letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 105
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0

I could certainly write another letter about all the queries that didn’t follow our guidelines this week. There were many that had attachments, or didn’t include the first five pages. And there were quite a few that were for categories I don’t represent at all (for example: nonfiction, poetry). However, I must admit that those types of letters about the “do’s” and “don’ts” start to all sound far too similar after a while. And one suspects that those taking the time to actually read this blog (and other agent blogs) have likely heard them all before. A little too much preaching to the choir, perhaps. (Or are they still useful to some?)

In any case, in the spirit of the upcoming (American) Thanksgiving holiday, I’d like to say instead that I was thankful for those that took the time to look up the submission guidelines and follow them. And I’m thankful to have finally gotten the backlog of queries below 200 before the holiday week.

What are you thankful for this week? Did you make your wordcount goal? Did you get a request for a partial or full manuscript? Did you make a breakthrough in your writing craft? Or was it something else?

22 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. I’m thankful for the support of writing friends – cheering my nano count, taking some time out to discuss tension and conflict (I need more) and working together to help cheer up another friend.
    Suelder

  2. Can’t really say that I’m thankful to have hit a word-count target, at least recently (more’s the pity). But in the last week or two I feel like I’m settling into some sort of “place” as a writer. To which I say (a) ’bout time, and yes (b) thank You (whoever You are) for that gift of a feeling.
    Can I say something else? The Missus and I watch the Food Network every now and then, but even though we watch the shows they’ve opted to put in primetime, by far our favorites are the REAL cooking shows. Especially Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Watching her shows even without having any intention of preparing her meals (which is pretty much how I watch them) is oddly soothing, calming. You feel good just listening to her voice.
    In the same way, although by far this isn’t the only agenting/editing blog I stop by, it gives me a strange sense of calm. Maybe it’s just the look/theme, maybe it’s the very fact (which you’ve worried about in the past) that you’re not posting daily. But things just seem civilized here, and you — for all the frightening statistics you post every now and then — seem eerily unflappable.
    Hope that doesn’t come across as sycophantic or anything. Just thought it needed to be said.

  3. I’m thankful for having had some very helpful advice from a couple of agents this summer that’s gotten me motivated to kill 20,000 words in a novel so I can resubmit it to them. (One I’ve submitted to you before, actually!)
    It’s been very valuable. I’m learning how to take my editing a lot more seriously and ask myself tough questions like “okay, do these several hundred/few thousand words REALLY need to be here?” and actually being able to say “no” sometimes. Or, the smaller version of that: “do I really, really need this adjective?”
    I feel like I’ve gotten a boatload more experience points in the Writer class and am ready to level up. 😉
    Also, for the record, I continue to find your regular reminders on do’s and dont’s helpful. I’ve heard it before at this point, sure, but reminders never hurt. Or ability to point others at reasonably current posts!

  4. I’m thankful for an idea that might unstick a stuck story.

  5. Since last Thanksgiving, I’ve gotten an agent and a publishing contract, which is fantastic, but what I’m most thankful for is my wife. I could never have managed any of it without her.

  6. Greatful for a finished manuscript. Thankful for some great beta readers. Thankful I was born human and not a muppet–’cause it would really suck to have someone’s arm shoved up your butt all the time. (Happy Thanksgiving!)

  7. I’m thankful for the little black kitten sitting in my lap, the dog at my feet, the man who lets me be me and loves me for it, and the characters in my head who won’t shut up.

  8. Umm….I’m thankful that so many writers who have won the Campbell let me read their drafts (and actually find my opinions useful).
    Oh, and the sidekick thing is definitely worth being thankful for too.

  9. I’m thankful that I’ve met a beta who is exceptionally skilled at pointing out redundancies and unnecessary things in my novel to take my YA urban fantasy down from 100k to 90k and still cutting! It’s very hard to find someone with a good eye and I’m ever so thankful to have found her!

