Wednesday, December 30, 2009

uh...ok, buddy, if you really insist

I'm not reading queries this week; I'm catching up on partials and fulls. I am however keeping my emailbox organized by putting all the queries in their own separate folder. That means I'm glancing at them to make sure they're queries, and not really for QueryShark, or replies to old queries, or something other than A Query.

So here's what happened today:

I received a query date stamped 1:10pm. It had an interesting title. I thought "ok, that looks like one I'll want to read." I glanced at the query and it was a total frigging mess. "Dear Sir/Madam", taglines, issues covered, themes covered, and godhelpus, an attachment.

Now, what did I do?

Pause for the theme from Jeopardy to play.

Did I (a) instant reject?
Did I (b) throw it away?

Did I (c) call up the author and berate him/her for being stupid?

For all of you who voted for (d) None of the Above, you are our Grand Prize Winner.
For exactly 72 minutes anyway.

What I did was put the query in my to be read stack.

And then 72 minutes later I got this from the same author:

Subject line: For those liiterary agents who do not even look at the work (sic)
Email: I am still writing 4 more books you will keep getting these queries about every 2-3 months block this email address I will use another one

And that author friends is when the query went to junk. I can and will forgive every single mistake in the query. I will coach you through the query process as much as I can bear. I will do damn near anything to help you if you are writing something I want to read. But I will not extend even a modicum of help for someone who threatens to spamquery me before I've even had a chance to read and reply to the first one.

Here's my guess about what happened: Author sent a pile of queries out today. He got a LOT of auto-responders saying "we're closed to queries till such and such and your query has been deleted."

He got annoyed.

He emailed while annoyed.

And he emailed everyone. Not just the auto responders.
He emailed everyone, including the (at least) one agent who was interested in his book.

The very definition of what-not-to-do.

A quick refresher: I make my living, my ENTIRE living, finding good writers and selling their work. I read every query. I WANT to read your query. But I only want to read it up to the point you haven't demonstrated you are an asshat. For some people it's sooner rather than later. 72 minutes isn't the world's record, but it's certainly the record for this week since I'm not even READING queries!


Terri Molina said...

Wow. I can't even think of anything to say about that author.

ryan field said...

I hope this one isn't serious about sending the same query with different e-mails. It can get very annoying. And they don't give up easily.

Jean said...

And stupidity reigns! Gee...

Steve Stubbs said...

You have my sympathy. At least this character made a beeline for the nitwit list without wasting too much of your time.

Be assured, there are those of us out there who appreciate you and would never behave that way. Maybe that can be some consolation.

Shelby said...

manipulative little cuss wasn't he.. too bad.

I won't do that (and wouldn't have).

Gary Corby said...

If your theory is good, then the autoresponders also deleted his irritated email and those agents will never know.

Aimlesswriter said...

If I ever met this author I'd want to clobber him over the head with my keyboard.
I want my agent-to-be in a good mood when they read my query not annoyed because they had to deal with the ungrateful meanies.
And I'd like to tell the author that agents owe him NOTHING! We send out unsolicitied emails to gracious agents who are very nice to even answer- he should count his blessings he gets a response at all.
Sorry for the rant but this is a pet peeve of mine. Why do authors spite themselves this way?

therese patrick, author said...

I bet this guy will eventually fall totally for the marketing spiel of a vanity press. Which is where he belongs if he can't play nice.

Furious D said...

That author's next book will be "How To Annoy Agents & Alienate Publishers."

While the temptation to send an angry e-mail is great, and I know because I've encountered some folks who could have used a digital tongue lashing, it's better to just walk away and have nothing more to do with them.

Better to be a forgotten rejection than a remembered nut job.

Julie said...

Asshat is such a great word. And that person deserved it. :)

Stephanie said...

I am shocked...speechless....the audacity of this guy. I am in shock that someone seriously acted this way. Didn't his mother teach him any manners??? Does he think he's going to bully an agent into reading his work??? Uh...doesn't work that way.

Unknown said...

Wow. Derp derp derp.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Never ever ever email when one is ticked. But, why would anyone sending a query do just that?

I just found your blog. I have a lot of reading to catch up on.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

AssHat Query School


Rectal Polyps


Haste yee back ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's never occurred to me to bully an agent into representing me. Brilliant!

Josin L. McQuein said...

First, I can't even imagine someone sending a query over the holidays.

Two, in the event that someone sends a query over the holidays, I can't imagine them actually thinking it would be read anytime during those holidays.

Three, why would someone get so bent out of shape over an auto-response reminding them that it's a holiday season and they need to requery later? It's not like those responses are an indication of the work. If anything they're a courtesy to the authors so they know not to expect a definite answer. The agents could just as easily delete all incoming emails without that courtesy and leave the author wondering. (or assuming that an unread query was a "no response means no")

And the nastiness of the response is so far out of proportion (and sanity) it's not even funny. Blackmail by threat of spam isn't exactly a wise move. All it does is make the agents go on the look-out for his books so they don't have to deal with him.

