Saturday, August 04, 2012

"Chum Bucket!" Query Experiment FAQ--updated 10/27/14

1. Query exactly as you would normally: to jetreidliterary@gmail (dot com) with a query and 3-5 pages in the body of the email.  This is querying for real. I have requested fulls from queries received in the Chum Bucket

1.A QUERY ONLY between 7pm and 8pm Eastern Standard Daylight Time on Saturday. Sunday on announced Chum Bucket days (updated 9/1/14)  Chum Bucket does not happen every week.  The Chum Bucket announcement is on the upper right hand side of the blog.

1. B  Your query is date stamped when my mail server gets it.  We've seen some queries disqualified because they were sent too close to 8pm and my mail server didn't suck them up in time.  Send closer to 7 for best luck.

1. C  In this one instance and this instance alone, you can requery during the next Chum Bucket. Generally you will NOT requery unless I say to do so. This is querying for real, and you don't requery unless invited as a general rule.

2. MUST have "Chum Bucket" in the subject line.
This is your agreement you want a personal reply. The ONE person (so far anyway) who replied testily was a querier who queried during the time period but without the subject line. (I sent her a form rejection and told her to replace the email with helpful info with this new one--yes I was annoyed.)

3. Query only if you're ready to send a manuscript THAT MINUTE. 
I'm reading these when you send them and replying soon after.  Be READY.

4.  Query for anything you want but here are the things I'm NOT actively looking for:

A. Anything YA.  I've sold YA but it was for clients I signed for adult projects.  YA is not a strong category for me, and you'd be better off with a hotshot agent like Suzie Townsend at New Leaf for your YA stuff. Or Holly Root at Waxman. Or several others who are Amazing.

B. Anything paranormal, or supernatural. I don't read enough of this category to represent it well.  Look for an agent who does.

C. Science fiction or fantasy.  Again, not something I read a lot of so you need someone who knows the category.

D. Horror. I represent one of the very best horror writers around too, but frankly, the writing scares the crap out of me, so one is enough.

E. Suspense. Psychological, romantic or otherwise.  Again, it scares me. Yes I am a wuss. Sad but true.

5.  Here are the things I'm actively looking for:

A. Narrative non-fiction, principally history and biography.

B. High concept crime thrillers

C. Astonishing-mind boggling-throw-your-hands-up-with-joy at the beauty of the writing literary fiction.

6. This experiment depends on a social contract that you will not respond to me with some invective laden email.  You can write it. You just can't send it.  If you want to reply, I'm glad to hear from you but I'd really REALLY appreciate it not being hostile.

And I mean it when I say it's ok to reply. I've learned some valuable things from queriers writing back and one of them led to yesterday's blog post about how to query memoir.

7.  I'm not advertising Chum Bucket far and wide. I want to limit the people who participate to those who read this blog and follow me on twitter.  It improves the chances the interactions will be civil, and also that the queries will be real.  Thus, NOT talking about it on writer chat boards is strongly encouraged. PLEASE DO NOT retweet the Chum Bucket announcements, repost on your blog, or post it on Facebook.

8. The experiment is slated to run through the end of August.  I'll decide then if we'll continue.

After almost two years, I think this is not an experiment!

I should also say I love doing this. LOVE doing it.  It's honest to god fun to talk to you, and some of the things you write back are words I will treasure forever.  It's amazing to be able to help people.  It's amazing to break down some of the barriers that we've put up.  It's amazing just to TALK to you when you aren't petrified and I'm not tired/annoyed/looking for a drink.(I'm always looking for a drink.)

Questions? Comments? Bar suggestions?  Feel free to let fly in the comments section here.  I'll add to the FAQ as needed.


JeffO said...

Yikes to the previous (soon-to-be-deleted, I'm sure) comment; I wonder if he's linked his website to assorted 'mail-order bride' sites, since he's got such a problem. I will not find out.

Janet, I think this is a great service you're offering. Thank you for doing it. I say that now, BEFORE you shred my query with your pointy teeth. But even if I don't like what you have to say, I appreciate the chance to learn from the experience.

Janet Reid said...

JeffO, Yea that comment is gone. He was out and about last night. Several other people noticed him in other posts. Comment moderation is on for all posts now for at least a while.

And Jeff, I love doing this. I'm glad it's been so well received.

Unknown said...

