Monday, March 05, 2018

Really? REALLY??

Recent email:
subj: Re: Query for Kale Fields of Carkoon

Hey Janet,
I know you didn't take a shine to Kale Fields of Carkoon, but I've got another top notch thriller about the Cabbages of Ketchikan. It's like Kale Fields of Carkoon, but set in Alaska. Want to take a look at that one?

Query Writer

Really? REALLY?

Just a reminder that if you receive a pass letter on Project A, and you've got Project B in the chute, just waiting to buck out into the arena, YOU STILL NEED TO SADDLE UP WITH A QUERY.

And for the sake of my sanity, which is in short supply, at least change the frigging subject line. This makes it look as though you're still talking about the novel I just passed on. It doesn't get sorted into incoming queries; it gets sorted into general mail.

And honestly, you probably received a form letter from me on the first one. It makes me feel really awkward to now send a second form letter, so I'm usually reduced to a terse "no thanks" which doesn't make either of us feel all that great.

Do yourself a favor. There are no shortcuts that avoid a query letter (well, there are, but none of them apply to you.)

Any bucking  questions?


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Kale and cabbages? No bucking way.
You want intrigue? You want pacing that will blow your panties off? You want memorable vegan characters that will last a lifetime? It's all about lima beans my friends, the little green engorged tick-like scourge among veggies.
Now there's a title for ya. Who needs a query with a title like that?

Unknown said...

I love that the new book is the same story in a different location. Wouldn't that be nice? Search and replace: Alaska for Timbuktu, freezing for sweltering, snowmobile for car, Dick for Jane. Done!

Mister Furkles said...

Hey, Twin Inns, Lima Beans got nothing on Brussel Sprouts.

So, Janet, I suppose a responsible writer with five million volumes in sales for five novels could, after her/his agent passed away, ask for representation without a query?

Well, I'll start working on that right away. And by the way, how large a storage locker is needed for five million hardback?

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Sounds like a good day for a couple of hot whiskies in a dark pub.
After the winter I've had, yeah.

Donnaeve said...

Uh oh.

That was a withering response and I bet this particular offender (does that make this person a PO instead of OP?) is cringing. Or not.

I wrote a post a LONG time ago that I titled "Don't Be A Spaghetti Writer," meaning don't fling stuff at the wall just to see if it sticks.

It comes off as not professional.

Anonymous said...

@Kathy Joyce - At least if Dick was switched for Jane it might end up having a F-F background relationship, making it a little less cookie cutter?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Um Mr Furkles, you do know that brussel spouts (BS) are nothing more than teeny tiny cabbage balls.
If you're into BS than teeny tiny balls made of leaves might just be the way to go.
Gee, I just love this place :)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Y'all are funny today. Donna, Spaghetti writer. HA! Kathy Search and replace. HAHA!

I suppose, after hanging out here for a few years or so, one may begin to feel a familiarity akin to friendship. Wise to keep in mind that a bit of interaction with The Shark doesn't mean you'll be discussing contracts over cocktails. Lead with your professional foot first.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

That's... oh boy. The part of that email that makes me cringe is assuming that someone DEFINITELY remembers your previous story, even though agents go through a metric s**t ton of queries every day. Why would you start off shooting yourself in the foot by reminding an agent that they've seen your work before, but didn't want it?

I don't understand!!

OT: I loved Ketchikan when I was there--such a beautiful area!

Steve Stubbs said...

Great post. I had to read this twice to see what you were getting at and that you were not joking. I love that you made an important point with great humor.

Sometimes writers make mistakes that make them look like drooling morons to agents. But I suspect whoever wrote this was unaware s/he was screwing up when s/he hit SEND.

Those of us who appreciate how tough sales is as a profession do NOT want to add heartache to headache.

No need to feel awkward about sending form letters. Any response at all is courteous above and beyond the call of duty in the world of NORMAN-is-NORMAL. Unless you want to say something beyond just "No", it does not make any difference whether you spell it "No," "Nyet," "Non," or "Nein."

Have a great Monday and a great week.

Gayle said...

I am in awe sometimes about the lack of research people do. I follow a lot of agents on twitter (although I tend to unfollow after they reject me as my one means of petty and meaningless revenge) and the questions they get sometimes. I'm just: How do you not KNOW that already???

But i guess you don't know what you don't know. There are so many things anyone who has read a lot about publishing and querying (as any long-time reader of Janet's blog has) knows, but someone who is just starting out has no idea about. Still, they could find out easily enough.

I've never had two projects ready to go at the same time--although I'm working toward it. I'm thankful for this blog all the time. I'm thus able to avoid mistakes like this.

Unknown said...

Gayle, Petty Meaningless Revenge sounds like a great book!

Morgan, good point! That creativity will take you far. Just remember to query!

Colin Smith said...

