Miss Snark in her slush pile....call for the flame suppressant

Nothing sends Miss Snark's chapeau into spontaneous combustion more quickly than: "this popular novelist got it all wrong; it's time for the REAL story to come out."

For starters, if a novelist is popular and selling well, do you really think her readers are going to come on over to read you debunking her? noooooo.

If a novelist is popular and selling, do you think it might be because ...oh my dog, the concept...people LIKE the stories?

If you are moved to put pen to paper to right the tragic misconceptions of a series of novels involving an industry or a profession, and MOST particularly if you are writing to illustrate a bone headed political situation, hear this now:

A Novel Must Be Able To Stand On Its Own Merits As a Story FIRST.

You simply cannot expect a book to be taken seriously if your major goal in writing it is to "prove" (via fiction no less) that Jan Karon's Mitford series is all wrong; that Laurie King's Sherlock Holmes books are all wrong; that pedophilia is bad; that puppies are good.

Novels are about stories, and they have to be filled with compelling characters. You start yammering at me in your cover letter about the life lessons I will learn by reading this tome and you've got a lesson in what's not right for my list coming right back atcha.


Anonymous said...

Upton Sinclair wrote "The Jungle" (purportedly) because he wanted to expose the working conditions of the meat-packing industry at the time and give a helping hand to the workers whose fingers, arms and eyeballs were disappearing into the proverbial Campbell soup cans.

The book was hugely successful.

The result? The food processing laws in the U. S. were changed within six months so that a consumer wouldn't bite into a still wiggling thumb in his/her hamburger.

The working conditions of those in the slaughterhouses? Rubber boots with sure-grip soles.

The moral? Write the story WELL and forget the outcome. Once it's out of your hands, it's no longer yours.


Anonymous said...

Yikes. I write a popular series. Now I'm stressed out that your would-be author is talking about me.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Miss Snark. I'm very confused. What prompted this post?

Bernita said...

Look at the title of the post, anon.

Mark said...

Or that Michael Crichton is full of it on global warming. He is.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I don't get it. Is the querier querying an exposé? A work of non-fiction? Did I miss something in the comment trails?

Elektra said...

I think they'r querying (?) a novel based on the same premise as a popular novel, the difference being that they have all the facts, but none of the fans

kathie said...

This publishing crap is starting to depress me. Not so much that I'd stop writing...as if I could. Be happy for your peers. At least a little. I would think a healthy book marketplace would benefit us all. Maybe I'm missing the point here, but if you think you can write better than _____ about the same damn thing, then do it. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine that Dan Brown alone inspired thousands of query letters like this.

Richard Lewis said...

Well, *I'm* writing a fantasy trilogy that will expose Philip Pullman (HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy) for the atheistic fool that he is.

Now how's that for fighting words? Before I get sauteed with flame, may I point to my cheek, which is ballooned out by my tongue (good thing I'm typing and not speaking). I don't agree with Pullman's philosophy, but he is one hell of a story teller.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

You betcha' anon! There is a whole cottage industry of writing books to debunk the Da Vinci Code....the book is written as FICTION, for the love of God!

Mark said...

DVC is fiction but it took a substantial amount of it from another writer. Then there's that deceptive "fact" claim to draw folks in. It worked, but then so did "Frey's fables."