Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leave the sugar for the ponies

I've noticed a disturbing trend in query letters recently.


Effusive ones.

Things like "I've noticed you have a fine reputation"; "you have a reputation for a discerning eye"; "several important people told me you're a good agent" and/or "you've drunk three editors under the table and lived to tell about it"

Don't bother.

We both know the score. You're a writer. I'm an agent. You want me to read your query. I want to find good stuff.

No hot-to-trot mating dance required.
In fact, it's counterproductive.

It's clearly made up horseshit blarney, and I've gotten over any kind of ego deficiency that would actually take such crap anything like that seriously.

About the only thing that doesn't make me reach for the barnyard shovel is if you compliment my clients' books (and it's clear you've done more than lift the title off the blog) or you've read enough of this blog to actually get something out of it.

Those I pay attention to.
The others just annoy me cause sucking up in so clueless a way makes it look like you think I'm a horse's ass too stupid for words.


Liana Brooks said...

You are, by all accounts I've heard, a good agent. You have a good selection of books that you've helped get on the shelves. There's a possibility the praise might be sincere at times.

The only failing I've ever noticed is the fact that you don't like sci-fi. It's okay. I still like you, Janet. I just won't query you.

Joseph said...

One thing I discovered while sending my queries was that I found myself full of nervous excitement and wanting to convey that in some fashion, including compliments or "cute" remarks to the agent. I didn't do it. But I wanted to.

Heidi the Hick said...

I feel like I must go out to the barn.

Eric said...

I've heard you've drunk three of your clients under the table. Is that wise?

I guess it's okay so long as you're footing the bill.

I'd challenge you to a taco eating competition any day of the week, though.

Sarah Jensen said...

I do understand your frustration, it must seem that many compliment to kiss up, and that may be, but I agree with Just Me. I think most do it sincerely. I don't remember back this far, but I might have been one before I started doing my research and found our the ins and outs.
I don't do that anymore.
But you need to remember, sometimes, we mean it.

ryan field said...

I agree with Sarah Jensen. In many ways, agent blogging has broken the fourth wall. And writers like what they read on those blogs. I would imagine the compliments are sincere...even if they aren't appropriate.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Getting Janet's attention...

Well, I bought a new Puppie! Pick 'im up Jan 24, one day after my birthday.(German short-haired Pointer... a huntin' dawg)!

Drinks are on me!

LOL, y'all pick which of the above will get her attention!

Haste yee back ;-)

BJ said...

Okay. No compliments to the nice lady in the query letter. Gotcha. Reading clients' books... not yet, but will be looking for Chasing Smoke, methinks... but I've teased Bill Cameron about marinating him in beer. Is that close?

Probably not, I'm guessing, especially since you're not interested in science fiction.

But I really have learned a lot about querying from you, Janet. Thanks!

laughingwolf said...

had to see this... your jog from the book roast

how many pay attention, and just prattle on?

Sage Ravenwood said...

I could see first time writers naivety drawing blanks as to what to write. It seems if they are serious enough to write the book, do the research for the book, then they would of researched query letters as well.

I've known some people that can't get away from the proverbial ass kissing. It's more of a question of insecurity than talent.

Promise won't compliment, will try to kill the humor fairy that lives within me...umm see now I'm running out of words as to what to say...ummm I'm going to go puke now *winks*...

In the end you live and learn. I have yet to learn, so we shall see. (Hugs)Indigo

Whirlochre said...

Irritating and unecessary pleasantries abound and all who utter them must be slain.

Any mileage in this as a motto?

Julie Weathers said...

Well, this is a two-edged sword. I've heard many people say you should personalize the query. This lets the agent know you have researched them and are familiar with their work and that they are not just a name on the list.

I'm not saying blow smoke, but genuinely, and briefly, state why they are being approached.

Is this wrong?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

no spakeling thingies? not even goat-shapped ones?

mbenkin said...

I'm with Ms. Weathers. Some agents of good repute blogged that query personalization meant the author had 'done their research,' and were therefore more likely to be the kind of bright-eyed, clean-cut, square-jawed, high-minded citizens an agent might consider taking on. Mostly I only say something when the agent has a good blog, because those are a service to community and mankind at large. (Except that guy who keeps calling authors "stupid." He gets the Bronx cheer.)

I don't mind doing the research, per se. What galls me is it takes six Firefox tabs to find out the agent is alive, sells books, is taking new clients, reps my genre, and isn't wanted by the authorities under her real name, Tallulah "Bloodsucker" Gerfangowitz. There's got to be an easier way.