How bikinis get into query letters I do not know...

Miss Snark, you have to understand that people have read that scary Noah Lukeman book, The First Five Pages, and it says stuff like if there is even an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot indentation on the edge of a single page, then the agent will instantly toss the entire package, because obviously the fool supplicant is sending previously-viewed paper.

Yes I've tossed stuff that was hard to read without more than a cursory glance. I get tired and cranky and impatient with people who send me work that looks like they don't give a damn. Mostly though I try to at least recognize effort and remember sometimes writers just don't know what industry standards are.

If you write well enough, I'll let you send me stuff with coffee stains.
But the cold hard truth is that 99.9% of y'all are NOT going to write well enough AT THIS STAGE OF YOUR CAREER to get away with that.

Right now, you need to err on the side of correctness. Which means following the guidelines right down to "no typos" and "no coffee stains" and no "teeny weenie polka dot bikini indentations" either.

This is like the haircut before the job interview; it demonstrates you wish to be taken seriously.

Agents are looking for good writing. It's a whole lot easier to focus on the writing when the words are spelled right, the font is easy to read and the page doesn't resemble Jackson Pollock.


Existential Man said...

Snark--whoever you are (i think i know but am not sure)i'm now convinced you are the real thing--you are indeed an agent--your responses show you know the industry thoroughly--well enough that it is tough to believe you are just a writer doing a good job of faking being an agent (as some had surmised)... now, about that e-mail query hang-up...

kaolin fire said...

I once got a somewhat underenthused rejection letter on a magazine submission asking about a feather I'd included with the query--whether it was intentional (if so, they were not amused).

That's what I get for stuffing submissions while sitting under a birdcage.

Still don't know how someone would accidentally shove a bikini into the margin of a sub.

J.R. Turner said...

My critique group and I read Lukeman's book eons ago (okay, it only seems like that long ago ;) ) and it really opened my eyes to a lot of the mistakes I had been making as a fairly green author. I had excellent queries--managed to gain a ton of requests, but--I tended to start my actual works in the wrong place (too early.) Thank goodness I'm over all that now! :)

So I think that beyond the great advice the Snarkilicious One has offered here, it behooves us not to just have clean copy, great queries, substantial synopses, but to really know the craft before we expect to get any return on our efforts. That means applying oneself to the real *craft* of writing.

And oh, yeah, if my polka-dot bikini ever made it by accident into a query--it would have to be shipped UPS in a big cardboard box. Writing is killer on the hind end ;) Though I have beautiful, long, strong fingers these days!