Monday, August 22, 2011

Nominee for Least Effective Query of the Year Prize

A printed book.
No cover letter.

A sharpie inscription: I need a publisher. Author initials. Phone number.

Can you spot all ten errors?

I'm tempted to say the best answer in the comment column wins this book...but then realized no one would enter if that was the prize.

Best answer wins a book from my shelves. 


Matthew Delman said...

1) It's a full MS
2) The book is printed
3) There's no cover letter
4) There's an inscription
5) The inscription's in SHARPIE
6) The author wrote their initials
7) There's a phone number, assuming that you'd call
8) There's no salutation to you
9) The "author" is making a demand
10) You have no idea what the book's about without reading it.

-- Those are all the ones I could think of.

Dana Kaye said...

I think I'm up to the challenge!
1) A printed book means it's been self-published
2) Never send an unsolicited full ms (or self-published book)
3) Query letter required. No query, no agent.
4)All submissions should be done via email, this was via snail mail.
5)All correspondance should be typed, not handwritten, especially not with a Sharpie.
6) Query should include an email address AND a phone number
7) Query should include the author's full name, not just initials
8) You are an agent, not a publisher. If anything, it should say, "I need an agent"
9) All queries should be professional, which is clearly is not. Not professional and a little creepy.
10) All queries should follow the submission guidelines, which this clearly did not.

How did I do?

Lauren said...

1. They sent a printed book.
2. They wrote on the book with a sharpie.
3. There was no query letter.
4. Initials only and phone number remind me of spam mail from Nigeria, except in paper form.
5. They did not address you by your name.
6. They did no research to see if you were a viable fit for them.
7. They did not look at the FAQ on your website for your query instructions.
8. They clearly need way more than a publisher. They need someone to teach them about the book business and how the query process works.
9. There was no description about the book or why you should even bother to open it.
10. This reeks of desperation and laziness.

Kayla said...

1. It's a full MS.
2. There's no query.
3. Handwritten inscription.
4. Written in a sharpie of all things.
5. No cover letter.
6. It's printed. Sent through regular mail instead of emailed.
7. No greeting to the specific agent.
8. Only initials instead of name.
9. Assumed you would read and call.
10. No email address.

Valentina Hepburn said...

All the above and ~
'You need a career adviser.' Agent initials, phone no.

Jude said...

Also sent during query hiatus period.

Rick Daley said...

1-10. This person is a dumb-ass.

Melissa said...

10. Sending a bound and printed -- published -- book in lieu of a query.
9. Failure to tell you what the book is about, its genre, or its word count.
8. Failure to provide any information about the book's sales. Heck, it might be selling like hotcakes... but you don't know that.
7. Failure to follow even one of your submission guidelines.
6. Failure to beat himself soundly with a clue stick before "querying": You're on query hiatus!
5. Failure to personalize the submission or even to address you by name.
4. Failure to give you any author information. Like his name.
3. Wrong color Sharpie. I mean, everyone KNOWS agents respond only to red Sharpie.
2. Arrogance. He's too busy to follow protocol. After all, he's a published writer.
1. Sending bland, tasteless chum to a shark.

Marisa Birns said...

1. No query letter
2. Instead of sending first several chapters, sent book
3. And, actually, no MSS. Book shows writer self-published
4. No synopsis
5. Handwritten inscription
6. Inscription shows writer didn't bother to find out your name. Again, needs to have sent typed letter
7. Writer needs agent - not publisher - if sending to you
8. No full name
9. No address
10.Lack of research, and learning how to act professionally, does not inspire confidence or interest

Allan Petersen said...

1. Chose Sharpie instead of crayon
2. Did not send intricately designed bookmark with book
3. Forgot to take hidden safe key out of book binding
4. Book bound in animal hide, does not conform to PETA standards
5. Neglected to add area code to phone number
6. Packaged book with extremely annoying styrofoam pellets, and not super fun bubble wrap
7. Book packaging addressed to Janet Jackson
8. Author dog-eared pages where he wrote handwritten notes praising his own prose
9. Unprofessional "personal" photograph used as picture for author bio
10. No SASE

jesse said...

1- this is not technically a query, which means the author can't follow directions
2- you are closed for queries anyway, till oct.
3- you didn't request a full
4- it doesnt start with, "Dear Janet, light of my life,"
5- no word count
6- no genre
7- no idea of conflict/stakes
8- no mention of character
9- no thank you for consideration
10- and there isn't even a bottle of fine scotchFTP make up for 1-9

christwriter said...

In David Letterman Style...

