Monday, August 01, 2011

Red flags in the query hoard

Incoming query:

I might be an author trying to sell a book, but I also have other tasks on my plate.  I simply cannot take the time daily to spend writing agents and publishers. ***

Given that it is 2011 and technology is sophisticated, I have chosen to put my QUERY letter on a website.



If I queried editors with something like that I'd be fired 40+ times in a New York minute. 

If you don't have enough time to query well, you don't have enough time to be published well.

I know most of you would never dream of writing a query letter like that, but you might be looking at all the guidelines and thinking "crap, that's a lot."  Yup.  And it doesn't get any easier.

Querying is your first step in a new profession.  This kind of query is like handing the Human Resources department a thumbdrive instead of a resume.  It makes perfect sense to you but it wasn't what we asked for. And that pretty much tells us what we need to know.



***it doesn't help to see it posted here either as well as hearing from a dozen editor pals about it as well

26 comments:

Eileen said...

I totally agree. I also think that if you don't have the time to do all the research what's the point of writing a query in the first place? It won't reach the people who really care. You have to find the people who care, not let them find you, because they won't.
I love the new blog layout by the way!

Deb Salisbury said...

Hot, hot, hot new look! Love it.

As to the non-query notice, all I can say is:
Oh. Dear.

Colin Smith said...

Wait wait wait... did this guy (in a gender-non-specific sense) e-mail agents saying that he's not going to e-mail a query but just give a link to it? Couldn't he have just e-mailed his query to all these agents? Am I missing something?

Laura said...

Seriously? Wow. Just, wow.

Janet Reid said...

Colin, yea the irony of that didn't escape us either!

Aimee L. Salter said...

*Snort*

The real irony is that you're the second one to put him / her in the spotlight as a What Not To Do case.

Have you seen Slushpile Hell today? The response there was priceless:

http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/post/8342894448

Janet Reid said...

yea, there's a link to it at the bottom of the blog post in teeny tiny letters!

Nancy Kelley said...

I showed this to a friend and fellow writer, and she said, "Obviously, they don't want to get published that badly."

You will find the time to do the things that matter. If you can't find time to do something, it does not matter to you. This is one of the basic laws of human nature.

Aimee L. Salter said...

You should have named the post "How to Commit Career Hara-Kiri".

If it weren't so sad, I'd still be laughing.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Dear writer:

I have received your communication of (the date writer's career went up in flames).

I might be an agent open for submissions, but I also have other tasks on my plate, namely the kind I get paid for, which don't include entitlement or abuse. I simply cannot take the time daily to bother with ill informed, overly precious writers.

Given that it is 2011, and technology is sophisticated, I have now blocked your IP. I have chosen to post this to my own blog, which gets many, many hits a day, just like others have done.

You're that astonishingly clueless. (You're also a hit on Twitter, but that's another blog post.)

BTW, this is a form letter. Have a nice day.

Melinda Szymanik said...

I love people like this - it just makes it easier for those of us who do take it seriously

Michael Seese said...

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the traditional method of getting an agent's attention...

The singing gorilla-gram.

Matthew Masucci said...

I figured that it's too much of a burden to put in a job application at every place I'd like to work, so, instead, I've decided to set up a site for potential employers to visit (since they have tons of time on their hands...).

#1Nana said...

But did you sneak a look at his/her website? I probably couldn't resist.

Joelle said...

What makes me laugh about this is the query is so...well...if you're successful, then it's just the BEGINNING of all those kinds of administrative things you have to do!

Leah said...

I have to admit, this made me laugh. No one who has a normal life HAS time to spend sitting, researching and emailing agents...it's a lot of work! And work spent doing that is work NOT spent on your next project.

But you MAKE the time, because how the heck else are you going to get your work out there, and ultimately, hopefully, succeed? If you're not willing to put in the work, then you're probably not willing to get much of anything done.

But that's just my two cents. And what's that worth...other than two cents... ;o)

Jane said...

Help me out here. The writer created a query letter and posted it to a website.

The writer then wrote this email and presumably emailed it to 100 agents.

Since the writer had already written the email, why did the writer not cut and paste the query letter that was already written and posted on the website?

I could understand if the writer had said, "I have no time to write a query letter, so my first three chapters are posted on at clueless-dot-com," but this is bizarre. He or she already cut-and-pasted once. Why not cut-and-paste the actual query?

wry wryter said...

It's like showing up for a job interview in your underwear.

"Hey, my good outfit is in my closet. Wana' come to my place and see what's hanging?"

alwayscoffee said...

That made me gasp out loud. And then my jaw fell open, like a cartoon.

No. Just no. Wrong. Bad. Completely arrogant and ridiculous. That's so...rude and unprofessional. *shakes head*

Cindy Little said...

Wow. And this person expects to get a response with that? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot or since this is a writing blog, stabbing yourself in the eye.

Rebecca Kiel said...

A snack for your shark:

Dear Agent,
I am sending this query for my work-in-progress. It is approx. 235,336 words and will be completed sometime next spring. It is speculative fiction with a romance element based on historical fact of the Underground Railroad. Everyone in my great-grandmother's assisted living building loved it and said I should be a writer. My contact info is on my blog. But please call after 10:00 pm when my parents are asleep.
Gotta go! LOL.
See ya'. :)

jjdebenedictis said...

Flames, flames to the side of my face...

No, wait. That's just the new blog background, not the query letter's effect.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Wouldn't it take the same amount of time to copy and paste a generic query into an email as to send out this message telling people to go to your site? This author isn't going for personalization, so what's the big deal?

Plus, this letter reeks of "I don't have time for this", which isn't the right message to send when trying to get into an industry that requires a lot of time.

brionywilliamson said...

I managed to find the website of this particular person (couldn't resist!) and --- yeah. It's exactly what I thought it would be!

Devon Sova said...

Oh, this was my laugh of the day. Thanks.

Terri Coop said...

Thank you Janet for this bit of improv comedy! The last few days have sucked and I needed to drop by the SharkFin Lounge for some stand-up. Pretty outlandish though and not all that believable . . .

::whisper whisper::

You are effing kidding me . . .

Reminds me of the guy in law school we nicknamed "The Unabomer" for his tendency to let loose with manifestos in class. He always said that law school was a waste of time and all he had to do was take the bar exam in New York, but had been prevented from doing so by [insert racist comment] ruling elite.

Nice to see he's decided to write a book now. It would have almost been worth asking to see a partial, just for the comic relief.

Terri