  10. blogwitch- lol! Oh my, that was great!
    I’m thankful for all the people in my life, obviously, who wouldn’t be? In the writing aspect of things, it would be having a finished manuscript, and recently, a more improved query letter thanks to some awesome fellow writers. And, I’m very thankful for being given the opportunity and ability to stay at home with my kid and pursue my writing career. I’m also thankful for some brilliant ideas for more novels that have recently dug a home in my mind. Yay!

  11. I’m thankful for a beautiful fall day here in Japan. I live in rural Japan and it’s so clear today I can see past the harvested rice fields to the tori gates atop Mt. Tsukuba which towers over the Kanto plain.

  12. I am thankful to have found the courage to start writing a book that stretches me; it has a different kind of setting (alternate history, with Fey) and needs tons more research (IANA archaeologist, though I have played one at conferences). But the most important thing is that I feel I can do this story justice, and make it as good as it deserves. It’s hard work, but very rewarding.

  13. I’m thankful that it finally got through to me that writing every day helps more than simply building up discipline – it makes my subconscious work overtime, and that means I figure out how to tighten up scenes even when I’m doing the dishes or whatever.

  14. Thanks
    I’m thankful for the usual “stuff” like food and family, but I’m also thankful for Julie Weathers telling me about the Books and Writers Community. 🙂

  15. writing-related
    I have much to be thankful for, but in writing-related thankfulness, I’m grateful that my soon-to-be-e-pubbed short story is (so far) being loved by reviewers. (I honestly hadn’t expected that.) I’m thankful that my blog idea for leaving the doldrums behind looks like it’ll be more fun than I even hoped for. And I’m thankful that so many things I used to struggle with are becoming second nature.

  16. I’m thankful my friend (one of my two friends who has actually been paid real money for writing in the genre I’m attempting) has finished reading my manuscript. I’m also thankful I listened to my gut and only sent out two queries when I finished it six months ago— the feedback I’m getting from him is pretty good, the fixes are easily applied, and the manuscript will be substantially better after just a little bit of editing.

  17. Oh, and I saw what you did there: reminding your readers about following submission guidelines without sounding quite so repetitive.

  18. Since last Thanksgiving, I’ve completed a novel and made three pass-throughs to get the suck out. Along the way, I’ve had all sorts of people go out of their way to help me. Agents, published writers, editors–including one author who has decided to mentor my wife and me, reading our drafts and essentially giving us a one-on-one (one-on-two?) education on what it means to be a professional novelist. I can’t begin to imagine what we did to deserve to be so lucky. What a very different process writing this novel has been from writing my first novel–my paperweight.

  19. I’m thankful for my wonderful, amazing, extremely helpful critique group! They are fantastic and have helped me transform the chapters and scenes of my novel, and continue to…
    And of course, I’m thankful for my wonderful family!
    And Thankful that Ms. Jackson has this great blog where I have learned a ton! Thank you for taking the time to share with us!

  20. I am thankful for my family and friends, foremost.
    As for writing, I’m thankful for my writer friends and beta readers. I am really thankful that I have a really cool project lined up after I get all this crazy, stressful, wonderful wedding planning wrapped up, so that I can begin said cool project that I think will help me obtain an agent and a contract. 😀
    ~Tyhitia
    http://obfuscationofreality.blogspot.com/

  21. I’m also thankful for a fantastic writing critique group that for the past year and a half, has help me draw out and edit my novel. They helped me with the flaws that I had in my story arc and told me when “sentences” were unclear or weak.

  22. What I’m Thankful For
    I think the first thing would be that I feel like I do fairly well with my queries. I had always known that it is important to follow guidelines, but it is nice to see that it REALLY does matter.
    The second thing I am thankful for is that I am now ready to send out a chapter of a memoir manuscript I am working on about the year I spent being treated for cancer. It is written in a fairly literary style and seeks to explain tha when faced with such crisis we draw on internal resources built up by the experiences of our lives–love lost, promises unkept, and so on.
    At any rate, for those that may want to take a look please go to my website at: http://www.orchardwriting.com.
    Best all and Happy Thanksgiving.

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