Yet Another Wretched Query Letter

In today's slush pile comes this:

"I am seeking an agent to represent my recently completed book titled "Title". In researching Writers Market your agency met all of my criteria so I'm hoping you'll want to take a look at my work."

All of your criteria huh? Breathing? Willing to slice open an envelope? Foolish enough to list self in Writers Market?

I'm not sure why this annoys me so much, but I swear it raises my hackles almost as fast as "fiction novel"...and I got that in the query right after this winner.

In case you're wondering, we assume you selected this agency because we match SOMEsort of crtieria. If you found my name in Writers Market just say so. You're much likelier to get my attention if you've actually READ any of books I've sold, but that appears to be too much to hope for most days.


Agent 007 said...

Harsh, don't you think? It's not as if their intentions are to piss you off. It reminds me of when I worked in a pizza restaurant. People would call up to say, "I'd like to order a pizza..." And then they'd pause for confirmation. My co-workers and I would all laugh. We always wanted to say, "A pizza? Really? It's a good thing you made that clear cuz we never would have figured out that one."

Sure, it seems obvious to us as agents, but to writers... Well, they're just trying to do the best they can.

Of course, I do wish they'd learn the difference between a memoir and a novel...

Miss Snark said...

Harsh? Harsh?? Harsh would be sending that letter back with crimson lipstick corrections AND a prepaid subscription to Writers Digest.

Harsh would be posting the query writer's name to my blog.

This is merely Snarque being...snarquie.

And in defense of snarkieness, I will say this: that query writer got a formulaic rejection letter from me
and probably from you too.

The ONLY way s/he might learn that it was a poor query letter would be to read this blog, or your blog, or some other source of info and find out.

The choice between being snarkie here (which is also tons of fun) and laying off the SASE snarkieness was easy.

chryscat said...

Harsh? *snort* Ya think?
Some are elementary mistakes, I'm sure. And some may be simple personality quirks. There is no excuse for "fiction novel" though. Pity that.

I understand why you both choose to use pseudonyms to write under. It's completely understandable.
I know I've aired a few complaints myself about "form rejections" and other such niceties. No names, of course. But we, as writers, know who we're talking about.

Thanks for letting us see the other side of this. Because, as you both know, MANY writers are reading these words and taking something away from these posts.


ScaramoucheX said...

The point is, Snark, you can scare people away from you...because you seem to be revealing here your true feelings and writers, both prospective and established, might never trust you again...they may think you're hiding true feelings under etiquette and appropriate behaviour...and how well can someone promote me, if they despise me and find me ridiculous...why, the very best author out there right now may write to you an awful letter, because he is a poor self-promoter or has Adult-ADHD or has taken 'Listening to Bourbon' too seriously, and you would reject him on that basis and never get to read that novel except when it is out of your control.
Don't get me wrong: I absorb and use every scrap of info I read here, thanks to you, and am the better for it...still, I wonder if you don't sacrifice too much by doing it? Your reputation, I mean...knowing writers think fondly of you, for example...you don't have that comfort, do you? I mean, you could put a little love in your heart - or am I misunderstanding everything? Being a Canadian, I'm conditioned to 'nice', of course....maybe that does me no good.

Miss Snark said...

Form rejection letters?
Don't get me started.

I tried to write helpful letters when I first started agenting.

My god, you'd think I'd confessed to the Hoffa murder for some of the vitriol I got back.

One was even from a person who attended a workshop I presented on how an agency works.
I swear her response was "you didn't read this

And this was someone who'd heard me talk about "suck it up"!

From then on, I slunk back to my safe little form rejection letters. I don't need the crap from prospective clients. I have to put up with crap from editors but not prospective clients.

If at some point you want the Rosetta stone code for what form rejection letters really mean, I'll be glad to give you my take on that.

Miss Snark said...

And Scary One, just fyi. The clients I have seem to like me just fine. They're clients cause they DIDN"T write stupid query letters or make me crazy with inane expectations.

And if you think dealing with my snarkiness is tough wait till you're reviewed by the New York Times....or Dale Peck.

This is a business, and a competitive one. Nice is for tea parties with Grandmother Snark.

Anonymous said...

When I was looking for an agent, I sent out dozens of query letters just like the ones I'd seen in the books on getting published. Polite, informative, restrained. I got some very nice rejections.
One night, After a few Bacardi and Diet Cokes, I was surfing the 'net and I ran across a website with various agents' e-mail addresses. I rattled off a query and brief synopsis, but this time, after months of rejection, I was solidly in the land of I-don't-give-a-fuck-anymore. So, I suppose what came out was more in my own voice. Within the next two weeks, I had an agent. Not long after that, I had a contract.
I'm not suggesting writing query letters while half in the bag...but it's always worked for me.

chryscat said...


I'm fine with snark. I do better with it then slimy BS anyday. So, I enjoy coming and reading the posts and comments here.
Hell yes, it's a competitive business. This isn't a literary sandbox where we can all get along for the duration.
Only those who want it and want it bad will make it. Period.

And putting up with crap from prospective clients? Do they not realize they're slitting their own throat? That has to be the height of stupidity. Well. That or "fiction novel." God bless 'em.

Laraqua said...

I don't get the whole 'fiction novel' issue. It's stupid, I see that. What is it anyway? But I don't really get the issue. I dunno. I'm betting the sample pages were pretty lame as well. The whole Writers Market thing wasn't a clever comment, hardly makes you feel special, but I would never have realised how much better it is to do actual research without actually reading this blog.