Sunday, November 08, 2015

Week in Review part 1

I'm on the train from Boston to NYC right now, so the bulk of the WIR will have to wait till I'm back. It was a busy weekend at CrimeBake so I didn't get much done other than holding down my spot in the bar, and a great deal of writer tormenting.

To hold you over till this afternoon, here are the answers to Thursday's pop quiz:

Query Letter Quiz

All the answers are wrong. Which is the least wrong, and why?

1. The best salutation for a query is:
            A. Dear Snookums
            B. Dear Sir or Madam

A. It's always better to use the agent's name. It's NEVER correct to use B. If you don't know the agent's name, using the name of the agency is acceptable.

Example: Dear FinePrint Literary Management

2. The best way to start a query is a description of the book such as:
            A. My fiction novel is set at CrimeBake 2015.
            B. My story starts at CrimeBake 2015.

A. This tripped up a lot of you because you've learned "fiction novel" is an abomination. And it is. But at the very least, with "fiction novel" you know it's a novel.  "My story" could be fiction, non-fiction or memoir.  

3. When writing odd or unusual names which format should you use:
            A. Plxydcotrquarl ("Kip" to his friends)
            B. Plxydcotrquarl (the final l is silent)

A. Never demonstrate pronunciation in a query letter. I will not be reading it aloud anytime soon.

4. To make sure the agent knows the book is finished write:
            A. My book is done
            B. My book has been thoroughly edited, freshened, folded, line-dried and edited by the                                     divine Hank Phillipi Ryan herself.

A. You don't need to say your book is done because you better not be querying unless it is. That said, if it is done, don't tell me how you got it that way, no matter how divine your editor is.

5. When given a referral write:
            A. Barbara Poelle said you should read this book.
            B. Stephen King said you should read this book when I took a workshop from him.

A. Barbara Poelle is an agent. A very slithery one, it's true, but an agent. Thus, her opinion about what's marketable is of higher value than someone who is not. And let's just remember Stephen King hasn't written a query letter in probably 40 years. 

6. When comparing your book to others write:
            A. It's like Jaws but with whales.
            B. It's better than The DaVinciCode, and that sold a  lot of copies.

B. Jaws is a movie. DaVinci Code is a book. Comps should be books.

7. To make sure your work is protected include:
            A. The US Copyright Office TX number you got when you registered the copyright.
            B. © after the title

B. If you register your book with the Copyright office it snarls things up when the publisher tries to register it as a new book when I sell it for oodles of cash.  If you just use (c) it's less trouble for us.  You don't need to do either of course.  In fact you shouldn't.

Did anyone get them all right?
No fair going back to change your answers!


Steve Forti said...

Uhh... Jaws the movie was based on Jaws the novel by Peter Benchley.

Megan V said...

Blast Steve, you beat me to the punch! I was about to say the same thing.

But I still didn't get the questions all right. :) Thanks for a great quiz!

Donnaeve said...

Of course I didn't even try to be right, just to be funny.

Likely flunked that, too. :) Have a restful/safe trip home!

Dena Pawling said...

Okay I may be slow, but I thought Jaws AND The Da Vinci Code were BOTH books AND movies??

And I'm with Donna. I didn't try to be right. I tried to be funny. Probably because I wouldn't be right even if I tried. Then again, I tried to be funny and maybe I wasn't successful at that either.

On the other hand, it's definitely autumn here, which is wonderful =)

Have a safe trip home.

Craig said...

T'wasn't me. But then I am a writer and My Queen is an agent. Our logic streams run in different directions. Come to think on it my logic runs in different directions than most.

Hope it was a fun trip.

BJ Muntain said...

I don't think anyone got all the questions right. After all, everyone was sidetracked by the 'fiction novel' wording.

I think I did okay, though. Not perfectly, but then, when choosing between two bads, it's hard to find a good. I don't think I'm in danger of hurting my chances with a query letter, if I'm able to avoid all the wrong answers.

