Thursday, November 03, 2011

Today's Query Pitfall

I recently received a query from an writer who included five projects in his email pitch. His opening line was "First, let me apologize for not following the guidelines."

Everyone who reads this blog will not be surprised to know that was probably not the most effective way to get me to read more. But I did. It was a slow day.

The problem with trying to pitch too much is space.  You know how hard it is to make a novel sound enticing when you have 250 words. It's five times harder if you're trying to do it in 50.

And the querier wanted me to look at each project and decide which one should be first priority.

Well, no.

There are two possible responses to a query: no and send more.

I don't undertake career guidance (which is what prioritizing projects is) for anyone BUT already signed clients.  Most agents don't either.  It's not an effective use of our time.

At this stage, you pick the project you think is strongest, and you pitch it.  I'll say yes or no.  You can pitch all five projects, you just have to do them one at a time.  This may seem inefficient from your side of the matter, but it does not from mine.

And just a hint: if you're not going to follow the guidelines, at the very least, don't announce it up front.


Ali Trotta said...

That kind of approach always surprises me. With a little research, it's fairly to easy to figure out that you only query one project at a time. To attempt to shop them all at once is just a fancy way of shooting oneself in the foot. Then again, it amazes me how many people try and query without a complete project. That's like a baker trying to sell a cake, only it's not a cake yet -- just a heap of ingredients, partially mixed. A world of no.

...and now I want cake. I suppose I should've seen that coming. ;-)

Loretta Ross said...

Hmm... "always follow the instructions''... Didn't I see that in Gary's heart surgery book?

danicapage said...

Trying to pitch 5 novels at once!!!!

Yes, that deserved four exclamation points. I agree with Ali, all it takes is two google seconds to figure out that is a big no-no.

And Loretta's point was really well founded. You alwasy follow the rules.

Sending five at once? I just don't understand why any writer would think that was okay.

Unknown said...

Well, I doubt it was a lack of research. By the sound of it the author knew he shouldn't, but he did anyway.

The universe revolves around him, you should feel blessed to get to read his pitches

jesse said...

I bet (s)he didn't even offer the proper chum sacrifice. Silly author.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Like you said, writing a query in 250 words is hard enough. I want to give each of my novels the best chance I can to succeed. Why, then, would I jeopardize that by splitting the precious space I have between multiple projects? It might take a little longer, but it just seems logical that I'd fare better giving each project an individual letter.

Don't most agents frown on multiple submissions, or sending queries for separate projects too closely together, anyway? As an aspiring author, I'd want to make it appear I invested a little time in each project rather than throwing all my s*** at the wall to see what sticks. I don't get this. It seems lazy on top of everything else. Just what every agent wants in a client!

On a side note, my word verification is one letter off from being "okapi", which would have been awesome.

Annalise Green said...

Weird. If I had five projects that I thought I could send to agents, first I would count my lucky stars. Then I would send them one at a time in order to maximize my chances. Do you want your name in the hat five times, or one time? I'd rather go five.

Michael Seese said...

Dear Ms. Reid:

I have 5,000 words written down on a piece of paper. Would you mind taking a look at them and suggesting which you think would make the best story?

Thanks for the feedback.

An Aspiring Writer

Kristen said...

Wow. I don't know whether to laugh or cry over that one! You have my complete empathy.

Anonymous said...

If it were't for silly people like that you'd have nothing to post about, which would be a shame. Thank you for the laugh.

Maja said...
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