Monday, May 23, 2022

Do not make me regret replying to you


There's a great scene in Casablanca with a linen seller in the Bazaar. 

Ilsa is out shopping  (cause really what else would one do when living out of a suitcase and fleeing the Nazis?)



The seller offers increasingly special discounts for special friends of Rick's.

 

I always think of this scene when writers respond almost instantly to a pass with another query.

 

"You didn't want that, what about this?"

 

I'm always at a bit of a loss on what to reply.

I use a form letter, and just sending that same pass seems rude.

I like to avoid that if I can, but just saying "No, not this one either" seems worse.

 

So then I'm left with not replying at all, which I loathe as a business practice, and as general deportment in the Query Aisle.

 

So, why is this a problem for you?

 

If you want me to consider your work, you want to present it in a way that doesn't make me want to smack you upside the head.

 

That means give me some time between queries to refresh my mental desk top.

A month is a good ball park figure.

 

I don't reply to queries the day I receive them.

I got that habit kicked out of me by writers who were dead certain I didn't read the query cause I responded too quickly.

 

When a query comes into my inbox, it's sent to a file marked Incoming Queries, where it can visit with the other incoming queries, gossip, compare tattoos, and order out for pizza.

 

If you send me a query that starts with "you didn't want X" all that does is remind me that I didn’t want X.

 

It's much more effective to start with the story you're pitching.

 

Telling me I passed on something doesn't remind me of our "connection" cause there isn't one.

Telling me I passed on something doesn't tell me you're prolific and not a one-trick pony.

 

Effective queries  are about your novel not your querying history.

 

 

 

Any questions?

7 comments:

nightsmusic said...

My question to this would be, unless I got a pass from you that said, "Your writing is brilliant but the story isn't something I'd rep. I'd love to look at something else," why would I want to tell you that you passed on anything I'd queried earlier anyway? Wouldn't that be like reminding you I'd sent you something you didn't like/love/thought sucked, so now I'm going to try again with something else you're probably going to not like/love/think sucks based on the fact that you passed the first time? If you love the second query, wouldn't that be the time to remind you that you'd passed on an earlier one? Inquiring minds...

Steve Forti said...

Also curious about nightsmusic's question. My last book didn't get picked up, but a number of agents said they loved the writing and would like to see the next one. What's the right way to remind that when querying the next one?

Leslie said...

First of all, I'm so happy to see Janet back! I assumed you were busy, working on bringing the best books to market.

I agree totally with nightsmusic that I would never want to remind someone that they've turned me down in the past, that they found me (my writing) lacking in some way. Wouldn't that make them at least somewhat biased before even reading a word?

That said, from what I've seen on social media (usually Twitter), some aspiring authors have no sense of the industry, and even less social skills.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Monday and a wonderful week!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Nightsmusic makes a good point. Why? Unless your form letter specifically says "What else do you have?" I am stumped by this behavior. Is there some drinking game I am unaware of called "How many rejections can I claim in 3 days time?" which would be a terrible game for querying writers unless their liver is already well-pickled.

Good to see a new post. Makes my rainy Monday a touch less gloomy.

John Davis Frain said...

I've learned my lesson about offering a rebuttal -- well, okay, no I haven't.

This was an educational message for me, because I was (am?) one of the people who would respond with a new submission right away. For me, it wasn't a query to Janet, but it was a short story to Ellery Queen.

My way of thinking: they reject me, then I send a new piece their direction immediately. They think: Wow, this guy's prolific, maybe I should pay more attention to this new story. (Mind you I don't start my submission with "you didn't like my last story, but hey, I'm one week better now, so try this one.")

But Janet's "I'm prolific and not a one-trick pony" was exactly my way of thinking. Thanks for straightening me out. The readers of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine will have to wait a little longer for my debut there!

Things would be easier if everyone would just think like me.

Julie Weathers said...

"If you send me a query that starts with "you didn't want X" all that does is remind me that I didn’t want X."

So, I guess I can't remind you that you didn't want my fantasy or my this or my that or my something else, but you assure me you'd like my xyz?

I'm currently working my way down the genre list.

No, I wouldn't spam query someone, but I might remind them that they said they'd like to see my next project when it's ready.

In other news of the world, welcome back Miss Janet. You've been missed.

JW

AJ Blythe said...

I don't think I could send a new query out in response because I'd want time between rejections, lol.