Today is the official release date for METAtropolis: Green Space, edited by Jay Lake and Ken Scholes
Written by: Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, Seanan McGuire, Tobias S. Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Scholes
Narrated by: Dion Graham, Robin Miles, Mark Boyett, Scott Brick, Allyson Johnson, Sanjiv Jhaveri, Jennifer Van Dyck, Jonathan Davis
As METAtropolis: Green Space moves into the 22nd Century, human social evolution is heading in new directions after the Green Crash and the subsequent Green Renaissance. Nearly everyone who cares to participate in the wired world has become part of the “Internet of things”, a virtual environment mapped across all aspects of the natural experience. At the same time, the serious back-to-the-land types have embraced a full-on paleo lifestyle, including genetically engineering themselves and their offspring. At the same time, a back-to-space movement is seeking the moon, a green Mars, and even the stars, with the eventual goal of leaving a pristine and undisturbed Earth behind. METAtropolis: Green Space is the creation of Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee Jay Lake; Hugo Award winning writers Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Elizabeth Bear; New York Times best-selling author Tobias S. Buckell; Aurora Award winner Karl Schroeder; and critically-acclaimed author Ken Scholes.
See also: METAtropolis and METAtropolis: Cascadia.
# of queries responded to week ending 10.11.2013: 106
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: urban fantasy
oldest query in the queue: October 6th
How to be a casualty in the query wars 101:
Query too soon.
Here are signs in this week’s queries that the author was querying before they were ready:
* Their debut novel was not completed.
* Using repeat queries every couple weeks with slight tweaks as if taking a sounding.
* Indicating in the query that the manuscript is a rough draft.
* Apologizing in the query for grammatical errors in the sample pages.
Don’t send queries until your novel is completed and edited to the absolute best of your ability. When you think you’re ready to query, spend time on developing that letter and pitch – get feedback before sending it out from writing peers and serious readers. Draft it, let it sit, revise it. A lot of time is spent writing and developing the novel. Some extra time to invest in submitting it will only be a benefit. Remember, there’s only one chance to make a first impression.
A clean, well-crafted query that follows the agent’s guidelines is a thing to be admired. It allows the agent to focus on the concept of the novel and the author’s writing. Whether that yields a positive reply or not, it’s the best opportunity for the story to shine and for the author to find an effective agent match.
# of queries responded to week ending 10.4.2013: 114
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: mainstream fiction
First, I wanted to say thank you to those who commented on last week’s query wars. Many of the suggestions made were good to hear, though I’ll admit I was more thinking over a way to change this column than my method of reviewing queries themselves. I particularly appreciated the comments giving me perspective on how the statistics were helpful in a way – giving insight or showing how much just following guidelines alone gives an author a step up. It seems like it’s just sometimes so easy to get bogged down in the numbers and forget the good stories. So, as one person pointed out, I’ll look for something like that to add to future letters at times. Those comments gave me some things to think about and I may go back to them again for some other insights in future entries.
Tonight, though I want to share a kind of funny bit that oddly helped me regain some perspective. No sooner had I posted last Friday than I received in just a few hours:
* a query sent solely as an attachment
* a re-query of the same project less than 24 hours after declining
* a query for an incomplete debut novel
* a book of poetry on a nonfiction topic
Based on the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs in last week’s entry, writers, I thought maybe someone was having a bit of fun at my expense. Or, possibly, as someone commented last week, there are just a number of people who aren’t doing much research at all since most other agents I know don’t want attachments or incomplete work or submissions in areas they specifically list as not representing. However, in those same hours I got plenty of queries that followed the guidelines and pitched books in genres of interest to me. So, yeah, it’s an imperfect thing but the key is to appreciate the efforts of those making them, and to focus on the hunt. You never know when the next query is going to bring the next manuscript you can’t put down…
* Martha Wells reports: “I have a short story up at Podcastle, “Thorns” read by C.S.E. Cooney. It was originally in Realms of Fantasy in 1995, and was the first short story I ever had published: http://podcastle.org/2013/09/25/podcastle-279-thorns/“
* Here’s the most recent episode of Writing Excuses via Mary Robinette Kowal. It was recorded at the “Out of Excuses Retreat,” and the questions came from the attendees.
* From Mike Shevdon, some thoughts on providing content and what it’s worth. “Far too often authors are being asked to contribute their work for no reward other than the pleasure of pleasing others. It’s insidious, and at the base of it is the implicit assumption that an author’s work has little or no value, particularly when there is so much available for free.” Read the rest at Wattpad – Reaching the Next Generation of Readers?
Some days back someone asked me if I was going to continue the query wars posts. I realized at that point that I’d somewhat inadvertently taken the summer off.
Bless me writers — it has been far too many queries since my last posting. I’m afraid I must admit that I became a touch discouraged at continuing this ongoing set of entries and talking about queries received as the number of them which don’t even make the vaguest attempt to follow guidelines seems to have risen dramatically. Some of them have been the usual sort — no sample pages, everything as an attachment, and so on. They make it harder to give each one a fair assessment, but one tries regardless. Others should have never made it to my inbox at all (e.g. the self-help dating book, the poetry, and additional categories that are listed online as not for me).
There’s also been an increasing number of what we generally refer to as “pre-queries.” Most of these fall into the category of those who would rather ask for guidelines than do a quick search online. Some of them of late have wanted feedback on ideas — before the novels are even begun. (Sidebar: Insert essay on the question of whether ideas or execution factor more highly into whether a book might find a publisher.)
Enough of this shows up daily to slow down responses to those who follow the guidelines and are seeking representation for projects that fall into my wide and varied genre interests. So I used to write about those that didn’t in what I intended as an effort to help everyone. It was supposed to get me more of the kinds of queries I wanted and less of those that I did not. It was supposed to help writers more expediently find a good match for their work and succeed in getting representation. Of course, the flaw in this plan in that those not taking the time to do the little bit of research to find guidelines desperately hidden in plain sight on the internet are in all likelihood also not finding these “query wars” entries.
All this is by way of saying I’m rethinking my approach. I’ve got some ideas and I’m mulling them over, probably for a few more weeks. However, I’d also welcome feedback from the trenches, so to speak. Whether you’ve already queried or are about to query or have just begun writing and may plan to query some day down the road. If you were on the agent side of the so-called query wars, how would you approach it?