I don't think I've ever seen the full Jaws movie, more for time than for anything else. I'd read the book first, so didn't see why I had to watch the whole movie.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Thank god-shark that not only did the dog eat my homework, he ate the test too.
Out of all the people who answered the least wrong of the wrong I would have been the wrongest of the most wrong and least wrong of the not right wrong.
Anybody know how to fix teeth marks on a laptop.

Poof! said...

1) A marine biologist was interviewed after seeing the movie, "Jaws". It terrified him, he said. "Will you ever swim in the ocean again?"

"Of course," he replied, "but I'll never see that stupid movie again!"

2) I believe it was in the Letters section of Time magazine that one wag said the Jaws filmmakers used trained sharks in pools for filming certain sequences. The reason? It's a well-known fact that pool sharks never forget their cues. Something to keep in mind, eh, Janet?

As a swimmer, I will never read or see Jaws. I read DaVinci Code and thought it beggared ones credulity in so many directions. It did sell a lot of books. I'd like to feed it to a shark - in this case, definitely NOT Ms. QOTKU!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin ate my homework. Maybe it was Jaws(from the movie, not the book). and I had a heck of a kale hangover when I attempted the quiz. And I am never querying that fellow called Norman so he can't ignore me. So there.

Colin Smith said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was dead serious with my answers. Really. I'd much rather a nod from Barbara Poelle than Stephen King because a) Stephen King's a grouchy sod who won't reply to my Tweets and letters and emails and gifts and flowers, and b) I don't ever plan on querying Stephen King. (You are reading this, Barbara, Ms. Poelle, yes?) :D :D :D

As for Jaws... I tried to think of a way to get Janet off the hook on that one but, nope, sorry QOTKU. Ooops. However, I would say A) is the better answer because comp titles are supposed to give the agent an idea what your story is like. The fact DaVinci Code sold a lot doesn't say anything about your story.

Safe travels, Mighty Q. Looking forward to Review Part 2!

Ardenwolfe said...

Yep, the 'fiction novel' one got me. And yes, Jaws was a book first. :) I say I get a free pass on that one too.

Poof! said...

I think Jaws is deemed a movie because it was a smash hit movie. DaVinci Code had blockbuster book sales before it ever hit the screens. I am sure there are stats to show all this and I'm equally sure someone we all deeply respect knows where to find these stats.

And as far as my wanting to feed DaVinci to a shark OTHER thans Janet, it is because, well, frankly, she has better taste than that!

The Sleepy One said...

I'm absolutely the *last* person who should comment on other people's (potential) typos, but did you really mean:

"ficiton novel"

The quotes made me think you might have meant it, but you also say "fiction novel" in the same paragraph.

Note that I normally wouldn't say anything, but the shark has said its okay to mention spelling and grammar mistakes in the blog posts because these are linked to over time.

Debbie Dorris said...

I bow to the QOTKU. I got a couple wrong.

BJ Muntain said...

Ah, but Poof! Jaws was a best seller before it ever became a movie. According to Wikipedia: "by the time the film adaptation debuted in June 1975 the novel had sold 5.5 million copies domestically." The hardcover had been on the NYT bestsellers list for 44 weeks. So it, too, had blockbuster book sales before it hit the screens.

But movies tend to make bigger splashes than books do. So, forty years later (yes, it's 40 years since 1974/75), it's the movie that people remember, over the bestselling novel that preceded it.

Janet Reid said...

Sorry about the spelling. I forgot to run spell czech when I wrote this at 5am before crawling to the train station.

Also, when people use Jaws as a comp they always mean the movie.
DaVinci Code, they mean the book.

That might be too insider info to be playing fair on the quiz though, so we'll give you a pass.

Did anyone get almost all of them EXCEPT the comp question right?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ain't it grand that mighty Q is human too.

I beginning to think we should start a Church of Sharkentology. We are like a cult, sort of. Like high school friends, if one of you guys drove off a bridge, would I drive off?

Probably not, but it would make a hell of a "Troublemaker" story.

BJ Muntain said...

Besides the comp question, I got 2 wrong (the fiction novel one and the referral one) so I don't think I'm in the 'almost all of them camp'.

There are several who got 1 wrong (beside the comp question), and that 1 wrong was usually the 'fiction novel' one.

nightsmusic said...