10. Non-standard manuscript format.

9. It's bound (please tell me it was perfect bound because that much wasted effort would absolutely make my day)

8. Missing contact information. Full name, address, email address, and blog 'fo are not immediately accessible to agent.

7. There is handwriting

6. It is not personalized to the individual agent.

5. Did Not Do The Research is strong with this one...query guidelines have not been followed.

4. Author has displayed symptoms of being self-entitled.

3. Author has displayed symptoms of being an asshat.

2. This is not a query. It has jumped the query process, the query shark, and a whole lot of little sharky cousins and sisters, by going through a ring of fire amid roman candle pyrotechnics while "Like a Boss" plays in the background.

And the number one problem with this query is...

1. None of this makes you want to read the goddamn book.

Angie said...

I think the only thing I could add is that they sent a brick and not an electronic query.

Did you use it for toilet paper?

Amy said...

Did they include the Sharpie? If so, it's the best comic relief the Reef's had all week + free office supplies which could be refashioned into a blowgun for tranquilizer darts if need be.

Stay positive, Shark Queen.

You can call me Evan Gregory said...


1. Sent you a redundant and insulting note. If you're worth your salt as an agent you should recognize a best-seller right away.

2. Left a phone number. Agents prefer that you provide a link to your website instead.

3. Forgot to include marketing plan.

4. Forgot to include screenplay adaptation

5. Forgot author photo.

6. Forgot to include pages of unfinished sequel.

6. Forgot promotional t-shirt and beer coozy.

7. Did not deliver all the above to you in person, at your office.

8. Did not insist on meeting with you right then.

9. Did not offer to give a dramatic reading of the work.

10. Did not cry when you declined.

Anonymous said...

1.) Didn't start with "Dear Snookums."

2.) Probably broke your computer by cramming a bound book into your e-mail inbox - though I'm damned impressed by how he did that. (I'm assuming the book was in your e-mail inbox because everyone knows you don't accept snail-mail queries.)

3.) Says he needs a publisher. Doesn't say he needs an agent.

4.) Says he needs a publisher like this is supposed to be news to you (as opposed to, say, what every single person who queries you wants).

5.) Includes phone number but forgets to add, "Please feel free to call collect."

6.) Didn't spell out his name, so now you don't know whom to chew for breakfast.

7.) Didn't laminate book to make it withstand salt water.

8.) Book not printed on shark chum.

9.) You're closed to queries at the moment.

10.) Never ever read even a tiny little bit of Query Shark.

Leila said...

1. Unsolicited manuscript is an invitation recycle.
2. Author initials mean nothing, as the 'book' could have been written under a pen name.
3. Only a phone number means the agent has to contact the author to berate them (if you so wish) - ewwwww!
4. No acknowledgement of your position and experience as an agent.
5. Unable to read or follow directions as put forth by your submission guidelines equals circular filing.
6. Yes, you can read the handwriting - it's telling someone else typed the manuscript.
7. Assumption that you will read the book makes an 'a$$' out of them.
8. The lack of professional correspondence indicates unprofessional behavior on behalf of an individual desiring to be published.
9. Sharpie's are to be only used when signing one's own work.
10. Never send an Agent a bound book.

Daisy said...

You guys aren't thinking this though-- if you tell people not to do these things, what will we do for entertainingly outraged blog posts? Therefore, my list:

1. Only sent one copy of the book, instead of the usual twelve.

2. Did not include hand-drawn cover art with extensive disclaimer about copyright.

3. Insufficient exclamation points in request.

4. Used Sharpie instead of glitter pen.

5. No live animals included in package.

6. Cover letter makes no mention of moral bankruptcy of the publishing industry and everyone associated with it.

7. Didn't specify what time of day is best to call.

8. For safe shipping, all manuscripts should be packed in at least three pounds of confetti.

9. Lack of subtle threat in cover letter means it might not go to the top of the reading pile.

And, obviously:
10. Sent via mail instead of hand-delivering and waiting outside while you read it.

Robin Weeks said...

1. Just one book? Series are hot now. Should have sent the whole series.

2. Lacks confidence in his writing ability or he would have provided back-cover copy.

3. Obviously the cover art wasn't note-worthy. Should have hired a cover artist. Wasn't his grandkid available?

4. As mysterious as faceless authors are, it's hard to send one on tour.

5. Author bio mysteriously absent. Probably just being humble, but since when is humility a good author trait?

6. Black sharpies show lack of creativity. Should have used red or hired a calligrapher.

7. Writing on books only encourages others to do so. Can't have that.

8. "I need a publisher" seems like an obvious contradiction and doesn't bode well for his plot. He's already got a book. Why does he need a publisher?

