Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just to be clear

There are some emails from prospective clients I do not feel obligated to answer. They are:


1. Are you accepting queries?
This falls into the category of TSTL.

2. Can I send you a query?
Not only TSTL, but incorrect use of can/may, thus improving your chance of a form rejection anyway

3. Do you consider children's/fantasy/zombie romance books?
Now, this might not be quite as obvious as 1 and 2, but here's the thing: just send the damn query. If I don't want to proceed, I'll reply.



If you send me an email about your work, assume it's a query. Compose accordingly.

For more genteel advice on the same subject, check out Jessica Faust's post.

26 comments:

SundaySoup said...

can/may
When I met my husband, I used to say things like, "Can I have the salt?" and he would say, "Yes, you may." Tres annoying, but he made the point. I knew it had sunk in when a kid asked me "Can I...?" and I said, "Yes, you may."

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

I haven't been through every post of yours so forgive me for asking, but what does TSTL stand for? I really try to read through the archives on the blogs I follow but sometimes little things like acronyms slip through my brain without registering.


I do very much appreciate all the advice and information given on your blog.

H. L. Dyer said...

But what if we email first to ask for permission to send one of the emails you mentioned? Then it's okay, right? *snort*

kyler said...

I've had agents misuse can/may also, like "You can send the pages by email." I know I can, in fact, I'm very good at it! I try not to disqualify them for such a dastardly misuse; I just assume they're speaking colloqially. Of course, if you said this, Janet, I'd be very disappointed in you.

Leigh Lyons said...

I'm sorry... but what does TSTL mean? I'm not good with the internet speak thing. Also, I looked it up and none of the choices made sense.

laughingwolf said...

oh boy...

BJ said...

Dear Ms. Janet;

I know you don't accept science fiction, but is it okay if I send you a query for it anyway? Just wondering, 'cause I wouldn't want to send you anything you wouldn't want...

BJ

Suzan Harden said...

For Novice Writer and Leigh,

TSTL stands for "too stupid to live." It's generally applied to heroines in the romance and horror genres, like the stereotypical blond, scantily-clad cheerleader who goes down into the basement when the power's out and she knows a serial killer's on the loose. The term can be applied to any protagonist in any story though.

There's a lovely website to check out - www.acronymfinder. com. It's very helpful in understanding text messages from my nieces.

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

Thank you very much, Suzan. That was very kind. And thank you also for the link. I'll be sure to check it out when I get the chance.

Novice Writer Anonymous

novicewriterchronicles.blogspot.com

Cass said...

TSTL ha ha ha. I love visting your blog and reading your posts.

Thanks!

Rie said...

Not sure why people ask questions before reading available information anyway.

Robyn said...

:)

magolla said...

Okay,okay, I'll just send the damn query!

Crystal Posey said...

I love the urban dictionary!

That's all. lol

Ben said...

I think people ask these questions to begin a connection with an agent.

Biff W. Writer: "Can I query you? I just want to check because I just want to, you know, just cross my eyes and dot my Tees." (aw shucks, folks)

Special Agent Q: "Whatever."

Biff W. Writer (to himself): "The agent will remember me as a real go-getter, someone who is thorough and professional. Plus, I got Special Agent Q to give me three seconds of her time. I'm already halfway there!"

Rain Likely said...

I didn't know what TSTL stood for either, but at least I knew enough to click on the link to find out. . .

Janet Reid said...

In all fairness, I did put the link in AFTER I saw comments indicating people were not familiar with it.

kyler said...

You just read my mind, Janet. That's just what I was thinking at that moment. (I must be psychic.)And even though I used the dictionary twice, I still misspelled colloquially. Now I can sleep tonight.

Steve Stubbs said...

I can't believe people were actually asking what TSTL means. Asking what TSTL means is just downright ZQDR.

I mean, really.

Marjorie said...

Can I send you a query for my memoir? Or am I TSTL?

E.R. Womelsduff said...

I had so much fun reading this and all your other blogs with advice about what and what not to do when querying agents that I had to share it with my friends, so I wrote about your blog on my blog: http://erwomelsduff.blogspot.com/2009/07/too-stupid-to-live-janet-reid-reveals.html

Thank you for being alive. It makes me happy to know that there are professional people out there with a sense of humor and the guts to be brutally honest.

Rebecca Ryals Russell said...

Zombie romance? Eeeewwww. Falling off body parts? Brain stew? Eeeewww.

Shannan said...

I'm new to your blog and just came via a series of links from one blog to another. I'm really enjoying it so far - and not just because I love finding a fellow grammar fan!

I work in a library and regularly have kids come to me and ask Can I use a computer (or have headphones, or use the phone...)

I no longer hold myself back. My answer is always I don't know? Can you? =D

Said with a mischievous grin, the kids catch on quick and actually find it kind of fun.

That being said - I was once told in a communications workshop I attended that in business communication, you sound intimidating if you ask "Will you do X" but if you ask "Can you do X" (meaning "will you") it sounds more friendly.

Scotti Cohn said...

The can/may distinction was pounded into me as a child by my parents (in the nicest possible way). Anytime I began with, "Can I..." (when it should have been "May I...") they would reply, "I don't know. Are you able?"

I'd like to report that I always use the two words properly when speaking, but I definitely do not, even though I can (and may)!

patrickflynn said...

Are you accepting comments to your blog posts?

alaskaravenclaw said...

The can/may distinction is a fallacy. If it were not grammatically possible to say "Can I...?" when asking permission, then competent speakers of English would not do it.

Other fallacies: that you can't end a sentence with a preposition, and that you can't split an infinitive.