Thursday, November 05, 2015

CrimeBake Query Quiz!

I'm heading out to CrimeBake today and I'll be teaching a workshop on effective queries tomorrow.

Here's a short quiz for you:

Query Letter Quiz

All the answers are wrong. Which is the least wrong, and why?

1. The best salutation for a query is:
            A. Dear Snookums
            B. Dear Sir or Madam:

2. The best way to start a query is a description of the book such as:
            A. My fiction novel is set at CrimeBake 2015.
            B. My story starts at CrimeBake 2015.

3. When writing odd or unusual names which format should you use:
            A. Plxydcotrquarl ("Kip" to his friends)
            B. Plxydcotrquarl (the final l is silent)

4. To make sure the agent knows the book is finished write:
            A. My book is done
            B. My book has been thoroughly edited, freshened, folded, line-dried and edited by the                                     divine Hank Phillipi Ryan herself.

5. When given a referral write:
            A. Barbara Poelle said you should read this book.
            B. Stephen King said you should read this book when I took a workshop from him.

6. When comparing your book to others write:
            A. It's like Jaws but with whales.
            B. It's better than The DaVinci Code, and that sold a  lot of copies.

7. To make sure your work is protected include:
            A. The US Copyright Office TX number you got when you registered the copyright.
            B. © after the title


Unknown said...

Love me a quiz, I do!

1 A
2 B
3 A
4 B
5 B
6 A
7 B

That was fun.

Janet Reid said...

You missed the "why" part of the quiz!

Lucie Witt said...

This is giving me law school/basynonyms
lashbacks. The dreaded "least wrong" multiple choice question was something I thought I'd left far behind.

1. A, assuming agent's name is snookums
2. B, because fiction novel is never right
3. A, because the second option is still easy too hard to say
4. A, because B is too many of my 250 words
5. A, because Barbara Poelle
6. A, because no bragging about how you'll outsell a best seller
7. B, because it's less wrong info

Fun quiz!

Steve Forti said...

Since it's local to me, I really wish I got past the "I should go to CrimeBake this year" conversation I have with myself every year but never follow through on.

1) A ("Snookie Pie" is preferred.)
2) B (Clearly because "fiction novel" is supposed to be described as "fiction novel book".)
3) A (But it's reversed. His name is Kip ("Plxydcotrquarl" to his friends)).
4) A (Everybody knows that Hank doesn't do her own folding.)
5) A (Agent referrals are better, although I question its authenticity due to lack of reference to slitheriness.)
6) A (Tentatively titled "Maws".)
7) B (Be sure to also include MD, PhD, OPP.)

Lucie Witt said...

Basynonyms lashbacks is a pretty great phone autocorrect of bar exam flashback. Oh my.

Susan said...

Dear Ms. Reid:

I'm excusing myself from formally taking this quiz on behalf of the fact that everyone in class is more clever than me. I. More clever than I. Am. More clever than I am.

I'm excusing myself because I can't word today.

But this did make me laugh.

Also, maybe I should re-think how I addressed my queries...

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Nobody told me there was going to be a quiz. And I'm going to fail. I just know it. *small panic attack*. Here it goes.

1. A if Snookums is the agent or editor’s name or you are actually having an affair with this person

2. B – Unless, of course, you wish to swim in the same slush pile with Colin and Lynn, never say fiction novel. Just don’t do it.

3. A - clearly – I just can’t get behind Plxydcotrquarl no matter how that is pronounced. Kip I can love or hate.

4. A – brevity is the soul of wit and all that (not that I would know)

5. A – if Barbara Poelle really did refer you then kudos

6. A – nobody can predict a best seller. If anyone tells you different, they’re selling something and it doesn’t smell very good.

7. B – less wrong I guess. I always thought copyright is implied

Unknown said...

RATS! Damn my inoperable enthusiasm.

1 is A because there are no Sirs or Madams in agent land.

2 is B because fiction novel is so drilled into us as bad

3 is A because no one believes any letter should be silent

4 is B because it name drops

5 is B because it not only name drops it shows you're working on your writing

6 is A because you don't want people thinking you're in it just for the money

7 is B because no one needs to know your private numbers.

Julie said...

