Monday, March 25, 2019

Things I Used to be Nicer About

1. Absurd word counts
Honestly, if you've done any preparation at all for your new career as a writer, you should realize word count is something to pay attention to.

If your novel is 25K or 225K I'm not going to explain this to you because you're so sure you're an exception to the laws of profitability you won't listen.


2. Describing women by how they look with nary a mention of character.
I'm done with this. 100% done with this. I'm not going to explain myself. I'm going to pass.


3. Telling me you're ignorant about how publishing works.
The internet isn't a new toy.
Research isn't a new fangled app.
There are books, apps, blogs, and people who will come to your house and tutor you one on one.

Querying while ignorant doesn't work. I'm not going to explain that. I'm sure as hell not going to coach you.  I'm going to pass.


4. Failing to mention that all your previous books are self-published.
Did you think I wouldn't notice?
Pass.


5. Being unable to use the tools of the trade.
If you don't know how to use word processing software, attach docs to an email, and use email, I'm going to pass on your written query. We're long past the point where this is something new.


6. Pitching multiple books in one query. 
The purpose of the query is to entice me to read, not tell me you have a book.

Understand the difference.


Do I sound testy?
I am testy.
I know the readers of this blog would never do any of the things on this list, of course; I'm just venting after some not-so-quality time in the queryfields this weekend.


The Duchess of Yowl objects in the strongest possible terms to this jpg


24 comments:

E.M. Goldsmith said...


Your majesty, might I offer you a bottle of aged Scotch and a cupcake to soothe your frazzled query tooth? I can send my kid right over - she could be your personal bartender for an hour or two if you need.

Hoping the query trenches get better in the next weeks.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

It was an odd week here too, in ministry and with family. I'm blaming the time change (which my body seems to NOT be adapting to quickly enough), the full moon, and the spring equinox. Yesterday, I took a beautiful walk in the cemetery with a young friend, ordered a grilled burger for supper, and had wine.

I'd recommend E.M.'s suggestion for you too! We want you raring to go into those query trenches. Not frustrated.

K OCD said...

Sorry you're so frustrated! I so know what it feels like right now. Fiance's just passed on his bad news: they told him (and others!) at the last minute that his contract won't be extended (he'll be jobless by next week).

We moved to Montreal after the Paris attacks in 2016. We moved to Calgary one year later for better luck with immigration, but nope. We moved back to Europe to his home country (England) to get a job. We're still waiting for what's going to happen with Brexit and what that means for me as a EU-citizen.

Now I'm waiting what will be next - and we've got furniture since very recently. I'm so done with all this...

I hope everyone will have a good/better start to their week :).

Katja

Nathan Holland said...

Scotch is always the correct answer in times like these. Lagavulin 16 year is an excellent option.

I pray your week improves. Sometimes a vent session is all it takes to get the ball rolling.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

Katja ... I feel for you. Nothing is more stressful than moving every year or two plus constant uncertainty.

Janet ... Your words make me even more grateful to the agent early in the querying process who took the time to tell me that 50K was too short for an epic fantasy.

Lisa ... So it was the full moon and equinox that were responsible for all my troubles! This Spring, those actually coincided with a unit on the earth & moon that my kids are studying. Would have been grest, but clouds blocked our view of the Super Worm Moon.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

*great

Aphra Pell said...

Commiserations on the frustration, but I love rule 2 and I love you even more for having rule 2 as a red line.

Katja - I'm sorry to hear you are caught up in the complete and utter flustercluck that is brexit and about your partner's job. I shall cross everything that this is the end of your bad luck.

nightsmusic said...

Katja, so sorry about what's going on with you. Hoping for wonderful outcomes for you and your fiance.

Janet, I don't blame you for being testy. In this age of knowledge at your fingertips, there's no excuse for not following the most basic of instructions.

I need to prune my grapevines this year. I don't know that the former homeowner ever did. They're horribly overgrown. I've never done this before, but you better believe I have been researching how to do it all winter. There's no difference with querying.

Claire Bobrow said...

Count me as another fan of Rule #2.

Hope things improve for everyone this week, and beyond.

Leslie said...

Yikes. It's sad that people who take the time and make the effort to write a novel and seek out agents don't know basic etiquette/rules/common sense.

Katja fingers crossed & prayers sent for a change of luck this week!

K OCD said...

