Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SFW seeks A

Your query letter is not a personal ad. I'm seeing a lot of queries that spend too much time (ie more than zero) talking about how easy the author is to work with, how willing they are to to be edited and other kinds of blather that matters not a whit.

And it's off-putting. Here's why: the people who tell me they are 'non-judgemental' are usually the most judgemental people I know; the people who tell me how busy they are are never too busy to tell me how busy they are. In other words, people who tell you they're easy to work with are the ones I suspect of being most difficult. The ones who really ARE easy to work with? It hasn't dawned on them they'd need to tell anyone that.

So, leave the Sincere Fiction Writer seeks Agent style bio off the query. Your name, any pub credits you've got-that's all you need. Include the name of your Herpet-American service snake if you've got one of course.


21 comments:

Lunatic said...

Dear Agent, I'm easy to work with, all of my ex-wives agree.

Fred

freddie said...

Yeah, it's hard to trust people who feel the need to explain themselves to you.

Jannette Johnson said...

So to sumerize, doing your homework on how to submit a query letter is a good thing! :D

Leigh Lyons said...

If we send you stuffed animals for your office plushy zoo, that will make you LOVE us, right? Because that's what it's about, right! Not books or good writing but how much you love your clients as people, right?

No?

Oh.

Rick Daley said...

A person who is nice to you but is mean to the waiter is not a nice person.

Stephanie said...

It really baffles me that people send queries like this!!! It screams 'unprofessional'! And that they gave no time to research how a query is supposed to be written...clean, cut to the point, nothing extra.

Eric said...

This boils down to "saying too much". Add another item to the my list of "things to not do when querying."

Eduardo said...

Show not tell.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Janet,

Goats of the Linberlost Riding the Purple UP Trail is a 450 thousand world multi-cultural (I put humans in the story) story. Read it. Read it now. [See enclosed bribes.]

I’m great to work with, though I’m very busy. As proof let me say that I wrote this short novel between tending to my duties as King of the Heap (don’t ask what the heap is made of. We all have to ignore that.) and as preferred boy friend of unnumbered French Alpines (and for diversity one or two Nubians and one Angora mixed with mystery elements.) This, though keeping me busy, gives me endless plot elements for stories.

I’m easy to work with. I get repeat ummm I get to repeat … umm yes, well I get to do what I do more than once. I do it a lot. It’s the Goat Way. Everyone is delighted to work with me more than once, except maybe one Pixie who thinks she owns first rights to everything. (Mind you, not first rights to that..

I’m an easy edit. I just don’t do baths willingly. They interfere with my maleness.

Oh, yes, the novel has a plot. I asked for the Pixie’s help in defining it. She said it was a beat novel, so I imagine it’s about the “beat generation.” Her exact words were, “Plot? Bill, it beats me!” How sweet! How succinct! How true!

My mistress has a for fun writing contest on her blog. It’s all about “naughty.” I’d enter it, but if I won, as I’m sure I would, everyone will think it’s nepotism. I’m not a nepo at all. I’m an Alpine. You can enter it though … WarDancingPixie.blogspot.com. Scroll down a bit.

Also, I’m not adverse to a well turned … what is that thing to which human feet are attached? … Oh, yes, ankle. A Well turned Ankle. (I haven’t a prejudiced bone in my body, except I really don’t like donkeys. It’s not a species prejudice. I don’t like their donkey-rap and their gangster mentality).

I’ve sent the entire 450,202 word mss via USPS priority mail. Expect three big packages!

Best,

William (Bill) E. Goat, III, esq

Matilda McCloud said...

well, I am guilty of once sending query letters like that...I was trying to convey to the agent that I've worked with editors, I understand the collaborative process of publishing, I'm open to feedback, blah blah blah but now I'm older and wiser and say nothing--just a very bare bones bio....one line only....

Mira said...

Well, I really understand your point, Janet. The query should really be about the writing.

On the other hand, I understand why people do it. For one thing, it's similar to a resume, where you do put things like: hard-working, conscientious, etc.

Also, there is such a strong message coming down to writers: be easy to work with. I wonder if writers sometimes include phrases like that to show that they are aware of that message and intend to live up to it.

Melinda Szymanik said...

But if they leave these things out how will you know to avoid them? Aren't these tell tale signs important clues for you?

Sarah said...

Rick, as a former waiter, I so agree!

There might be folks who really are easy to work with, etc and say so in their queries. Several years ago, I saw an agent at a conference explain how important it was for a writer to be open to revisions.

I was working on a a query, and decided to add that I'd be happy to revise. It never would've occurred to me that folks would raise a stink about revision till I heard otherwise. When I heard it WAS an issue, though, I decided to address it in my query.

Then I found writing blogs and figured out how to write a query. But still...

Cardinal said...

Wow. What ever happened to keeping it simple? It's a business issue, not a love connection.

Great snake, btw. Friends with your amazing octopus?

Lumpy Dog said...

I remember begging girls to go out with me in high school.

It didn't work then, either.

Wendy said...

Should I include pictures of my kids or not? :)

Cathy in AK said...

How about "I'm a people person"?

rachel.capps said...

If only those people did a little research? It's not hard to find out, with the net these days, what you want and why you have specific requirements (i.e. you have a life too).

Caroline said...

Other phrases that make me nervous:

Honestly
Frankly
I'm humble/modest
You won't regret it

Auntie Flamingo said...

When my 6 year old son starts to tell me a long, extravagant story about how he is not lying....he usually is. I guess "I'm easy to work with" in a query is the same thing.

BJ said...

Unfortunately, I don't have a Herpet-American assistant, but did work with a bull snake once... I think his name was Fred. Fred will vouch for me. I know he liked me because I was the only person he didn't poop on.

So, see? I'm easy to work with, too!