Tuesday, October 22, 2019

It must now be said

Don't query via text.
Don't follow up on queries or requested fulls via text.

Unless instructed clearly and specifically otherwise: email is the ONLY way to do either of those things.

And this is not just a get-off-my-lawn, not-in-touch-with-the-modern-world position.

Unless *I* have your phone number in my contacts DB, you show up as unknown.
I not only have no idea who you are, I can't find out.

And texts come in when you send them.
Which means that if I'm canoodling with Her Grace and Sleekness, the Duchess of Yowl, your text is interrupting us.

I don't need to spell out the results of that do I. No I do not.

I not only ignore texts from unknown numbers, I block them.
You have the car warranty and IRS hoax calls to thank for that.

Texting is a good tool for some things.
But it's a monkey wrench in your query toolbox.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Writers have texted their queries to you? What? Does that happen a lot? I can't imagine how any writer would think that was cool unless they were an established client which is addressed in post. Technology providing new and glorious ways for young writers to ruin their prospects. Lovely.

Paranoid question for group. I am working on my submission packet for my next venture into query trenches. One agent asks for a 2-3 page synopsis. Mine is nearly 4 pages. Is that too long or can I let it stand for the short synopsis? I feel like the extra 3/4 page won't be a big deal but am trying not to take many liberties with the myriad of instructions.

Ok, off I go to the coffee machine.

nightsmusic said...

EM I think I'd still try to pare it back. You never know if they see that 4th page if they'll just delete it without even reading. I don't know, just my guess, but if it was me, I'd try.

And I'm flabbergasted that anyone would text you at all let alone with a query! I don't text anyone I don't know personally unless it's a company like my phone carrier. Even then, I prefer a phone call with them. That's so presumptive and rude. Good gravy...hell in a handbasket...

Colin Smith said...

I don't understand why you would feel at liberty to text someone socially you don't know, let alone professionally. But maybe I'm just old. :)

Elise: I think you're fine with nearly 4 pages. My thought is, if she's already looking favorably at your submission, thanks to your awesome query, a slightly longer than requested synopsis is hardly going to turn her off. She's just looking at the synopsis to get a sense of the overall plot.

If the agent is on the fence, and using the synopsis to help convince her to request pages, I can't imagine an extra page is going to matter a whole lot. If she asked for 2-3 pages and you gave her 5 or 10, that might ruffle feathers.

In short, the impression I get from what I've learned over the years is that agents don't request based solely on a synopsis. The query is what really matters. The synopsis and pages help to seal the deal if there's doubt.

As usual, Janet, make me DoY's petting servant for a week if I'm wrong. :)

Aphra Pell said...

Am I alone in wondering HOW querying by text would work? Leaving aside the obvious issue of shooting yourself in the foot re. manners, it just seems completely the wrong medium.

Fearless Reider said...

Can’t talk — gotta go translate my query into emoji, STAT. Maybe I’ll do my whole (fiction) novel, while I’m at it.

Lennon Faris said...

I was wondering if this might be another Someone Who Has No Clue, but I've changed my mind. If it's a stranger with your phone number (and querying), clearly they have knowledge and had to do some personal digging. That makes this just plain creepy.

E.M., I am of Colin's opinion. The synopsis is mainly there to serve that basic 'do aliens eat everyone in the final chapter'? question.

Megan V said...

While I don't think four pages is the end of the world, I do think you should try to pare back to adhere to what's requested.

When it comes to synopses I really enjoy this post (I use it as a reference to get the bones of my synopsis and to help me cut the flab)

Dena Pawling said...

As the victim of someone who [presumably] innocently made a typo in the posted contact number in an ad on Craig's List, I can attest to the wonders of the "block this number" feature. I do NOT respond to texts from numbers I don't know, unless it starts with "This is NAME from PLACE" and then includes enough info that confirms I know the person. I do NOT pick up any calls from numbers I don't know. Leave a voicemail. If I want to talk to you, I'll call back.

This policy drives my husband bonkers. "What if it's someone I know with a real emergency?" "What if ..." "What if ..." "What if ..." He will stop whatever he's doing to check his incoming texts or pick up the call, even if we're reasonably confident it's a telemarketer and even if we're in the middle of doing something else.

Not me. I have NO problem letting the phone transfer a call to voicemail. I have no problem waiting until a more convenient time to read an incoming text message.

The important people in my life are set up with specific ringtones and they know how to get my attention if I'm not answering.

A person who calls or texts does so when it's convenient for them, not for me. I will respond to calls or texts when it's convenient for me. I am in control of my own time. What I'm doing at that moment is more important than this interruption.

And I agree with a previous comment. Some random querier who sends a text message to an agent's cell phone is creepy.