9. As tedious as it is, we should all learn to sign our full names. Such laziness will never fly at contract time.

10. Calling the phone number will only result in an awkward conversation where the author demands that you spell out all the reasons why YOU are the perfect agent to find a publisher for his book. Doesn't he know you'd rather beg by email? Humiliating an agent over the phone might be fun, but is hardly the way to win friends. Doesn't he want to be your friend?

jjdebenedictis said...

1. The book does not need a publisher; it's published. Look--spine, typesetting, everything. We're done now, right?

2. Yeah. We just wanted to say thank you soooooo much for taking the time to read our submission guidelines.

3. There's no personalization to the agent. How do we know this wasn't meant for Barbara Poelle? In fact, it probably was; best forward it to her.

4. Inadequate contact information. The name on the cover could be a pseudonym, and the initials could be a Rowling-like clue to the writer's true identity--one that must be unravelled by clever minds, but won't be, because it's 7PM and the clever minds are more interested in going out for drinkies, thanks.

5. Inadequate contact information, part II: Why, in our post-cocooning, anti-socialist paradise, would anyone assume that a stranger wants to call instead of email them?

6. Or--here's a thought--not call or email at all. Perhaps your SASE is cunningly hidden between pages 296 and 297? Yes? Is this another game, like with the initials?

7. No blurb. Really, people; how are we supposed to crush your dreams efficiently if you don't summarize?

8. it fish or fowl? Fiction or non-fiction? Romance or horror? Quantized black holes in anti-deSitter space-time or elf-porn? Hmmmm?

9. We're not gonna count the damned words ourselves.

10. And finally, could you be any lazier? You ignored guidelines, you jotted off a cypher instead of a letter, you self-published in the first place when apparently you wanted something more...? None of this bodes well for you being a reasonable client.

Anonymous said...

1. Didn’t address you as Mistress Janet
2. Book was printed in his/her own blood
3. Sharpie was in pink which pissed you off
4. The initials were F.U.
5. Next to the phone number it read: For a good time call
6. Doesn’t know the difference between agent and publisher
7. Misspelled I and said Eye need a publisher
8. Forgot to include a picture of his schlong to make into the hall of fame as number 1 worst query ever instead of just a nominee (I am assuming it’s a guy here because really what woman would have a picture of her schlong pre OP)
9. Phone number wasn’t all numbers and read 714.555.SUCK
10. The book cover was hand illustrated by this person’s cat and it reeks of feline stink

Sass said...

1. Who wrote the book on how not to get published? (full author name and contact info, typed on email not scribbled on flyleaf.) Preferrably addressed to you by name.
2. It's called a query letter. Oh and don't forget the synopsis or 1st 5 pages pasted in body of email.
3. That's one way to flirt with a literary agent... Here's my phone number... I think writing it on the bathroom wall might be more long-term. That book has a date with the paper shredder.
4. Full unrequested MS makes great coaster for scotch glass, but makes for one annoyed agent.
5. Kill the electrons, save a tree, give literary agents the E... mail.
6. There's no address, email or otherwise, to send the rejection letter to. You could always call and read it over the phone. That great one you posted the other day would be perfect...
7. If it's already in print, you, dear author, obviously know how to self-publish, therefore the publisher is Yourself, so why the hell do you tell a literary agent you need a publihsher?! Might I suggest a mirror?
8. Awww, how cute! An author who can't (or didn't) read and follow rules on a website. Why would an agent feel confident binding an author to a contract if that author has already demonstrated an inability to follow simple instructions? An author who can't read is a bad author.
9. Hand-written = decoration for your recycle bin! Pity they didn't pick a pretty Sharpy color!
10. You didn't say how this excuse for shark bate delivered book: Did they find you with a big sign on your beach umbrella reading closed for submissions until 10/01??? And for shame, they didn't even have the decency to buy you a drink after you read them the rejection letter!

J E S S I C A said...

1. No personalized greeting.
2. No genre.
3. No word count.
4. No synopsis.
5. MS instead of sample.
6. Insufficient contact info.
7. Not emailed / weighs (I presume) over 16oz. / no SASE (ha!)
8. They've self-published.
9. You're not a publisher.
10. You're on hiatus.

Please tell me author initials are T.O.O.L.

Patrick DiOrio said...

You sighed, counted to ten and shitcanned the thing. Game over.

Kirsten said...

1. The cover depicted a really ugly frog in cowboy boots and a thong.
2. Font used is Curlz MT, with emphasized dialogue in Giddyup Std Bold.
3.The prose reads like a blend Finnegan's Wake and The Lip-Smackin Joke-Crackin' Cookbook for Kids.
4. The main character's name is Ranet Jeid, a donut wearing tapdancer with a passion for poodles.
5. The book is 567 pages, and includes pop-up illustrations by James Frey.
6. He sent companion Spark Notes, published by Ellora's Cave.
7. His headshot bears a strange resemblance to Abraham Lincoln, also shot in the head.
8. The author has included his middle initial, unfortunately making him W.T.F.
9. The phone number is to a live "girl" chat line, though you suspect an adam's apple in that voice.
10. The book has RIKERS ISLAND LIBRARY DISCARD printed on the spine.

