Saturday, February 15, 2020

Query me for anything you want but these almost always are a pass

I'm digging in to my queries with renewed zest.
I'm glad to see almost anything even if it's not a good fit for me.
I'll never shame you in public (ie Twitter) for sending me a query that's "not what I do."
It's  absolutely ok to query me for anything.

That said, there are some things I'm not keen on:

1. Abuse memoirs.
I'm very glad to hear you survived the challenges of being victimized and powerless.  I'm glad you wrote about it because I think writing about things can give you needed perspective not to mention healing.

I just don't want to read it. I'm sorry but I don't.

2. Pedophilia in any form.
I don't want that ugliness in my head.

3. Catholic Church bashing.
The Church is so far from perfect it's not even worth discussing, but I am a Catholic, and I'm not going to participate in bashing it.

You're welcome to your opinion, and god knows we can find common ground with how great the movie Spotlight is, but I don't want to read books on this subject.

4. Polemics of any kind.
I'm not interested in attacking anything other than the sushi buffet.

5. The novel you wrote to prove a point.
I am entirely story-based. If you have a compelling story, you can make any point you want to, but I'm not going to read your novel to hear how global warming is a problem.

6. Serial killers. 
I don't find them interesting. Other people do.

7. Books set in the publishing industry, or featuring writers as the main character.
In this, I simply know too much for any kind of fiction to be interesting. Much like cops don't like Law and Order, and hookers don't either.

8. Books about illness, contagion, pandemics, epidemics.
Just not my cup of tea.

9. Anything with vampires.
I've never warmed (ha) to vampires, even when all the cool girls at school were head over heals for them. Never read Anne Rice, never saw the Tom Cruise movie. Just not my thing.

10. Books about 9/11.
I can't. I just can't. Other agents can and do. Query them.

But again, you can't go wrong querying me.
Just note that if your book falls into any of these categories, it's me, not you.


Amy Johnson said...

7. But might even a cop watch it if only to hear some of Lennie's lines? I miss him.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I really appreciate this, that you'd rather receive a query that isn't for you than miss out on a project that isn't on your "Want" list but still makes you go "Gimme!" Many of the things you list are also not for me as a reader (though I am known to like a well done serial killer novel.)

nightsmusic said...

Much of your list is in line with my taste as a reader as well though I agree with Jennifer about the serial killer. What can I say? I absolutely refuse to read or watch for that matter, anything pertaining to animal or child abuse. I'm older. I've seen some things in my life I just can't scrub from my mind and they show up at the oddest times. I'm not interested in adding to them.

There's a site called My go to when I want to know in advance what to expect from a movie I might watch. It's helped.

NLiu said...

Dragons aren't an automatic pass?!

I'm on it.

Timothy Lowe said...

I can attest to #8 -- one of the kindest rejections I've ever received.

Aphra Pell said...

Nightmusic - thanks for that link. I'm still traumatised by The Little Stranger and The Coffin Path. Both are excellent if bleak, stories, I love both of them, hugely admire the writers, and I'm probably never going to revisit them because of the bits with the dog.

In fact, I am going to spoiler all my own work right now, and say that any animal you can get attached to in my stories is going to die of old age in its sleep.

NLiu said...

Nightsmusic, Aphra Pell: hard agree.

Husband and I went to watch Weiner Dog when it came out. It was billed as "comedy, with dog". I was postpartum and still quite emotional. I was expecting a happy, funny dog film.

I left the cinema to go and shudder wide-eyed under a blanket.

(Spoiler: the dog doesn't get a happy ending.)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Don’t kill the dog. That is one of mine. I do think my WIP, the query is in draft folder waiting for me to hit send, will probably be an auto pass for our sharkly queen. It is espresso dark fantasy. So not sure I should query her. I don’t wish to waste her time. But I owe her so much. I am so grateful for all her shared wisdom. What to do, what to do...

Craig F said...

My sci-fi didn't go very far either. I admit it is a still on Earth piece, at the start, but it only took a few days to be rejected.

I don't think it is the query, so it must be something else.

nightsmusic said...

NLiu and Aphra I can't do it. I just can't. I found that site oh...a long time ago and have since relied on it to let me know what's going on. You can search any movie and they're adding books and such as well. It's crowd sourced so the descriptions of what happens aren't always the most...polished, for lack of a better term, but it's really been invaluable. And a lot of the comments go into great detail about any living thing in the movie so not just dogs and cats.

I was absolutely traumatized after watching Bambi. I never wanted to see anything like that again. And don't get me wrong, I understand life and death, maybe better than some. But my first experience with it beside having an older family so having to be at the funeral parlor every couple months, was my grandmother drowning newborn kittens in a bucket of water. I can still see that. I was maybe four or five. A lifetime later and it's still beyond traumatic to think of. But she was from a different country and era.

