Friday, March 18, 2011

ahh, those shots to the foot, are they painful?

We've been working on answering queries here in the Lair.

Today we got this reply to the form letter we send not requesting pages:

Not a problem. thanks for getting back to me, no hard feelings but you probably will regret your decision.

The hard truth is, even if you own the NYT Bestseller list tomorrow,  I won't remember you. And I won't remember you because you didn't tell me what the book was about.

"Story" doesn't tell me if it's fiction or non-fiction.

No plot. No characters. No choices. No stakes. ...ok, maybe this isn't a novel.

No description of a problem and a solution. No mention of platform.  Hard to see if this is non-fiction.

Even if it was a topic I cared about passionately, this would get a form rejection.

You absolutely positively must  tell me what the book is about.


li said...

Loved your post title, and the "author"'s response was hilarious. Presumably you won't be losing any sleep over the bestseller you've just passed up?

Adele said...

Oooohhh. Why didn't you say so?

Melissa said...

"You probably will regret your decision" pretty much sums up the response of every guy I've dumped ... :O

A few went on to become millionaires.

(Nope ... still don't regret it.)

That's all I have to say about *that.*

Have a good weekend, everyone. :)

Christine Tyler said...

Nathan Bransford has some interesting entries on "agents who missed the blockbuster book." We don't know if it's the book and author that is intrinsically doomed to success, or if it's the timing and agent that get them there. We will never know.

Also, if that note does ever get anywhere, I'm sure there's an editor or two who is not going to regret not having to edit this guys work. If you're sending 2 (3?) sentences to an agent with that many errors...

Melissa said...


If every single literary agent had marketing superpowers insofar that he/she understood the desires of various reading demographics right down to the letter, there would be only one, and the rest would be done with mirrors. :)

Objectively, Yukio Mishima's "Temple of the Golden Pavillion" is one of the most exquisite novels ever written. More than 99.9 percent of the reading population would subjectively disagree.

Recognizing a well-written book is one thing. Knowing what people are willing to buy (and read) takes a lot objective distance.

Andrew said...

Not a problem. thanks for getting back to me, no hard feelings but you probably will regret your decision.

This sounds like a writer who can't tell the difference between self-confidence and arrogance. And if you have a tin ear for that rather important distinction, how likely is it that you're writing great prose?

(Capitalizing the first letter of each sentence in business correspondence is generally considered good form. Also, commas cannot replace semicolons and/or periods at their whim.)

K. Jackson said...

I'm getting the idea that this process is like the blind dating.

I can only imagine how that writer reacts when he is rejected by a date!

David said...

Damn you FEET! Why are you always getting in the way of my GUN! Argh! It's hard enough to fit my toe on this trigger! But...BLAM!

Oh... so this is Heaven?

No, sir. Not even close. Minions, ready the pineapple!

JS said...

Objectively, Yukio Mishima's "Temple of the Golden Pavillion" is one of the most exquisite novels ever written

You are using the word "objectively" in a rather special sense here, Melissa. "Objective" isn't generally a word used to quantify aesthetic assessments like "exquisite", and I think for good reason.

I am a big fan of Mishima's writing in general, and I think that's one of his very best books, but I am also pretty sure that my opinion is subjective, because there just isn't such a thing as an objective scale of exquisiteness.

Joyce Lansky said...

I kept waiting to read about your heel spur and the cortisone shot you had to get.

Since that's not what the post was about, I'll respond to the limping s.o.b. I'm sure there are folks out there who write so well that they bring fame and fortune to their hard working agents. And I mean "hard working agents" because this writer would no doubt be the biggest pain in the arse to work with.

Congrats on passing up a union with the next major headache!

P.S. Looking forward to slipping my query through a bathroom stall door near you . . . That is IF doors are better than floors. ;)


I adore the humor on this blog.

Sheila Cull said...

That's hilarious.

If you don't post this blog response you'll regret your decision because, well..., because. Um, let me get back to you on this one but you will regret it. (lol)

M.E. said...

Obviously this writer is unfamiliar with the game of publishing/agents/querying.

That was a low blow from the writer. Ugh!

Joanne said...

You think his writing is good, you should see his finger painting. I bet if you ask "real nice" he'll share them with you before the Smithsonian snaps them up.

JennaQuentin said...

I appreciate this little check list. I am not ready to send out to agents yet, but when I am, I'll be listening to my shoulder shark!!