Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Things to leave out of your query

1. The manuscript is complete.

2. You're seeking representation.

3. You're willing to edit

4. You're willing to promote

5. You hope I'll respond.

6. You hope I'll like your book

You don't have to say them because an agent reading your query assumes those things already.

Save your word count for developing the plot.


Colin Smith said...

A good reminder of the basics, Janet. :)

Since it's quiet here at the moment, and we're talking about queries, here's a piece of flash fiction I wrote back in 2014. It's one of my all-time favorites. :)

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.

Steve Forti said...

Ha, thanks for the laugh, Colin.

Katja said...

Regarding number 2:

In my experience, this is the US version of a query. In the UK, you do stick that sentence in.
It's a form of introduction, politeness etc.
Just like when you email non-friends, you gotta remember to start with "I hope this email finds you well".

I used to forget that. Am sure I was regarded as being very (too?) direct. Thankfully, Gmail is so smart and suggests that line to me.

Whenever I email Janet, I turn that suggestion down, of course. 😆

And I prefer the US version of a query, by the way. I'm not good at British-ism at all. Too German. Too direct. Too impatient. 😬

Cassandra Briggs said...

Colin, your comment was a welcome curative to the stress headache I developed from reading today's news. Thank you for the hearty laugh.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

7. I have a snot green couch just like you :(

AJ Blythe said...

I bet if I look back to anything I had BTS (before the shark), I would probably find statements like that. while they scream green, I would assume they wouldn't be cause for rejection though.

Colin, love it!! Thanks for the laugh.

KDJames said...

I plan to end all queries with this:

"I look forward to hearing from you, mostly because I'm not yet looking back on it."

Does that work? :)

Katja, I empathize! When we moved from Minnesota to Georgia (USA) and I got a job in the same exact industry (international banking), I had to write a note and tape it to my phone as a reminder prompt, "I'm doing great, how are you?" Because in MN that sort of chit-chat was simply not part of a business call. In Atlanta, it was considered extremely rude not to engage in that superficial "how are you/fine how are you" exchange. All these years later, it now seems odd to skip the niceties, even in a query.

AJ Blythe said...

KD, I'm not sure what you mean by "because I'm not yet looking back on it", so I would recommend leaving it out (unless it is obvious to everyone else and I'm just being a nupty).

Janet recommends finishing with "Thank you for your time and consideration" which is very courteous, so I'd stick to the tried and true and use that.

Kregger said...

#8: I have a blurb from a famous author on Goodreads.

Colin: What can I say...

Beth Carpenter said...

Bravo, Colin. Thanks for the chuckle this morning.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Thanks for the reminder, Janet! And what a story, Colin! Loved it :) KD, I also chuckled at your query ending... not sure I'd be confident enough to use it though :P
And I've just noticed how many emojis are creeping into my typing. Must be the sheer number of teenagers I have in my house at the moment :(

KDJames said...

AJ Blythe-- You're not a nupty, I'm just being silly. My sense of humour is often too dry for my own good.

"I'm looking forward . . . because I'm not yet looking back." Twisting the usual meaning of "forward" in this case as being anticipation, to instead meaning a measure of a timeline: forward vs. backward.

Don't worry, I wouldn't really use it in a query. Well, maybe I would to Janet, because she seems to "get" my weird humour. :)

Brigid said...

I thought we were supposed to tell you the serial number of the $ bill waiting in the mail room...

Android Astronomer said...

I would NEVER make these mistakes when querying my fiction novel.

Which is fiction. That's a novel. A fiction novel.

Joseph S. said...

I've sent you post to two other writers. It's very clever.

I chuckled at your play on words, too. Pretty forward thinking for a backwards sort of guy, don't you think?

Donnaeve said...

Loudest laugh from for the day (or for the past week since this post) goes to . . . Android Astronomer

Colin - I loved your story! Witty!

Julie Weathers said...

Can I add I hope you'll like the scotch I sent along with the query?