Some time back I wondered whether offering non-form replies to queriers would be a good idea. You said yes, and very enthusiastically.
I've decided to give it a whirl on a trial basis for the next few weeks.
On Saturday night (oh man, this is just proof positive I have no life!) if you query between 7pm and 8pm Eastern Daylight Time (and ONLY that time) I will reply to you individually. I may not reply during that exact time window, but your query has to arrive in that window.
You have to put "Chum Bucket" in the subject line so I know you WANT to participate.
I'd really REALLY appreciate it if you didn't write back to tell me all the reasons I'm an idiot until at least a day has gone by and you might have cooled down.
I am NOT guaranteeing feedback or critiques on each letter, although that may happen. This is ONLY a personal, non-form reply guarantee.
The queries need to be for real. If I request something and you tell me it's not ready, or you were just kidding, I will come to your house and gnaw on you till you realize the error of your ways.
Shout out in the comment column and we'll develop an FAQ for our little experiment.
Dang, I'd love to participate but my novel is still in revision. Plus, you don't rep my genre anyway. But I think you're very, very brave for doing this. I hope my fellow writers don't abuse your good intentions.
Questions for 37 minutes minutes from now... How many queries did you get? Because of the short notice and tight timeframe, I wonder if they were more prone to error than your regular query stream? Did you notice a difference in quality?
And a question for 24 hours after you send your last response: did anybody write you back with rudeness?
I agree with Elissa - this is a brave, bole invitation indeed.
"...come to your house and gnaw on you..." I love that line.
I noticed you mentioned you might try this for a couple of weeks. If you're still doing this in two weeks, I'll throw my query out there as bait (revising six more chapters and then it's ready to send out). Added incentive to keep plugging away on revisions - thanks!
3 queries! And it was FUN!!! (of course, no one has tried to firebomb my liquor stash yet so it may be early days)
Since the only MS I have to query is an Urban Fantasy, I'll sit back and observe your experiment. I look forward to your analysis!
Hopefully you do this again next weekend. Going to follow this blog now.
Monica, for sure next week and the weeks through August. Then I'll evaluate and decide if I can continue.
Honestly, it was FUN!
Are you allowing late-comers to send a new wrinkle query? I just saw your post. Late to the party again
Maleficient, you have to wait till next week, but I will be doing this through August.
Same time, same channel then!
[...]I'd really REALLy appreciate it if you didn't write back to tell me all the reasons I'm an idiot until at least a day has gone by and you might have cooled down.[...]
I'm not sure whether to be surprised that anyone would even consider this... or be appalled that anyone would...
Good luck with your test!!
I can't imagine why anyone would send you hate mail for giving a professional critique of their query. But all the writers I've ever encountered are nice people who, like most of us, chafe at criticism, but are willing to accept it when it comes from someone who sincerely wants us to succeed.
You're a superstar, Janet. :)
Cool, I have 7, count em, 7 novels in different stages of development- hopefully this will help me get my butt in gear. I have read your blog for years but never moved to respond until now - this is awesome!
Can someone requery you for the same project they've already queried for and get more detailed feedback about the specific query?
Hypothetical question, of course.
Colin, mostly it's people who think I didn't consider their query carefully enough. The way they know I didn't is cause I said no. No-win in other words.
It's the price of admission and absent dire threats to my liquor cabinet, no problem.
Thanks for the kind offer, Janet. See you Saturday at 7pm.
Well Blast and Dang-Nabbit!! I just sent my query to you last night. I wish I had held off 24 hours until I saw this!!!
Oh well. I still think its awesome that you are taking the time to do this for others and they hope they go easy on you and don't make serious inroads on the liquor stash!
CW I can delete your query from the incoming pile and you can resend next week if you wish.
Let's do that! I will resend it next weekend. I'll be glad to take part in the fun! :-)
This is such a great idea - it makes me want to write mystery, just so I can play too.
I wish there were more agents like you.
I'd be surprised if you weren't inundated within the next couple of weeks. But maybe you'll get the Next Big Thing out of this.
Janet, this is just one more reason why writers love and respect you so much. And I say this as an agented writer who doesn't write in your genre, so you know it's genuine, and not just kissing up! :D
It does my heart good to know there are authentic people out there who still believe in doing altruistic good deeds. Thank you for doing this.
Kay, you know I do rep other things besides crime, right?
CW--query deleted from my inbox (took me a while to find it oh you of the pseudonym!)
Haven't had a Saturday night date in years. See you at 7 in the PM...gee, I'm hoping I get to go all the way.
But will you respect me in the morning?
