While sorting my incoming mail yesterday afternoon I found a query letter from someone we'll just call Felix Buttonweazer to protect the guilty.
Felix sent a query and I opened it for a quick glance to make sure it wasn't for a screenplay (I've been getting a lot of those lately and I like to reply quickly cause I don't handle them at all.)
The query was addressed to everyone at FinePrint in the To: line. Of course that's not a good idea, but it wasn't enough to get Felix booted out of the query inbox.
Into the stack it went.
Five minutes later, a second query. For the same project. Also misaddressed. I deleted this cause email happens, and duplicates aren't always a sign of disorganization.
Five minutes later, a third. For a new book. Also mis-addressed. At this point I'm a tad impatient with Felix.
And then, a fourth. Incorrectly addressed, of course.
An hour later, a fifth.
That was when Felix and email address went to the filter. His emails now go to the archive unread.
Here's your takeaway: I rant and rave that I'm looking for good writing and that remains true. I am. But I'm only willing to work with people who set a high standard for themselves. That means you investigate how things work before the fact. How things work like query one agent here at a time, and one project at a time (and that means you wait to hear from me before you send a query on a second book.)
I do not apologize for making assumptions about your level of preparedness from the behavior you demonstrate when querying.
There are more publishable projects out there than there are publishing slots, and once you're at that level it pays to be prepared.
If you're reading the blog, if you've actually read and followed the submission guidelines you're going to be just fine. Don't worry.
If however you're thinking what the hell just go for it, well, ok, you're going straight there.
Goodness you're funny while teaching us querying life lessons.
Sometimes I picture Janet in a habit with a ruler. And then she breaks into song and I have to get up and drink from the milk carton.
I was wincing by the time you got to the third email of this story...
Thank you for taking the time to continue this fun and educational blog. It really is fun to learn -- on the sidelines.
Some people just assume the rules don't apply to them, that they're special and don't have to pay attention to the confines the rest of us mere mortals have to put up with.
By the way, I've got a screenplay I'd like you to consider. I'll just pitch it here in the comments section. I know that's not how it's usually done, but it's SO good you'll be glad I did. ...
I wonder how many "he" actually sent?
There's got to be a book in all this.
I hope the author is the guilty party, and he/she didn't pay someone else for a "query service" that has possibly destroyed their writing career before it even got started. Shooting your own foot is bad enough. Paying someone to do it for you would be a nightmare.
Either way, the lesson is still clear: do a little research before jumping into shark infested waters.
@donnaeverheart, I don't think it's a book any of us could get through without wallbanging it. Perhaps several times in a row ...
Elissa, great point. Eeeeeep.
I keep trying to imagine what Mr. Buttonweazer thought he was doing...and I keep coming up empty-handed. I mean, seriously, people.
My day started off as a "not so good day." I came home and read your post. The name alone had me laughing out loud. And, do you know what? The rest of the day ended up being a "not so bad day" after all. (I'll bet you don't realize just how much you help us sometimes!) Thanks, Janet.
I love that you set high standards. Writing should be exquisite, and the business side of it should be professional. Well done!
"If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late." -Reid Hoffman
The startup community just loves to repeat crap like this. I get what they're trying to say, but it demonstrates an impatience that's all too common in general, and disastrous in a field like writing.
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