something not to do in a query

I owe Tempest some notes on queries for her site For Writers. I keep wanting to take time out to do it. But it’s actually a lot harder to come up with all the good ways to do queries than point out all the bad things I’ve seen in queries. Still, I have every intention of finishing it for her. Just as soon as I review these three contracts, read the backlogged pile of submissions (oh, those go way too far back *cringe*), answer the current 60-odd emails (oh, one of those is from Tempest *wry look*) currently in my work email account, and get this intimidating pile of manuscripts back out to market. However, I did get an email query in over the weekend that was just stunning, so I’m going to take a moment to be publicly amazed about it. Heh.

I know this was an odd thing to do, but I took the cc field and copied it out to Excel on the off-chance it would put each person on their own line. It worked. So, I now know that this person simultaneously queried 468 agents. Wow. I knew it was a lot, but that is just amazing. I suppose it’s really too bad that they didn’t bcc it. Just about every agent I know is alright with simultaneous queries (though some of them prefer exclusivity for material submissions). Still, one likes to think that one is part of a select group – chosen with care – targeted as desirable. To be part of a 468-agent query is, well, insulting. At least, I think so. Let’s just skip the fact that my website says I prefer not to receive email queries in the first place. And the fact that this was a ranty *non-fiction* concept. It’s clear this person didn’t do any research or they would have known that I specialize in fiction and can count on one hand the number of non-fiction books I’ve sold (it could change, but it won’t for this book). But, given the number of agents they queried (some of which I don’t believe are accepting new clients, and a few of which have either left the biz or jumped the fence into the editorial pool), I won’t take it personally. I wonder if they’ll be so lucky with everyone else. My instinct is to say that they just burned the publishing bridge to the ground and then tossed explosives after it into the gorge. And I’m really curious to know how they could possibly have thought that spamming such a large portion of the agent community (which really isn’t all that big and occasionally has the opportunity to talk to each other) was even vaguely a good idea.

Well, anyway – rant over. I guess I’d better get back to work. I’ve got a jug of suntea brewing and there’s actual sun. *g* And I really need to get started on moving all this paper out of my office….

5 responses to “something not to do in a query

  1. *blink* That’s… stunning.
    The longer I work in this field, the more it feels like… I don’t know. A communal garden. We’re all here because we love the garden. We’re all supposed to take care of it. We’re good to one another because we’re all there for the same reason. And we all have a responsibility to work the garden and be honest and forthright and good to our fellows in the field.
    If you don’t love it and want to take care of it, it’s not worth doing. And you have to stop looking at the field as something there to service you and your needs, but rather as a whole that you shouldn’t wreck so that you can get what you want right there right then exactly the way you want it. 😛
    But that’s just a ramble, I guess.

  2. And suddenly I don’t feel so bad about my own agent-querying novice status. However ignorant I still am, I think I would have managed to avoid that particular faux pas on my own. 🙂

  3. Heh. This was the lunatic you were telling me about yesterday, I gather? I’m with you – he’s likely not only burned his bridges, he’s rolling around in the soggy ashes and snorting through his nose.

    • And of course the poor soul has No Clue, because he bcc’d all those agents. (I didn’t know about the copying-into-Excel trick either. Hm. Must try that.)
      But, you know, it’s certainly easier to type in 468 agents’ names than it is to actually research some of them….

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