Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Button man(uscript)

I thought I'd seen every tomfool piece of nitwittery in queries writers could come up with.

This one today though, this one takes the cake, then runs off with it to boot.

Here's the rundown:

We're all on mailing  lists of one sort or another, right?

And if you get on a list by mistake, most companies don't want to annoy you so they have a "safe unsubscribe" button at the bottom of the email.

As you might imagine, I get on a few mailing lists by mistake, and I know how to unsubscribe bippityboppityboo.

Yes, today I received a query sent via a newsletter mailing house. I'm pretty sure the writer uses this for her other career (one that depends on a lot of outreach) and she wanted the query to "look nice."

It might have been a good newsletter but it was a bad query:  black font on gray blocks. Nicely formatted but pretty hard to read. And cause it's a template, no copying and pasting (it pastes as an unformatted block o'text.)

Exhibited a complete lack of understanding about what "fiction" and "essays" meant too.
And just to keep me on the straight and narrow path, the letter itself said "Copyrighted author submission." (I wonder if she'll send me a cease and desist takedown notice for this blog post?)

And in case you're thinking "wow this sounds like a spiffy idea, and a great way to make my query stand out" think again:

1. the email address is not yours. It's from the mailing house.
2. It's unforwardable (the formatting doesn't survive and you have to go through the mailing house to do it and that requires giving them another person's email address--a real no-no)
3. And plain and simple: it's not what I asked for.  If you want to ask me to read your book send an email, not a newsletter trying to look like an email.

BUT, the real reason you never EVER want to do this is, that's right, the unsubscribe button.

I clicked it.

The last thing you want to do is have me opt out of hearing from you ever again.

Please just follow the damn directions.


nightsmusic said...

Though you don't rep my genre and frankly, you scare me a bit as well, I've learned enough from reading you to wonder why anyone in their right mind doesn't. Read you. Because you're instructions for querying are clear, concise and unless there's something a specific agent states, universal. So this was a *headdesk* for me.

Rosalind Sinclair said...


Julia Bade said...

Thank you!

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

I am baffled by people who know enough about the internet to format a fancy newsletter thing in email, but not enough to navigate over to the agency website and follow the submission guidelines. Completely baffled.

Most agencies instructions are clear, concise, and reasonable. I could just cry. But then again, people like that make my proper query (even if it isn't perfect) a lot more likely to get some eyeball time from the agent who is simply relieved I followed their instructions.

Wry Wryter said...

bippityboppityboo ?

It gives me great solice to know that when you were little you watched Cinerella. I'm not so afraid of the shark now.

A dream is a wish your heart makes.

Nighty night little shark.

Lisa Spangenberg said...

Have you been following the parade of "query service" sites? Querylyzer is the latest. They all seem incredibly wretched and poorly thought out.

Janet Reid said...

Lisa, I had not but I googled. 15cents per query, and blog that congratulates a writer for being picked up by the agency that "represented Hitler."

I don't think any more needs to be said.

John Wiswell said...

I'll echo Laura - I don't know how someone could know so much and yet still know so little. How painful.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Laura Hughes, it's not just query guidelines that don't get read. Clients rarely read the info on my site. I'm generalising, but the art of listening, observing and common sense seems to be disappearing. The shark makes lots of writers nervous. Janet, your work is done.

KayC said...

While shaking my head at the lengths some people go to - I must admit I often get my daily giggle from the stupidity of others, and your delightful way of describing their idiocy.

Thank you for continually lightening my life.

Bonnee Crawford said...

I do not understand why anyone would risk going outside of the submission guidelines for an agent or publisher or anything!

Wry Wryter said...

Lisa and Janet, I also googled the site. Scary huh. Looks like for Hannible Lecter.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I know. If Ms. Reid and her brethren changed their query guidelines to "crayon on brown paper bag," the only question I would have is, "will the 16 box suffice or should I invest in the full 64?"


Jan Rider Newman said...

Terry Lynn Coop--LOL, I so agree. After so many rejections when I do stick to the guidelines, why would I shoot myself down at the get-go by ignoring them?

Dianne said...

I received a reply from you..probably because I said I was impressed you frog-jumped over other agents in your enthusiasm to sign new talent. You said something humorous back. It still was a rejection and you didn't say anything about my book...but it was great to get a response and not just yawning silence. So thanks.

Natasha Fondren said...

Ah yes. Thank God for the copyright notice. My favorite today was an author who won't even give me the title for fear of piracy. (Book designer, need the book to give a quote.) I had to come by and soothe myself with some sanity.

Do you know of an instance of a publisher or agent or book designer stealing a book and publishing it themselves? I'm told it happens "all the time," "as I know." So I've been Googling and hoping to find one or two or more examples so I can say yes, it happened that one time, or it happened twice out of 3.7 million submissions, but I'm having trouble finding an example. Help?