Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Dispatches from the Query Queue

Late last week I finally got to reading the incoming queries I'd flagged for more careful reading.

My preferred practice is to go through my incoming queries as soon as I can and reply as quickly as I can. Most of the time I know yes/no pretty easily.  The nos are the easiest to see. Yeses often need an extra look. Thus, I flag them, and return to read after some time has passed.

Sometimes on that second read I wonder what the hell I was thinking. Most often though, the query holds up and I ask for the full.

Thus, last Thursday night I chased my new minion out of the office (the good ones have to be forced to leave most of the time,) and dove back into the query queue.

And there was one that I'd flagged just cause I liked the writer's stylish presentation of himself. 
And because I didn't want to just blindly say no to a 280,000 word novel.

As Jenny Bent said quite recently "sometimes this business kicks the certainty right out of you. And maybe that's not such a bad thing."

And quite by chance that day I'd gone over to Amazon to copy and paste the flap copy for George RR Martin's first book in his Game of Thrones series.  The book is what? 284K or so? Yup, about that.

So, I asked for the full.
280K words.

And what is your takeaway from that?

What I try to remember to tell you as often as I can: you learn the rules, but you don't have to always follow them.  You learn them so you can break them on purpose if you choose, not by mistake cause you don't.

And how in the hell do you get me to request a tome of this size?

Well, some of it was timing (George RR Martin and Jenny Bent)
Some of it was stylish presentation (the query)
Some of it was the concept of the novel.

And most of it was the writing. It's good writing.
And I'll leap tall buildings in a single vault to get my hands on good writing.
I'll leap tall buildings AND elbow my slithering colleagues aside for good writing.
I'll leap tall buildings, elbow my slithering colleagues aside AND let you break every rule in the book for good writing.

Now, back to work. I have a lot more reading to do now than I'd planned on.


Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by all of this. From the length of the book, (just for kicks, I divvied 280K by 250 to get the approximate pg count - 1120!!!) to your comment about this person's writing. Whenever I hear someone who reads tons and tons of material, who sees more writing styles and story concepts than a good chunk of us, state, "It's good writing," makes me want to know what that writing looks like. It's all about learning.

LynnRodz said...

Yes, it's Supershark, strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal agents. And I would leap tall buildings in a single bound to find one like you.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

My stupid Game of Thrones question affected somebody's life? That guy owes me a Coke.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Stephen, it's amazing how significant our seemingly insignificant remarks are sometimes. If all goes well I'd say that writer owes you a hell of lot more than a coke, 15% maybe. Just kidding, 20%, front row seat at the premiere and first born child might work.

Amy Schaefer said...

There are no tricks, there are no shortcuts, there is no secret handshake. It is all about the writing.

But still, 280k? Woof. That is the sort of thing I would definitely buy for my Kindle instead of in paper. Far too heavy to hold comfortably.

Andrea van der Wilt said...

Thanks, that makes me feel (a lot) better about my own 145K first novel. Scared off by several agents saying they don't read anything above 100K or 120K from a debut author, I tried to split it into two novels but that obviously left me with two halves of a story. Pity you don't represent my genre. I'd almost consider writing crime fiction... but instead I've decided to stick with it and write another novel in the meantime. (And as a reader I just want a good story, long or short, I don't care)

Elissa M said...

I am a devourer of epic fantasy. 280k? Meh, that's a burger and fries, not a banquet. But a juicy, thick charbroiled burger with all the fixings, and heavy-duty wedges of spud with golden deep-fried crusts and tender steaming insides.

I search bookstore shelves especially for debut fantasies with spines well over an inch wide. I figure if the publishing professionals involved all thought they could make money off such a tome, it's bound to be good. I haven't been disappointed yet.

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

Elissa, have you read Brian McClellan's PowderMage books yet?

Elissa M said...


I will put them on my list immediately. Thanks for the tip. :)

Verna Austen said...

great info! alacrity... I love that new word I just learned!

Liz Mallory said...

Hearing stuff like this is always so encouraging!

Karen said...

I have to say this really gave me a boost. My first novel came in at around the same, if not more. Because I kept hearing over and over, no one will even consider looking at it, I cut it into three books. It has two natural breaks, so it might have been easier to do than some others may have found, but if I had my choice, I would like to present the whole thing as one. I read big books and love them; and I know many others who do as well. I knew it had to be possible!

Taramoc said...

Thank you! My first novel is 210K words, and I cannot tell you how many agents refused it right out because of that (some told me they didn't even finished reading the query letter once they saw the word count).

It's refreshing to read this, even if I can't query you, being my novel fantasy.