letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 153
# of partials requested: 3
genre of partials requested: thriller (1), supernatural thriller (1), inspirational romance (1)

Dear Authors:

This has been a very busy week on many fronts. Regardless, queries continued to arrive in waves. As I plunged through them, I did notice a few things:

* I really appreciate that most people take the time to tell me something about their book in the query, whether they are previously published or not. Lately there seem to be a number of letters where I learn a lot about the author and nothing, or nearly nothing, about the story they want me to read — this doesn’t quite work. I need to know something about what I’m potentially going to be hired to work on in order to make a decision about what to request.

* There seem to be a few people from whom the definition of SASE is obscure and arcane. Let me help…
S = self
A = addressed
S = stamped
E = envelope
Please do include *both* the stamp and the envelope (not one or the other). If you don’t send one at all, you won’t get a reply. (That’s the DMLA policy.)

* Please do not send me *both* a snail-mail *and* an e-mail query. Just pick one. And please don’t send me a snailmail query and ask me to respond by email — in that case just go one way or the other as well.

* Don’t send me a submission and explain to me that it’s a very rough draft, or “drafty” in any way. I get many submissions that are clean and polished and as strong as the author can make them. Your voice will have to be terribly strong to overcome those odds. While I do give editorial suggestions and feedback to clients before we send manuscripts out on submission, that’s after they’ve already won me over with sharp writing and good ideas. My level of available investment at the query stage is necessarily limited.

* No attachments at the query stage. Period. I will delete them unread. Paste your synopsis and five pages into the body of the email after your query, please. I have a virus scanner but I don’t trust the internets to keep my poor little computer safe. And I need this computer to do all these things. And it’s where I keep my stuff! (My virtual stuff.)

I am once again planning on spending much of my weekend reading. I have a vague hope of taking next weekend off. It’s a holiday, don’t ya know, and I’ve got plans. And until I can afford the e-reader of my dreams (curse you, Charlie Stross), I’d rather not have to tote too much paper around.

8 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. Wow, a thriller AND a supernatural thriller? Yay! 🙂 Sorry, I just get excited about those.

  2. E-Reader Wish
    After checking out iLiad, I can see why it is on your wish list. How perfect. To read and to write. E-readers are great for travel, etc., but for reading pleasure, I love to hold a paperback.
    Lois K. w/a CaitLondon.com

    • Re: E-Reader Wish
      Exactly — I don’t want it for my “fun” reading (curling up on the couch with an e-reader is so lacking in any romantic or comfie aspect to me) — I want it for my submissions reading and editorial work, particularly when I need to travel.

  3. Good luck with your holiday plans!

  4. And it’s where I keep my stuff!
    Tick reference?

  5. I keep my poor little computer safe with Trend Micro PC-cillin and I swear by it. It’s … I dunno … a hundred and something dollars a year, but that’s cheap compared to losing your computer and / or everything on it. It has kept three serious viruses from infecting my baby, and when it comes time to renew my subscription, I’ll gladly fork out for it again!

  6. Query letter instructions
    I was just reading an excellent summary of what a query letter should contain and considering some of your comments, I thought you might find it interesting too. . . maybe there’s a way you could make it available to the writers submitting to you.
    I hope the link works. If not, it’s the entry on the blog at
    titled “Awesomizer #8: The Query Letter.”
    Nancy D’Inzillo

  7. e-mail submissions
    I’ve been reading another website where the author goes to great lengths about how to format a submission to agents, etc., so it appears professional. You know, one-inch margins, sluglines, et al.
    But if we copy our text into the e-mail space, doesn’t that all become moot?
    Just wondering…

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