I remained calm, cool and collected while reading everyone else's answers because I did not take the test. Test anxiety is just too much to bear if I don't have to. (Is it bear or bare? The jury is always out on that one.)

Jaws the book was fabulous. The movie was great, but missed some excellent things for the sake of entertainment. I don't swim in the ocean because I can't swim, but I've waded in, but don't like how my skin feels when I get out. Much prefer the Great Lakes. I did not read DaVinci Code, had no desire to, didn't see the movie. The suspension of belief was way more for that one than Jaws.

Amanda Capper said...

Holy Hannah. My learning curve sucks.
I'll do better on the next one.

John Frain said...

Unless you're grading on a generous curve, I flunked. Twice.

First, because I only got 4 out of 7, a paltry 57%. (I did read Jaws though, and your follow-up makes me wonder what other books are now more thought about as movies. I'm gonna guess The Godfather, even older than Jaws.)

Second, because I thought you were surreptitiously trying to find some humor to add to your query presentation at CrimeBake. Although I can laugh at my score and my logic, your class might not.

Colin Smith said...

*waves hand* All my answers were correct. Did you ask the right questions? :)

Colin Smith said...

John: That's actually a good serious question: How many movies do people think of before they think of the novel from whence the movie came? Jaws, definitely. I agree with you about The Godfather. I'd add The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins.

What others?

Ardenwolfe said...

Yes, if you take out the competition question, I only missed one. :)

Lance said...

I was way overconfident with my answers. Isn't Jaws with whales Moby Dick?

Janet Reid said...

Lance, yes indeed.
That's where I got the idea.

Lance said...

Another in a string of "Doh" moments here. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I got two wrong, or would have if I'd posted my answers-- the dreaded "fiction novel" and the comp question with its brag of "it's better than" being a big red flag. Never occurred to me that movies shouldn't be used for comps. I guess I figured a story is a story.

Interestingly, two of the questions I got right were not for the reasons I thought they were. Educational, as always, over here.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Gee, I missed one. The Jaws. I never read the book; but the movie scared the bleeeeeep out of me. I'm feeling confident this midnight.

Enjoy your train. Watch out for woodland trolls.

LynnRodz said...

I knew I was going to fail by being too literal and reading, All the answers are wrong. Which is the least wrong, and why?

I figured if you wanted an answer to each question, you would have written, All the answers are wrong. Which (ones) ARE the least wrong, and why? I think it may very well be a problem of being trilingual.

I did take the test, though, and given the comp question. I got one wrong. #2 (fiction novel) of course.

For #6, I knew Jaws was a novel before it was a book, but I hesitated because comparing a book that old is a no-no. Still, I figured comparing your novel with a bestseller that sold millions was even worse. (I'm glad you gave us that one!) Oh yeah, I thought of Moby Dick as well. I loved that book.

Tony Clavelli said...

I missed 3 (ah!) including the Jaws one (but assuming it was a book, I think it was the better choice). These were difficult, but fun! I like quizzes like this to keep our querying brains sharp. I'm probably still the better part of a year away from my next big query-session, but I will be prepared this time (instead of finding this blog halfway through the process).

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Ooo...That was a tough quiz. Even though I didnt write answers in my comment, I did get hung up on the "fiction novel" I have to unlearn the wrongs and make sure I do it all right unless I have to pick a least wrong...

Its okay, I think I know what I mean...

Anonymous said...

Some I just refuse to yield on. The pseudo Mayan name and copyright thing. I'll stick with the "Use names people can read theory" and "Don't inform an agent you copyrighted your masterpiece."

Anyone who has done a modicum of research should know this.

"The best way to start a query is a description of the book such as:
A. My fiction novel is set at CrimeBake 2015.
B. My story starts at CrimeBake 2015.

A. This tripped up a lot of you because you've learned "fiction novel" is an abomination. And it is. But at the very least, with "fiction novel" you know it's a novel. "My story" could be fiction, non-fiction or memoir."

QOTKU readers would think about the housekeeping stuff at the end of the query, though. So the my story start would be diving into the query, although it's a lame beginning.

You're making my brain hurt.