Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Last week's queries = EPIC FAIL

So many really bad queries this past week. Never have I seen such a collection of rambling, incoherent and just plain badly-written query letters all in one week. (Also, for the four billionth time: I don't represent inspirational, Christian, or kids picture books. Please stop sending them to me. If I get one more Jonathan Livingston Seagull-clone query, I may just be forced to hunt you down and force-feed you pages from your own manuscript.)

Alas, I was so despondent that I was sorely tempted to just crawl back into bed with a pint of Haagen Daz and a bottle of Laphroaig to make it all go away. I'm beginning to empathize with Nathan's query ennui now.

It's become painfully obvious to me that there are an awful lot of you who need a SERIOUS refresher course in basic Query 101. So, to that end, I am ordering all of you to immediately go read this and this and this and this. And especially THIS (since the query letter used as an example netted the author a half million dollar deal). And, heck, while you're at it, re-read this and this too. Oh, and also this.

Because, ya know? Despite my complaints? I really do look forward to reading your queries. I just, ya know, want them to not blow chunks. For your sake as well as mine.

Okay, I am off to do an exorcism of my brain so I can clear all this negative query energy out of the air and start fresh tomorrow.

(PS: PLEASE! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY! NO ELVES AND UNICORNS! AND ESPECIALLY NOT TOGETHER!!!)

::: wringing hands, goes in search of cold compress :::

26 comments:

legionfalcon said...

Boo to bad queries.

I've got an idea. Let's round up all your clients, and we'll all query you again!

Yay! Great queries! Woohoo!

I mean, that would alleviate the problem, right? :)

La Gringa said...

Hmmm. Not a bad idea....

Of course, I would then have the world's smallest client list forever.

legionfalcon said...

And thus, it would come to pass that you would have the most time for your clients out of all agentdom!

It sounds win/win to me. ;)

Barbara said...

I think I just felt the earth move as all of us authors with queries in your inbox just gave a collective wince!

Someday said...

And join the Forward Motion writing forum where authors teach each other how to produce great results - both with stories and with all the querying parts (synopsis, hook, query, etc...)

http://www.fmwriters.com

Jess Nevins said...

What about Jonathan Livingston Unicorn?

gwyndolin said...

Am I a bad person for wanting to read Jonathan Livingston Unicorn?

Kris said...

How about vampire unicorns and zombie elves?

domynoe said...

I'm working at a small press and got 2 of the worst queries ever received as of yet over the last 2 weeks.

The first was a gentleman who started off with his estate information because he might die while visiting another country and then proceeded to tell us how he wanted the book published and that he wanted to split film profits 50-50. Um, hello? Small press. Not an estate lawyer, clearly state how we publish books on our site, and not a literary agent so don't deal in film.

The second was a repeat offender. Three months ago we rejected the submission based on not following our guidelines. This week she not only repeated the errors, but started at chapter 10 in the email.

*head desk*

Dharma Kelleher said...

How about "Godzilla versus the Jonathan Livingston Unicorns"! Just kidding!

Actually, I intend to query you soon, and I promise no inspirational memoirs, Christian fiction or YA cookbooks for lovestruck vampires.

I'm just double-checking my manuscript with the CMOS to ensure what I send you is of the quality you deserve.

Travis Erwin said...

I'm hoping this means you haven't gotten to mine yet.

JKB said...

Blow chunks.

I think I just died a little inside.

My mac certainly did, from me spewing coke all over it.

May you have nothing but the most uplifting, interesting, targeted queries for at least the rest of the month. :)

hldyer said...

I wouldn't call myself a query expert by any means, but you've got my partial, so my letter can't have outright sucked.

I attended a query workshop with Kristin Nelson in April that was really helpful. She did a blog version at the time, too, if anyone is interested in that.

The link should take you to all the posts tagged "pitch blurbs." Start at the bottom and work your way up. ;)

andrewkaye said...

Agents are qucik to request SASEs, but none of them ever request vomit bags. Maybe this will become the new trend!

That's bad news for electronic submissions....

archangelbeth said...

kris... I've seen vampire unicorns, I think. Zombie elves, on the other hand, have not crossed my radar yet.

...drat. I'm trying to think of a twist for unicorns and coming up empty. I think I've seen them all. (I collect(ed?) unicorns since I was a little unicorn-nut fangirl. This includes unicorn-story anthologies and books.)

krsj said...

Ouch. I received an agent's email rejection just moments ago for a query I sent out April 27th, and then I come on here and read how bad the queries you've been receiving lately have been.

I didn't query you, but it was bad timing for me to go reading blogs... hahaha

Oh well, back to the letters.

Serenissima said...

Here's hoping the partials and fulls you've requested recently bear more fruit.

Not that I have a vested interest or anything...

Curt Hopkins said...

Thank Jeebis I didn't hit send on "Mordechai Owen Nutria," my memoir of a rodent Kahil Gibrain specialist at at Elf & Unicorn U.

micheleleesbooklove said...

You mean you aren't interested in my murderous unicorns (horns of razor!) with cannibal and human hunting elvish riders novel? Oh darn. It's like Dexter meets The Last Unicorn. And it'll make you a million dollars! :D

Heidi the Hick said...

I've already read each of THIS.

That's gotta count for something, I'd hope. Like at least take it above the BLOW CHUNKS level?

pats-quinade said...

(Looks at query submitted to La Gringa, in which one member of the team going after the ELVEN manuscript is a UNICORN)

(Winces)

S. E. Ward said...

Archangelbeth,

You had to mention zombie elves, didn't you? I may have to borrow this now.

When I have time.

Oh, Elvis, when I have time.

Ulysses said...

Darn. I have this great query in which, tired of being pretty, the unicorns go punk (mohawk manes and pierced horns) and start hunting down elves, stuffing them, and putting them around their rooms as knick-knacks. All this to a soundtrack by the Ramones.

Er. I'll just start all over again.

nymeria87 said...

Why does this remind me of that stupid Charlie the Unicorn video on youtube? *cringe*

Thanks for the really informative post and once again I'm somewhat glad I'm not at the query stage yet so I have lots of time to do enough research about the DO's and DON'Ts to avoid epic fail. Hopefully.

ladysam said...

I can see the headlines now: "Literary Agent goes on rampage, forces authors to eat own words. One victim's last words: I...just...wanted to publish an inspirational story about an elfish unicorn who saw the light!"


I'd pitch in bail money for you.

Julia said...

deer Mr. Agent,

What do you say to an immortal elvish unicorn who can fly? That's Bobby's die lemmer in my 500-word picture book fiction novel, Jonathan Livingston Unicorn Meets the Baby Jesus. Norman Mailer said he'd "never read anything like it" (this was b4 he died by the way).

It's not quite done yet but I think this idea has real commerical potential. I'm enclosing some stuffed toys I made of Bobby, Jonathan Livingston Unicorn, and the Baby Jesus. Please note: I HAVE ALREADY COPYRIGHTED THESE AND REGISTERED THEM AS TRADEMARKS SO DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT STEALING THEM.

God bless you, Mr. Agent.