Monday, December 07, 2009

"You did EVERYTHING wrong"...now what

I was working my way through the incoming email queries this morning and found one that was sent by someone who clearly had NO idea how queries worked. Every single thing, other than Dear Ms. Reid and his name (at least I assume he spelled it correctly), was wrong .

Rather than send a form rejection, I replied thus:

Dear Mr. (Name),

I keep a blog that gives out what I hope is helpful information about how to query.
Here's a post link to How To Send a Query
There are many other posts on the subject of query letters as well.

What you sent to me today can't be evaluated but rather than a form rejection,
I'm emailing you to say take a mulligan; do it over.

Very best wishes,

Only after I hit send (and drank another shot of coffee to clear my brain!) did I realize what I'd opened myself up to. I've sent these kind of emails previously, and lived to regret it.

So, this evening, I was nicely surprised, and very heartened to receive this:

I'm a terrible golfer, so I'm quite familiar with the mulligan concept. I have several per nine holes.

Thank you for the guidance. I'm as blind to the process as one could get, so it is much appreciated.

Fore.


So, when you get an email that says "not that, but this" you now have a template for what to say in return.

Even if your name isn't Fore.
(ha!)

27 comments:

Lucy Woodhull said...

Well done, all around! Leaves a warm, runny spot in the cockles of my heart. Or maybe that's the eggnog.

Jm Diaz said...

Honestly, I would have expected that response to be the norm.
Evidently, that is as naive as my dog's continued hope that I will eventually drop my plate from the table for him to devour.

Malanie Wolfe said...

OMG, did my husband take up writing?

Livia said...

Ah, see, entries like these just undermine your super scary (sharky?) reputation...

Valerie Geary said...

Awww... see, not all writers are crazy psychos. And not all agents are cruel and heartless. We can get along! This is living proof!! :)

Corey Schwartz said...

Nice, but why would someone query blindly (in this day and age) in the first place. How hard is it to Google "How to send a query?"

Dawn Hullender said...

Lol @ Malanie, you read my mind! But in all reality, Janet is all too right. She opened herself up to another submission from this very same person instead of letting him down easily and being done.

I would have requeried :D But then again, I've researched queries and synopses for well over two years now and mine somewhat makes sense. :D Or at least I hope they do.

Susan M. Boyer said...

Thank you for everything you do-- from maintaining this fabulous blog, to taking the time to send this sort of reply instead of a form rejection, to answering questions from neurotic writers (like me)everywhere. (And all the while being damn entertaining!) Thank you. Like Lucy, I have warm cockles, but I've had wine, not eggnog...

Blee Bonn said...

Holy cow, Malanie Wolfe - that's exactly what I wondered when I read his reply, had to read it twice.

Janet - that was so awesome of you. You totally rock!

Venus Vaughn said...

"Look out ahead!"

You gotta love that guy for his sense of humor if nothing else.

Lisa Dez said...

How unsharkly of you. ;)

Tina Lynn said...

So...if we want a second chance, we just need to screw up everything royally. Good to know:)

Paul Ă„ertker said...

Coffee? I'm going for the Espresso Vodka.

Tabitha Bird said...

Very very nice of you Janet. And very 'Christmas spiritish'

Lucky lucky guy. The sharks have been restrained.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

I hope it's a self-help book.

Malanie Wolfe said...

LOL Lisa Dez, yeah, I have a feeling behind that big shark bite is a huge heart.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

I hope that guy knows how lucky he was to get such a kind response! I think I would have just hit delete and taken another swig of coffee.

You've done your good deed for the day.

DebraLSchubert said...

Brilliant! I prefer miniature golf, not that that means I don't need mulligans.

Maybe that guy's the next Hemingway and you, the Sharkess, may soon be credited with "discovering" him. Either that or he may be a psychopathic stalker and you may curse the day you gave him that little bit of extra attention. Only time will tell. ;-)

Leona said...

I appreciate your response. Even looking up "How to query" you get such a bad selection (too many is almost worst than not enough. There's no way to sort out the good from the bad) that it can be disheartening to someone who has written a story and wants it published.

He might not have even understood that he needed a query and his erstwhile friends tell him, "I have it on good authority you have to have an agent. Get one." Without knowing in the slightest how to go about it.

I was in that boat and because I didn't understand, my first agent led me astray. I later found the writer's beware site and guess what? Her company's on it. But as a newbie, how was I supposed to know how to look up "writer's beware?"

People like Janet help those of us willing to learn how to find the information we need. I wish on a thousand stars that I knew about the agents blogs that I do now when I started. Life would have had less rejection!

You can't assume that because someone wants to be a writer that they know where to start to find the information they need.

Merry Christmas to you all :D

Sharon Mayhew said...

You did "Fore" a huge service, along with anyone else you need to send this response to.

Unless you study the writing market, I don't think you can understand the appropriate way to submit a manuscript. I can't tell you the number of times I hear people say that they should write a book,chose a publisher and an agent. Perhaps they are brilliant and will never end up in the slush pile. Or maybe, they just don't have a clue. I think your response was wonderful. You are providing a new writer with a great teaching tool, your blog.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

Oh, that is too funny. At least he took it in stride and had the good graces to know you meant well.

Thanks for sharing.

TERI REES WANG said...

Well played on both ends! ;P

Lydia Sharp said...

Haha. I can imagine the look on your face as you read the query and then wrote that reply, and then the one that followed when you realized what you'd done...and then again when you got that response. Love it. If you printed your blog posts and comments for the year in a book (for this one and Query Shark), I'd buy it. Every year.

Eva Gale said...

That's the kind of person you wildly cheer for when they make it.

Margaret Yang said...

People who are completely clueless about the query process are the people who usually end up with scam "agents" or vanity publishers. It only takes a pinch of education to avoid that kind of thing. This probably came at exactly the right time for him. On behalf of all writers--thank you.

Melanie Avila said...

Ha, I love it!

Good to know that people DO appreciate when you go out of your way to help them.

Stephanie said...

Wow, what a great response...this guy is obviously open to critique and criticism....and that will take him very far in this business! :)