Rena said...

I think I found ten.

1. A
2. W
3. F
4. U
5. L
6. Q
7. U
8. E
9. R
10. Y

Yup, that covers it.

Susan S said...

The book should have been hand-delivered by a shirtless bodybuilder riding a unicorn and carrying a box of cupcakes in one hand and a fifth of hundred year-old single-malt scotch in the other.

Then, and only then, would you be willing to overlook the (1-5) lack of query, word count, plot summary, author name, and contact information, (6) submission of an unrequested (7) full MS, (8) in print instead of email, (9) requesting publication rather than representation (Note: the fact that the book is already printed suggests what (s)he really needs is a clue), and (10) failure to recognize that the inscription should have opened "O Great Query Shark, Humbler of the Obnoxious and Promoter of the Great...or, failing that, "Dear Ms. Reid"

Josin L. McQuein said...

1 - They forgot to address their correspondence to "Dear Snookums".

2 - It obviously came as an attachment, as including a book in the body of an email is next to impossible thanks to the lousy "notepad" conversion errors that pop up.

3 - It was intended for someone else, as you aren't a publisher.

4 - I'm fairly certain Sharpie fumes count as one of the volatile substances one isn't supposed to send via the postal service.

5 - Since initials are involved, I suspect this may not be a whole person. (Disregard this one if those initials were J.K. followed by Rowling)

6 - It's misrepresentation of facts as, rather than a publisher, the writer obviously needs a computer with Internet access which would allow for emailing capabilities and blog reading to find query guidelines.

7 - I'm fairly certain that a printed book exceeds the "one page" guideline for initial correspondence (ignore if this book was a single page, folded in half to make a leaflet).

8 - They have now supplied you with a blunt object that will no doubt be flung across the room at an unsuspecting wall, possibly taking out a few godsends or a herpat American, and frightening the Slithery one all the way from her office when said object makes impact.

9 - They obviously underestimated their personal paper needs, as they had enough sheets to print the book, but not an extra one for a cover letter.

10 - This is August. The package should have arrived on the first day of April for this to make any sense at all.

Deb Smythe said...

Errors? What errors?

1. A printed book will save the publisher the cost of 1 printed book.
2. Also, a MS is just bunch of loose pages, while a printed book looks like, well, a book, so you don't have to imagine how great it will look in the bookstore.
3. Why would you need a cover letter...?
4. Or a query? The book speaks for itself. Really, there's a press and play button on the back.
5. Sharpies have some great colors, like purple. I mean, who doesn't like purple prose?
6. The writer needs a publisher. You know a lot of publishers. Book speed dating- easy peasy.
7. If the author has some cool initials, like I.P. that would be totally cool. Otherwise, he might consider going the single name route like Cher, or Madonna.
8. The author didn't include an email or snail mail address which was smart. Really, who wants to be deluged with agent emails?
9. Don't worry, the author will call you.
10. Maybe the author should have included a self portrait and a bottle of gin, but the bottle might have broken and ruined the pic and the book.

Marsha Sigman said...

Only one...he didn't send it to the slithery Barbara Poelle.

Bill Cameron said...

11. It's a pirate copy of The Da Vinci Code which has been run through Google Translate a few times.

Bonnie C said...

OMG... wheezing with LOL! Well done, y'all.

Mistress Shark, you are planning to frame this... "submission" with the winning Top Ten list, yes? I have experience framing shadow boxes if you need some assistance. Just sayin'.

wry wryter said...

Did not include cupcakes, candy kisses and diet coke; can’t writers get anything right?

Stephsco said...

Just wanted to add the post and comments are hilarious.

Here's to hoping the sender will wise up and spend a few months reading publishing blogs, then he or she can try again the right way. I can only imagine how many submissions in the slush are from people who are oblivious to the wealth of info on how to do this right.

James said...

Forgot to include the SASE indicating where to shove it.

Jared X said...

A rare (1), limited first edition (2), first printing (3), signed (4), numbered (5), hardcover (6), slip-covered (7) copy of the book in the original dustjacket (8), in fine condition(9)?

And the author just gave it away in the mail (10)??!!!!

That just hurts me right in the heart.

Becky Mushko said...

You are going to write the phone number in the stalls of a number of New York restrooms, are you not?

