One last crap shoot...only cause it's a dire warning

This crawled into my email box.

Dear Miss Snark,

I found your agency listing at Publisher's Market Place, and visited your web site. Both your agency and your web site have the professionalism I have found lacking elsewhere.

oh really? you mean my mom's site? and the woman who gave me a job out of college? and my two dearest friends? Look lady, you've just insulted my colleagues. I may think some of them are halfwits, but only *I* get to say it.

Never ever, and I mean EVER start a query letter with a slap in the face to another agent. It's just downright fucking rude. And if you think it's true, it's still rude.

At Publisher's Market Place, I noted your sale of the novel "XYZ", by Joe Smith to Big Publisher and thought you might be interested in representing my current work. Below, please find the details of my novel, "(Novel Title)" If you're interested, sample chapters, detailed and expanded synopsis, or complete manuscript are ready to be printed and mailed.

Make sure XYZ has more than passing resemblence to your novel. "I noticed you sold Forrest Gump so I thought you'd be interested in my crawfish cookbook" is funny...and not unheard of in the slush piles.

TITLE: "Novel Title"

GENRE: Heroic fantasy.

WORD COUNT: About 120,500 words---completed

EXTRA INFO: The novel combines the feel of Author X's "Novel" with a mix of Writer Y's "Story," a romp with a philosophical twist.

DESCRIPTION/SHORT SYNOPSIS: Five years ago, Horras Radenkin hired Gilran Kisfeld to recover the Starfire Gem. When Gilran learned Horras intended to use it to unseat the Duke of Larian, he threw it into a turbulent bay. Bent on revenge, Horras murdered Gilran's wife and daughter while Gilran looked on, magically paralyzed. Now, Gilran has something else Horras wants: the secret to claiming the throne of Waredia.

Gilran is haunted by his inability to protect his family. The last thing he wants is to be king, so he devises a plan to pass reign to a nobleborn friend. But when Horras kidnaps a blacksmith who knows Gilran's secret, Gilran must decide whether to rescue the blacksmith or save the country from a tyranical ruler -- by claiming the throne himself.

AUTHOR BIO; PREVIOUS PUBLICATIONS: I've completed several novel writing courses through the Writer's Digest school, and coauthored a nonfiction software book published in 1999 by XYZ Publishing Company.

CONTACT INFO: Feel free to call or email any time: 800-555-1212 rings my cell phone, and my email address is myemailaddy@nowhere.com

Sincerely yours,

This is an interesting format and one that appeals to my love of organization. If I sold this genre, I'd read on IF you don't have that opening paragraph.

I'd toss this if you did: I don't like the attitude, and good writing is a lot but life is too short to have more than one snark in the stable.

Love and kisses,


Anonymous said...

I teach college students to write resumes and cover letters, and one phrase I tell them not to use is "feel free" to contact me. It's condescending, implying that the reader might hesitate to contact the oh-so-important writer.

Anonymous said...

I think the 'feel free' part pertains to the 'anytime,' but you have a good point. Why risk it?

KirstenM said...

And beside, 'anytime'? What, is the middle of the night fine then?

Miss Snark said...

You'd be surprised about calls I get.
Answering the phone is almost reflexive ...and more than one 2:00am caller has been surprised to speak to me.

It's actually kind of funny.

MS: Miss Snark here
Caller: what?
MS: Who are you calling please?
C: Uh...Snark Society of Belle Lettres?

MS: this is Miss Snark, may I help you?
C: I want to know if my...
MS: You called my office at 2am to pitch something?
C: I thought I'd get the machine
MS: You called to pitch something on my machine?
C: uh, no?
MS: I think we're done here.


Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...

Apologies that this comment is being submitted a year after the blog entry, but I've only just seen this...

OK this query letter is from a template submitted to a thread about query letters at Absolute Write's message board "The Water Cooler". Here's a link to the thread:


I saw this about a year ago and always wondered whether it was really a good idea to use this exact template (or any exact template for that matter) and my conclusion was a resounding NO.

In my opinion one should research as much as possible and then use all the information as ingredients in your own recipe. But make sure you use the right ingredients.

Thanks, as always, for your feedback Miss Snark. Very interesting and informative.