Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Night at the Question Emporium!

I have written a book. It is unpublished and undergoing revisions. My book was read by a former co-worker at a major national newspaper (circulation around 600,000). This co-worker was a book reviewer in my genre (she had a column for 8 years) and had many positive things to say about my book. Should I include this fact in my query letter to agents? Or is this just a snootier variation of “My friend read my book and loved it!”

I thought my instant reply of "fuck no/fuck yes" might be a tad too abrupt so I called in reinforcements.

Herewith, the colleague's replies:

"At this first stage, the work, not its accolades, needs to speak to the agent. Blurbs are fabulous- but can be discussed later." --Agent Who Looks Fantastic in a Unitard

"Unless this person can give a blurb ("[NAME], [GENRE] reviewer for [PAPER I’VE HEARD OF], says [TITLE] is a fresh new voice in [GENRE], and will appeal to readers of [FAMOUS AUTHOR],”) I wouldn't bother."  --Beth Miller (Writers House)

I would include it. I would say something like, "X, formerly the book reviewer for X newspaper (circulation 600,000) had this to say about the book: XXXX" Keep the quotation short and snappy though and leave out the part that you are friends.  --JennyBent (The Bent Agency)

"This wouldn't matter to me in the slightest. I don't need to know."  --Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (Nancy Coffey Literary Management)

"Vague, so it sounds like embellishment. All endorsements should include name and credential—if you’re wondering if it’s impressive enough, it’s probably not."  --Meredith Barnes (Lowenstein Associates)


ryan field said...

"This co-worker was a book reviewer in my genre (she had a column for 8 years) and had many positive things to say about my book."

The friend could be lying, which makes it pointless. If someone I know very well asks me to read a book they wrote I'm not going to say it sux.

Anonymous said...

I would only drop the name or publication if it had weight with agents. I agree with Jenny Bent about leaving out that they are friends. It seems to carry less weight that way. The unitard- sporting agent makes sense to me. Spandex or not,the work has to be in top form. That is what I want to convery in my queries.

Christwriter said...

Personally, I don't even trust the positive things my friends and family say.

Negative things? All over that like white on coconut rice. Positive things? Not at all. Because in the process I've discarded so many things that my family and friends have loved as "not good enough" that I can't be sure the good things have any weight at all.

So if I can't really trust what they say (when it's good) how can somebody who doesn't know them at all?

J.P. Kurzitza said...

This can be a double-edged sword. If your query is shit, then that reference at the bottom becomes the nail in your coffin.

But if your query is golden, then your co-worker becomes someone credible and you land a three-book deal...

Robin Ruinsky said...

I'm not seeing how this is at all useful. If it's included as "my friend said" than it's seen as an unreliable opinion. If the friend part is left out than the next question is how was an unpublished work in progress in the hands of a book reviewer from a major publication. That makes it sound manufactured.
Not seeing how this helps at all.

lora96 said...

While I'd be charged up to get a glowing endorsement from such a knowledgeable friend, I think as a query remark it is comparable to "my mom LOVED my book". As in, someone who likes me said something supportive.

Unless your friend is like, Stephen King or something. Then I'd use it just cause I'm pretentious.

Sasha Barin said...

Can I mention that my cat loves my story? I saw him curling up around the keyboard last night. He also had positive things to say about the taste of my mouse cord!

Unknown said...

Interesting to hear this question answered from varying points of view, Janet. Thanks!

Laila Knight said...

I love this. It hilarious, and I also agree that the story should speak for itself regardless of what the friend thought.