You'd be doing the author a favor because, after all, many publishers use the restroom. You could include a brief note: "I desperately need pubbing" or something like that with the phone number.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

In order of importance:

1. The author either didn't check or didn't heed the agency guidelines.

2. With no cover letter, the submission wasn't directed to a particular agent.

3. No indication of genre, so no way of knowing if the work is something your agency represents.

4. The point of a submission is to hook the agent and make them want to read more. Nothing about the brief communication does that.

5. No query letter and therefore no indication what the story is about. The assumption that an agent is willing to read an entire unsolicited manuscript is pure hubris or abject ignorance.

6. A printed book would indicate either a self-published work or one out of print with the rights reverting back to the author. In either case, the project has the appearance of being unsuccessful (if self-pubbed and successful, why would the author be looking for a publisher?)

7. Submitting a printed book gives the impression the author isn't planning on making any edits or revisions.

8. Author didn't provide a SASE.

9. Leaving a phone number is presumptuous.

10. A sharpie? Did he think you wanted his auto-initials?


Anonymous said...

I need a publisher. Author initials. Phone number

I need a publisher like I need a hole in my ass. Still, I scribble my number on a napkin stained with cheap booze--I’ll buy the good stuff after the movie deal. I add my initials, practicing the whorl of the ‘R’ I’ll use when I’m a bona fide author. “Call me, doll. You know how to call, don’t ya?. You pick up the phone and—“

“Blow.” And at that, she stood up, straightened her skirt and walked out of my life forever. What a broad. A guy could write a book about a dame like that. Maybe a series. Course, then I would need a publisher.

What? This isn’t one of those contests? Damn.

Anonymous said...

I had WAY too much fun doing this. ~Ali

1. No query letter. That’s like “No ticket” in Indiana Jones. Open door, toss person out.
2. Never send an unsolicited manuscript, unless it is hand-delivered by Jack Reacher. And he’s also bearing WHISKY.
3. No word count. I mean, really. That’s just rude. Now you’re going to have to go through it and COUNT the words. Sheesh.
4. There is no indicated category – non-fiction/fiction or genre. Clearly, this belongs right next to Snooki’s book. That is to say…a perfect doorstop.
5. The book is, most likely, self-published. Therefore, the person HAS a publisher – just not the one they’re after.
6. You are not a publisher. You are an agent. That is like telling a writer you need your a dictionary. It doesn’t quite make sense.
7. The author not only failed to address the, er, Sharpie inscription – but also failed to use the proper phrasing, which is “Dear Snookums.”
8. The person signed his/her INITIALS. If you do like the book, what are you supposed to do? Call up and ask to talk to BS?
9. There were no accompanying cupcakes.
10. The author failed to take into consideration one of the cardinal rules: never get involved with a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line! Er, also – the author failed to explain that he/she is The Next Big Thing.

Steven Ranney said...

1. I
2. need
3. a
4. publisher
5-7. Author initials
8. Area code
9. Exchange
10. + 4

BP said...

Ha. AHAH. *snorkels* What's wrong with that query? I mean GOSH...where do we START?

1. It
2. Is
3. Not
4. A
5. Query?

or what about:

6. NO
7. NO
8. NO
9. NO
10. NO

Hahaha :D This was great. BUT OBVIOUSLY, the reason they sent this is because they are trying to get into the writers worst hall of fame and Slushpile Hell hasn't responded in they were getting desperate...and they just knew they'd get a whole contest dedicated to them if they got REAALLLY crafty and they'd end up on your site. BECAUSE. They weren't ACTUALLY trying to sell you on the book...were they????

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I’m sorry. I can only find six errors:

Sharpies are just so out of style with agents and editors.

Treating an agent as a servant is not nice at all.

Upsetting an Agent’s pet shark is rude.

Pent up anger is released when these thing appear in the mail.

Inventive queries sometimes work, but this one lacks inventiveness.

Doofus! Did you really thing this would work?

Jo-Ann said...

I suspect the author has been sniffing sharpie fumes...

wry wryter said...

James 5:16
Yours is the best comment evah'

Word verifcation: butfil
Is that funny or what?

Edward Champion said...

1. Subject has clearly confused "girlfriend" with "publisher" -- as those who are locked up in small rooms are known to due after the twelve year mark of confinement.

2. Subject has failed to steal the appropriate writing utensil from the nurses. When so many Uniball roller pens and golf pencils are being abandoned and underused in 21st century American life, why settle for the permanence of a Sharpie? Especially when you can steal glue and rip out random letters from newspapers to TRULY creep out the person getting stalked! Thus, subject has failed to demonstrate the appropriate degree of legerdemain and ingenuity required to send the appropriate message.

