Be Miss Snark!

Are you tired of getting "not quite right" rejection letters?
Are you pretty sure you can write better ones, or at the very least, helpful ones?
Ok, here's the challenge:

This is an email recevied two days ago. In 100 words or less, tell me what YOU would say.
Comments column is fine.
Email to me is fine. Put "be Miss Snark" in the subject line.

First prize is an hour with my slush pile.
Second prize is two hours.

Have at it:

Dear Ms. Snark:

I hope you will be interested in representing film rights for my 64,000 word 226 page softcover novel Rainbow Dust, (ISBN 1-932695-15X) published in October, 2005 by Treble Heart Books, a small press. Lee Emory, my publisher, will negotiate with you if you are interested.

Father Andrew Greeley offered his endorsement: "It's a charming, fascinating book."
An English reviewer commented: This is a tale of Christian forgiveness and Jewish beliefs of atonement and redemption."

The setting, which shifts from rural Florida to the Cape Cod area in the 1990s is classified as a paranormal romance. However, reviewers comment that I've expanded the genre. They praise the novel's strong imagery and suggest it would transfer to vivid screen action.

The novel interweaves the lives of two people who need each other, even though one is alive and the other dead. Margaret, a depressed 27 year -old college instructor is truly only half alive, while Zeke, a deceased cowboy and rancher, resonates with psychic energy.

Margaret blossoms under Zeke‚s tutelage as he relates his adventures as well as his misdeeds. Zeke is based on a friend who was a stunt rider for films, then an animal trainer for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Later, he owned a cattle
ranch. My audience laughs during my book signings as I read selections describing Zeke lassoing an alligator. They lean forward as I describe him breaking a horse by blindfolding it and leading it into a stream. They gasp with dismay–even revulsion–at his shameful stunt with a bull that cost him his rodeo job. Almost always, the question arises and creates a lively discussion: is Zeke a delightful rogue determined to release Margaret's repressed passion for love and life
and bring her to self-realization? Or is he an insufferable, selfish adventurer. Could he be both?

My novel begins when Margare's marriage proposal is interrupted by a sharp command roaring inside her head. "Don‚t do it, girl! Don‚t say yes." Initially, Margaret fears the disembodied voice she alone can hear. But gradually, her spectral mentor's enthusiasm transforms her into an alluring, resolute woman capable of facing danger and surviving a heartbreaking crisis as she learns the truth about Zeke, frees herself from his influence, and embarks on a new, independent life.

May I send you a copy of Rainbow Dust to consider for film adaptation?

Thank you.

Eleanor Roth
(address, contact info redacted, proof positive Miss Snark has one shred of mercy left..but only one)


down_not_out said...


I couldn't get through the first paragraph without my eyes glazing.

Better you than me.

I'd try harder to submit something for the contest but I'm scared of the prize.

domynoe said...

Simple: "I don't do film." ;)

That letter was a tad long, wasn't it? Aren't they supposed to short and concise? (Course, I'm trying to figure out how to do that with my novel, but I got time . . . I'm still revising!)

HawkOwl said...

Wow. When I read your intro I thought "how hard can this be?" But having looked at the query, I'm speechless. I don't know where to begin. Zeke? Zeke? Oh my.

Inez said...

Dear Eleanor:
I'm very sorry, a disembodied voice is telling me not to do it. Although I was a great fan of Rex Harrison in "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," this updated version hasn't convinced me. Why not tackle the screenplay yourself?

Best of luck,

the inimitable Ms. Snark

Mark said...

I don't do film for already published books that I didn't personally sell in the first place. You've reached a wrong number.

McKoala said...

I tried, but I couldn't! Not in 100 words at any rate…

So I returned to my first thought:

This is an automated response from an unattended e-mail address. Your message will not be read or responded to. Please send any further correspondence to uranitwit@wtf.com.

But that's neither nice nor helpful.

McK falls at the first hurdle. Might try again later if I can find my nice hat to conceal my nasty thoughts.

Bella Stander said...

Dear Ms. Roth:
Thank you for your offer, but I am a literary agent, not a movie agent. Also, you should not substitute commas for apostrophes.

Best of luck.

Sincerely yours,
Miss Snark

No prizes, please! I've had my fill of slush.

MTV said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

While I read your query with interest, I must pass. I normally do not handle the screen rights for works I have not represented initially.


Miss Snark

Now the truth -

Are you kidding? It would have been nice if you could get to the point. I found your comments campy and I know if I were in your audience at your readings I would have seen the intense humor of the situation however, as it is, telling it in your "excited" overflowing style missed the mark.