This isn't fair because I have to go as well, and have no TIME! But.
1. A, because you don't care what we call you, and it at least shows we were listening. B shows no investment at all in the recipient.
2. A, because "fiction novel" is right out.
3. A, because that way you give the reader an out. B just makes it worse. Qway, qway worse.
4. A, because OMG! Name dropping isn't cool. Unless it's Oprah. And then it's okay. (Cough)
5. A, because all of the other answers have been A, and I haven't heard you explain this one yet, so I'm looking forward to reading your explanation.
6. A, because the going thing right now is, "It's like x (well known title), but with y (that makes it different)." As in, "It's just like x, but different." And besides, you don't say yours is better than something everyone knows was really great. IT sold. Yours hasn't. Yet.
7. This is a trick question. Your work is protected once you submit it. And you definitely don't put that stupid "c" by it, which makes B absolutely wrong. But what the heck "A" was implying is thoroughly beyond me.

OK. Now I'm showering and packing and driving. See you soon!


Colin Smith said...

Oooo! A quiz!! Let me see...

1) I just met a guy on a horse. He called himself a literary agent. Name of Sir Ormadam. I called him Snookums and he nearly ran me through with his sword. I'm confused. I'll go with C. QOTKU, because who else would you be querying, right?

2) I'm in Fiction Novel, and let me tell you, it's no place to start anything, let alone a query. I prefer to start a query on my computer.

3) Trick question! Plxydcotrquarl has no friends, and he goes by Norman, which is why he has no friends--he refuses to speak to people.

4) I'm sorry, but what kind of credibility has someone who goes by three first names and can't even give herself a surname? That must be a nightmare filling out forms. I'd just attached the entire 500,000 word document as proof if the agent isn't willing to take my word for it.

5) Well, this is a no-brainer. Barbara Poelle said I should read WATCHED, and it was complete awesome sauce. Stephen King won't even reply to my tweets. Case closed.

6) There'a a humongous second-hand bookstore in Hay-on-Wye--largest in the world at one point, so I guess my book could be like Wales because there are lots of books there. I've never read The DaVinci Code. Never been good with math.

7) Neither. A kale sandwich and picture of my Aunt Gertrude seem to be sufficient protection for most of my valuables.

There! How'd I do? :)

Anonymous said...

Wait. "Dear Snookums" is wrong?


Just when you think you're getting the hang of things.

Dena Pawling said...

1. B – because the absolute worst thing you can do is get the agent's gender wrong, altho this response does not include all options available.
2. B – assuming “my story” refers to the authors humble beginnings and goes on to include how long it took to write the book and whether or not his mother enjoyed it
3. A – altho per the authority on the subject [Men in Black], it's really pronounced Bob
4. A – because you wrote the word “edited” twice and if you only have 250 words, you can't use the same word more than once or a reader will get bored and stop reading
5. B – because he has more than one million twitter followers
6. A – because you want your book to be made into a movie, also need to include the names of the actors you're recommending
7. B – because it's shorter and gives you room to write “if you steal this idea, I'll sue you” and include the agent's home address so he/she/it/they knows you're serious

LynnRodz said...

I know this is a trick quiz and I'm not going to pass, but you didn't ask for answers to all the questions. You asked WHICH ONE IS THE LEAST wrong and why, so I'm going to answer.

# 6 - letter A

It's like Jaws, but with whales.

Why, because it's a good comparison in a few words what your book is about, but you can't predict a hit.

*This whole thing is making me nervous!*

Tony Clavelli said...

I hope I'm early enough to weigh in without being too exact (and a few of these differ from above). While of course nothing here is good, here are my choices of lesser awfulness:

1. A. It at least shows some kind of specificity--and Snookums is gender neutral, even if probably super-offputting.
2. B. Not only is A redundant, but it makes you sound like a Paul Rudd character, which is funny but not a good idea.
3. A. Shark says if the agent doesn't know a word or pronunciation, they look it up, or don't care.
4. B. Not a great answer, but of course the book is done or the query wouldn't have happened, right?
5. A. Had to look up Barbara Poelle, but agent referrals beat random author referrals, even if they're super rich ones.
6. A. This at least says SOMETHING about the book, B could have been anything.
7. A. This one I have no idea. They both seem silly, but at least A sounds vaguely legitimate, if unnecessary.

Unknown said...

My answer for al of these is the new Twitter heart emoji. I would draw this heart ambiguously between a and b for every answer, and the "why" would be the former twitter star emoji.

How did I do?!?!

DLM said...

In kindergarten, they gave us an aptitude test in which one of the questions was, "If a white cow gives regular milk, and a brown cow gives chocolate milk, does a pink cow give strawberry milk?" I toddled to the front of the room and COULD NOT COMPLETE the question, because I kept trying to explain to the teacher, "There are no pink cows!" and she kept trying to insist I answer the question on its own terms. I could not come to such terms, I was raised literalist.

