More on Questions on query letters, spam filters and Miss Snark's aversion to your phone

A previous post (Spam Filters) generated two comments:

OK, I simply must ask, Miss Snark:What kind of "question" might you ask in regard to a query? I've had my share of rejections as well as the positive responses, but never in my "querying history" have I received a "question" preceding a rejection!

Yanno, basic stuff. Is this fiction? How many words? Are you in prison? Usually it's something basic the writer forgot to include and the writing is good enough to have survived the first round chop shop.

Uhh, how about a fallback strategy, like giving the writer a fast phone call?
Cause I'm not calling you unless I know I'm serious about acquiring your stuff. First, it creates unrealistic expectations if you get a phone call. No matter what I say ("i just need to know how many words are in this tome") the author will assume the best. That would be cruel to do to someone.

Second, I'll give you a million dollars in cold hard cash AND Killer Yapp if you can have a two sentence conversation with an agent and refrain from asking if they like the work. Cash. Barrelhead. Times Square.

So, email is the saving grace. I'd write a letter before I'd phone. When you hear Miss Snark's dulcet tones she's calling with good news, not cause you're a nitwit who can't manage to cover the basic info required in a cover letter.


MissWrite said...

I can't believe you would even deign to question authors who can not fathom the simplest of query standards. Word count--does that ever not apply? Fiction, or not, it would seem important information to me. Residing in prision, well, okay, maybe if I did, I'd leave that part out too, unless my book were a compelling tale of life behind bars, or in the prison shower.

My God, Miss Snark, I thought you were tough. Sounds like you give a lot of latitude. Would you mind a quick query? LOL Hey, I'll even save you the trouble of writing to find out how many words, and such. I'm just nice like that.

Miss Snark said...

I deign a lot if the writing is good, and it was. Rest assured it doesn't happen often but writers are weird. Creative types yanno.

I've had people not write the title of the book on the query letter.

If the writing is good, I'll get past a lot.

But don't count on that. That's just your margin of safety. Im 99x more likely to reject it if it doesn't have the info I want.

AzGhostWriter said...

Well from the twenty or so query letters I've help other writers get through, I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about what should or should not go in one.

I created four samples so that other writers on WN could use as boilerplates and they still will post some that makes your eyes water.

Follow directions? Yeah, right!

Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear Miss Snark:

I was suggesting a phone call in case your e-mail wasn't answered when a recipient's spam filter may have blocked it.

If someone's query is good enough to evoke your interest in seeing their sample, I assume you would at least try to contact them a second time if they didn't respond to your e-mail.