Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hint to would-be query writers: Beware of cut and paste!

Beginning your letter with something along the lines of "Your years of experience in YA book sales make me feel that you are the perfect agent for me" will probably get you a.) mocked, and then b.) rejected. And then, c.) mocked again for good measure.

Why? Well, because as most of you know, I'm a brand-new agent and as such I actually don't yet have any sales under my belt. Or under my bed. Or under the litterbox.

Just something to think about.


Ben said...

Form letters for rejections, I get the need for. If it isn't something you want, there's no need to spend a lot of extra time saying the same thing in a thousand different ways. But cutting and pasting a QUERY? I mean, if you WANT someone's attention, why act like you didn't have the time to even TRY?

My sypmathies, and offers of chocolate.

Kimber An said...

Yanno, I was kinda wondering about the query letters under the litterbox thing.

archangelbeth said...

I would be paranoid that I left something like that in the query, but I recall distinctly that I was getting a bit punch-drunk and making some major revisions to my initial, painfully self-conscious, letter.

It will be other things that get me mocked here. Probably where I guessed the wrong way on format, betcha. *grin*

(Who, despite the hhunxx word verification, did not send in a query for a smut-filled romp with muscle-bound boy-toys.)

La Gringa said...

I like smut-filled romps as much as the next gal. ;-)

David said...

"Your excellent advice about query letters convinced me that you would be the right agent for my query letter."

That's a bit more general. :)

ianrandalstrock said...

B...b...but I love cut-and-paste cover letters. I still remember the winner I opened while I was at Asimov's. The envelope was address to Gardner Dozois, Editor, Asimov's Science Fiction. The cover letter was addressed:

Stanley Schmidt, Editor
Science Fiction Age

Dear Ms. Rusch,
I think my story would be perfect for Realms of Fantasy....

Ah, the joy of the unproofread cover letter. I just had to cross out our logo on the form rejection's letterhead and write in "Playboy."

Jeff said...

If I may offer an android's opinion, the idea is to cut and paste the pitch. But because email servers can be so quirky sometimes, the text above and below your pasted pitch can end up being a different font on the receiving end. Then the agent says, Aha! or something like that and tosses it under the litter box.

So you cut and paste the entire letter, then go back and change the personal parts to fit the agent. Only sometimes it doesn't work that way. The other day, after pasting a previous query into a new email, autonomic functions took over and I hit SEND and then sat there for several minutes, horrified, then sent the agent an apology email.

S. E. Ward said...


Thank you for making my colleagues think (for the second time in two days) that I'm a laughing loon. That said, it's been for good reason.

Aimless Writer said...

Wow, I never would have thought to put that bit of slobber in my query letter.
Hmmmm, must remember to be careful when I suck up.
What I really want to say is just read it and let me know.

mike holm said...

Maybe they were writing from the future.