This quiz has me sitting, paralyzed, in my little orange plastic chair, peering in squinting turns at the purple mimeograph ink before me, and at the teacher, unable to explain to her the quiz is impossible to deal with, and dreaming wistfully of pink cows.

Unknown said...

1. A. Because there actually might be an agent that has the same nickname and now the query is very personal.

2. B. Because fiction novel would make every agent cringe and they would stop after the third word. At least with B an agent may make it to 2015.

3. WTF!!! A. Because Kip is a cool name.

4. A. Because B indicates the novel has been edited twice. Once was enough. Plus we don't really know if Hank is divine.

5. B. All the way. You can't trust anything Barbara says. She can't even keep her shoes on half the time.

6. A. Because that would be sweet. Could you imagine the size of the boat Chief Brody would be referring to when he said, "We're gonna need a bigger boat?"

7. A. Because the symbol might not translate over in an email.

Jed Cullan said...

1. Dear Snookums shows at least some research, and it's a bit more personable. Probably better to write Wassup, Snookums, though.

2. The evil fiction novel is evil. Don't go with that one.

3. I'd have his friends call him Carl, rather than Kip. Or, if that name was actually in a novel I'd just speed read it every time as Pl-Blah-Blah.

4. My book is done-diddly-doo-daddly-did.

5. Because it's Barbara Friggin Poelle, that's why. Now shut up and read.

6. It's like Jaws in Wales. With sheep.

7. Just send a cheque and two virgin hedgehogs. It's easier. Where the heck is that copyright sign on the keyboard?

BJ Muntain said...

Yay! I love quizzes!

1. 'Dear Snookums' is least wrong, because at least it's personalized for a certain agent.

2. 'My story starts' is least wrong, because 'fiction novel' is a very, very sad redundancy.

3. "Kip" is least wrong, because at least it gives the reader something they can get their mental tongue around, and is less author intrusive than the other.

4. A toughie. I think 'my book is done' is similar to 'my book is complete at 100,000 words', so that would be correct. The agent doesn't want to know if the book is edited.

5. "Stephen King" is less wrong, because you've shown how he's probably read what you've written.

6. "Jaws" is less wrong, because it's more objective and less arrogant than the other.

7. Oh. Ow. Ow. They both hurt. But I think the copyright symbol hurts less, because it's supposed to be the publisher that registers copyright when it's published.

I'm gonna post this before I read other answers, just so I don't second-guess myself, or try to act extra smart by correcting any of my answers before I post.

nightsmusic said...

I'm sorry, but I suffer from severe test anxiety. Always have. So no matter how long I've studied for this, and I've been reading here a long, long time, when I start to answer, my fingers become paralyzed over the keys, I start to sweat (which I NEVER do!) I shake, my vision blurs and I begin to stutter.

I'll just read along, KThanxBai...

Craig F said...

1) B: If it is musical, as in Dear Sir or Madam will you read my book...

2) B: ; I was shark hunting the barrier reef.

3) A: But it is pronounced Lee

4) A: My book is done to perfection and drowning in a burgundy reduction

5) A: B.P. said to query widely

6) A: , sharks and aliens in chapter 14

7) B: The copyright symbol doesn't translate on POP3 protocal

Megan V said...

1. A. Because, if you look up the etymology of Snookums on Google, it was once considered a proper name for a hypothetical person, sort of like Joe Blow. So. Yeah. Personalization is important!

2. B. Two words. Fiction. Novel. SMH.

3. A. Helpful nicknames are far less like a lecture on pronunciation.

4. A. Keepin' it succinct.

5. A. Unless Stephen King is Snookums' client. Then A and B.

6. Neither. Moby Dick has already been published and the latter is just bragging/false bravado. But really, A, as an example.

7. Neither. Why would I include this in the query letter? If it's copyrighted it's copyrighted so it doesn't matter if you send the agent the symbolic representation of the copyright.

Now is this comment less than 100 words...I don't think so. Sorry.

DLM said...

nightmusic, you and me both. I have a nice little spot on the bench here for those of us not in the game.

*Proffers Gatorade*

Elissa M said...

Even though we're going for "less wrong", it's hard to pick any of these answers.

1. A, unless the agent's name isn't Snookums
2. B, less wordy and using "fiction novel" should be a crime
3. A, because we will (with luck) never see the longer name again
4. A, that's all the agent needs to know about this
5. A, Ms. Poelle's recommendation trumps Mr. King's.
6. A, it's more specific
7. B, but, really, just no.

