Saturday, November 07, 2009

Speaking crushing dreams-here's the query tally

I'm getting a little (well, ok, a LOT) impatient with writers who can't seem to tell me what their book is about. I get lists of characters, descriptions of setting and events, but nothing about choices/conflict/decisions.

I'm not sure if this is a trend, or it was just a bad couple of days but there were a LOT of them tonight.

Started at 10 pm with 68 queries:

Query letter missing too much plot: 21
Not enticing: 12
Nothing fresh or original: 8

Not right for me but someone else will snag happily: 6

Writer clearly uninformed about genre or category s/he intends to write in: 3
No platform (non-fiction queries only): 2


Just plain old bad writing: 4
I don't think I can sell books in this category: 4

Overwritten (probably should be included in bad writing): 1
Unable to suspend disbelief (also bad writing): 1

Writer is a crackpot: 2

Topics I really loathe: 2

Queries set aside to read more closely: 2

33 comments:

L. T. Host said...

So no requests tonight? Ouch.

justwritecat said...

Are you open to a re-query if the query has been revised like the dickens? One of your posts states a writer should move on (do not re-query), but in another post you mention that one should'nt requery you more than twice in a year. Is that for the same novel?

Thank you for your time. I hope I've not added to your frustration.

Kathleen said...

At least this part is encouraging, sort of: "Not right for me but someone else will snag happily."

I just wish someone would tell me that in a rejection.

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

So, the two crackpots? You're signing them, right?

Stephanie Thornton said...

And it's stats like those that make me glad I'm not an agent.

You deserve a glass of wine. Or two.

Vacuum Queen said...

Slam on the brakes...
What topics do you really loathe??

Tina Lynn said...

68 queries! Sweet Cheese Wheels!

Eldritch Elegy said...

Wow. I'm fairly terrified I'm going to end up in one of those really nasty categories.

Kristi Faith said...

Wow, I don't envy your job at all. Hey, at least crackpots can be entertaining. :-)

Diana said...

"writer is a crackpot" LOL

I have a folder in my submissions email box labeled "WTF". I keep them for when I need a laugh.

Janet Reid said...

VacuumQueen,
Child abuse, sex abuse, domestic abuse.

There is simply no way, in my opinion, to make this interesting or compelling in a novel. Horrifying, yes, but I"m not into horror.

And there's nothing fresh or new to say about it.

Memoir is much the same: survivors have hair raising tales, and I'm glad they've survived, but there's not much more than that.

And before everyone starts jumping up and down about this; it's my OPINION. It doesn't have to be yours. We can agree to disagree. But it's also my incoming query pile and so my opinion is the only one that counts for that.

C. Andres Alderete said...

Hmmm. Great insight. I'll be back.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Like panning for gold in a rock pile. Happy sifting!

lora96 said...

i like this post! fun stats (well, for me anyway, not for the person who had to read those queries)

:)

lora96 said...

i'm with you on the abuse topics. it's Lifetime movie stuff for people who like to be shocked. I teach school. I have seen plenty of abuse up close and its aftermath. That is NOTHING I want to read about or even discuss.

Genie of the Shell said...

As an aspiring author, I really appreciate your honest revelations and clues as to what works and does not work for you.

I hope it makes your job easier by discouraging queries that don't meet your personal standards, and makes our jobs easier by having a better idea of who to query and how!

SomedayAuthor said...

Well the day has finally come...I've gotten snagged in one of your posts. I'd dye my own grandmother's hair blue to know which category I was in...

Karen said...

Not sure which of these categories I hope that I fell into. Can I pretend to myself that I'm one of the 6-will-be-snapped-ups?

Sob.

jessjordan said...

My favorite for the week has to be "Writer is a crackpot." Sheer awesomeness.

:)

Stephanie said...

Only 2 crackpots...that's not bad!! Wish I could see those queries!!

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

No purple paper and glitter stars in the envelopes category? Things must be improving. Enjoyed this. Thanks.

Bill Peschel said...

"Not right for me but someone else will snag happily: 6"

I had this happen with my book, and the agent was right.

Steve Stubbs said...

I like people who crush dreams. I like that crunchy sound they make as they are being squished off to oblivion.

But mama mola would I like to read those queries from the two crackpots. I thought momentarily they must have been mine, then I realized I did not send you any queries, crackpot or otherwise.

Jacqui said...

I've read a couple of posts recently about presenting the conflict in the query letter. I'm working on my query and have pared it down and plumped it up time and again. Knowing to focus on the conflict is a perfect reminder of what will hook a reader (and hopefully an agent, too).

Sincere thanks.

donnahole said...

Interesting stats. Nice to know how your thinking goes while reading queries.

Thanks for the insight.

........dhole

Ray said...

Hey Jamet... is 68 queries a regular number or had you been hoarding for a while?
I'm from Scotland, UK and query letters aren't so popular over here. The agents I have submitted to usually ask for a synopsis and the first few chapters, I guess that query letters are more popular over the pond.
Thid blog and the comments arevery interesting

Ray

Janet Reid said...

Ray, 68 is probably 2 or 3 days worth of queries. I've always figured I get about 100 a week or so. I think the number is going up a little, but not enough to think "deluge!"

dylan said...

Dear Ms. Reid,

"Not right for me but someone else will snag happily: 6"

If you have the time and inclination to explain, I wonder what the break-down is of the six in this category.

These must be tempting, and the hardest to walk away from.

In the meantime, a shark pursuit:

http://tinyurl.com/ye6fmqx

dylan

Betsy Ashton said...

Hmm, 2 our of 68 queries. That's a 2.9% interest rate. Beats what one agent told us at a recent writers conference. Her intern, who is also her daughter, hasn't referred a single query all year. She hates everything.

Meghan Ward said...

I would love to know which category you don't think you can sell books in. And do you only need a platform for nonfiction books? Doesn't everyone need a platform these days?

Alyson Greene said...

Do the 6 someone else will "happily snatch up" get the same treatment as any rejection? Do u ever pass queries along to colleagues?

KC Kelly said...

Haha...one of those "crackpots" was probably mine...

John said...

She must be referring to the query for my novel, Cracky Potter and the City of Crushed Dreams, wherein young Cracky discovers that his magical journey was actually an adolescent fantasy manufactured by his drug-scorched brain after passing out face-first into a toilet and awaking from a four-month coma.