Thank you SO much, everyone, for responding to my earlier comment - you guys do make me feel better :)!

Yes, the Brexit thing... This week, OMG... I'm following the news closely and at the moment it seems as though things change every minute. EU now saying they have completed preparation for a no-deal, and no deal would be the worst for me/us.
Government saying they could ignore MPs vote.

We'd also thought we should become hubby & wifey this summer. We'd planned on going on a cruise for that - just him and me - since we don't want a (big) party - and who with if you move around so much, always leaving people/friends behind... Of course I'd have invited The Reef, but hey, I won't ask Fiance for a nice dress now that there won't be work, and I can't go in me jeans, can I ;).

Not sure if I want to leave the UK now, anyway, without certainty that I can come back in the summer. Also, I like it here now; made some new writer friends in my town and nearby.

Oh well, if I did drink alcohol, I'd probably have a scotch now.

Thank you again, all, you rock!!

Katja

Adele said...

What a lucky thing that my novel is so good these picayune frustrations do not apply. I'm sure your Sharkliness will jump through hoops for a chance to agent my 250,000-word dino porn fiction novel. From prologue to epilogue and all the little logues in between, it is a masterpiece. Here's a link to where I put it up on the internets for you to read - but don't wait! - go and read it now because I'm taking it down again at midnight. You snooze, you lose.

John Davis Frain said...

Hey, a new word! Fustercluck, which sounds like a ferocious battle with unprepared query writers. I love it. Thanks, Aphra.

I suspect people who haven't take the time to learn how to query probably haven't taken the time to edit their ms. Because, if the first draft is so brilliant, why revise? I understand that pass.

NLiu said...

Sorry you've been having a frustrating time, Janet. Are you still on speaking terms with the DoY after that D.O.G. picture? (Speaking? I meant petting and adoration, of course, Your Grace.)

And Katja - that sounds terrible! Sending you hugs, and hope things improve when there is (finally) some certainty with Brexit, whenever that happens.

Will MacPhail said...

I've seen other agents on Twitter with similar complaints and it always blows my mind that people actually do and say these crazy things. I always wonder if they're real. I'm not an expert in publishing but I know not to label my manuscript YA when it's clearly not, just because that particular agent is looking for it. What?

Steve Stubbs said...

That is one of the reasons we all read this blog. Not only is it entertaining and enlightening but none of us would make these idiotic mistakes.

We make idiotic mistakes that are not on this list.

Happy first days of spring.

julie.weathers said...

I suppose it's time for me to start working on a query since it takes me so long to get one relatively correct. At least I have a solid list of do and do nots to check off when the time comes.

D.H. said...

Regarding 4: I thought we weren't supposed to bother mentioning other publishings if they didn't sell a certain amount within the first year regardless?

So I've self-pubbed some stuff, it didn't do great in the first year, do I still mention it despite being a (sales-wise) spectacular failure?

Do I name the publisher if there was one, like a smalltime publisher?

JanR said...

Adding a late cheer for #2. That will make anyone testy. I hope there was at least one gem among the rubble of the weekend, Janet!

And Katja, hoping some better news for you very soon, what a rough ride your last three years sound like. You made me google “jeans wedding” and there are “About 1,040,000,000 results,” just saying :)

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


These lists from Janet always make me remember Randy Pausch's Last Lecture.

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are there to stop those who don't want it bad enough.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

"And all the little logues in between"

Love it!

This is why we don't include a prologue AND and epilogue ... they start reproducing!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

"We're long past the point where this is something new" is something I run into a lot at the library. And while I don't take age as an excuse (my grandparents are in their 80's and have kept up just fine), there are definitely rural issues that I try to keep in mind (some places still only have dialup, and it's very bad dialup....the cable company refuses to run them internet). Even so, a lot of the population we serve is conversant, or tries really hard, etc. But the ones who don't really want you to know it. I'm not talking about "I don't know this and want to learn but haven't been able to yet" I'm talking about proudly declaring "I'm a luddite!"

And the number of people who ask "when will the library offer a class on [X technology thing]" and then, if we do offer said class....never sign up.

Karen McCoy said...

If only it was possible to save people from themselves...

AJ Blythe said...

Katja, I hope you get some good news soon.

It seems too much chomping makes for a cranky shark. Hadn't realised there was a threshold. Perhaps the Reef need to collectively send their queries to you. At least then you would be able to sigh with relief that there are rule-following writers.