Thursday, February 26, 2009

Did you think this was a good idea? It's not

I'm working my way through the incoming query letters tonight and there's some very good stuff to be found indeed.

What puzzles me though are people who send a query letter that is largely a review or a synopsis written by someone else. I see this a lot from people who have submitted work to contests. They start with "and my novel was nth out of n+100 and here's what PW had to say about it."

The purpose of a query letter is to read YOUR writing. I know the editors at PW can write. I also know they aren't looking for agents, and they're really not looking for agents for YOUR book.

Write your own damn query letter. All of it.


Rachelle said...

Yeah, I just opened another query that quoted extensively from another agent's pass letter. Sheesh!

I can't wait to get one that says, "Janet Reid LOVED my work and here's what she said!"

Sarah Jensen said...

Thanks for the late night laugh! Both of you!

So if Janet Reid ever loves my work, I'll send you that letter Rachelle.
I have to finish a book that Janet would rep. since right now, my finished mss are not on her (or your) radar.

But I am writing one. LOL

Samantha Elliott said...

At least they're not saying their moms loved it and quoting them extensively?

~Sam (Bringer of the Silver Lining)

Whirlochre said...

I confess to being the least informed of imbeciles, but with the gamut of information now available about querying, it seems odd that your time should be wasted by people who eveidently haven't even read your blog before badgering you.

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me how many writers try to find ways around writing their own query. I'm not looking forward to it in the slightest, but I know it's something that I have to do.

Anyway, thanks for the laugh :)

Jo Treggiari said...

No one ever said writing is all fun and games. I sort of like writing queries now. You learn the correct way to do them -largely thanks to sites likes this one- and after that it's not so excruciating. I think it's a small price for being able to do what I love.

Tana said...

I guess if I had PW review my book I'd be likely to mention it. esp. if they something good to say. (I'll politely omit that from my query to you Janet)

Jon said...

GAH,so if Janet Reid says I'm funny and charming in her rejection letter to me, I can't use it in my next query? Sheesh, y'all are hard to please!!

(kidding, of course!)

Stina said...

I guess I'd better go now and delete the part about my cat loving my book. At least I think the claw marks meant she liked it.

mkpelland said...

I'd never let someone else's words sully my query. No one can tell my story like I can - just try and shut me up!
Thanks for the excellent info, though.

ames said...

Someone was asking me for querying advice the other day, and when I said to invest solid time reading agent blogs (right after she told me she'd just completed her "fiction novel") she pish-poshed me.

(She also told me that even if agents don't ask for exclusives you should never query more than one.)

Apparently all this valuable AND FREE information available still can't fix a nimrod.

Marjorie said...

I had sent query letters that later were unrecognizeable to me. I was able to conclude they were submitted through automatic writing. I always saw under my name the signature of Jack Mehoff. I spent some time trying to find the guy because he really talked up my book proposal... but he was harder to find than Judge Crater.

gael lynch said...

Fired up! I love it. I HATE writing queries...but I know it's a no pain, no gain kinda thing!

Julie Weathers said...

Query letters aren't easy, but the writer is the only one who knows the heart of the book.

"Yeah, I just opened another query that quoted extensively from another agent's pass letter. Sheesh!"

Yes, the next time I go looking for love I'm going to regale my prospective beau with why other guys think I'm fabulous, but don't want a date with me.

Anonymous said...

Now there is an idea I've never had. Hmmm, what are writers hoping to accomplish by this?

ames said...

Julie, I had a former roommate who actually used that tactic with guys.

Needless to say - it didn't go over too well.

BJ said...

Dear Ms. Reid;

I've sent this query to several agents, and have always got a great response. One agent said, "Interesting idea, but I wouldn't know how to sell it." Another said, "Well-written and clear, but not my genre." A third said, "Wonderful imagination, but even a children's agent (like myself) can tell you the genre is not spelled 'erootika'."

For some reason, none have yet requested even a partial, but I have faith in you, Ms. Reid! I know erootika isn't listed in the genres you represent, but I really think you'll like it.

I hope you've enjoyed this query letter. The manuscript is waiting for your request!

A. Novice
(soon to be a best-selling author!)