Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stellar Query


Dear Mr, Mrs, Ma'am, who ever you are, what ever the heck title you want to be known by,

I am writing on this letter on pretty flower paper to ask if you are accepting queries at this time? On the off chance that maybe you are, I think I'll go ahead and query you anyway. After all, this is your lucky day!

I wrote this super fantastic book, okay, I haven't finished it yet, but it is going to be super fantastic. My Mum, sister, friend, neighbour, canary and the chihuahua next door all said that the first three chapters are wonderful and in need of no edits whatsoever. Yep, even the dog and bird said that!

I guess you are wondering what type of book it is? Um, well, it's kind of a chick lit, horror, YA, fiction novel with a twist of literary non-fiction and a drop of science fiction thrown in. Really. It would sell in any of those areas. It's got a bit of everything. You know, something for everyone.

It is 982984928374965 words long, well, I think it will be when I get all 3989 chapters written. People want value for money in these economic times, so I thought I'd write a book that will take them all year to read! Brilliant hey! And did I mention that I don't know how to use a computer, so the manuscript will be arriving hand written in purple pen. I love purple. It is so special, don't you think?

Now, I have some ideas about publishing. I want the book published in hard cover and I thought a fair retail price would be $49.99, after all it is the only book any one will have time to read this year. A bargain really. And I was wondering if we could push publication through, cause my Nan is visiting from Alaska next month and I want to give her the book in person?
Oh, and for my book launch, I will require a limo to drive me to *insert name of expensive restaurant* where I expect there will be red carpet, media, a movie deal to sign and a bottle of French wine for all my 2000 odd guests. You pay for that right? Sure you do!

Now, you will naturally want my phone number. So I will give you a call later this evening, after I have had my dinner and put the kids to bed, and give you my details. We can talk contracts and money then.

Aren't you so glad I wrote! You are the luckiest literary agent alive. Now, if for some random reason you don't think this book is right for you, could you please rewrite this cover letter (you'll save me paper and postage) and mail it over to Mr. Far Better Agent or Mrs.Higher Paying Publishing Deals Agent. Oh, and just cross out the names at the top and write theirs in instead.

Thanks (though you should be thanking me!)
lots of love and kisses,
Mrs. Crazy-Know-Nothing-Writer

PS- D0n't you just love the photos of my kids and puppy and trip to the beach that I included! So cute hey? Won't we just make a great team!

YEAH RIGHT!

I am sure I don't have to say 'I am joking', but 'I AM joking'. (I'm sorry, but I have always wanted to write a very bad query letter and break all the rules:) I know little about the querying process, but I do know that this is NOT how to go about it. Unless of course you want and iron clad form rejection email in under 10 seconds. (for those who don't write, a query letter is one you would send to an literary agent to see if they would be interested in representing your work)

Of course there are other far more innocent mistakes one can make when querying. Got any to share? Have you sent a query letter and later learnt that you just committed 'Query Sin #987?

Got any horror stories of queries gone wrong? What agent/ editor blogs have you found the most helpful?

18 comments:

  1. Okay, I laughed through that. I wouldn't send it to Query Shark though if I were you Tabitha.

    I'm about the last person on the planet who should be talking about queries. The story of my query debacle seems to have become the stuff of legend on the net. But speaking as someone who has survived the query process, however weirdly, can I say this to those who haven't begun it yet: Don't Freak Out.

    Seriously. Don't Freak Out.

    My view, for what it's worth, is the query is the cover letter of a business proposal. A very literary business proposal, and one close to your heart, but still a business proposal.

    There are certain very commonsense things an agent needs to see. If you were an agent, you'd want to see them too. Just write them down using your best prose.

    The only hard part, and I admit this is a killer, is the bit where you convey the feel and subject of your book in not more than three sentences. But hey, you're a writer, you know how to condense. It only took me a week to write my three sentences.

    Good sites to check about queries: Tabitha knows all the good ones. I know, 'cause I see her there. Janet Reid & Query Shark, Miss Snark, Rachelle Gardner, Nathan Bransford, Agent Kristin, Absolute Write. Preditors & Editors.