3. When sending a printed book, it helps to actually write the printed book in question. But even in sending another person's book, surely the copy of James Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE was NOT appreciated by the agent, especially since Joyce's masterpiece has already tormented untold thousands of grad students and has caused at least four agents (and seven of Joyce's acquaintances) to die of exhaustion and/or cardiac arrest. When stalking an agent, it helps to put the fear into them that will literally take years to comprehend.

4. Subject's 1-888 phone number, lacking a traceable area code, doesn't exactly spell devotion. It screams instead: "I'm borrowing this line from some entrepreneurial buddy of mine rather than paying the thirty fucking bucks to Verizon to activate this motherfucker." Stalking should represent a serious commitment. When your phone number can be easily confused with some travel agency operating in Tijuana, chances are that you aren't especially serious.

5. On second thought, the Sharpie inscription was a bad idea. Subject should have inscribed the note in his own blood.

6. Oh, come on, subject, did you really expect us to believe that XOX represented legitimate initials? Who names their kid Xerxes or Xavier these days? Maybe one of those comics geeks, but no REAL stalker! And why on earth did you position the initials on the page to easily confuse agent with your effort to convey hugs and kisses? Token familiarity in a different context ALWAYS creeps the object of your affections out!

7. Subject could have selected an alternate verb that didn't smack of such desperation. Need? Really? Given the confusion identified in Point 1, why didn't the subject write "I want to tie up a publisher" instead to demonstrate true commitment to creepiness and thus clear up true intentions so that there would be a clearer trail for the police to investigate?

8. Subject: The fact that you managed to squeeze in this week's winning lottery numbers into the telephone number's seven digits demonstrates that you are not fully committed to the art of stalking.

9. Subject: Nearly all authors are word prostitutes. And the cover letter perpetuates the myth that there is some modest veneer between art and commercialism. You made the mistake in fudging the line. This is a bit like failing to bring a rubber to a sex party.

10. In hindsight, the considerable amount of Styrofoam nuggets that subject used, all of it damaging to the environment, was not a good idea. If you're going to destroy the environment, at least create some reasonable safeguards to ensure that your materials will be passed on to another.

Laurel said...

I cannot enumerate the ways this is a turd in the punchbowl. Or Minnie Pearl at your cotillion. It just is. If Emily Post had a chapter on submitting manuscripts, this would be NOT in it.

So, no. I cannot spot the 10 errors. My sensibilities weep for mercy at the first 5 or 6.

Soup to nuts, a white-hot mess. That is all.

Steve Stubbs said...

Jetreid: "Can you spot all ten errors?"

Ans.: "Yes."

Do I get my choice of books?

Colin Smith said...

Apologies if I have repeated what others have said, but here's my take:

1) The author tried to bribe you with a book
2) The book wasn't even a Jack Reacher novel
3) Query is all tell and no show
4) Query tells more about the author than the story
5) The query lacks voice
6) Author should have torn out the first five pages only
7) You're an agent, not a publisher
8) He expects you to call him
9) He forgot to include expensive chocolates and/or cash
10) He ruined the book by writing all over it

D. A. Casey said...

You need a fire extinguisher. J.R.

Andrea Wenger said...

He failed to include the following:
1. The names of the 150 other agents (publishers?) who have already rejected him.
2. The number of decades he's been slaving as an unpublished writer.
3. How much his mother liked his book.
4. Happy Birthday Elvis confetti in the envelope.
5. Perfumed stationery to which you are allergic.
6. How much his dog liked his book.
7. An accounting of why the last three authors you signed are idiots.
8. An accounting of how you are an idiot to have signed your last three authors.
9. How much the woman chained in his basement liked his book.
10. What the fate of the woman chained in his basement will be if you don't represent (publish?) his book.

Christine Tyler said...

1) The book is actually a compilation of the notes they took while waiting outside your house in their turquoise van.

2) There is no cover letter because they wanted you to recognize the fact that they sprayed everything with Axe, you know, to get you feeling womanly.

3) They left you their initials in sharpie because they hoped you would get the hint and write them permanently in your heart.

4) If they could get your attention by being terrible, they would.

5) This person is obviously in love with you.

You should call.

Angie said...

The telephone number leads to a automated message:
for Chinese press one, for Sanskrit press three, to return to home press three.

Becci said...

So, I shouldn't wait for your call? *kicks dirt*

Was there even a return address? Send it back (C.O.D.) with a note. In. Sharpie.

"I need a martini. You need a therapist."

Adrienne said...

1. Venturing into the reef in the dark.
2. Not splurging on a shark rod and reel.
3. Drinking with suicidal sea captains instead of researching queries.
4. Tossing sub-par, self-published chum into the water.
5. Failing to heed the low, ominous theme music as a dark figure circles him.
6. Jumping into the water without a shark cage.
7. Flailing in the water like a tasty seal.
8. Causing you to bare your rows upon rows of teeth, and not in a smile.
9. Making your eyes roll back into your head, which in shark means bite imminent.
10. Stating he needs a publisher when he clearly needs a bigger boat.

