Monday, September 21, 2020

Some recent eye-rollers

1. "My novel is well-written."

2. "I'm an amateur author"

3. A list of all the people who workshopped your novel

4. Querying in third-person

5. "I am looking for a brilliant literary agent"

6. "I am contacting you personally"

7. "Hi, my name is Felix Buttonweezer and I'm writing to query you."

None of these are deal breakers but you don't want to make a less-than-effective first impression. 

Any questions?


Steve Forti said...

As someone preparing to send out queries (checks 85th revision of query letter, crosses out all 7 items), okay, good to go.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

#8- I know where you live.
#9- Hi Janet my name is Sherwin Williams.
#10- Dear Ms. Reid my name is Benjamin Moore.

Kitty said...

#11 Where would you like to meet for a drink and talk it over?

mhleader said...

Ok. Lemme see if I've got this query thing right. So I should write my query in the following way:

I have a really phenomenal 976-page novel that I know you'll love because, you know, I'm a professional writer. And once you represent me you won't have to deal with all those other amateur authors. I've passed this novel by 73 New York Times bestselling authors, all of whom were stunned by the sheer beauty and power of my amazing prose.

But don't let your own amazement stop you from immediately signing on to represent me. To avoid that, I've not bothered to include sample pages or synopsis--I'm sure you're bored by the same-old/same-old from all those other loser queriers.

However, I know you need to know something about the book that will soon make both of us millions. It's a dino-food cookbook disguised as a picaresque romantic road novel in which a recently reawakened T-Rex travels the back roads of the US to identify--and eat!--the world's best burger while participating in a deeply romantic and profound love story with a dachshund Rexy mistakes for a Vienna sausage! Is that a concept or what? (Of course it is!)

I'm giving you this astounding chance to represent me because I'm generous enough to share the profits with someone who will handle all the grunt work of getting me published and setting up the expected 7-figure advance. You will, I know, be so eager to participate in this that you'll want to respond immediately. Therefore, you have 24 hours from receipt of this email to sign me up before I offer it to a smarter, more far-seeing agent.

I'm sure our Shark Queen can't wait to take a bite out of this query, huh? Should I put it on Query Shark? I'm sure it doesn't need much of a tweak, does it?

nightsmusic said...

I've spent the past four hours hand shredding cabbage on a mandolin slicer for sauerkraut, so I haven't any input on most of these ridiculous points which are so bad they're funny, except to say, mh, BrillianT!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I never want to query again. It's hard. And yet here I am writing a new book, rewriting the last that is scarred and broken from its last round in the query trenches. At this point, I just want to break down and cry. And yet I keep writing. What's wrong with me?

John Davis Frain said...

Whatever it is you're afflicted with, EM, you have company.


Craig F said...

My query, I believe, is a dud; buried in the mud of some query trench somewhere.

glevin said...

For additional help with what NOT to do, here's an excerpt from a previous blog post of mine, titled "How to Write a Horrible Query Letter":

My Darling Gatekeeper/Dream-Maker:

I am seeking representation for my contemporary upmarket(ish)/literary neo-noir suspense psychological thriller sci-fi fantasy novel. It does not yet have a title—I figured you could come up with a better one than I can. The book is complete at 75,000 words or 100,000 words, depending on whether I decide to keep the chapter at the end that describes how the main character has been dead the whole time. The book, which will appeal to everybody who likes the best books, can be described as Gone Girl meets The Hunger Games meets The Martian meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Based on your interest in and huge success selling commercial romance fiction, I think it’s time you faced your conscience and starting handling much better books that are more like mine. I’m going to grab your attention now with the hook:

In a world where nothing is as it seems, former private investigator Jock Janson comes out of retirement to take on one last case before going back into retirement for good—unless another really intriguing case presents itself later.

Jock’s client, Ms. X, says she’ll pay Jock triple his normal rate if he can find out who murdered her husband. Jock assures her he can and will. There’s just one problem: Jock interrupted Ms. X before she could explain that she’s from the future and her husband was murdered fifty years from now. But if there’s one thing Jock needs even more than learning to stop interrupting clients, it’s money, so he takes the case. There’s just one more problem: Jock’s been dead the whole time. Or not. What do you think—should I have him be dead the whole time?

I’m going to move into the bio section of this query letter now so you can learn a little about me.

A little about me: I’m an author of contemporary upmarket(ish)/literary neo-noir suspense thriller sci-fi fantasy fiction who’s not very good at deciding on book titles or endings. I was the recipient of over 100 gold stars from my fourth grade English teacher. And while I have never won any official writing awards as an adult, my entry forms and fees have been accepted by top award sponsors on many occasions. I also like ping-pong.

Rather than paste the first ten pages of my manuscript into the body of this email as you specifically request on your website, I have attached the entire manuscript. This way you can read the whole thing before making any decisions about representation. Smart, right?

Thank you very much for taking the time to review my work. Don’t forget to come up with a great title.

Catch ya on the flipside.


The Next Big Thing

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: How about, "Hello, Janet. This is Idris Elba..." ;)

Steve Forti said...

Laughing at "don't forget to come up with a great title".

And EM and John, whatever that affliction is, is it contagious before even sending? Trying to psych myself up to send some out this week.

Miles O'Neal said...

Question? Sure, I have a question.

Dear Ms. Reid,
Why should I entrust the fate of my brilliant manuscript to you instead of some other agent, such as J. K. Rowling's? Pending a convincing answer, I will submit my query.
J. Random Newbie

Leslie said...

#12 I'm seeking representation for my fiction novel ...

EM it's because you know that anything worthwhile doesn't come easy.

AJ Blythe said...

You guys have brightened my morning. :)

John Davis Frain said...


Good news. There's a cure. It's called hard work, so you should be golden for sending out some queries this week. In fact, anybody hanging out here at the reef has probably already checked off that prerequisite.

If you want another set of eyes on your query, lemme know. Don't worry, I didn't mean my eyes, I got a guy. Who knows someone. Who has a friend. Who's got an app.

It's all about who you know in this business, right?

KMK said...

For EM and the others in the trenches: you keep going because you're taking Thomas Edison's advice: Have the courage to fail one more time. That's what I did over 200+ rejections for my first two projects, many of them recieved while checking my email in hospital waiting rooms I never expected to see. The third one was the winner...and that wasn't the happy ending, either. We do this because we love to write and we want people to read our work. And the hope that someone will love our work (almost) as much as we do is what gets us back in front of that screen. No time spent pursuing a dream is wasted. The waste is wondering what-if.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

KMK I woke up to your comment after having been up writing past midnight (having to be at work at 6:30 AM). It really encouraged me. Thank you for that.

And to all my fellow Reef dwellers, you are great company. And coffee is of no help this morning. I can barely keep my eyes open.

Joseph S. said...

How about

Dear ____

Remember me?