Thursday, August 07, 2014

QueryQuestion: Have we met before?

An agent recently tweeted that she wanted people to mention in their query letter if they had submitted past projects to her. Now, if someone had requested a full from me before I could see the benefit to this, but what about someone who declined to request material or didn't even respond? Should we remind even the rejections that they've seen our names before?

I'm going to take a wild guess here and mean "submitted past projects" means submitted full manuscripts, not queries.

I'm not sure why anyone wants to know this, but if she does, she does. On the other hand if it's not in her submission guidelines, how the hell is anyone to know unless they happen to see that particular tweet?

And truly, honest to god, this is just one more way to make writers crazy.  I'm of a mind that making it as easy and straightforward to query the better. Time enough to make your clients crazy when you need a synopsis for a film deal in 30 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Off topic, but honestly, even the word "synopsis" makes me want to cry. Or maybe more like scream. I'm horrible at distilling a 350 page story into a paragraph or two - or is it three? to reveal a perfect, attention grabbing description of my stories.

One of these days I'd love to see what the QOTKU thinks is the best synopsis format. I mean, you rule the waters on queries - can you float a synopsis example on your dorsal fin by my little raft?

I've heard writers should look at the back of the book, or flap - and follow those as guidelines. On another site I read to answer Who, What, When, Where and Why. Maybe that's all we need to do. Definitely easier said than done.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Sorry Janet, jumping off subject. Blame Donna :)

Hey Donna, I found this a couple of weeks ago and found it extremely useful. It helped with the dreaded Synopsis and is pretty straight forward.

Because I'm such a non-wiz at links, and such, you might have to copy and paste the address. curious what you think.

Colin Smith said...

I'm with you Janet. When I read this I assumed the agent was asking people who had responded to a request for a full (and presumably been rejected) to mention that previous request when they query the next project. I can only assume the idea is that if the agent liked your query/sample enough to request a full, this may influence the way s/he responds to you in future queries. Does this mean the agent will give a personalized response, or give your query priority attention, or what? I don't know. How would I feel about this as a writer? I'm not sure. I understand mentioning #MSWL because the agent might like to know your project is something s/he specifically said s/he's looking for. I can also understand mentioning conference/social media interaction so the agent can make the connection between the query and the person s/he has become acquainted with via those means. But I'm not sure how mentioning "you asked to see PREVIOUS NOVEL last year" really helps. Maybe the writer has grown a lot over that year and would rather everyone forgot about PREVIOUS NOVEL. Perhaps the genre and style of the new novel is completely different such that there's no comparison with PREVIOUS NOVEL. I guess if the agent asks it doesn't hurt to mention that previous work... I'm just not sure what the benefit is at the query stage. Kinda like synopses...

...Speaking of which, I know you hate synopses as much as the rest of us (well, those of us who frequent your blog). I too would be interested in what you, as QOTKU, consider "standard" format for a synopsis. Not all agents specify paragraph/page count. In those instances, what, in your opinion, should we provide?

Anonymous said...

@2N's - thanks! Will give it a go and see how bad it is. Won't this also point out my BIG PLOT POINT issues? :)

Mark G said...

'Off topic, but honestly, even the word "synopsis" makes me want to cry.'

I found this to be helpful not only w/synopsis but also fleshing out story. Good luck

Craig said...

I somewhat think that it is just a sign that Agents, some of them at least, can be as impulsive as normal humans. This agent seems to have gotten pissed at something and shot out a tweet. In the old days at least the rest of the world didn't know what you muttered under your breath. Now however tweeters don't seem to realize the rest of the world would hear it until it is too late.

Lance said...

Interesting post. I have a couple of form rejection e-mails that encouraged me to query for later projects, but they did not use the term submit.

On the synopsis tangent, what can you do in a one-page synopsis that is significantly more than you put in your query letter?

Anonymous said...

@Mark G - thanks - got this, and between this and the one Carolynn supplied, I ought to be able to get something that looks remotely like a synopsis on the page.