letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 191
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: post-apocalyptic sf/f

Dear Authors:

Welcome to an edition of good idea / bad idea….

* Good Idea:
Dear Ms. Jackson:
Some months ago you requested and read a partial manuscript of mine titled VERY COOL TITLE, and offered some feedback, though, at the time, you decided this novel wasn’t right for you. I have since workshopped this story and revised it significantly. Your comments were very helpful in this process and I would like to invite you to reconsider my novel. To refresh your memory: [pitch, plus synopsis and new first five pages as per query guidelines].

* Bad Idea:
Dear Agent:
30 seconds ago you rejected my query letter and you must be blind. I suggest you revisit that decision as these are the reasons my book will sell and make millions:
[list of reasons follows]

World of difference.

As you know Bob, agents review a staggering number of queries and submissions (I’m currently approaching the 7000 mark for this year). Writing back immediately to have the agent reconsider will not yield results — or at least not good ones. Either the query doesn’t work or the pages aren’t riveting enough, and so that needs to be addressed first. It seems like it should be obvious but, taking my own submissions as an example, one tends to get far more of the 2nd example above than the first.

Happy weekend!

9 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. *beth makes notes on phrasing as she hacks down the last 1,500 words or so required to get this monster at 125K*

  2. It’s so funny that people actually do that. Crazy.

  3. BAD Idea!
    No light bulb!

  4. Heh, I like that. What worked and what didn’t, thank you for showing it. But, yeah, 30 seconds is a bit excessive. When I got a rejection with feedback (something I do happen to like), I let it sit for a month and actually work on it before sending it to anyone.

  5. A lot can happen in 30 seconds — if you’re moving at the speed of light — so I assume this person was writing SF, right?

  6. I honestly wonder if some people see acquiring an agent/getting published as some sort of customer-service thing. If I just YELL LOUDER, then they’ll do what I want.

  7. Why don’t these folks get it? Hopefully these folks will read your examples. More than likely, if someone doesn’t know how to submit, then the work is probably not ready either. :-/ I wish you better queries, Jennifer.

  8. That would be when I politely email back saying, “I understand your approach on requery, but I would much rather see your departure. Have a GREAT night/day (depending when they went stalker on you).”
    still laughing because i don’t understand why people do that.

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