Sunday, June 20, 2010

You're making me CRAZY here!



Would you PLEASE for the love of God, tell me what your book is about in your query!

At this point I'd settle for it being the last of 700 paragraphs (it should be the first of fewer than 7 in case you're missing point here) if I have to.

I've seen some really interesting ideas from writers that sound like they might have talent, but you've GOT to tell me what the book is about in the QUERY.

You cannot just include pages, or a synopsis, or a novel overview.

I need one hundred words that tells me What The Novel is About.

And right now, if it doesn't, I'm not writing back. I'm not reading pages. I'm saying no. Form rejection.

So, if you got one of those, and you look at what you sent, and there is NOT a paragraph that answers my questions What is your novel about? then do it OVER. And send it again.

I swear to God I'm looking for good projects, and I want to find them, but you've got to do your part here.

I simply cannot get a sense of what the novel is about in the first three pages. The reason I ask for those is to see how well you write.

And I don't want to read an entire synopsis, please don't make me. I hate them. They're dry and boring.

Please please please entice me to read your book by telling me what it's about.

Argh!


27 comments:

Ebyss said...

I know you are frustrated about the queries, and I'm sorry, but that cartoon made me laugh so hard, I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

Dee Carney said...

*Hands Janet a glass of wine. And chocolate. And a gift card to a spa weekend.*

Kathleen Ortiz said...

Oh my god that is the BEST photo of you EVER!!!!!!!!!!! That's why you turned Mac, isn't it?

Charli Armstrong said...

That picture is awesome!!! LOL

donna said...

And some people say it's hard to figure out what agents want. Clearly they are reading your blog!

(I am bookmarking this entry to share with the writing group I wrangle in the local bookstore.)

Donna Andrews

Lisa_Gibson said...

It's amazing how something that simple, people manage to make so difficult. I hope it improves for you.

Laurel said...

Drink now. Drink deeply. Drink lots.

Sandy James said...

The cartoon is priceless! And I sympathize with your frustration! It's like receiving a paper from one of my students in text speak. I have no idea what they're talking about. :P

Katt said...

Cartoon gave me the giggles! but hey, in the surrey master's class two? years ago, I'm sure you beat us down to 50 words!
Grinning!
kathy B.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Dear Snookums:

I have written a book. Not too long, not too short, just your average bookish size. It might level a table, but wouldn't work as a doorstop. Neither of those matter as people will be too enthralled by what's inside to put it on the floor.

(Okay, in the spirit of total disclosure, I used the print out to smoosh a bug. It was big and green and I reprinted that page so it doesn't count.)

The book is full of words, which I understand readers like. Those words are made of letters in varying combinations from single to really, really long and requiring hyphens and everything. This is essential since the book is in English and that's usually a plus in the US market.

Also, people talk in my book. They laugh and cry and love and hate, and say lots of stuff to each other while they're doing it. (See, I can "show" rather than "tell" and I learned that on your blog!)

The themes are timeless and the danger intense, but the danger's broken up regularly by pretty scenery so the characters can catch their breath and the readers don't have to wonder if they're reading about asthmatic mole people... I let them know what everyone looks like real good. (They generally look like my family and friends, but don't tell anyone because the character based on my best friend is a total heel and my sister gets bumped off in chapter 3. I didn't tell them they were in my book, so I don't think they know."

Anyway, the book is readable, enjoyable, and all around literate. You'll love it and all you have to do is ask and I'll be happy to send you the whole entire thing (without the bug gut page, which I reprinted). All my friends and family love it and said to tell you they'll give you a call if you want to hear from real people.

Eagerly awaiting your response,

Ima Hack


(That's a self-portrait, right? Your herpat-American assistant draws well without thumbs.)

Meredith said...

So, what did you type into Google Images to get this cartoon back?

sagelikethespice said...

LOL, love the picture.

Janet Reid said...

Meredith: "frustration"

ali said...

ROFL the comments are making me laugh just as much as the post!

Harley May said...

I think this post is interesting (I'm sorry you're frustrated).

At my regional SCBWI workshop, I had to prepare queries for my two manuscripts as homework. The comments I got from one editor about them was that she wanted MORE personal information about what makes me, me in the actual query.

After reading ALL of the QueryShark entries I thought "Wtf?" Conclusion: research what agent wants beforehand. You and DisneyHyperion lady want very different things.

justwritecat said...

Wow, Ms. Reid, you're kinda...stacked.

Alexandra said...

I take it that it's been a bad day in Query Land.

Kim Kasch said...

Time for a tall glass of gin and a good George Clooney film to take your mind off the computer ;)

Buffra said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you're frustrated, but this really makes me feel *better*! I figure that I can write a query that tells you what my book is about, so I'm doing better than a lot of the slush. Go me!

:-)

Rik said...

Dear Ms Reid.

I'd love to tell you what my book is about, but you don't represent my genre. On the positive side, by reading your query information page I managed to save you at least ten seconds of your time - please spend this bonus time gift wisely, preferably on yourself.

Kind regards, etc.

Debra L. Schubert said...

So, let me get this right. You love the queries you're receiving - how clear they are in their conveying of the stories - you just wish they'd include a painting, sculpture or perhaps a box of chocolate, shark-shaped cupcakes?

Jen J. Danna said...

Josin: Love your query. The only thing you forgot was to mention that your book is a 'fiction novel'. ;)

Janet: I can feel your frustration, but I have to admit that between the cartoon and the post itself, I got a good chuckle out of it. Now I'm going to go back and reread the query I was going to send you later in the week, even though I know it says what the book is about. Don't these people read 'Query Shark'? I guess not or they would clearly know better...

Andrea said...

You look great Ms. Reid! That gun really compliments your dress.

hehe

Nathan said...

If you really want to hit the computer, you'll need to open those eyes.

Leona said...

I'm sorry you're frustrated, but this is good news for me :D I'm in final edits (which included rewritng second chapter and cleaning up first) on a thriller. A thriller I'm hoping to query you with :D. May run the query through query shark first...

Love the cartoon. I would like a copy of that pasted to my screen. lol

Tawna Fenske said...

I know a lot of authors get annoyed about having to jump through what they perceive as a useless hoop with querying and learning to succinctly describe their book in a couple sentences for prospective agents. I've gotta say, it's one of the single most useful skills you can have on the other side of the fence.

If I had a nickel for every time I've been prompted to briefly describe what my book is about for editors, chapter-mates, marketing folks, and people considering me as a speaker for their writers' groups, I would have a helluva lot of nickels.

Summarizing your book is something you have to do over and over and over after you've got the book deal lined up, so it's a skill every queryer would be wise to nail.

Tawna

Draven Ames said...

I am a first time author with a ton of family backing and a first novel. I paid out of pocket, with the help of many friends, to get it line edited. If you spend 5 minutes to call me, meet with me, or write me, I will have your next big novel.