So, if we send a young adult query, is that basically treating this opportunity like a minor query shark experience?

I really looked forward to sending my query, as much for the help with the query, as the opportunity to send my manuscript to an agent who stands up to, and for, her authors, editors, and publishers.

Janet Reid said...

April, thanks for your kind words. The $20 is in the mail.

ChumBucket is NOT Queryshark lite. If you send a query for a category I don't represent you get something like "I'm sorry I don't represent this category. You should query the best YA agent in town Suzie Townsend."

Admittedly it will be typed by my own two fins, BUT it isn't going to help you much. AND it cuts down on the time available to the people who are righting with real queries.

I'm not going to say flat out don't do it, but my preferences are pretty clear.

Unknown said...

I love that you're okay with us replying (nicely). I played last week and didn't reply, mostly because I've been trained not to--most agents seem to prefer that we not clutter their inboxes with useless thank-yous.

Anyway, even though your response was a simple "I don't represent that," it is still so awesome that you're doing this. I hadn't queried you before because it didn't seem like you represented my genre, but I saw UNRAVELING and hoped your tastes had changed. :) Thanks for clarifying!

Anonymous said...

Hi Janet,

On the submission guidelines on Fine Print Literary's website, it states that you want the query, a synopsis, and the first two chapters of the novel. On this blog you stated just a query and 3-5 pages. Do you want a synopsis as well? And how long of one? I've seen the length suggestions vary from 1-25 pages. Any help would be appreciated.


Janet Reid said...

That's a really good question, I'm glad you asked.

Query and 3-5 pages ONLY.

The FPLM site drives me bonkers. I hate synopses with a passion. I need them sometimes, but never at the query stage.

And there's no way to read 2 chapters in an email.

I've begged to have those guidelines changed, but Others Disagree. When I am Queen of the Known Universe....that's one of the first things I'm fixing.

Kat said...

Hi Janet,

Someone else asked this question in the comments on the original Chum Bucket post (before CB got its cool name), but I don't believe you answered it. (Maybe that means the question annoyed you -- if so, sorry to ask again!)

I queried you last year about my book, and got a form R. (Yes, I was excited to submit to you and queried WAY too soon.) Then I made some changes and sent my manuscript in for the Pay It Forward contest. But I've since made even bigger revisions and feel the book is "ready" at last. At this point, can I query you one last time with Chum Bucket, or will you see my title and think, "That crazy woman again!"

Thank you for doing cool stuff like CB and your contests. I've learned so much from your blog (and Query Shark)!

GillyB said...

Thanks SO MUCH for doing this! I think it's pretty incredible. It's so hard for struggling writers to get good feedback at that early stage. It is tragic that you don't represent YA... but I'll get on writing that mind-blogglingly beautiful lit fic pronto, just so I can query to you.

Now I'm curious what deleted-crazy-man's comment was. I'm glad you moderate so well.

And as to Queen of the Known Universe... well, I'll get on nominating you.

Janet Reid said...

kat, sure, why not! Normally of course, you don't want to requery unless invited but honestly, we're all trying something new here with the ChumBucket so let's slide on some of those old ways too.

The worst that can happen? You'll get a personalized R. The best?...well, you're the writer! You write THAT story!

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

GillyB, the comment was an out-of-the-blue American-specific misogynist diatribe. It was creepy.

Jeanne Lyet Gassman said...

I didn't mention it in my query, but I'm sending you a virtual drink--just in case! What's your pleasure?

Janet Reid said...

My virtual drink? good god, what a terrifying thought---scotch as something virtual rather than real.

Rest assured, the supply of scotch here is excellent, and I shall raise one tonight (POST query!) to salute you all for being brave.

Unknown said...

Janet, Thank you for yet another innovative way to approach the querying process. My work falls under a category you are not looking for (paranormal fantasy) but I know following the event will be helpful.

Unknown said...

I thought I would comment here instead of sending an email so I can publically thank you for doing this! While, of course, I would have rather heard a resounding YES :-), I got so much out of your response - something actionable that I can actually do something about instead of just moping about a rejection.

You are fabulous!

Simon Hay said...

Janet, another awesome idea, thank you ... what? You're not the queen of the known universe!

Tracy MacDonald said...