EM - I'd shave down the synopsis to 3 pages per instructions. I read all the time about folks with extra-long manuscripts trying to cut large blocks of words. I wouldn't want to advertise up front that you have trouble staying within word count guidelines.

Craig F said...

I'm glad that i don't know how to do that, I won't pursue learning how. I am just a few days out from dropping a bomb into the query trenches, and that is exhausting enough. One last sentence and I think the query will fly through email enough.

That last sentence is even harder than the first sentence.

Elise: There are no page markers in e-mail, so you might be fine. Then again, give it another try at shortening it by at least half a page. Mine ended up reading like a bullet point list, short sentences so none act like a speed bump.

NLiu said...

Texting a query?! What the how??

And EM, I agree with everyone who's said to pare the synopsis back and stay within the guidelines. It might seem painful, but it's probably good for the submission package. Besides, consider yourself lucky you aren't restricted to just one page...

(Did I change the margins? Of course I changed the margins.)

CynthiaMc said...

I am not surprised. Probably in another generation or two it will be commonplace (some poor intern will have to monitor the query phone). Our grandchildren will go "You had to do everything by email? That's so sloooow."

But then I'm old enough to remenber when it was considered rude to email and everything had to be done by snail mail.

Timothy Lowe said...

This is unthinkable.

Janet, next time someone tries this, text them back that you have to verify that they're a real person, and that you're going to send them a Google voice code -- they need to send it back for verification.

Then you steal their info.

Seriously, I wouldn't even text my agent, much less an agent I am not currently working with. Seriously bad form on all counts.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, I imagine there are not many circumstances I would even text my own agent. I have this picture of Jeff Somers' cats texting Janet but then they probably text DoY and then there is this whole big thing. But that could be my romantic notions of that whole affair.

Thanks, guys, for responding to my query/synopsis insecurities. What happened is 3 agents wanted a 3-5 page synopsis. I was so proud of my 4 page synopsis. Then the next on the list wanted 1-3 page, "short" synopsis. I was trying to cut back on work for first round but I think I will par back and then be able to satisfy those 4 agents with one synopsis. I honestly don't think the synopsis is the end-all in the query package. I think Colin and a couple of others are right- it's the query. And then pages. And then synopsis.

I love the one page synopsis post Megan linked to - that will be useful further down line. In my second round, I think there are a couple of agents asking for a 1-2 page synopsis. Thanks, guys.

Theresa said...

Even from Carkoon, I'd never presume to query via text. Frantic requests for kale and whiskey, however.....

John Davis Frain said...

With Twitter contests all the rage, it was only a matter of time before people started to query via text.

Apparently that time has arrived.

I'm still a little surprised no one has queried you through a flash fiction contest. (Wow, did I barely come to my senses and avoid that mistake a little ways back!)

Colin Smith said...

John: Ha--that reminds me of a piece of flash I wrote a few years ago:

Dear Ms. Price:

Angela was a hard-nosed literary agent with a flair for snark, and a rejection count as large as the national debt. Then she received the query she couldn’t turn down. The email threatened her life if she didn’t say yes, and the sender had attached the 150,000 word manuscript. There was no name at the bottom, just the signature, “I know where you live.”

TWO DAYS TO LIVE tells the story of Angela’s search for the writer who would try to kill her—and probably will. The 150,000 word manuscript is attached.

I know where you live.

Janet Reid said...

Given that Ronan Farrow proposed to his husband in the pages of Catch and Kill, I think querying via flash fiction is probably in our future.

Of course, it's a one way trip to Carkoon, but that hasn't deterred some of you scallywags before.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I like it when I don't have to cross something off my list, since it's something that never would have occurred to me to do! Wowza. And interrupting canoodling is right out, that's why email is always safest.

Joseph S. said...

I'm surprised anyone would text a query.

I can understand someone (say someone who reads this blog often) texting a quick message of thanks or some general information, but a query, no.

Hmm. Should I text Janet Reid and tell her I agree with her? Nah, not this time.

John Davis Frain said...

Colin, I love that.

It should've won something. I mean, beyond a trip to Carkoon. But you might still have rental property on Carkoon that gives you a decent income from previous years, I can't remember. So, a trip to Carkoon might be welcome in your eyes, what do I know.

Still, it shoulda won something, it's a great little tale with a perfect wrap up that, dare I say it, makes it a story! Unless I'm wrong, of course.

Jenn Griffin said...

from 555-5555, caller unknown: "Yo, Shark Lady: wanna read my sh!t?"

from QOTKU to 555-5555: "Sure. Send it to crap@carkoon.com. You can expect a response from NORMAN."

Colin Smith said...

John: Thanks--I'm glad you like it. :) Prize-worthy? I don't know. A story? Hmmm... not so sure about that either. Could be one, though. Might make an interesting thriller. Two days to find the guy who wants you dead and the only clue you have is the query letter. And perhaps the 150k word novel...