Sheila JG said...

The initials weren't G.C., and the book wasn't titled, "My Life In Film."

Patty Blount said...

I don't know, Janet! I think I'd call this phone number just to learn whether it dials the psych ward at Bellevue!

Feaky Snucker said...

My brother told me to try this when my book was done. He said it would give the agent an idea of what the book would look like, and be a subliminal message...

I looked at him the way a militant vegan looks at a carnivore: With the self righteous stare of the protein deficient.

I assume that was the expression on your face when that scenario actually happened. Out of curiosity, was the book a memoir about how the author just couldn't kick that nasty crack addiction?

Cindy Little said...

I say screw protocol and call the guy. At best, you may find some genius savant of a writer, at worst you get to toy with an arrogant nut job. Win-win.

LupLun said...

Trick question. It's not a query, it's an ARG. Call the number, and you'll get a clue leading you to a bathroom in Detroit or somesuch nonsense.


DK said...

10. A printed book? On paper? Everyone knows the only acceptable page materials are shag carpet, cellophane, and human skin.

9. Only sent book in English. Standard submission protocol requires at least five languages, including Sanskrit and Egyptian hieroglyphs.

8. Inscription should have read, "I need a prescription for Zoloft." Or perhaps, "I need a clue."

7. Inscription should have been fashioned from cut up newspaper headlines.

6. Inscription should have been worded in pig latin.

5. Instead of author initials, much better form to use an anagram combining the author's name, pet's name, and favorite color.

4. Should have included GPS coordinates so you could visit.

3. Didn't have package delivered by a male stripper.

2. Failed to include several required elements, including cupcakes, Scotch, and unmarked twenties.

1. Didn't realize you'd immediately run this contest instead of responding.

Lauren said...

Bound copy of Miss Snark's archives
No cover letter

A sharpie inscription (in red, the color of blood): I don't need a book.
Initials: MS
Phone: 1 (800) KillerYap

Shaun Harris said...

Mistakes 1-10 swimming in chum filled waters with a bacon swimsuit.

kregger said...

Ten bottles of single malt scotch that should have been secured with the loose leaf pages of the supposed novel.

Stephanie Evans said...

1. Janet Reid is not currently accepting queries
2. Janet Reid is an agent, not a publisher. The author should be querying for an agent.
3. Janet Reid may call her clients by nicknames, but I don’t think she goes the initial route.
4. No email address is provided.
5. No self-addressed envelope.
6. Janet Reid asks for 3-5 pages, or at most, a chapter for a novel query, and 2 chapters for non-fiction, not…
7. The whole damn book, self-published or otherwise.
8. The query did not start, “Dear Ms. Reid.”
9. There was no “please.”
10. There was no “Thank you.” Ms. Reid appreciates civilities as much as scotch and almost as much as she does Jack Reacher.
11. If anyone is going to take an imperious tone in a client/agent exchange, it should be the importuned, not the importuning, thank you very much.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Bill E Goat: So, did Janet like my query?

Me: You haven't finished that World War I goat-spy romance yet. Don't query until it's done. ...

Bill: I zeroxed off 100 pages of things I found in the Police Department trash, had it professionally bound, scribbled on it with my sharpie ... umm okay it was your sharpie, but you don't ever use them ... and had Horace the Horse mail it to Janet. Did she like it?

Me: [long pause] You'll know if she catches you. I'll bring you a dried leaf basket when you can get back on solid food. ...

Bill: Huh? No way! It was good stuff!

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Bill: Umm pixie ....?

Me: Yah, Bill?

Bill: That's Xerox. Not zerox.

Shannon Heather said...

1. He/she sent a book instead of alcohol which pissed you off because they are about the same weight and you got excited for a minute.
2. They wrote in sharpie and you thought it read "Fuck the Shark" until you finished your first cup of coffee.
3. The book is, well a book and not a manuscript - which made you say "duh" and dribble coffee down your new blouse (do sharks where blouses?)
4. He/she needs a publisher and you are a Megalodon that likes to rhyme in Aargh - NOT a publisher.
5. No cover letter led you to believe someone hates you so much they expect you to wipe your bum with painful, 8.5 X 11 white paper that could get ink on your arse.
6. The author's initials were S.N.M which is just rude.
7. The box fell on your foot and you strang a rather colorful group of obscenities together which made everyone in the vicinity grab their Mace and pepper spray you.
8. The hot mail carrier brought the box with his shirt still on which ruined the entire effect of receving the an unsolicited package.
9. Your previous assistant, Merideth, got ahold of the phone number and keeps writing "For a good time call Janet Reid at..." at all the local bars and it's pissing of the author, but making you cackle.
10. The author self-published a single book and that makes it a collector's item and worthy to sit on your shelf.

