I got to the end of the query, saw "manuscript" and "word count" but no, that would not deter me! No no! I donned my SuperQueryShark cape and swung into action.
Hi guys (the non-gender specific use of the word)
For non-fiction like this, you need a proposal, not a finished ms.
1. Do you have a proposal?
2. If you do not, do you know what one is (many writers do not, it's ok)
3. If you do, send to me as a word .doc attachment.
4. If you don't, and you don't know what one is, let me know.
5. If you don't, and you do know what one is, I need one (see item #3)
Questions? Of course you have questions. Fire away
Some 48 hours later, a reply landed in my mailbox. It practically quivered with gentility.
As we tried to explain to you in our initial query, TITLE is historical fiction, usually defined as fiction based upon historical facts whose main character is fictional.
I could hear her socks knocking as I read.
And sure enough. The initial query didn't try to explain. It was a bald-faced statement at the start: THIS IS A NOVEL (caps are mine)
I can just imagine the scene when the querier got my reply.
Email bell pings.
Reply pops in mailbox.
Querier opens email.
That dawning dread of realization that Something Is Very Very Wrong Here.
Is the agent insane? Has she lost what few marbles she had?
Was the query (oh dear godiva, what if OTHER agents think this??) unclear???
Hurriedly examining query.
Yes, it's right there at the top of the query: A NOVEL.
What to do???
1. Email agent to suggest remedial reading lessons?
2. Email agent to suggest she is a dunderhead and should consider work as a box of rocks very soon.
3. Reply to email with "um, it IS a novel, you dunderhead."
4. Pretend the agent is not a dunderhead, and perhaps just maybe, she forgot to read the first sentence.
Should this happen to you, that an agent has clearly missed something important (as in this is a novel, not non-fiction) this querier's example is the one you want to follow:
1. She wrote back.
2. She did NOT say "you're wrong"
3. She did not say "you dunderhead" although clearly that was the case.
4. She did not put A NOVEL all in caps as though to say "you dunderhead."
5. She called my attention to the fact this was a novel, without telling me I'd made a mistake.
In other words, she handled this like a pro.
And boy, am I glad for that, cause I feel like anything but.