#&!!!% - Still too nice.

Wow - Miss Snark I salute you!!!

Elektra said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

I shall allow Jane Austen to answer for me.

"In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot -- I have never desired your good opinion. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration."

Corn Dog said...

Dear Eleanor,
This is not quite right for me. I don't do necrophilia. Peace Out, Miss Snark

-ril said...

OK, I'm game, here's my attempt...

Dear Mr. Roth,

Thank you so much for considering us in your search for representation for your abnormal romance “Rainbow Dust”. I just researched it on Amazon and am overwhelmed to find this story in print. From the cover, I can already envision the vivid imagery. I reviewed the story outline with my associates, and while we believe the scenes set at the book-signings do add considerable and fantastic comic relief, we are concerned that the inappropriate act with the bull may limit the property’s marketability as a family film.

Please do re-consider us if you have any other entertaining ideas,

Yours Faithlessly,

Elektra said...

Or, for the shorter approach...

Dear Ms. Roth,

I'm sorry, but your work is not quite right for my list. Please know that I'm very selective with my clients, and only take those who can correctly identify an apostrophe at least 75% of the time.

Please also note that my E-mail address has been moved to uranitwit@wtf.com.

May your stilettoes always be sharp,

Miss Snark

-ril said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
everbloom said...

To Eleanor Roth:
I don't accept solicitations via email.

In addition:
Please proofread your letters, check the names and titles of your addressees and research what the agent you write to does & doesn't accept cut down the description & include 3 to 5 pages of manuscript.

Sarah said...

Pretty hard to aspire to be a writer when you apparently lack the ability to read... the directions, that is.

-ril said...

Here's another quote from the publisher's web site:

The book depicts the world as it should be, rather than how many might think the world actually is, and that is an awful shame.

Oh dear...

She looks like a harmless old lady though so we probably shouldn't be too mean...

Miss Audrey said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

After carefully reviewing your submission I must tell you that I was somewhat surprised that you would have selected my agency to represent your novel for film rights.

Surely you have mistaken me for someone else.

I wish you the best.

Miss Snark

Anonymous said...

I tried. I just spent over five minutes drafting a response along the lines of:

"You stoopid woman" (imagine fake French accent from Renee in Allo Allo). I don't care that a priest endorsed your novels and if you were reviewed then mention the bloody reviewers name, publication and date of review. Furthermore, I'm writing under a bloody pseudonym. Miss Snark does not really exist. Wake up and smell the roses."

Then I gave up. It's too hard and the effort nearly brought me to tears. I feel for you Miss Snark. Tonight is a night to hit the gin pail. I think Motorboating's suggestion is the way to go.

December Quinn said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

Thank you for the opportunity to share in the "Rainbow Dust" experience. Unfortunately, I must pass on the opportunity to represent film rights for your book. The ghost of Robert Benchley told me it's not a good idea.
I wish you best of luck in finding an agent for your project.

OK, that's the smarmier one. The one I'd probably use would be just a plain, "While I appreciate the opportunity to look at "Rainbow Dust", I cannot offer representation at this time." without the "think of me for other projects in future" bit.

Or, you know, none at all, because I don't take email queries.

AG said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

You're kidding, right?

Ms. Snark.

P.S. That was a rhetorical question.

giggles said...

Dear "insert your own name here,"

I got exactly two words into your query before deciding that there was no "hope" for me accepting this project.

Negotiating film rights would suggest I want to see this book on the big screen, but quite contrary to Father Andrew's, all to kind if you ask me, praise of your writing, I don't ever want to see this book in print, on television, or in my email again.

As this is a Christian piece, may God forgive you for sending this crap to me.

Have a nice day!
Ms. Snark

Ralph said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

I regret to inform you that your work is not right for me at this time. Should I decide at a later time that it is right for me, I have given a close friend permission to shoot me.

ooo! or:

...at this time. Only two of the horsemen of the apocalypse are here right now, and it's going to take a lot more than that.

Kafaleni said...

Dear Ms Roth,

Not my genre. Call Ghostbusters. Praise the Lord and pass the gin pail.

Miss Snark

lisa e said...

"I don't handle film rights, but in this case, I'll make an exception. To make the film more salable, however, I have some requests:
1. Must he be dead? Too downbeat.
2. Western venue is overdone since Brokeback Mountain. Could you re-set elsewhere -- Louisiana, Vancouver, or other location with production tax-incentives?
3. Can female lead be younger and hotter?
4. Could we eliminate the supernatural element? Two projects at Paramount have similar themes.
5. Could you reduce or eliminate the religious aspect? Too controversial.
6. Do you have anything else? Perhaps a family comedy with a talking dog? Or a Lindsay Lohan vehicle involving pillow fights at a girl's boarding school?"

