Monday, April 09, 2018

Seven ways to demonstrate you're not ready to query

1. "Your profile picture is delightful"
Why this isn't something you should do: Commenting on anyone's photo, even if it's an avatar is creepy. It's particularly creepy if you are a gent, and the person you're addressing is a lady. It's creepiest when you are a gent of certain years, and the lady in question is much less-seasoned.  Be aware of the fact that what you think is funny and charming may not be perceived as such. The shorthand for this is "read the room" and an increasing number of gentlemen are discovering they don't do that very well.

2. "My novel is about Batman/SuperGirl/Wolverine"
Why this is something you can't do: Those characters were invented by, and are owned by someone else. You don't get to SELL stories/novels using them. There is such a thing as fan fiction, but it's not what we sell.

3. "You come highly recommended on the AAR website"
Why you should avoid this: The AAR site doesn't recommend anyone. They list members. Membership in AAR may be why you chose to query the agent but that's not what you wrote. False flattery is icky.

4. In lieu of the "letter" I am sending you.... (attachment) and other stuff.
In lieu of responding to your query, I'm not.
I ask for what I need to assess your work.
If you don't send it, it tells me you're going to be a pain in the hat to work with.

5.  Did you get my previous email/query (#1 above)
The ONLY way to follow up on a query is just to resend it.
If you can't figure out why I didn't reply, I have a handy check list
Two of these emails and I flag your email address and it's diverted to trash.

6. You'll probably reject this but..
Publishing requires ironclad determination and tenacity.
This kind of "woe is I" sentence tells me you don't have it. I don't sign writers that
demonstrate they're going to need this much hand holding. 

7. My friend says you're great
While it's true I am, not telling me who said so makes this ineffective sucking up. On my very best day (and there aren't a lot of those) I despise sucking up. The only thing I despise more? Ineffective sucking up.


Unknown said...

I think I'm making progress. I knew not to do any of these. Happy Monday all!

AJ Blythe said...

Some of these scream "new writer". That's why you need to do your research!

Janet, I assume they are talking about your "Bruce" profile pic, but I have a comment about your twitter pic. For some time now I thought that pic was a pink-iced cake that had been sliced (maybe something from Colin's first born? Or a hint you were after cake?). Then the other day I saw the profile pic on a larger scale. Makes so much more sense now!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Your Majesty, you are a little bit scary. Is that sucking up? I am so unsure. All those writers swimming about you with missing limbs and pants. I am going to hide now. It’s Monday.

DeadSpiderEye said...

I just don't believe anyone leads with, 'Your profile picture is [insert smarm here]' my guess is someone only resorts to something like that once they've become desperate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these. I think these are pretty good tips for interacting with basically... ANYONE.

Julie Weathers said...

It's kind of amazing that people still make these mistakes when there is a plethora of information out there about how to query correctly and how to interact with the publishing industry people. Having said that, I would love to buy @NYCEditor a cup of coffee and a box of cookies just because she amuses me. I wouldn't even need to meet her. Just have a secret drop to have it sent to.

I can't remember who it was, Kirsten Nelson maybe, had someone send a manuscript in a beautiful hand-carved wooden box. They had to call the author to pick it up because they don't accept gifts.

Querying is a professional communication.

Anyone remember the guy who posted the rant about the agent he had queried and she rejected him so he decided to go to a conference and pitch her and got another rejection? This time he took to his blog and eviscerated her. Her age, her looks, her professionalism, her education, what she was wearing, her intelligence. It was a stunning meltdown.

Kids, don't try this at home.

John Davis Frain said...

I'm impressed you were able to stop the list at 7. But then, a friend tells me you're great, so...

Darn! Couldn't stop myself. But 6 out of 7 puts me ahead of Meatloaf, which ain't bad.

And yes, Julie, I do remember that episode. Head-shaker.

Sam Hawke said...

Yeah, I'm with Julie here - everyone makes newbie mistakes, but there is SO MUCH information available out there about querying it's hard to see how these huge clangers keep happening.

Ugh, I too remember that guy. Revolting. His meltdown was pretty special but I'm sure there are plenty of dudes who've carried on similar meltdowns, just less publicly. Certainly I still see female agents tweeting about people creepily commenting on their looks.

Amy Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Johnson said...

Julie, I too remember did John put it?...episode. Some time later, I queried the agent. She requested a partial and eventually passed. Couldn't have been more pleasant or professional. Seems she would have been great to work with.

Sam Mills said...

I'm frequently flabbergasted by the anecdotes of magazine editors, too. Recently one mentioned that most of his hate mail was from the same author. The author had submitted dozens of stories, and after every rejection he sent a new scathing response. Why keep submitting?? In what world would this editor ever want to work with you?

Craig F said...

Don't have much that wasn't already said. Pull up your professional panties before you query. I really just came over because I smelled meatloaf.