Thursday, February 25, 2010

QUERIES AND FEBRUARY MADNESS

Nicole said...
Everyone jokes about the little devil
and angel on their shoulders;
my problem is that I actually
have them.
[Entrant in "First Line" contest]
Maybe it's because I've been plowing through email queries all morning or maybe it's because snow is coming down again and will probably never, ever stop. Whatever it is, Jon and I had "words" just now about queries. Turns out we have totally differing opinions about how to handle them.
"So," I said, "I'm going to write a blog asking our readers to do the following when they query me:
  1. Put the word count and genre in the subject line of the query.
  2. Write a first paragraph that represents the best writing you've EVER done and sums up your book perfectly.
  3. End up with a few words about your qualifications and then--STOP!

What do you think of that, dear?"

Jon got that look on his face that usually means, are you nuts? or yeah, you are nuts.

"That's taking the wind out of everyone's sails!" he said. "I think writing queries is part of the creative process and by dictating your standards you're ruining the entire experience!"

"But," quoth I, "if they are sending said query to ME, shouldn't they know what my preferences are?"

"Of course all writers should learn how to write a query," he said. "There's an entire Internet out there where they can find out how to do that. Why spoon feed them?"

"It's not spoon feeding. It's giving them valuable information so that they don't bury their good ideas in unnecessary verbiage which ends up pi**sing me off so that I reject them within a few seconds. I'm not saying every agent wants queries delivered this way. I am the agent that likes things delivered this way!"

"I, for one, feel it's an agent's job to go treasure hunting to weed out the wheat from the chaff," said Jon (a bit smugly at that).

"That's because you don't have 300 emails waiting for you at this moment," I sniffed.

(Sigh) "OK. But as for me, I want authors to know that they should write the query the way they want--use their creativity and give it their best shot," he said.

"Fine then. I'll write the blog post with that in mind. For me, put the word count and genre in the subject line, write one powerful paragraph and a bit about yourself and then STOP. And, for Jon, use your best creative ideas."

Queries, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. I think I'll go outside and make a snowman.

4 comments:

shonagonchan said...

I've read much about your query preferences in the Guide Book To Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents 2010. :D So, I have a query letter tailored to your preferences - hope that's not too stalkery. ^_^

I was *this close* to sending it to you, and then I found a wonderful online writers' conference and joined. What I had thought was a polished manuscript was actually in need of further polishing.

Perhaps by the time I *cough*grow a pair*coughcough* am ready to query you--or Jon, maybe?--you won't have 300 in your queue. :)

Thanks for the blog. Very helpful.

teacherwriter said...

I agree that each agent should set his/her own standards for what they want in a query. So, I guess that means ... you're RIGHT! Of course, my sentiments might have just a tad bit to do with the fact that you have my submitted and requested partial in your hands ;-)

In any case, I hope the snowman turned out great. I know you have plenty of the white stuff to work with!

madisonwoods said...

Is Jon the devil sitting on your shoulder?

Loved your humorous blog post and will keep it in mind when I start my query process.

Madison

Louise said...

Just dropping by to say, Hi, and how much I'm enjoying your blog.
Excellent advice.