have now read all queries received prior to 1/24/08

# of queries read this week: 127
# of partial manuscripts requested: 2
genres of partial manuscripts requested: thriller (1), not sure (1)

Things that completely did not work for me in query sample pages – (1) beginning the novel with a very messy birth scene, (2) beginning the novel with the protagonist sitting on the toilet.

Also, I don’t understand people who send and re-send the same EXACT query over and over, sometimes only days apart. I really don’t. Yes, to some extent my decisions are subjective, but I wouldn’t describe them as mercurial so I’m unlikely to change my mind in that time period.

As an aside, I feel somewhat pestered when it’s only been 5 days and I get the query resubmitted — two of those days being over the weekend, and our guidelines stating a two-three week response time. I do read everything. Please be patient.

Please check your spam filters or whitelist agents when submitting. When someone sends new information on the 29th regarding their query sent the 11th and states they have not heard from me when I responded on the 18th, I’m guessing it’s hotmail that’s at fault, not me.

A helpful defintion: A novella is a narrative work of prose fiction longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. While there is some disagreement of what length defines a novella, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers define the novella in the Nebula Awards as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000. — It’s not that I don’t read novellas (I am, in fact, currently enjoying Ted Chiang’s collection which includes more than one.) But, as our guidelines state, DMLA only represents novel-length fiction (though occasionally we will assist current clients with shorter works). If you describe your 26K story as a novel, it’s unlikely to be considered as such. [Note: this pertains to adult fiction, not YA.]

15 responses to “have now read all queries received prior to 1/24/08

  1. I love how you give updates like this. It’s a great way to keep anxious writers (i.e. ALL writers) a bit more calm. I truly hope I don’t pester you with my re-query. I’ve only queried you once before, several months ago, and my new query is MUCH improved. I haven’t changed the novel, because all my editors (strangers and friends alike) tell me the same thing: the book is good, the letter is bad. I’m still polishing it and so haven’t sent it out yet, but you did say in another post that it’s okay to re-query if the letter is reworked. Is that right?

    • Completely right. If either the letter is re-worked or the book is re-worked. Queries/pitches can be tough. I appreciate that.
      I don’t have a problem with a re-query. But I don’t really consider these “repeat offenders” in that class.
      I occasionally have this happen with manuscripts too. I used to call them “rubbery reads” because they would bounce back to me so fast if I just made some suggestions. I think what happens is that people are so focused on the aspect of “get an agent”/”get a deal” that they don’t consider their choices as carefully as they might.

  2. Out of curiosity, does it follow that a novel is something over 40k? Or would you have a different base line when considering something a novel?

    • Standard length for an adult novel seems to be around 100,000 words.
      There are exceptions: cozy mysteries tend to run shorter; category romances, too. And epic fantasy tends to run longer. But I have found it’s tough to sell a novel that’s less than 65,00 or more than 150,000.

      • Good to know! It’s always useful to have an idea if your book is going to be the right length. 🙂 My co-writer and I were getting ready to prepare a query based on something in the “What We’re Looking For This Month” update, and 90-110k seems to be roughly where we’re going to end up.
        Thanks so much!

  3. Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others is wonderful, one of my all time favourite books. I love his writing.

  4. I’m a relative newbie here, but what I’ve read so far has been very useful. Thank you.

  5. regarding spam-filters and white lists: Yahoo (at least if your ISP uses Yahoo) lets you set up “disposable” addresses. You don’t have to dispose of those addresses, and can set them to not be spam-filtered. The email arrives with the rest of your email.
    Yes, I have one of those addresses set up just for queries, so I don’t miss a response.

  6. Beginning a novel with a character on a toilet? Now I feel better about the “Waking up in the morning” opening from my first attempt.

  7. Protagonist on toilet only works if you include: 1) Danny Glover as protag on the can, 2) Mel Gibson beside D.Glover — ready to pull him off and 3) toilet rigged with explosives.
    This was also not done as an intro scene…

  8. “Protagonist on toilet only works if you include: 1) Danny Glover as protag on the can, 2) Mel Gibson beside D.Glover — ready to pull him off and 3) toilet rigged with explosives.”
    LMAO…While I read the post I remembered the same scene 🙂

  9. I do not have any pending queries with you, but I love how you provide news about your status to those who do. Wish more agents would follow your lead.
    Travis Erwin

  10. Thanks for sharing this information, Jennifer. I plan to query you in a few months and these are things I need to know! :*)

  11. Novella
    I believe that my query was reviewed during the time period mentioned on this post and I identified my work as a novella (~25k words). I received a rejection form letter and was wondering if the fact that the work was a novella means that the sample pages were not read. Definitely my mistake for not reading the submission guidelines more closely but you had read a partial of mine a number of years ago so I began with you on completing my new work.
    Thanks for any input and thanks also for the invaluable service that you provide with this blog and your accessibility!

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