Ly Kesse said...

Hoh, boy.

After reading all these answers, it's clear that I fail at Question 1.

Me, I would never, ever in my darkest dreams address Agent Jane or John Doe as 'Dear Snookums.' Much, much too familiar in a business letter. But what do I know?

Must be why the agents all ignore me. Ho hum.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love quizzes.

1. For me, Ms. or Mr. Snookums if that's their last name. I haven't been given permission to address them by their first name yet. Southern thing.

2. B sort of. Author Jess Waten went to Crime Bake with a new laptop, a perfectly practiced pitch, and hopeful heart. He left on a gurney without a heart.

3. Criminy. None of the above. I write fantasy and even I don't do that.

4. A The book is complete at 89,000 words. Julie Weathers has offered to show me how I can get it up to 169,000 if you'd like, though!

5. B He also said he wants his pants back. Something about an experiment with Macallan and strip crime trivia you won handily losing only one false eyelash.

6. A It's like Jaws, but with trained killer whales used as assassins.

7. C The hand of God, which guided me as I wrote it and the Knights of Enoch, a secret society of men descended from the Knights Templar.

OK, KoE said they were not to be mentioned. None of the above.

Did I pass? Can I come to CrimeBake?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

The dog ate my homework.
My grandma died...again.
My shrink says I don't have to take tests.
The school bus was late.
My social worker says tests are for nerds...I'm not a nerd but my little brother is and he ate my homework.
Have a nice day teach.

Adib Khorram said...

It fascinates me that there is general consensus on all the questions except number 5.

Which is least wrong? Mentioning an agent who is (presumably) personally known to the agent you're querying, even if you don't specify the nature of the referral? Or mentioning a writer (presumably) not represented by the agent you are querying, but who has actually seen your work?

A fiendishly devised test indeed.

Anonymous said...

OK, now I have the stupid out of my system.

1. A-Personalize the salutation, but it still makes me cringe to address an agent by their first name until I've been given permission.

2. B-A is passive for one and wordy. Cut to the chase, but it would be better to just start the story instead of introducing the story.

3. Still going with neither. That being said, when a person writes historical, sometimes they have no choice. It's not a good idea to change Arthlwys even if Artie would be easier.

4. Still going with the book is complete at _____. The agent will assume you've been professional enough to edit, revise, rest, revise some more, and polish the baby to a high shine.

5. B Give the referral name and where you met them or why they gave you a referral. In my recent referral experience, I said, "I was referred by ABC who is a long time friend and writing cohort." B had already emailed him and asked if she could refer me, so he was waiting for me to contact him.

6. A. Apparently a lot of agents like comparison novels, though this is poorly done. Saying your book is better than a best seller will get you out the door faster than a berserk squirrel in a Mississippi church.

7. Both are signs of amateur status.

Anonymous said...


I'm going to surmise the split on five is because Janet and Barbara are very good friends and might carry more weight. However, being recommended by King would be pretty high praise. I'll stick with my theory you should not only mention the name, but how you met them or what your connection is.

CynthiaMc said...

1. Snookums works if you're having an affair otherwise I'd go with b even though a implies you at least know who you're talking to. My brain just exploded.

2. A because fiction novel, while redundant at least says it's fiction while my story implies autobiography. Why am I doing this?

3. A - because I can spell and pronounce Kip

4. A - because done is my favorite 4-letter word.

5. B - because Snookums is Stephen's agent and if Barbara liked the book she'd keep it for herself.

6. A - because that's a fact and Mom said never to brag about yourself.

7. A - even though I don't like either of these in screenwriting it's advised to register with WGA with the # of your script so I'll go with that.

Dear God that was grueling - but a calorie-free way to spend lunch.

Unknown said...

I think it would interesting to give these comments to a therapist. Their character analysis of each of us would be titillating.

DLM said...

Amanda, if you do that I'd seriously have to delete mine. OIKS!

Danielle Gaither said...

Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Here goes:

1. A, just because B immediately outs you as someone who hasn't done your homework. I suspect this is a recurring theme throughout the quiz.
2. B. I've never queried in my life and I'm pretty sure "fiction novel" is a no-no. I know the term "nonfiction novel" exists, but my understanding is that terms like "creative nonfiction" or "narrative nonfiction" are preferred these days.
3. A? Telling me not to pronounce the final l doesn't tell me how to pronounce the other letters!
4. B, because it shows you've undergone a process common to professional answers. Out of curiosity, is the least wrong answer to leave out this information altogether and simply submit a finished book (show, don't tell, etc.)?
5. A. Writers often say nice things at workshops. The only exception I would make to this rule is that if you also happened to be that writer's agent.
6. A. I've been reading this blog long enough to know the importance of comp titles. As far as option B goes, I'm not sure there's any correlation between quality and sales.
7. A. I admit I'm guessing here.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

--found in a bunker in Carkoon---

8 June 2015
A Big Deal Agency
Dear Norman,

I hope you are doing well. I loved your seminar on the trials and tribulations of agents in a sea of slush.

The Kale Trials delves into the disappearance of hundreds of writers. Our hero, Felix Buttonweazer, an old style gumshoe detective is enlisted by Mrs. Smith to discover what has become of her husband, Colin, a promising writer.

The book is completed and runs just under 75,000 words. This book will do well with those who enjoy the works of Lee Child, Patrick Lee, and any number of authors who have the name Lee. Thank you.

Lee Lee Lee
(555) 555-5555

---lots of finger nail bits found with this one

4 November 2015
A Big Deal Agency

Dear Norman,

I sent you a query in June of this year. It has been over 90 days. Did it get caught in your spam filter? Are you in witness protection or dead? Should I query you again? Is 75,000 words too short? Julie Weathers (a soon to be very famous author if Felix solves the mystery) can help me extend that by another 200,000 words if needed.

Lee Lee Lee
(555) 555-5555

--75,876 attempts later to elicit a response from Norman

Day 3 After Hell Freezes Over

Look Madam, Sir, or Snookums,

I queried a very fine fiction novel for your regard a literal age ago before Hell froze over. You don’t even know about Felix’s assistant, Plxydcotrquarl (the l is silent). How could you ignore me like this? My book has been thoroughly edited, freshened, folded, line-dried and edits by the divine Hank Phillipi Ryan herself.

Stephen King, himself, said this was the best freaking thing he ever read. (Ok, not that Stephen King) I have no idea who Barbara Poelle is. The Kale Trials © is so much better than The DaVinci Code.

Lee Lee Lee
(555) 555-5555

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Julie W, so tell me please how did you get rid of your stupid because mine is stuck to me like Snickers on my hips?

Danielle, welcome to diving into the tank. Herself circles constantly so be on the lookout for fins, fake chum and kale seaweed. They say it tastes like lima beans but I think it tastes like chicken gone green.

This was a perfect example of my stupid.

DeadSpiderEye said...

1, A: because salutations have transformed from a trivial task into quagmire of conflicting etiquette.

2, A: fiction novel, is not as tautological as commonly thought, just bad grammar. My story is not the story one writes, it's the story of oneself.

3, B: under almost no circumstances should any character be attached to a single syllable moniker starting with 'K', the single exception being for works transcribed into Saterland Frisian.

4, A: never give fair credit to anyone but yourself.

5, B: because, under what circumstance does an agent pass on a money making prospect?

6, A: it bloody well better be better than The DaVinci Code.

7, A: haven't a clue, I'm guessing.

Adele said...

Like LynnRodz, I also think that "which answer is the least wrong" asks for only one. I'd have to say it's 5(a), because Ms. Poelle is another agent and she's your friend and she doesn't represent exactly the same books you do and so presumably the thought in your head would be "Hmmm, Mme Slitherina thinks I'd like this so let's take a look".

Calorie Bombshell said...

1. B - because "Snookums" is reserved for the managing partner at my law firm
2. B - because "fiction novel" implies those dark, murderous thoughts I commit to paper every night aren't real
3. A - because B is on my six-year-old daughter's 1st grade spelling list
4. A - because serial commas (like killers) scare the living #### out of me
5. A - because the thought of Stephen King reading anything I write scares the living #### out of me
6. Huh? I thought Jaws was with whales...
7. B - because A, quite frankly, well, Va savoir pourquoi!

Unknown said...

Lol...don't think any of us would like it much.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

A. Dear Snookums we rubbed elbows, but you might not remember me, it was in an elevator, You might remember my BO, though, *giggle* I was so nervous I thought I'd have a coronary, then I found out someone else was wearing your nametag.

2. The best way to start a query is a description of the book such as:
A. My fiction novel is set at CrimeBake 2015, I know your not supposed to say fiction novel but I thought it might make your day to know I'M LISTENING!

