. She thinks my writing is mind bogglingly good. (Bill, your writing gives me a headache.) And if that isn't high praise, I don't know what IS!

ON the seamier side of life, I was locally notorious for having dated a sheep once, but that was a falsehood spread by my enemies. I sued them and won. However, I see that as forming the basis for an intriguing bio, maybe something like, "Did he really get Dolly the Sheep pregnant?"

I am also the author of the online guide, How to Wag Your Tail: or getting the buck of your choice. Unfortunately, the person who created the web site for me misread my handwriting, and you'll have to ignore the misspelling "getting the Buick of your choice."

My novel is complete in 43,202 and a half words ... There is a reason for the half word, but you'll have to read my mss to understand it.

I'll be happy to send it 1. By usps mail. 2. with glitter. 3. on pink paper. 4. as a downloaded attachment in a font of dubious origin. 5. as plain text in an email. That will require dozens of emails to complete.

Please pick number two because I like glitter.


Bill E. Goat

PS; Just curious, but were you ever at the Point Defiance Petting Zoo, say in 2002? Maybe we met once. -Bill

Janet Reid said...

Bill, you crack me up.

(you too Sha'el, Pixie Princess extrodinaire!)

ICQB said...

Yay! So being extremely boring won't work against me!!! Turns out nobody cares!!!

I feel liberated.

Deb Vlock said...

I'm amazed at what some people think counts as relevant biographical details. I've seen such things on resumes as well as queries: hobbies, number of kids, state of health. And of course there's the headshot. ;-)

Margaret Yang said...

@Janet, this is from one of your older posts:

"One of my favorite editors dropped me a quick email today to ask for more info about the author of a book of mine he's considering. I had a couple lines on file from the query letter, but nothing really zippy and exciting.
What to do? Well, I knew the author had a bio listed at her work website. I clicked over. It was fun, vivacious, not silly. I copied and pasted, and sent. Start to finish: about 120 seconds. This client was proactive in the best possible way. I didn't have to email her to say 'quick, I need a bio!'"

So...what you're saying is that big juicy bio on website = good, and big juicy bio in query = bad.

Got it.

Administrator said...

Is your comment relating to fiction or non-fiction? I would think for fiction it's about the story, but for non-fiction, the writer is more important.