The query opened with the writer's publishing credits. I began googling the titles, figuring I'd find our connection point that way. Maybe I'd read one of the novels and liked it enough to tweet about it.
I soon discovered that all 10+ published novels were actually self-published. I was then pretty sure I hadn't read them. (One of the "publishers" actually includes a warning label that the book has not received any editing whatsover, which I thought was an odd thing to mention as a selling point.)
The publishing credits also included a powerhouse line up of reviews and essays published in major outlets. Outlets to which I had paid subscriptions. That was most likely where I'd seen the name.
So clearly this writer had chops.
The query said NOTHING about the book.
My quandry: do I write back and say "Hey Writer friend, I need to know about the book" or do I refer writer friend to QueryShark (as in "you didn't send a very effective query, here are some pointers.")
In other words, I'm in the rather mortifying position of telling someone who's pretty well published that s/he can't write a query for spit, and no I'm not going to request a novel simply on spec. I need to know a little something about it before I add it to the SEVENTY PLUS NOVELS I've got here to be read.
*excuse me, I had a brief fainting spell when I looked at my backlog of reading*
*snorts smelling salts like an asthmatic rhino on oxygen*
This is a quandry. Sure I don't want to miss good stuff, but I also don't want to engage in a back and forth with a writer about what I need before requesting a full manuscript.
And I don't want to be one of those people who "explains publishing" to someone who's clearly been in it for a good long time.
At this point, I've now spent 10 minutes flailing, another 20 minutes writing this blog post, and I still don't know what to do.
I'll tell you what the easy answer is: do nothing.
The initial query didn't tell me about the book. That's an automatic pass.
What a savvy writer at any level in this business knows: send an agent or editor what they ask for at the query stage. It's really simple. Most of us even have readily available lists or guidelines on how to do that.