3. When writing odd or unusual names which format should you use:
A. Plxydcotrquarl ("Kip" to his dinoporn pals)

4. To make sure the agent knows the book is finished write:
A. My book is baked but not charred, the knife still comes out a little gooey.

5. When given a referral write:
A. Barbara Poelle said you should read this, (in case you didn't know) she and the Queen hang around together torturing woodland creatures

6. When comparing your book to others write:
A. It's like Jaws but with whales on extasy

7. To make sure your work is protected include:
B. ©ale after the title

Donnaeve said...

My answers:

1 - 7 = C

Of course it's C. You said A or B are wrong too. It doesn't matter which is least wrong. Wrong is wrong. Which means I can make up any ole answer I want b/c if I'm going to be wrong anyway, why not go all the way and really screw things up?

Andrea said...

1. The best salutation for a query is:
A. Dear Snookums

A nickname will get you straight into an agent's inner circle. Especially if you are the one that makes up the nickname.

2. The best way to start a query is a description of the book such as:
A. My fiction novel is set at CrimeBake 2015.

"Fiction novel" shows you know your stuff. The agent will stare at your query in awe for a few seconds and then immediately request a full.

3. When writing odd or unusual names which format should you use:
A. Plxydcotrquarl ("Kip" to his friends)
B. Plxydcotrquarl (the final l is silent)

Either is fine. Hey, if the agent doesn't get your unusual but brilliant names, you're not going to be a good fit.

4. To make sure the agent knows the book is finished write:

B. My book has been thoroughly edited, freshened, folded, line-dried and edited by the divine Hank Phillipi Ryan herself.

This, and add that your mother is your biggest fan. Or that God told you to write it so obviously there was no need for editing because the Lord is infallible.

5. When given a referral write:

B. Stephen King said you should read this book when I took a workshop from him.

Obviously an agent would feel very honoured that Stephen King knows them. Instant full request.

6. When comparing your book to others write:

B. It's better than The DaVinci Code, and that sold a lot of copies.

Two words: aim high. Modest people don't get far in the world of publishing.

7. To make sure your work is protected include:
A. The US Copyright Office TX number you got when you registered the copyright.

Hey, all those agents are just failed writers. They're dying to get their hands on a good manuscript and steal it, selling it to a big publisher as their own work, and make that movie deal at the same time.

Ardenwolfe said...

1. A because obviously that's the agent's first name.

2. B because 'fiction novel' is a Kiss of Death. And the first one is passive.

3. A because it's funny. And a laugh in a query is good . . . unless you meant to be serious, and then you need to change your genres.

4. A because everything else is assumed in B. And who the heck is Hank?

5. A because Ms. Slithery may ride a broom, but she knows good material. Stephen King is too busy avoiding vans and counting his money to work a workshop for anyone.

6. A because it's bad form to compare your novel to Jesus' child. And no one remembers Jaws anymore anyway. Plus reading about Free Willy going psycho is always a plus.

7. Neither! That's a really trick question because your work is automatically protected and saying you have copyright makes you sound like an insecure nut who thinks everyone is going to steal you stuff. Which indirectly means it so bad no one will want it.

Craig F said...

Perhaps we have clue here. One that tells us what happens when you sleep within walls painted Razzle Dazzle.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Rough morning at the day job. Haven't even skimmed other replies yet. Pardon if I'm duplicating.

Let's see. Why least wrong:

1b-Snookums is way too familiar and affectionate. But Snookums would be ok if we'd shared a whisky at the Coral Reef bar.

2b-Fiction novel? Don't get me started.

3a-At least we can pronounce Kip.

4a-Succinct is better. Items listed in B are expected of an author but don't bang the agent over the head with your professionalism.

5a-Because she's Janet's best buddy and pal.

6a-There's intrigue in this twist.

7b-Again, succinct is better.

There. Done. How terrible did I do?

Unknown said...

B - Any agent worth their salt should reject someone that uses "Snookums".

A - Nothing ever happens at CrimeBake. Best to tell the agent right off the bat that CrimeBake didn't get interesting for some reason.

B - If you are going to refer to a character's nickname at least make it interesting like Snookums.

B - Tells the agent that the book is perfect.

B - Everyone loves Stephen King and this tells the agent that Stephen know them personally. It would be better if they said "The Shark said you should read this book or suffer her wrath."

B - Tells the agent that this is best seller and easy money.

B - Shows the agent that you figured out how to make the copy write symbol.

Anonymous said...