Question: Could this possibly be the same person who did the ... email...? Or maybe the person that called you to explain how awesome he was and why you needed to rep him?

Caroline said...

Okay, there have already been a lot of good, serious answers, so mine will be more tongue-in-cheek.

Here are the mistakes this author made:

1. He didn’t say, “You and me will make millions on this”.

2. He didn’t include any dubious-looking homemade food with the package.

3. He didn’t say, “Brad Pitt should play the lead in the movie version.”

4. He didn’t include a bottle of spirits.

5. He didn’t include a handwritten review from his Aunt Selma.

6. He didn’t send the book Fed Ex.

7. He included his phone number – it would have been better to have made you work for it.

8. He didn’t grant you a three-month exclusive.

9. He didn’t call you the next day to ask if you’d read it yet.

10. And finally … he didn’t include the fact that he had sold 15,000 copies of this book, which could have made all our objections melt away.

Rick Anderson said...

R U kidn mee? Sowds gr8. I Bleave u kan git thiss on the bst cellar lyst by Layber Dhay.

Caleb said...

Is the genre horror? definitely fiction right?

Anonymous said...

10. The cover wasn't embossed with gold lettering, merely written on with a correction-fluid pen.

9. Corners of the book hadn't been purposefully bent inward to make them look dog-eared and thus the book well-read.

8. The silk ribbon attached to serve as a bookmark was halfway through the book, implying the last reader hadn't finished.

7. Page numbers weren't printed, and as the paper was so expensive a second run would have been too costly, ergo numbers written in by hand.

6. Page 64 "missing" due to realisation page numbering started on the left-hand page, thus odd-numbered pages on the wrong side for the first 63.

5. Spelling mistake in dedication ("For my Mummie").

4. Phone number missing country code.

3. Wrote "I need a publisher" and not "I want a publisher" (it's the publisher who needs the book).

2. Acknowledgements page cites "[agent name]", not "Janet Reid", implying once returned the book will be sent to another agent in order to initiate a bidding war.

1. Included both initials. As successful as I… I mean he/she, will be, only one is required.

John Hollingsworth said...

1. He didn't include any of the drugs he was obviously on when he sent it.

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

Out of curiosity, go on, did anyone read any of it and if so, how much?

Ari said...

Branded self as entitled, unprofessional, clueless and lazy by:

1. Not knowing or caring that you are currently closed to submissions.
2. Setting the land speed record for getting you from “WTF!” to “Aw, Hell NO!”
3. No query letter because, after all, you have the whole freakin’ book to see for yourself how speshul it is and will want to jump right on it. (I don’t think he envisioned you wearing jackboots while doing so.)
4. No name or email address cuz . . . well, you’re clairvoyant. Names are not important—neither yours nor his, evidently.
5. Assuming you’d mistake his initials for Lee Child’s and grab your phone after recovering from heart palpitations.
6. Using a Sharpie to let you know he’s ready to start autographing his bestseller after you find a publisher for his magnum opus.
7. Not following your submission guidelines. Only sheep follow the rules, right?
8. Letting you know right up front it’s all about him and what he wants.
9. Sending a self-pubbed book with all its inherent copyright headaches. That shouldn’t matter since it will need NO editing, right?
10. Not sending the mandatory 12-year-old bottle of The Macallan that’s supposed to accompany this type of submission.

Glynis said...

1: The 'author' was a fool
2: The 'author' was an idiot
3: The 'author' was brain dead
4: The 'author' lives in a cave
skipped to 10: The person who sent to you was a robot.

Seriously though, there is enough information out there for us all to follow. Why let yourself down by not following-or respecting- the rules?

Lindsay said...

Please oh PLEASE don't let this be one of my clients. Although I have at least one ex-client I know would do this.

If it is him, I DIE.

wizardonskis22 said...

It looks perfect to me.

1) concise
2) conveys emotion (or at least, inspires it)
3) saves agent the effort of requesting a full
4) First edition signed copy, just for the agent!
5) provides the sharpie fumes necessary to get agent through the experience
6) Is a gift from author to agent, in case agent does not have enough books to read
7) is also intended to provide agent with material for her blog
8) demonstrates either the fearlessness of rejection that is important in the industry or enough drunkenness/stupidity not to need it
9) shows, not tells, that author has no idea what he/she/it is doing
10) permits agent to get a good idea of the story, hopefully

Joe Iriarte said...

I, for one, don't believe any of this actually happened. You just made this crap up so you could have a funny story to tell.

In short, it's a fictional novel.