Janet, I'm with everyone else here. I love, and greatly appreciate, that you do this. I don't see the genre in my query fitting in either the categories you are looking for or the ones you are not, so I sent it. Don't know unless you try, right? Enjoy that drink when you're done!

Petrea Burchard said...

Janet, you rock.

My book doesn't fit one genre, and it's not in the categories you're looking for, and I'm self-publishing. Still, you rock.

Colin Smith said...

Hello, Janet!

How would you define a "high concept crime thriller" as opposed to a "not-high concept crime thriller"? Just making sure we're all on the same page. :)


Lori said...

It's great that you're having as much fun as those participating. Now that some additional guidelines have been spelled out, I'm sure next weeks queries will be even better. Thanks for all you do.

Anonymous said...

I called you Mr. Reid in my query (smacks head 3 times really hard). I was going to say Janet after following your blog for so long, then changed my mind and put "Mr. Reid." I refrained from a return "sorry" email. Instead I give myself a flat forehead.
Thank you for your critique and kind words, Ms. Reid. I continue to be a fan.

Rebekkah Niles said...

Thank you for doing this! Kudos for being willing to work with writers. You won't see my query as it's one of the genres you're not looking for and I don't want to take time away from the writers who are your cup of tea, but thank you all the same. (Of course, if any urban fantasy agents wanted to follow in your footsteps, I wouldn't be the least bit upset.)

Unknown said...

Thanks for doing this.

When you say to query someone else and offer a couple names, is this considered a "referral" that the author can mention? I would think not. Unfortunately, the two names you gave me (much as I'd love to query them) are closed to unsolicited submissions.

Perhaps a "Janet Reid suggested I query you" would be okay? I suppose the worst that could happen is my email would be deleted.

I figured this same issue might come up with other people so I've posted publicly.

I'm busy rewriting the beginning of my other book as you suggested. Your comment was golden. I hope to get the entire book consistent with the beginning and a new query in while you are still performing such a service to us all.

Thanks again.

Janet Reid said...

Diane, oops, sorry, did not realize they were closed to submissions. It's worth a shout with "Janet Reid sent me your way" but the other idea is to look at agents at the same agency to see if they are open.

I can't keep track of who's taking queries and not any more. At some point someone's going to set up a chart and we can all look at it.

Lanette said...

You are the most awesome agent ever. I wish you actively sought what I write (Women's fiction/multicultural).

Good luck to all the other amazing writers out there.

Unknown said...

Hahaha... My novel is (really) a YA paranormal fantasy with elements of suspense, romance, and horror. And it's not done yet. Love your blog, though! :D

Mara Valderran said...

Hi Janet! For those of us who have a manuscript in a genre you don't represent: Will you only send the standard "Not what I am looking for" with the chum bucket or let us know if there are ways to improve our query letters if you see issue with them?

Anonymous said...

Janet can you please something you said about sending a full if requested, in your words "THAT MINUTE".
I'm in Australia. Chum Bucket hour starts at 11pm, which in not at all unreasonable, and I'm happy to send it at 11.01pm and then choof off to bed. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool morning person though, and I'd cope much better if I checked for an answer in the morning rather than waiting up.
If, by some miracle, you'd requested a full, would I have missed my chance if I sent it a few hours later? Does the full have to come back to you immediately?
Thank you. LOVE your work :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're doing this! You have no idea how cool it is to see an agent reaching out to help writers on their journey, both with query shark and now with this. I'm beginning to think you're actually much nicer than you make yourself out to be. ;)

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Are u excepting middle grade

Janet Reid said...

Megan, by "this minute" of course I mean sometime very close to my email of "please send."

If the manuscript still needs work or god forbid it's not finished, Chum Bucket is not the place to query.

When you query "normally" you can expect to wait a while before hearing back from agents.

When you query in the Chum Bucket you're going to hear from me within minutes if not an hour. Be ready!

swedishfish said...

Say you already rejected me once...could I re-query you in the Chum Bucket just to know WHY? Is that acceptable?

Janet Reid said...

Swedishfish, I'm not all that keen on making more work for myself but I'm also not going to send the QueryPolice after you if you requery.

There is however one group that can requery with no problem: the folks who got a shame-faced email from me recently cause I'd failed to respond to their queries on 2/28/12!! ARGH. Those folks get some extra time cause I let them languish in query hell for six months.

Christine said...

Is tomorrow the last chance? I'd like to let my query simmer for a few days, but don't want to miss the opportunity to participate.