So no. I'll watch the bad guy in a movie get sliced into itty bitty pieces and not blink twice. Or read something similar. But I just can't stand man's cruelty to animals.


Does The Dog Die

Karl Henwood said...

I really feel you on the whole "know too much to enjoy it" part. I'm an actual Armor officer; I've spent 13 years on tanks or around them in various capacities. And that absolutely ruined the movie Fury for me.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great movie. The characters are believable, the tension is intense, the story satisfying in it's way. But my God, the tactics.

Every time a tank was shown doing anything combat related (outside the first battle, which was fine) I wanted to jump up and scream "WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? THAT IS DUMB AND YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!"

And then, shortly thereafter, somebody on team Good Guy would die of a terrible case of the Stupid.

John Davis Frain said...

I heard a deejay talking about how wrong they got it in Sleepless in Seattle. "Broadcasting just doesn't work like that."

So, my conclusion is that anyone who does anything for a living isn't going to admire a book (or movie) about their specialty. But I also conclude that if you're that writer, you should feel okay with that. Because if you go too deep into the technical woods, you'd bore the other 99% of your readers. And the worst crime a writer can commit is boredom on the page. (Okay, plagiarism, but you know where I'm going.)

When I see #7, I think Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain, which remains one of the best books I've ever read. So, that surprises me almost as much as serial killers. But getting surprised is always good, so thanks!

John Davis Frain said...

I meant #8.

Writers and math!

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Damn. There goes the sushi-hating, flu-ridden, blood-drinking, wannabe-novelist-serial-killer I've invested 610,000 words in.

PS: But he IS dog-loving. I still haven't gotten over Old Yeller.

Lennon Faris said...

I second the animal-death aversions here. Also, when everyone the m.c. loves, dies, and it's an overall horrible, depressing ending.

In college in the midst of exams, my sister and I were pulling all-nighters and were so stressed, we decided to be the ultimate rebels and go see a movie. It was winter and we had no car but we were determined, so we made the 20 minute walk downtown.

There was a wholesome, feel-good sports movie out, perfect to lift our moods. Girl boxer protagonist! Yeah!

Not sure if anyone's ever seen "Million Dollar Baby", but it was so opposite of feel-good that the whole walk home, we were barely able to stand upright, we were laughing so hard. If anyone heard what we were discussing I'm sure they thought we were complete psychopaths.

Ironically, it lifted our moods.

nightsmusic said...

Bonnie Oh. My. God. Me either!! Most horrible movie I've ever watched as far as the PTSD afterward.

Colin Smith said...

#5: Don't watch the current series of Doctor Who, then. (Anyone who's been following the "Who Reviews" on my blog will understand... *grumble grumble grumble*)

Elise: "I don’t wish to waste her time." Here, let me slap you before Janet does. As a much-beloved Reider, you know she's going to take the time to respond to you. Why would she consider it a waste of time to take 30 seconds to read your query? Just hit SEND and be done with it!! ;)

Dena Pawling said...


On the other hand, MY COUSIN VINNY is awesome!

EM GOLDSMITH - I was in your position a few years ago when I first entered the query trenches. And like you, I mentioned on this blog that my query to Janet was sitting there in my draft folder, waiting for me to get the courage to send, but it wasn't her genre so I was unsure whether to believe her when she said [like she always does] "Query me even if I don't represent that genre. I'm always looking for something good. What's the worst that can happen?" Janet responded to me, here on the blog, something like the Nike slogan plus eternal damnation on my soul for doubting her business philosophy. I didn't doubt her [obviously??] so I sent the query. Yes she passed but it was a lovely rejection, which of course I saved. And the benefit is, I can always tell people my very first rejection was NOT a form rejection. How many writers can say that!

AJ Blythe said...

Yup, pretty much everything on the list except serial killers. I don't mind police procedurals with serial killers.

Nliu, Aphra Pell, Nightsmusic, with you guys on the animal thing. Bambi traumatised me for months when I was little. Have never been able to bring myself to watch Red Dog - think I'm the only Aussie who never had. Read James Herriot, but even after the 20th reread, still get teary when animals don't make it (vet stories, so all animals who don't make it are very ill and/or old).

Nightsmusic, thanks for the link, have now bookmarked it.

Linda Shantz said...

I also won't read a book or watch a movie where I know the animal dies. There's enough of that heartache in real life, thanks. But if I am reading something where it happens, and I haven't totally thrown it into a snowdrift, the author better make sure the way it happens is realistic!

Sunnygoetze said...

You forgot zombie porn