Thinly disguised novel that's really a memoir and thus, egad no: 1
Most people don't live interesting enough lives to be good candidates for a memoir. If you're writing a novel drawing from the "interesting events of your life" you'll need a pretty stringent assessment of just how interesting that is. Assume it's not, and work on persuading me.
Recitation of events - not enticing: 1
Have you ever asked a little kid about his or her day at school? They can't tell things in narrative form yet so there's a lot of "and then this, and then that." Fortunately they're kids, and thus not querying me. When you query me, you really need to be able to describe your novel more enticingly than a kid describes a field trip.
Interesting concept/query so over written it boded ill for novel: 1
Less is more. Let me say that again: less is more
Spent so much time telling me what the novel isn't, didn't tell me what it was: 1
These are the guys who are going to fix everything wrong with fiction today, genre by genre. Well, ok, but what the hell is the book about?
Yes, you can gross me out in queries. But we're also done when you do.
I think the author is seriously deranged: 1
And not in a good way.
sadly out of touch about publishing time lines: 1 I'm selling books for 2011 and 2012 now. Mostly Fall and Winter 2011. If you have a book that's perfect for 2010, you're too late. And you're probably too late for 2011 too unless it's such a fiercely hot topic of interest I can sell it quickly. Figure at LEAST two years between sending a query and seeing a book on the shelf.
Sadly out of touch self-help book: 2
Some problems were big in the 70's. That doesn't mean I want to read about them now.
Non-author submission: 2
I don't care who you are or what relationship you have to the author. If you're not the author, don't query me. This includes all material for people who are dead.
blatant ripoff of another popular book or movie: 2
I don't live in a bubble. I've seen Star Wars, and Avatar, and if I haven't, the people in my office who read submissions certainly have. "Fresh and new" means I didn't pay $12.50 to see it at the Bijou recently.
Don't want to read this/cliche characters and plot: 3
Shadowy billionaires, reclusive blonde bombshells, beautiful female anything. Yawn.
Down on his luck private eye; renegade cop; Islamic terrorists; granola swilling eco-slime.
Now a blonde bombshell granola swilling shadowy billionaire private eye--that interests me.
Nothing compelling or enticing about the novel: 3
When my response is ho hum, that doesn't mean yes.
Nothing fresh or new with usual elements of a novel: 3
In other words, not bad, but not good enough.
Bad writing: 3
All writing is bad on the first draft. The trick is not to send the first draft AND to be able to edit yourself. It also helps if you know some basic stuff such as why "try and do" is incorrect. (If you don't know why, ask me)
Reasons too specific to the query to list here, but I was tempted to call this category TSTQ for a reason.
Don't want to read this: 5
This is where the subjective part comes in. Some novels just don't interest me. Nothing bad or wrong with them, just not for me.
No idea what the novel is about: 11
And let's assume I'm not stupid, ok? I can read. I can follow a string of sentences and extrapolate information, and have been known to actually draw the occasional conclusion.
What this category covers are the people who tell me about themselves and their marketing ideas, and give me a brief concept statement. That doesn't tell me what the novel is about.
A string of events, particularly if it's backstory is NOT what the novel is about.
This is one of the hardest things to figure out when you start writing queries. I've been known to make my authors write the pitch letters for their novels cause I couldn't describe what the novel was about (yes, I read it!) This is HARD. Practice is essential. If you ever track me down at a writing conference, this is the class I teach most often. And if you want to talk to me about this at a conference, this is one thing I'll help you with any time.
Here's the good news:
referred to another FPLM agent for consideration: 1
requested fulls: 2
(categories were women's fiction and crime novel)