Janet, I can't even tell you how awesome this is. Thank you. Also, I spent Saturday night reading. *grin*
I'll be watching this closely and hope it works well.
For my day job I receive article submissions and when I need to reject one, I've found the less I say, the better.
When I give feedback I seldom receive a sincere "thank you," but often have writers who want to debate my opinion, criticize me, or even threaten that "I'll be sorry."
It's not worth the grief, so I've stopped giving feedback or offering an explanation.
I hope your experience will be better.
Where do we send the query letters? I can't find a "contact me" spot on your blog?
Peterd, I have had much the same experience you have had. That was the reason I put the "must have this in subject line" direction. I'm hoping it will limit the experiment to people who WANT to hear.
And sometimes the crap is just part of the price of admission to the circus.
I went all day today thinking it was Saturday. Could you please pretend I didn't send my new wrinkle query 24 hours late?
I'll probably review my query letter 100 times this week, but I'm in there like swimwear come Saturday.
This is really fun! And as others have said above, I commend your bravery and forfeiture of Saturday nights. (As an aside, I'm still dismayed to hear that you receive anything but graciousness in response to feedback.)
As for this new wrinkle idea, I liked knowing how many you got (3) and wonder if it might be cool to get a tally every week? Could be total received...or even how many resulted in requests for partials/fulls (or rejections). Just a thought.
Anyway - thank you again for doing this! I'm excited to follow and participate!
I'll be there maybe not this week but by the end of August without doubt. Thanks Janet, what fun.
Would you like us to let all our friends know so you can get 12,000 queries?
fred, I've purposely not announced this widely. I'd prefer it be limited to those of you are paying attention--reading the blog, following me on Twitter. If it works out, we'll see about widening the scope.
This is a very nice and wonderful idea. Can't wait for Saturday night.
Would it be piggy to send in two queries for works in different genres (you accept both)? Somehow the books have ended up ready for querying at the same time.
Second question -- do we include five pages as with a regular query?
You're a doll...for a shark.
Diane, sorry I'm replying after an evening of revelry.
1. ok to send more than one query but must be separate.
2. DO include pages. This is a regular query.
I'm very interested in getting agent feed back on my book query, but my novel is not in your genre, is it still okay to send this coming Sat. and get your critique?
This isn't intended to be feedback, it's just a non-form response.
And I really only want queries that are legit (ie you'd query me anyway.)
QueryShark takes all queries and does provide feedback, but of course, not all queries can be posted. The archives are a great resource though.
Are you doing this again tonight? I am a family friend of Judy Jongsma Bobalik who spoke highly of you, and I would love to send you my query. Thank you for having two wonderful blogs that provide such insightful feedback!
Hi Laura, Yes I'm doing this again tonight, and every Saturday through August 2012.
Thanks for doing this! I'll try to
get mine to you tonight.
Oh, I SO wish I had an MS ready for this! Only halfway through a first draft. Dang it! But in my effort to eat/sleep/breathe writing lately, I can't wait to watch and learn from this process. You're wonderful for offering such a thing, and I hope it results in something great!
Do we send it to your FinePrint Literary address? Thanks for doing this!
LL, yes, you'd send it just like a regular query except noting it's for this particular thing.
And you're welcome.
(it's actually been quite fun)
I recently read and enjoyed Unraveling and wondered if you regularly represent YA books or if that was unusual?
I've posted this comment to Janet before, but maybe others of you can tell her and she'll listen. If she wrote and published a book on writing the query, it would become a best-seller, because we would all by it. Can you imagine The Query Shark touring the country with her minions, minnows, and rat-loving friends?
Oh Janet - this looks like so much fun! How I wish you rep'd MG. Maybe some of your colleagues will follow your lead and play too. I'll be reading to see how it goes.
Scratch that - I just read your rules for writers. You said: be imperfect, make mistakes, query everyone even if they don't rep your genre.
You'll be hearing from me Saturday night. You have been forewarned.
Thanks again for doing this.
Can't wait for Saturday night :-)
Just to make sure I'm completely clear, should the subject line say:
Chum Bucket Query for "title" ?
Thanks! Love that you are doing this!
The subject line can say anything but MUST HAVE the words Chum Bucket in it.
Now, a SMART participant will have Chum Bucket as the first two words followed by Query for (title).
As always, you are too cool, Janet! I wish I had something that fell in your interests to send. Have fun w/the chum! :o)
I just want to thank you for the Chum Bucket session last night. I am very grateful for the comments you made, even though my book was not one of your interests. What an exceptional person you are! I wish you all the best.
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