Is It Crap...The Cover Letters...part 6

A Snarkling writes:

Miss Snark, Literary Agent
Mayor Mike's Metropolis,

Dear Miss Snark,
To prove that I could be just as cutting edge as my punk rock friends, I moved to New Orleans. I lived there for a short lifetime of three months. That was ten years ago. I had tricked myself into thinking that I could outrun myself and my own lame attempt at a yuppie-like existence and make a new life there, full of art and creativity. I wound up in the back of The Casbah, a B rated strip club on Bourbon Street. The suits were gone. I reported in to work in nothing but a G-string and a pair of heels.

(Book Title) is a memoir of my struggles with addiction and recovery from alcohol, cocaine, men and food. It is 50,000 words in length and is a completed manuscript, professionally edited and ready for publication. The market is readers of biographies, memoirs, recovery and self-help books and young female fiction readers ages 18-30.

My book begins in New Orleans and humorously details my life as a drug-addicted, alcoholic stripper. It follows my downward spiral into multiple addictions and back up toward a partial recovery, while giving flashbacks into my childhood and adolescence. After a tragic incident, my codependency puts me into a mental hospital and my eating disorder forces me into treatment, after which I finally find a path to recovery.

Recently there have been several popular books in this genre, including: Smashed by Koren Zailckas and Dry by Augusten Burroughs. My book is different from these, in that it covers more than just one addiction. It is similar, in that it addresses my life with a touching, yet amusing approach.

I was a member of the former Rabbit Hill writer's workshops headed by Duncan Alderson and am a current member of the Literary Guild of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I volunteer in various twelve step groups and at a safe house for abused women. I also volunteer in a halfway house for recovering women where I am often reminded of the horrors of addiction, but am constantly challenged to find a humorous way of dealing with the subject.

I would like to send you the full manuscript of (Book Title) at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time.

Ok this is really NOT crap.
It's good.
Sadly it would get a not right for us cause it's NOT right for us - I don't do this kind of book but it wouldn't be code for "it's crap".

Nice work.
Make sure the writing rocks.
You've got pretty much one shot to wow them.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I have a question. I don't think it's crap either, but wouldn't an agent/editor give pause to the information "50,000 words" and "covers more than one addiction"- especially since the author makes the clear point that the mss it complete and has been professionally edited?

Miss Snark said...

50,000 words IS short. However, at this point, I'd read the enclosed pages to see if the writing is good. Almost anything is fixable if the writing is good and the voice is compellling.

I don't understand the other part of the question.
Elaborate if you will and I'll drink another cup of coffee and jump start my brain.

Anonymous said...


It's just the fact that 50,000 words might be too short a space to elaborate on multiple addictions (and presumably the author's triumphant recoveries)- it's just the way the author presented the word count and content in contrast to DRY and SMASHED, which concentrate on "just one addiction" but are much longer.

I don't think you need more coffee. You got my point. I was just wondering if an agent would be automatically put-off by a writer confidently stating their manuscript was complete at 50,000 words. But I guess if the writing is good, then it's worth the effort of trying to convince the author s/he needs to add tens of thousands of words. Hehe.

Miss Snark said...

This isn't the finished and bound galley we're talking about here. It's all ballpark. If I read this, and thought that it needed elaboration in certain places, it's not a deal breaker.

Mostly word count is to just get an idea of what you've got now. Books change a lot twixt my slush pile and your reading stack.

The idea is to capture the attention of the agent with fresh voice, compelling writing and something interesting to say.

If I love something a lot, I can fix almost anything else. A word to the wise however: thinking "oh she can fix this" is the first cobblestone on the road to hell.

YOU write the best work you can and then we'll figure out if we need to change it.

Dont' count on me to fix things you know should be changed. My answer to that is usually "it's not right for us, here's a kite, go fly it". See "Break My Heart" post below.

chryscat said...

Miss Snark:

I have a question. Do you want submitters to discuss other works they've sold? Or not? Or would you rather know if anything was sold that pertained to the subject matter submitted?

Kate S. said...

Miss Snark,

I have yet to draft a query letter but I feel much better equipped to do so now thanks to your advice. You're doing a great service here! Thanks.

Miss Snark said...

Thanks Kate,
and Chrys, anything you've sold is good news if you're querying an agent.