Tuesday, April 21, 2009

QUALMS ABOUT QUERIES

I've spent the past two mornings elbow-deep in emailed queries. As usual, I'm feeling both exhilarated and depressed.

I'm exhilarated because there are so many creative writers, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and doing their level best to find someone who agrees that they have talent. They read our blog, they read our profiles in Jeff Herman's book and on various writers' websites. They work hard to craft their queries and they don't waste our time with meaningless drivel.

I'm depressed because, like most agents, we have to turn down most of the queries. Some of the queries we turn down are just great--problem is they simply don't resonate with either of us. Some of the turn downs are rejected because they too closely match projects we are already representing. When I reject these I feel bad because they are truly worthy. My hope is that other agents will snap these up.

But what REALLY is depressing is that there are so many people out there who still don't get it. They don't know what we want, they don't know the business, they are clueless! Even worse, the art of writing eludes these folks; the queries are so awful, I can't imagine what their "books" are. So, please bear with me while I vent about this category of queries. After all, it is my blog and I can vent if I want to!

Vent number 1--The person who flatters us with false information. "I am so impressed with your vast list of formidable clients." Huh? Last time I checked our "list of clients" was nice, certainly not vast. Formidable? Oh, please!

Vent number 2--Clueless in California. "My project is an 89,000 word fictional novel." Really? No nonfiction novels? IF IT'S A NOVEL IT'S FICTION.

Vent number 3--Stooping to consider our services. "You may be fit for my completed 91,000 word middle-grade urban fantasy." Sorry, I checked our fitness quotient. We failed.

Vent number 4--Get with the program. "My work is a 48,500 word supernatural horror story." Story is right. More words, please. Bare minimum is 60,000; our preference is 100,000.

AND Vent number 5--THE PRIZE WINNER. "An abused woman is the greatest composer who ever lived....." I have gotten this query and rejected it at least a dozen times--so has Jon. Sometimes it's from different writers. What's going on here? Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks for bearing with me today. I'm really in a good mood. Really!



11 comments:

Alan Orloff said...

Oh, just wait until the queries for "Susan Boyle" stories start rolling in.

By they way, can I interest you in a story about an abused woman composer???

Kae and Jon said...

No, no, no!! Not that abused woman again. I'd LOVE to know the story behind that query!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kae,

I enjoyed this post. I own a writing web site and no where on the site does it state I am an agent or a publisher, but I still receive queries! It makes me shake my head, but I'm also shocked by the lack of professionalism. The queries don't address anyone in specific. It's basically Dear Editor or just Hello. They then sign them without a thank you, etc.

I hope when these people query a real agent or editor, they do their research.

Best of luck to you!

Sean

Fawn Neun said...

Re Formidable Clients: Not to quibble, but if you look at your website, you do have some very solid publishing companies listed as your clients. Harper Collins, McGraw Hill, Putnam, Penguin, etc. are pretty impressive. (Your website doesn't list your authors.)

Kae and Jon said...

Dear Fawn:

An excellent point!! We have two businesses: one is a publicity agency, the other is a literary agency. We make every effort to keep the lines from blurring, but it's possible that readers of our website might confuse our publicity clients (all the big publishers) with our agency clients (authors and a few big publishers). Perhaps the person who queried us and mentioned our "vast list of formidable clients" was referring to the PR side. Thanks for the heads up!

DebraLSchubert said...

Kae, I'm not big on agents who have the motto "no response means no," however, with your grand prize winner you might want to consider that route. Simply hit "delete." I'm sure that's not your normal way of doing things (which is one of the reasons I'm glad I have a partial sitting on your desk), but in some cases, it may be the best avenue. Agent Colleen Lindsay said some guy keeps querying her (something like 27 times!!!) saying he'll keep at it until he gets a "good reason" why she's rejecting his work. He's another classic example why God created the "delete" button.

Glad you're in a good mood. I am, too. It looks like my best writer-friend is about to be represented by a wonderful agent and I couldn't be happier for her!

Kae said...

Debra:

We are deleting this query every time it comes around. I consider it the "undead" of the query pile. You can't kill it with a stick!! Another one flew in this morning.

Anonymous said...

I reject the abused woman query on a daily basis. It;s kind of like a routine now...

Anonymous said...

We get the "abused woman" submission at least three times a week. The name on the submission switches between Lee and Mike, but it's always signed by Oscar Whitfield. When will Oscar/Lee/Mike get it?!

Kae and Jon said...

Hello to Anonymous 1 & 2-Literary Agents, I presume.

It is odd, isn't it, this "abused woman" story? Now I'm really getting curious.

Annie said...

After the comment mentioning the name Oscar Whitfield, I Googled him. He has a Wikipedia entry for himself and another for his novel. He mentions that it's been rejected over 6,000 times. I guess his gimmick is to waste other peoples' time.

I've found your blog to be very helpful and informative.