Devon_Miles said...

"They gasp with dismay–even revulsion–at his shameful stunt with a bull that cost him his rodeo job."

No wonder you're not happy Miss Snark. That sort of thing is illegal where I come from.

Sam said...

Dear Ms. Roth,
My apologises for this form reply but Killer Yap can't type yet so all his mail gets sent to this automated response machine.
Killer Yap intercepts all e-mail queries and queries that don't follow my simple guidelines. Killer Yap then rejects the queries by pushing a special lever next to his doggie dish.
Killer Yap has pushed the lever.
Consider your query rejected.
Sincerely Yours,
Killer Yap

Sue said...

My forthcoming offer is interrupted by a sharp command roaring inside my head. "Don't do it, girl! Don't say yes." And since I always listen to the voices inside my head I am afraid I must pass.

This isn't for me on so many levels, shall I list them?
(1) e-query
(2) name wrong
(3) you don't know me, why are you writing?
(4) film rights? wrong agent
(5) book already published
(6) ...

Oh! You wanted something semi-serious ... and to your gmail account. So sorry.

Thanks for the head shaker. I think a day in the slush would do all writers a world of good. Or perhaps those who understood the horrors of that, I am sure many would ask "What's the problem? This stuff is good, just like mine."

Hannah B. said...

Couldn't begin to create a letter in response to the query, but just loved this sentence:

"The setting, which shifts from rural Florida to the Cape Cod area in the 1990s is classified as a paranormal romance."

The setting is classified as a paranormal romance? Oh, my.

And this one:

"However, reviewers comment that I've expanded the genre."

I'm thinking paranormal romance sounds like an already-expanded genre, but what do I know? I might suggest, however, that said reviewers did not intend said comment as a compliment.

The Gambino Crime Family said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

Thank you very much for this. I don't handle film rights but please do send your query to this site. They'll definitely find some use for it.


Miss Snark

P.S. Be sure to include the bits about the "shameful stunt with a bull" and the "disembodied voices." I'm sure those will go over especially well!

Demented M said...

Dear Miss Roth:

Unfortunately I do not accept projects from people who can't spell my name correctly.

Enclosed you will find a big clue stick, please hit yourself with it repeatedly.


Miss Snark

Diane said...

inspired by angel dust? or rainbow blotter?

Jan Conwell said...

Down here we'd say (read in a sugary southern)

"Dear Ms Roth,

Bless your darlin' heart. You just can't know how hard it is for me to decline such a story, but with a heavy heart, I must. Evaluations are such a subjective thing, aren't they? Good luck in all your future endeavors.

Miss Snark"

angie said...

I think this illustrates why so many agents send out form rejection letters. And for every writer who complains about them, I'd suggest they read these comments. Which would you rather get - a standardized rejection, or blatant derision?

Suzanne said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

Although I appreciate the opportunity to represent film rights to your delightful-sounding book, I'm afraid I must decline. As you may know, I was seriously injured several years ago while attempting my own reckless stunt with a bull, and as a result I am now deaf in one ear and hopelessly bowlegged. Because of this, and the attendant phobia of dead cowboys that came along with it, I'm afraid my own biases would preclude me from representing your work to its fullest.

I appreciate your understanding.

-Ms. Snark

Well, okay, maybe not so helpful after all.

Cheryl Mills said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

After "serious considerion" of your project, I am "sorry" to say that I will have to pass.

MISS Snark (aka-None of your business!)

Capetonian said...

Your novel sounds like the perfect basis for a pseudo-comedy starring Robin Williams and Helen Hunt .. or maybe Andie McDowell.

Unfortunately Miss Snark is not a screenwriter's agent. Your incredible success in being published will therefore have to be handled by another, perhaps paranormal agency.

We all wish you and your Voices all the best for the sequel - Rainbow Stud, perhaps?

Quooquoo said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

First I laughed, then I leaned forward, then I gasped with dismay—even revulsion—after I realized this plot had been transferred to vivid scene action in the following film adaptations:

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Madly, Truly, Deeply
Heaven Can Wait

And who knows how many more… But feel compensated by the fact that you will not have to deal with this literary agent.


Miss Snark

jaywalke said...

