3.11.2006

Cock eyed optimist...or sadist...you choose

Dear Miss Snark:

I've garnered more than a dozen helpful tips from your blog in only a month of reading it. Thank you for everything. I would mail you a pail of gin, but the Post Office has nasty things to say about that. (I quite agree)

I've encountered the following situation too many times to count. I write a query letter that says, "Would you care to see a proposal and sample chapters for a novel about {a trucker who eats pine cones for breakfast and operates a ham radio station}?" and the editor or agent writes back, "That would be terrific! Send it along!"

So I send the editor or agent my proposal and sample chapters, and eight weeks later s/he gets back to me with, "This was pretty good, but no one would read a book about truckers, and there's no interest in ham radio, plus eating pine cones for breakfast--isn't that a bit bizarre?"

I promise I'm not going to throw myself off the Brooklyn Bridge if they reject the query letter. If {whatever} is not going to sell, just say so. But it baffles me how many times I have explicitly laid out the premise in my query letter and then the manuscript gets rejected with, "Awesome writing--but the premise won't sell."

Can you explain what's happening on the other side of the desk? I'm just confused.

What's going on is Agent Optimism. We always hope. We see great writing, we ask to see more. Only when we've read more does the rational part of the noggin kick in and we think ...oh wait, I can't sell that.

At the query stage I'm not thinking 'can I sell this' very much. I'm wondering 'is it good writing'. I read a lot of things I end up deciding I can't sell and it's not cause the writing is bad.

I've mentioned recently I can't sell private eye novels to save my life. That hasn't stopped me from reading about a dozen partials in the last month or so. I have to write back and say "I love this but I can't sell it, maybe someone else can". When I ask for them, I'm hoping there will be something so stellar I can just bang open the door at some of these publishers and storm the barricades with a novel so good they HAVE to publish it. I always hope that novel is yours.

1 comment:

Miss Audrey said...

It is mine! LOL Smiling broadly and munching a hot dog... Sorry for wasting your time, it was just too delicious a comment not to bite!