Why are Librarians Like New Jersey?

Dear Miss Snark,

You and many other people have said that in the query letter one should list any contacts that might help sell the book. I really only have one. My wife is a children's librarian for a major system and writes reviews occasionally in their journal. Many children's books don't get reviewed otherwise. I feel funny about mentioning this and given that the novel I am revising (one more time) is SciFi, I am not sure if the connection will be of any use in selling the book.

Would I just look weird if I mention it? Would I be stupid if I didn't?

You won't look weird, but you will look like you don't have a clue how publishing works. First, you don't need to mention any contacts who will help "sell the book" in your query letter unless you are Oprah or Oprah is your love slave. Even if you are married to someone who is the booker/selector of topics on a major radio/tv/newspaper you are at a disadvantage cause spousal units don't get to pick their spouse's stuff (unless of course this is poetry..but that's a separate scandal).

What can come in handy is if you are known to bookstores (cause you've had a successful book) or Sessalee Henslee thinks you're the bee's knees. That's the kind of connection that will be of interest.

Telling a science fiction editor that your wife reviews children's books for the library...well, that's like telling Miss Snark New Jersey is beautiful place to live. It may be true, but she's deeply puzzled why you think she needs to know.


merlinsmuse said...

Hi, Miss Snark. I read your blog every day and many times your...ahem...dry wit, has lifted my spirits. Anyway, I have a question along the same lines as the above post.

I bid on a 35 page author critique in an auction and won. The resulting critique was from a well-known author in the same genre as I write and couldn't have been better. She loved my work, gave me quotes like this; "you do the most important (and most difficult) thing with effortless grace—make a reader care about your characters…this is going to be a terrific novel…you have a gift for warm, accessible prose and strong storytelling skills…I love your writing…"

So, I'm wondering if including quotes like this, (which I've been given permission to do by the author) when querying an agent are useful, or would it be a turn-off? What about querying an editor? I don't want to do anything that might give a wrong impression (name-dropping, yuck), but I also want to use anything at my disposal to catch the attention of an agent or editor. Goodness knows, that's hard enough to do at the best of times.

Any advice from such a one as wise as yourself would be greatly appreciated. BTW, give Killer Yapp a big hug. I know, I know, he probably hates the sucking up, my dog does, but he's forced to put up with it to keep me happy. :-)


Eileen said...

What if Killer Yapp is your love slave? Should one mention that? Then what if Oprah was your love slave but then say, hypothetically, she found out you "stretched" the truth and then broke up with you on national TV. Would you advise leaving that out?

December Quinn said...

Cathy, does the author like your work enough to recommend you to her agent? Seems to me that's the way to make those compliments actually work for you.

merlinsmuse said...

December, I hadn't thought of that, but I would hesitate to ask such a huge favour. If she didn't offer, I'd feel out of place asking. Probably an attitude I need to get over if I want to get anywhere in this business. :-)

Thanks for the suggestion.

Jo Bourne said...

Hi Merlinsmuse -

What you might do is say to Greatgenrewriter --

"I'm thinking of querying Yourownagent because I've heard wonderful things about her. What is she like to work with? Do you know whether she's accepting new clients?"

Greatgenrewriter will know exactly what you're asking for and will be pleased with the tact that allows her to offer or to gracefully ignore the request.