Maybe the Shark should write a book about all of those gems from the slushpile. (Not bad queries, just the things like this.)

Laura said...

If the email is any example of his writing, the title was maybe the only good thing about his book. He just saved you some time. ;)

Laura said...

Also, I don't think I've EVER heard this as a "how I got my agent" story: "I insulted and harassed her, and she couldn't wait to read my work!"

Rachel Hamm said...

I'm amazed that someone has the balls to send an email like that! I can barely work up the courage to send out my query!

And I think Aimless Writer makes a good point. Why would this guy want to piss off every agent before they read his query and the queries of every other hopeful writer asking for consideration from an agent? Just shows to me yet again how stupid some people in this world can be.

Janet, if I ever query you, I promise I'll behave! :)

Ronda Laveen said...

It is too bad he ruined this good opportunity. There is so much information to be found on the internet about finding an agent and making a query. As you pointed out in an earlier post, it pays to to do your homework.

_*rachel*_ said...

Blackmail via spam? Nah, just include relevant martial info in your bio. "I'm a black belt former Navy SEAL with a PhD in medieval torture devices," is a lot more convincing than, "I'll spam the living daylights out of you."

What a lovely feeling, to know all thing things one could be guilty of and won't be.

J.D. said...

May I have his email? I'd like to buy his title.

Leona said...

I'm with the others. Wow, not a good idea. That was one I picked up without having to know anything about the industry :D

I, too, promise that if I query you, and I'm finally getting close enought to say I probably will be soon, I won't be an asshat (love that word). LOL

Also, you previously linked to cake wrecks regarding a charity to fire victims. I want to applaud you again. My great Uncle died in a fire Sunday. He died in his doorway. Someone had been in his house less than half hour prior. Please, everyone, make sure your alarms are working and that you have good pathways to exits. Those precious seconds count.

It's the new year. As a former firefighter, I implore you all to check your batteries, put up carbon monoxide detectors, anything to give you those few extra seconds/minutes that mean the difference. It's a better use of your time during the holidays than annoying agents :)

L. T. Host said...

Dangit! I always miss those questions where you're supposed to think outside of the box.

I think what cracks me up the most is that he could only contain his fury for 72 minutes. I like to imagine his morning went something like this:

8:40 AM: Hits send on query.
8:41 AM: Pulls out cell phone, slaps on table.
8:42 AM: Makes toast, a poached egg, and coffee.
8:57 AM: Sits down, flips open the NYT, turns to the book review, reads.
9:07 AM: Chases dreams of glory in his head while he eats.
9:25 AM: Looks up at the clock, checks cell phone to make sure it isn't on silent (for the third time).
9:30 AM: Taps his fingernails on the table.
9:35 AM: Counts to 30 in his head, twisting the newspaper into a tight wad while the veins begin to bubble and pop on his forehead.
9:35:30 AM: HULK SMASH!!! The chair is down!
9:36 AM: Remembers psychologist told him to share his feelings when he's frustrated or bothered. Remembers incorrectly what that actually means.
9:37 AM: Flips open laptop and begins to type furiously.
9:48 AM: Deletes cuss words, insults to your mother, and threats to have his magically-inclined sister-in-law curse you.
9:52 AM: Hits send, again, on the "nice version".
9:53 AM: Janet is annoyed and perplexed.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I knew not to query during the holidays. Now, I wonder if agents will be barraged with queries during the first couple weeks of January, and it's better to wait a little longer(present blog host excluded of course).

Unknown said...

You know, sometimes I think I'd love to be an agent. I love books. I love writers. I love helping people bring out the best in their writing.

And then I read a post like this one, and I'm glad I'm not an agent. You have my sympathy.

à la vanille said...

Talk about ruining ones chances. This is why patience is such a key thing in this business...

Flower said...

I let out a loud laugh when I read this post, and my four year old said, "Mommy,'re too loud."

Janet, I wish you rep'd my genre. I love your personality!

Daphne said...

Am I the only one that SO WANTS this jerk-nugget to read these comments and think, "Maybe I shouldn't have done that?" Seriously? In whose world is that a good idea?

Deep River said...

The silver lining is that you won't have to explain why he isn't getting that 6 figure advance.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I wonder if he reads your blog? It's really a shame. He might of had a shot at a partial. Always think before hitting send!

Sandra Cormier said...

Leona, I'm so sorry for your loss. I checked my smoke detector, Janet!

Mari said...

I was so surprised with this "curious" behavior that I shared this on my blog, and on twitter, and... Oh, that's it.

Leona, my condolence for your loss; terrible thing what happened.

loveskidlit said...


But I do think that posters who believe said commando querier might read this blog, any other publishing blog, or even the NYT are giving him waaaaay too much credit!

Vacuum Queen said...

Wow. Unbelievable.

Aren't you just a wee bit tempted to post the query with contact info to the world? I mean, I know you wouldn't actually do it, but perhaps in a late night crazed fit you just might?

I would.