Saturday, September 01, 2012

Chum Bucket Results 9/1

I love doing this. I just love it so much I might have to keep it going. I have a feeling it can't last forever but it sure is great now.

I really admire and respect that for all five rounds of this I've not yet had one person write back to tell me to stuff it. I know it's part of the deal, but some of you are getting responses that are damn direct, and not what you hoped to hear. It's to your credit that you don't reply in that first burst of anger and hurt. Thank you!

One of the other things I really love is that the conversations often turn to completely off-the-topic-of-the-query. For example tonight I talked with writers about:

mountain bike gears
The Waffle House
pig pickin'

My first apartment in New York

italics in queries (DO NOT DO THIS)

sweet tea

and this was a light night. Labor Day weekend accounted for some of that I'm sure.

Here's the run down:

26 total queries

confusing: 1
writing not ready for publication: 2
(these are the hardest emails to write.)

no plot: 6
antagonist sounded boring: 1

not my thing: 15
--supernatural: 1
--sff: 3
--too Indiana Jones; 1
--refer on: 1
--women's fiction: 3
--paranormal romance: 1
--connected short stories: 1
--too dark: 2
--cozies: 2
--BDSM: 1

needs work: 1
query one agent here at a time (even with different projects: 1

No requests for fulls tonight. :((

Questions? complaints? Suggestions?


Anne-Marie said...

I have what might seem like a bizarre question but it is about genres. What do you do when you don't actually have a recognised genre, or when you have elements of a few genres but not actually something that fits neatly into one?

My novel series has a romantic element, but is not a proper romance (it breaks some core rules), has family drama/saga qualities, and is not old enough (70s,80s, 90s) to qualify as historical fiction. I call it rock and nostalgic fiction because it is about a rock band and starts in the late 70s, but those are not yet recognized genres. Is it advisable to place them as such, or should i just go with mainstream or commercial ? Thanks for any guidance you can provide.

Scribble Orca said...

This was a lovely informative and unshark-like post. Thanks, Janet.

Now can we beg, cajole, harass or otherwise tempt the shark to tear up some queries over in the other chum bucket on query shark, please?

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Janet Reid said...

Orca, I'm glad you mentioned QS because I thought a post had gone up today. It had NOT, it was saved as a draft. Instead of my planned snappy comeback now all I can do is swim off in shame. But there is a new post at QS to distract you!

MV said...

Thanks for your brutal honesty about my query. I was thinking it wsa some kind of psychological horror. So kudos to you for helping me fix my genre problem. You nailed. As always you rock shark lady!!!

Elizabeth Naranjo said...

Why is it not okay to use italics in a query? Mine starts with two sentences in italics; I used italics because the sentences are from the book. Thanks :)

Janet Reid said...

Thanks for your kind words! I'm in awe of the Chums for responding so graciously to the "brutal honesty."

Jess Crockett said...

I love reading the chum bucket :) You put so much time and effort into this sort of thing - thanks!

wjmtv said...

I came here yesterday to ask a question, and got distracted by the awesomeness that is The Chum Bucket. After a night to ponder, I've decided I still need to ask my question.

My novel was picked up by an agent in 2005. Over the two years of the contract, I spoke with her maybe 3-4 times, and each time she said the market was in flux, she was waiting for the right person & the right time, etc. At no point did she indicate to me that she'd actually shown it to anyone.

The experience was disheartening and I admit: I wimped out for a while. But I'm ready to climb back in, so I find myself with a problem. At what point do I tell a new agent this saga? In the query? Or is that too presumptive? If/when I send requested material?

Or am I stressing over nothing, because any editor she may have talked to in 2005-07 has long since moved on?

Or should I dump this book and finish the WIP?

Michelle said...

I love reading these posts. It's both great to know how much agents care and how awesome authors themselves can be even in the face of rejection. I certainly hope they keep going on forever!

Adam Berenstain said...

Confusing querier here. Please allow me to remove my professional clip-on tie and (blood?) gushingly add my voice to your praises. Thanks so much for this blog, QS, and your brutal honesty. And keep swimming, fellow queriers!

Scribble Orca said...

Alright, distracted.

It's miserable not being able to query the chum bucket. Although it's fun to see that you get a bite out of doing this and your chum don't get stuck in your throat.

Melanie Conklin said...

While I have not had them pleasure of chumming it, I think your experiment proves a point some agents/pub people may have forgotten: writers like feedback.

I imagine it is quite easy to feel like writers cannot or will not accept the truth when you spend your days trolling chum-filled waters. I cannot believe the queries I hear about through twitter and agents blogs, and I'm routinely shocked by the bad behavior ascribed to some aspiring writers.

But I have a tremendous amount of faith that the stinkers agents sometimes encounter are NOT representative of the vast majority of querying writers. The writers I've come to know through twitter, my blog, and as CPs are earnest, hard working folk who are desperately searching for the straight feedback that will push them to the next level. Feedback is critical. It's one thing you cannot generate on your own. Even Stephen King uses beta readers, after all these years, because without creative input, a book cannot be its best.

So, while it may be surprising that none of the chumees are fighting back, I'm not at all surprised. Aspiring authors know their place in the chunk-filled water, and they do not expect to escape it without swimming vigorously. And an encounter with a shark is really good motivation to swim.

FoolPlusTime said...

Elizabeth Naranjo: Don't start your Q with sentences from your book. Really. At best, you have 50 contextless words which an agent has to scroll past in order to find out what your book is about (remember, plenty of agents use iphones to check their email).

If the success of your Q is dependent upon these words being included, you need to rewrite your Q.

Check out somewhere like Absolute Write for query critiques (the critique forums are behind a password so only members can access them. There's a 50 post minimum for starting new threads to prevent drive-by posters exploiting the community, and to give new members a chance to get used to how it all works.)

Scribble Orca said...

Aha! I just had the most awful experience today - and I have a query out of it! Now the only problem is - I have to write the book.

Will you chomp off my fins if I query you with the query on Saturday - even just to see if it would be the sort of thing that would make your sharkly self quiver with interest?

Janet Reid said...

Scribs, so, if it DOES make my sharkly self quiver with interest, and you don't have a book ready...what happens then?

I'll tell you what: you write back "oh it's not finished"

I say something soothing like "well, ok, no harm no foul, let me know when it is"

and I put your name in the file of people I watch for email from.

time passes.
Circumstances change
publishing changes
what I'm quivering about changes.

your novel rolls in.

And the sharkly self reading it then is not the one responding now.

This is querying for real at the ChumBucket. Don't query if you're not prepared to send it THAT MINUTE if requested.

If you want to know what someone thinks of an idea, go to a writing conference.

I'll be at CrimeBake, Backspace and Houston Writers Guild in the coming two months.

Colleagues of mine will be all over the map.

Impatience can kill a lot of things. Don't let your project be one of them.

Scribble Orca said...

Janet, you are the best. I have to say it. The BEST.

Thanks for letting me know.

I'll wing it (meaning write it without knowing) because living in Singapore means those conferences aren't an option - unless you ever make it to the Frankfurt Book Fair?

If you're still accepting chum in December I'll give you first right of rejection :D.

Janet Reid said...

Scribble, somehow I think (a tiny bell is going off in my brain) that there are online writing conferences...that might help.

Keep your eye peeled.