letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 170
# of partials requested: 3
genres of partials requested: paranormal romance (1), YA fantasy (1), supernatural literary (1)

This week has seemed like one long game of catch-up. And a battle against burn-out. I always seem to forget that when you leave for a conference on Thursday and get back late Sunday night that it means you really didn’t get a weekend and you also lost two work days in the office. And missed a few days of evening/weekend reading time while the queries and partials and manuscripts kept coming. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for any other job. Ever. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And how many people get to honestly say that?

Evenso, I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend (even if I plan to read 3 manuscripts or so).

And if the query wars have got you hiding in the trenches, go read this story of a battle won over at Agent Jonathan’s blog: A Query Success Story.

12 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. I have a friend who just received a contract from a publisher–her first book (four book series, actually). After I squealed over her success, she admitted to me that they require first time authors to invest $4000 up front. They justified this by claiming that other publishers require the author to buy a certain number of copies once the book is published. Is that true? I’ve never heard of that before.

    • I am sure that a number of writers reading this will chime in with the catch-phrase “money flows towards the writer.”
      Publishers pay advances to writers (and agents take their commissions on said advance). Not the other way around.
      And, in fact, my authors are given a contractual number of free copies. They can buy additional ones if they so choose but this requirement the so-called publisher is citing is obviously a justification for an offer that is not in your friend’s favor.

    • I’ll do it for $2000.00 and not require her to buy her own backstock. How ’bout that? I’ll even throw in the ISBN and “promise to make it available on Amazon and B&N.com.”
      Ms. Jackson is being polite and professional.
      I am neither (unless submitting to Ms. Jackson, then I am an ANGEL).
      Your friend is about to become the proud owner of a book produced by a vanity press. It may or may not recieve and ISBN; it may or may not be made available in internet retailers; it will most likely NOT be carried in any major bookstores.
      It will also not count towards creditable publications for most writers guilds/organizations.
      You may wish to check this compiled list of editors and publishers.
      In short, your friend is going to be scammed. Legally, because she’ll sign the contract with the starry-eyed hope of being a “real published author.”

    • You should tell your friend not to sign that contract, if she hasn’t. If she has, tell her to tear it up.
      Reputable publishers get their money from readers, not writers.

  2. Jennifer, your reading load is staggering. I’ve done editing off and on, and I’ve never really grasped how someone can read so much for so often and stay sane. I remember I used to get grumpy because I’d read so many stories in a row that weren’t really bad, but they didn’t stand out. I longed for the stand out manuscript. I’m sure it has to be something like that for you when you’re reading queries and partials (without the grumpiness, perhaps?).
    It’s saintly work in the literary world to do it.

    • Dear Jim:
      I’m sorry…. did you just apply the word sane in my general direction? I have to admit I’m not entirely sure it’s applicable, but I do my best.
      I think you did hit on the key, though — the search is what keeps you going even when some of the queries are downright wrong for you or just don’t, as you put it, stand out. When The One comes along, it’s all worth it.

  3. Wait, did Supernatural Literary become a subgenre and I missed it, or is this just your term for it?

    • I don’t think it’s a subgenre — I just couldn’t come up with a better way to describe it without reading pages. This was as close as I could come based on the author’s description.

  4. Have a great weekend. Mine is in your inbox….Hi!

  5. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for any other job. Ever. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And how many people get to honestly say that?
    Not related to the publishing industry…but I think I’m just finally getting to this point in life now.
    How many people can honestly say that? 2% of the population maybe.

  6. Congratulations to Jaye and Jonathan! :*) Jennifer, when will you be having QA again? Have a great weekend!

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