Edith Hope Bishop said...

I will probably never query you since I write middle grade fantasy, but I want to say thank you. So much of the publishing/querying business feels grossly impersonal. I understand that money matters, but thank you for making people matter too.

Heather M Bryant said...

Dang. I wish you repped YA, you're one hell of an agent. I can't believe all the time you put into writers who aren't even your clients.

natalie said...

This is such a fantastic opportunity.

I have a question about formatting, as I'm on my first novel and just dipping my toes into the query process.

Do you want the pages that we send, in the body of the email, to be double-spaced? I've read online that agents will burn to ashes any page attachments that aren't double-spaced, but I don't know if that is also true for email submissions.

And when you say you want the first 3-5 pages, do you mean what constitutes 3-5 pages in a double-spaced word document?

Do you mind if the pages end right in the middle of a suspenseful scene? Or would you like a couple more pages if it shows you a more complete segment?

Thanks so much for doing this! I want to get all the details just right so that the shark attack (which I am looking forward to) is as bloodless as possible.

maggie said...

Hello! I participated in the Chum Bucket and thought it was such a cool experience. Janet suggested I completely change my query so I did, but my question is now - am I allowed to do it again, to see if I'm in better shape than before? I don't want to abuse the CB!!

Shawn Oueinsteen said...
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Shawn Oueinsteen said...
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Shawn Oueinsteen said...

Janet, would you be so kind as to have an occasional ChumBucket on a time other than 7-8 p.m. on Saturday nights? The sabbath for religious Jews continues at that time during the spring and summer months, so we cannot participate. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Hippocampus said...

Stupid question perhaps, but we have such a short window of time in which to query, I'm going to ask for clarification anyway! You say to QUERY ONLY between 7pm and 8pm Eastern *Standard* Time on Saturday 5/10/14.

We're now in Daylight time. Is it safe to assume you still want 7-8 PM, but Eastern Daylight Time? (Or, for those of us on the left coast, 4-5 PM PDT?)

Janet Reid said...

I'm sorry, this is not a stupid question. I have a list of stupid questions and this is not on it.

The answer is yes it's still 7-8pm, now eastern Daylight time.

Good catch actually.

Unknown said...

Hi Janet,

You don't want horror, or paranormal, but you do want high concept crime thrillers.

To be clear - horror or paranormal would be monsters, ghosts, haunted stuff, and high concept crime thriller could be a killer who hears voices and/or talks to imaginary people (who could possibly be dead).

Does that sound accurate? It's a thin line there when you're setting up a convincing lunatic.

I want to make sure I get this right.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Alas, you don't rep what I write. I wish you did. Your advice in the past has been extremely helpful, and I'm a better writer for it. I've avoided doing some stupid things thanks to your advice.

I am more tempted by the Chum Bucket now after your blog post on 11 July (More on Querying Widely), but if I query you with something you probably prefer not to represent (say, Regency Romance with Magic), would the Chum Bucket still be worth my while, or would the feedback be more, "I don't rep Romance"?

After all, the Chum Bucket needs to be worth your while as well.

Hippocampus said...

YAY! Another Chum Bucket! I'm so excited.

So we can query ANY TIME on WEDNESDAY 10/29/14? Not just between 7pm and 8pm?

Janet Reid said...

no no, sorry, only between 7pm and 8pm.

Updated FAQ to clarify

Gaia B Amman said...

Sorry to be thick-headed, but I'd rather irk Your Sharkiness in the comments than in my query. Is the chum bucket now open all day? The time restriction has been deleted, but later in the instructions it is still recommended to send closer to 7 pm than 8 pm. Thank you so much for all that you do! ^_^

Janet Reid said...

only between 7pm and 8pm

wrekehavoc said...

Hi there,

You were kind enough to give me feedback on my query last week. It was pretty painful but pretty accurate; and now, I am working on revising my query based on your feedback. I don't think I'll be ready for prime time for this week's chum bucket; and I recognize that my sort of novel may not be in your proverbial bailiwick. However, one day when I feel like I have addressed all of your feedback and have a better query, may I send it to you just to see whether I have it all figured out? I know you receive a metric ton of these things, so I don't want to impose. But after a good cry , I definitely saw room for improvement. Either way, thanks for helping me push this into a different, better place.