This may be long, but I'm on a roll. :)

1. A, as long as Snookums is not an endearment but the name of the agent and is spelled correctly. Dear Sir or Madam tells the agent you didn’t do your homework on who you’re querying. Besides, the agent could have a couple of dogs named Sir and Madam and might toss it to them to fight over, never reading it his/herself. Could happen.

2. B, because “fiction novel” is redundant. The word “novel” implies “fiction”. Saying “fiction novel” alerts the agent to your lack of knowledge or inexperience in the craft.

3. A, because B is no help in pronouncing the name. A gives me an alternative name to use whenever I come across the unpronounceable one without pulling me out of the story.

4. A, B is too wordy and boastful (there’s usually always something to fix/change), and could be considered name dropping. Just because Hank Phillipi Ryan is a published author doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a qualified editor, she most likely has several editors (Line Editor, Copy Editor, etc.) review her own works. And, the person querying must not know Ms. Ryan too well, he/she misspelled her name. It should be Phillippi (with two “p”s). Nowhere did it mention Ms. Ryan referring the author to that particular agent. As it is, the statement holds just as much water as if saying my neighbor edited the complete MS for me. It’s irrelevant.

5. I’d have to go with B on this one, because the author clarified his/her connection to Stephen King while, at the same time, letting the agent know he/she actively seeks to improve his/her writing skills. Not enough information is given about Barbara Poelle’s statement. Neither A nor B mentions either King or Poelle actually referring the author to that particular agent.

6. A. It lets the agent form his/her own opinion about how good the story is. It tells the agent that the story is similar to Jaws but different. The agent can decide whether or not he/she thinks it’ll sell. B is too arrogant. Being boastful about your own work could be an indicator that you may be hard to work with (unwilling to “kill you darlings” or make suggested changes). And, nowhere did the author indicate that his/her story is similar to The Da Vinci Code yet different (or meets XXX), only that he/she thought his/her story was better and would sell.

7. When querying, neither A or B is necessary (unless you’re using someone else’s copyrighted works, TM if it’s a trademark), but if I must pick one I’d go with B. To me it’s less insulting in a query, but no doubt the agent will see it (trust issues with the agent?).

I’m not an attorney, but it’s my understanding that the US Copyright Laws protect an author’s writings as soon as it’s put on a fixed medium (paper or word processing application, computer, or memory stick). (Whatever’s in your head can’t be copyrighted, so be careful who you share ideas with.) There is no need to use the copyright symbol when querying or submitting a MS of your original works to agents for review. Reputable agents don’t need a reminder of the copyright laws with the symbol or reference to it staring at them (know who you’re querying). Using it could show your lack of knowledge of the same laws and scream that you’re a newbie.

Once the copyright is registered, AND when the book is published, the copyright symbol AND information is usually shown on the first page of the book, not next to the title but down a ways from it.

Christina Seine said...

Yo Snookums,

Barbara Poelle (that's "Kip" to you mere mortals) warned me against taking this quiz. Why? Because Stephen King took it years ago, and his answers were copyrighted in Texas (I have the TX number to prove it). His answers were so good, it was like Pet Cemetery met Twilight met The Fault In Our Stars met Because of Winn Dixie, and Barbara Poelle said the QOTKU hates to cry. And she did, because Mr. King's answers were Just. That. Good. So for all intents and purposes, this quiz is finished. Done. Finis. You wanna answer this quiz? Go to CrimeBake and belly up to the bar. Just understand the bar has been raised. It's one helluva bar. But that's why they call it CrimeBake. If you can't take the heat, get out of the crime. Or something.

Lance said...

A quiz!

1. A. More direct sir or madam.

2. B. Never use fiction novel, whatever else you do wrong.

3. A. Use of Kip tells the agent that you're not going to use Plxydcotrquarl throughout.

4. A. No one would believe that the divine Hank Phillipi Ryan edited your book.

5. B. Specific information ties you to Mr. King, whereas B. Poelle reference is too vague.

6. A. It sounds like a killer book, and you're not trying to tell an agent about how well a book -- any book -- sold.

7. B. You only have 250 words, waste as few as necessary.

Thank you for the entertaining quiz and for your time and consideration.

Cindy C said...

I think I'll model the next quiz I give my students after this! (Insert evil laughter here.)

1. Well, Paul McCartney used "Dear Sir or Madame" in Paperback Writer, but he might have been making fun of the process. And Snookums kinda reminds me of waitresses in diners calling me hon, which is fun and homey. So I say A is least wrong.

