Friday, January 13, 2023

New and improved ways of foot-shooting

1. Starting your query with reference to someone else's book.

I don't mean just comps, but using someone else's book to frame your own.
Don't do this. Tell me what I don't know: your story.

2. Querying from a mailing list.
I instantly un-subscribe, and I'm not keen on working with someone who thinks this is a good idea.

Mailing lists are very powerful tools, and you should have one: it should be comprised of people who've ASKED to hear from you. Queries are welcome, but I didn't ask you to send one. It's a subtle difference.

3. Asking to meet for coffee and a chat about what you propose to write.
Not now. Not ever.
Even my own clients don't ask for this.
We consult by phone mostly.

4. Asking for advice
Nope. Nope. Nope.

5. Including an image of your resume.
Just don't.

6. Sending me anything that requires a password to access.

7. Starting with "my name is Felix Buttonweezer.'"
Unless you're in the fourth grade, never start a business letter in this way.
And probably shouldn't even if you are in the fourth grade.


8. Absurd flattery. 

It doesn't work.

It makes you sound like a low-rent lounge lizard.

And the old stand bys

1. Attaching anything

2. Not including a salutation of any kind

3. Absurd word count

4. Hostility about any aspect of publishing.

"You're awful but I want to come to your party" isn't as charming as you think.

Does all this sound nit picky?

It probably is.

But great writers pick nits competitively.

And that's just the way I like it.

I want to work with people who sweat over proper punctuation, homonyms, pacing and character arcs.

Any questions?


Kitty said...

5. Including an image of your resume. Just don't.

You mean they send a picture of their resume?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

You've convinced me. I just won't. :) Although, all those do nots are the query standards in Carkoon. Just saying.

Janet Reid said...

Kitty oh yes indeed.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Love the blue eyes of the kitty with its sharkly costume. Are you teaching the little one some particular fish-eating habits?!

John Davis Frain said...

At the risk of absurdly flattering, let me just say.

I just got a rejection on a short story I thought for sure was going to sell. Kind rejection, almost apologetic, but a R all the same.

That was less than an hour ago. And the opposite of Mark Twain's great line is true. Twain said "I can live two months on a good compliment." Well, a writer can die for two months on a single rejection.

And then I read this: ""You're awful but I want to come to your party" isn't as charming as you think."

And I smiled. Might've even snickered a moment. Out loud. Maybe the line strikes too close to home for me, I dunno. But it sure felt good to sorta laugh so soon after a R.


NLiu said...

No. 1 seems to be standard for Twitter pitchfests (where everything starts off GoT x Mean Girls - or whatever). I wonder if that's why it's sneaking into your slush pile.

Kae Ridwyn said...

"great writers pick nits competitively"

I really rather like this idea. I wonder if it would look good in my bio?
"A competitive picker of nits"
Hmmmm. Bears further thinking.

And that photo! Love it :)

AJ Blythe said...

I read Kitty's comment and thought, "surely not", but they do! Wowzers. I really shouldn't be surprised I guess but your query inbox doesn't cease to amaze me, Janet.