Not only is this bad query etiquette, but it's plagiarism. KALE FIELDS OF CARKOON is a classic. Written by the late Carkoonian novelist Oskir Meninnopulqz, it tells the story of love between two Kale farmers from rival families. In a tragic twist at the end, one feigns death in a ploy to escape for fresh Kale fields with his beloved. But when she hears of his death, she takes a deadly dose of cabbage water and artichokes. He recovers, and is so heartbroken, so devastated, he has a complete mental breakdown and opens a law firm.

I'm trying to think how one might circumvent the querying process. Two ways come to mind:

1) A really successful self-published novel might attract agents offering to take it to the Big Five.
2) A manuscript passed to an agent from a client or trusted friend.

Donna: If I recall, you have an unusual "road to publication" story. Have you ever shared this on your blog? If not, you ought to. Am I right in thinking you didn't query to get your agent?

Gayle said...

@Kathy-- I'll keep that in mind. It does seem to fit in with book and/or TV shows Pretty Little Liars and Dirty Sexy Money

you all are a hoot! reading comments here is a really enjoyable part of my day. :-)

Barbara Etlin said...

Other possible ways to circumvent the query process:

- Pitch to an agent at a conference. If you're successful, you can just send him or her a partial or full manuscript.

- Invent a new method of telepathy. I suggest one that not only magically places the manuscript into the agent's mind, but also comes complete with a post-hypnotic suggestion. Something like, "I love this! I can't wait to sell it in an auction!"

The Sleepy One said...

2) A manuscript passed to an agent from a client or trusted friend.

Colin, I received a couple referrals and every time, I still needed a query letter, specifically the pitch portion. Having a good pitch for each book (by pitch I mean the meat portion of a query versus personalization, bio, or housekeeping) is useful, even when agented. If anything, it shows you know, at least partially, what makes your book unique.

Craig F said...

Suffering succotash, that little green bean has gone a long way. Still pisses me off that Speckled and I are relegated to regional delicacies.

My book is about how we lost the legume war to that little green shit maker.

Henderson P. Lima

There are ways to slip past the Dweller on the Threshold of Publishing. You still need a query so your agent has something to use to pitch your work to a higher Dweller. 150,000 reads on Wattpad still won't get you to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Julie Weathers said...

Is it bad that I immediately wondered if I was guilty of this in a recent email?

I'm quite sure I was supposed to be a Catholic. I'm always wanting to confess to something. On the girl's basketball team I automatically raised my hand when the ref's called a foul. Of course, I was usually guilty, but that's beside the point.

"Any bucking questions?"

Yes, eight seconds or ten?

Every book is its own special little being. Each gets its own query. They are just like children. You don't go to school and say, "Hey, I don't need to register this one because you already saw child one."

AJ Blythe said...

I met a US agent at an Aussie conference. She didn't know anyone so I introduced her to people, invited her to dinner with my friends etc and over the course of the three days got to know her quite well. Over the weekend she asked about my book and then invited me to send it to her. She also asked me to email her some information relating to things we'd chatted about over the weekend.

I sent her a very informal, chatty email with the info she'd asked for. Separately, I sent her a (formal) query and partial, following all guidelines, with a mention of our meeting at the top of the query.

As Melanie said, "lead with your professional foot".

As Murphy would have it, she was very grateful for the info and responded accordingly, not so much for my sub which was Norman'd.

Anonymous said...

For your consideration, THE LUTEFISK FLATS OF MINNESOTA: A Chronicle of Childhood Gustatory Trauma (audio only). I think the title says it all, no need for a query. :)

AJ, OUCH! I know agents aren't ever *required* to reply, but a NORMAN under those circumstances seems really . . . cold.

midwestern_ohper said...

Carolynnwith2NS not only did the pacing blow them off, now I'm wringing them out, goldang it.
No query needed for that, none 'tall!

Lennon Faris said...

Live and learn, Writer. Hope the Alaskan one makes it. I'd prob. read that!

AJ - Sheesh. I *almost* hope that your query just slipped through the cracks in the internet/ first readers for queries. I don't want to believe someone would be so cold!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Midwestern, my fame? Spare pantie writing. Wow, I have arrived.

Colin Smith said...

AJ: I'm with BJ on that--not even giving you a form rejection after that kind of interaction is cold. The publishing equivalent of "ghosting," don't you think?

Gypmar said...

Carolynn, you crack me up, and your vegetable choice is spot-on. Lima beans are undoubtedly the work of the devil.

AJ Blythe said...

KD, Lennon and Colin, I thought it was a bit harsh as well. I was invited to send it directly to their personal (work) email (not the submission email) and as my 'chatty' email had been received I'm confident the submission was as well. I decided if that typified their behaviour I was better off not having them rep me and (with probably too much pleasure) deleted them from my list.

As our Queen has said in similar circumstances: you don't want that person as an agent.

JEN Garrett said...

Are you sure that wasn't spam? I can't believe writers would be that clueless.
(In case the tongue in cheek isn't showing between the lines, it's there)