2. Ooh, fiction novel is bad. Never say that. Choose B but also include a lot of autobiographical info about your character. Like David Copperfield goes to Crimebake.

3. A because I can spell Kip.

4. Least wrong is A, but most right is to substitute an emoji of a writer doing a happy dance instead of being boring and just writing you're done.

5. B is less wrong because it gives more information. Unless less is more. In that case use A.

6. A, for sure. I was on a boat once when two whales swam up close and I definitely thought we needed a bigger boat.

7. I'd have to go with A here because while it makes no sense to me, I could at least type the words and I can't figure out how to type the copywrite symbol.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

!4 wrongs do not make One right.

At all.


(as in "the end")



*treads water, looks for exit*

John Frain said...

2B is least wrong. Might even be a decent start for a story.

Or not 2B... in which case 6A is least wrong because why not have a few agents at Crimebake decide to go on a whale watching tour where one of them turns to the other and says "we're gonna need a bigger boat."

If it's not a trick quiz...

1. A is the lesser of two evils because B is so evil.

2. B because "fiction novel" is against the law in several northeast states.

3. A because any decent agent knows the final l in Plxydcotrquarl is never silent. (Nice try.)

4. A only because ... you have to pick one and A uses fewer words.

5. B because this happened to me and I flipped a coin declaring Ms. Poelle the winner. (I find I'm doing a lot of coin-flipping with this quiz too.)

6. A, because I love how I perceive my face looks saying "it's like Jaws but with whales."

7. C, Lifelock, and put your social security number on the front cover while you're at it.

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

I was at an advanced writers' group on Monday ('advanced' as in had a book published--commercial or indie (most were indie)).

As I was chatting with one of the other authors, he actually referred to his book as a "fiction novel". The moment he said it, I had to stare at him. I honestly couldn't believe he said "fiction novel". Granted, he also said a lot of things that led me to believe his career wasn't going to be stellar, but the 'fiction novel' is what stunned me most.

He looks at me and asks me if I'm all right. All I could do was nod. I feared what might have spouted out of my mouth if I dared say a word.

Yahknow, I wouldn't mind if Slithery Barbara Poelle recommended my work to another agent.

Amy Mackin said...

1. B, because at least “Dear Madam” shows some formality and respect

2. B, because “fiction novel” is appalling

3. A, because “Kip” can be used throughout the rest of the writing
-- would trip over “Plxydcotrquarl” every single time otherwise

4. A, because the less adjectives the better, at least in my book

5. A, because Barbara Poelle might have actually said that

6. A, because comparison is good, but claims of superiority? Not so much.

7. A, because if you’re claiming it’s legally copyrighted, you better be able to back it up.

So fun! Now I must go pack my bag!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, that was SUCH a trick question.
I do not fold.
ANd the agent will know that.
xoxoxoo and see you soon!

BJ Muntain said...

Welcome Ms. Ryan!

Anonymous said...


The numbers for the contest rules are no longer unruly! YES.

And as if that's not enough, Janet just posted a very long (and excellent) post over at QueryShark and it's full of items with numbers and letters and they're all in order.

My little OCD brain is just all aquiver with admiration and gratitude. And my wild and wicked imagination is rolling its eyes at me.

LynnRodz said...

Okay, I'm going to answer this again.

Still one answer: #6 Letter A (still the same)

Why? Because it's "the least wrong."

It reminds me of this test here.

Sussu said...

1. B-- A would come to mind first because we need to personalize our query. But really B because Snookums means “my sweetie pie” in the urban dictionary, so we’re not on this level of intimacy and that could sound really offensive. Plus, the colon is needed for a formal letter.

2. A-- B sounds like the right answer because it’s obvious it’s a fictional novel (Plus, no need to hit the nail twice.) However, answer A sounds better because CrimeBake 2015 is a conference in New England, so the story should be “set at” the conference, not starts from the conference. Sounds more exciting too!

3. A-- Who cares if the “l” is silent. Using a nickname is actually useful in the rest of the query.

4. B-- A sounds like it should be the answer of choice because the other sentence is so redundant. You want to be straight to the point. However, B is the answer because, really, if Hank Phillipi Ryan, the mystery writer and journalist put her hand in your novel, you do want to mention this!

5. A-- If it’s Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, hell yeah! If an agent refers you to another agent, that means she already mentioned me to this other agent!

6. A-- Boasting? Nah. However, whales with deathly jaws is just strikingly evocative. Fact versus opinion factor.

7. None, but A can be referenced in case you are republishing the work.