    And the best thing you can do to get through is, IMHO, worry a whole lot less about the query and put the extra effort into making your ms sing. If you send an agent something she can sell, and which she loves, she'll forgive almost any query sin.

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  2. Oh so funny! I laughed the entire way through it!

    And thank you so, so much for the blog award. You're super awesome!

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  3. HI Tabitha,
    Saw your comment on my blog today and would love to chat with you about my process. Why don't you email me: karen@followingthewhispers.com
    Also, you can go to http://www.womensmemoirs.com where I wrote a guest blog that talked about the process I went thru. Short answer: no agent - tried for 2 year and no luck. I ended up self-publishing with an excellent company that has marketing services, which I utilized. Would love you help if I can.
    Karen

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  4. oh, send it to query shark! that would be hilarious.

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  5. Really, really funny. And I bet there are agents out there who would swear they've gotten that exact letter!

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  6. Lol. If I were an agent I don't know if I'd even send a form rejection. I think when I first started with queries I probably sent it to Dear Agent or To Whom It May Concern so many times. Ugh. I probably even said, "I know you're busy" or "I know I've never published anything but...". Double ugh.

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  7. I've made so many query mistakes--too many to mention here!

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  8. Not sure what mistakes I made with my queries, because no agent/editor pointed them out. LOL But I'm sure they're there.

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  9. LOL, Don't forget to spray your query with heavy perfume! They Looove that.

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  10. VERY good query. Good at making me laugh, that is! And it is with fear and trembling that we send our queries out there, isnt' it? We just never know what rule we might inadvertantly be breaking!

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  11. Between your post & the comments here I am laughing hysterically right now! Funny thing, I have not yet written a query letter because I have never gotten off my butt to write anything that needed one...yet. This will put my mind at ease a bit though because it is never what I would have sent. haha! Thanks for the super laugh :-)

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  12. Let's see... you forgot to add that you've been writing since you were age 3, that God told you to write the book, and that's you'd split the profits with the agent 50/50 if she helped you finish writing it. And it would be even better if the letter was to an agent who is NOT accepting queries (or not in your genre) but that you know your book is just such so special that they'll make an exception. Oh, and the book is your baby, you're the next J.K. Rowling, and you'll want a spot on Oprah.

    :-D

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  13. Like most people, I love Nathan Bransford's blog. Very helpful. You've got to wonder just how many crazy queries like this one agents and publishers get. It would almost be fun to be in the position to sift through them all, just to see how many crazies are out there!

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  14. that's awesome. i've been looking for the "perfectly-professional-query-letter template", now i can just copy and paste this one every time i have an idea and want to query twenty or thirty agents...lol

    ~t

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  15. Queries are so painful. If anyone is looking to test out their query, the website Public Query Slushpile (openquery.blogspot.com) allows you to post yours and get critiqued. I did it last week and it was very helpful. The commenters will call you out on your mistakes so the agent doesn't have to. :)

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  16. There's a little something for you on my blog. :D

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  17. No horror stories on my end. I write perfect queries....uh...no...I wish. Really though, not horror stories. Just "Doh! Why'd I do that?" sories. :)

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  18. You guys make me laugh!

    Gary thanks for your advise. I will try not to freak out when the time comes... oh who am I kidding... I will be freaking:) And you don't think J.Reid would approve??!!

    Thanks Megan and you are welcome.

    Thanks Karen and I will email. I'd love to chat.

    Jeannie, you just want to see me eaten alive:)

    Helen, I know. Scary huh.

    Cindy, yeah I think I did the to whom it may concern on a letter to an editor at a magazine I was pitching too. Not smart:)

    Lazy writer and Jess, agree :)

    T. Anne, I forgot the heavy perfume!!! I will have to resend the query!

    Jody, too true. Can't wait to hear on your news:)

    Jenn, the laugh is on me. My pleasure :)

    ckhb- LOL! Too funny girl! Oprah! How could I forget Oprah?!

    Steph, I know, I'd love to read some of them.As long as mine wasn't one of them! :)

    T.L. well now you have no excuses! Start that querying:) LOL.

    Fiction groupie, yes they are very painful. I am hurting and I haven't even written one!

    Abby, THANK YOU :)))

    Katie, Yeah, I write perfect ones too, can you tell? LOL

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