Ms. Rot:

I find that I must decline your amazing offer. Your query truly left me speechless. I feel I would not be able to appropriately handle a work of such magnitude, even if it did meet my submission guidelines.


Miss Snark

12 said...

Chère Mlle Roth,

Merci bien pour votre de façon insensée magnifique soumission. Très immpressive. Je félicite les voix dans votre tête. Malheureusement je ne dois pas dire, comme je représente actuellement une idée identique par un jeune étudiant d'Harvard, Kaavya Viswanathan, entitled "l'Arc-en-ciel Poussiéreux." La bonne chance dans la conclusion de la représentation pour votre travail.

- Sincèrement, Mlle Snark

Quooquoo said...

I would prefer first prize to be an hour IN your slush pile. ;)

Brady Westwater said...

Dear Eleanor:

After reading you wanted me to represent the film rights of an already published novel - I shredded your letter and disposed of it.

Fortunately, however, Killer Yap found the shreds while pawing it through the trash, glued it back together and brought it back to me with a paw print over the part of your letter that should have been the lead sentence.

And that is where you say that your novel has a cowboy in it!

And, of course, if there is anything that Miss Snark will always represent - it is anything with a cowboy in it! Please rush by Fed-Ex immediately!!!

Awaiting Anxiously (With Pen In Hand To Sign For It),

Your Miss Snark

Miss Snark said...

Mon chien!!!

Lani said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

I am sorry. I must have somehow not made it clear enough that I do not represent film. However, I thought maybe you might be able to help me with something. I have a surefire money-making plan that involves banking, Nigeria, and $100,000 of your dollars which I will more than triple for you in the space of a week. You can make the check out to C. Ash.

Emma Ray Garrett said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

I'm afraid your query reached me accidentally. I do not accept email queries, nor am I a screenwriter's agent.

I wish you the best of luck with this project, but I am not the one to handle it.


Miss Snark

maedb said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

Meryl Streep is not available. Without her and Killer Yap in the lead roles, it is not worth adapting the story. Tell Margaret to find the first guy and say “Yes.”

~Miss Snark

Rhonda Stapleton said...

Dear Miss Roth,

Since I am an anonymous agent posting under a pseudonym, it is my policy to not accept any queries. This information is posted on the home page of my blog - misssnark.blogspot.com. This is for your protection, as it is not safe to request representation from an agent for whom you cannot verify sales and business practices.

If you're seeking an agent to represent film rights for your published novel, www.agentquery.com and www.anotherealm.com/prededitors are two good sources of information. Good luck.


Miss Snark

Rhonda Stapleton said...

LOLOLOL - 12, your french rejection letter is HILARIOUS. Kudos to you - well done.

lizzie26 said...

"Dear Ms.Roth,

As this novel sounds like a great bedtime read (along with my pail of gin I'll be out like a light in five minutes), I don't represent--for film rights--heartfelt crisis, disembodied voices, or characters half-alive.

Perhaps you can submit it to the New York Literary Agency. They'd love to spend your money!

No regrets,
Miss Snark"

Gabriele C. said...


have you internalized 'Pride and Prejudice'? :)

Cadie said...

Dear Ms Roth.

I apologise for my tardy reply to such an unneccesarily long winded letter. There really was no need to divulge two thirds of your plot to me.

However I must inform you that neither I or my associate K. Yapp handle screenwriting. As a result of this I must respond with a resounding no, and return to the contents of my slush pile.

Miss Snark and K Yapp,
of Snark & Associate Snarklings.

I suggest you buy a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word Literary.

MISS SNARK: please let me have time with your slush pile only if you will provide me with matches and some sort of fuel.

Sue said...

Wait! I think this was written using Query Letter Software!

Eliza said...

To: eroth@emailprovider.com
From: misssnark@emailprovider.com

RE: Film Rights Query

Email status notification: Bounced

Message subject included filtered word "Query".

Email address permanently blocked.

O hAnnrachainn said...

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been, ah, Christ, it's been a dog's age since my last confession. Er, query attempt.

I bore false witness to a literary agent once. I was a feckin' eejit when I queried that agent, using your name as a reference and claiming that you liked my book. And I missed Mass last Sunday.

For my penance, I will recite three Hail Marys, three Our Fathers, and I'll never use your name in vain again, Father Greeley, swear to God. Oh, by the by, and could you give me a recommendation to your agent?

Truly sorry for all me sins because they have offended thee, etc. etc.

Ski said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

I can't tell you how frightened I am knowing that you not only exist in the same world as me, but that you probably vote and likely drive a car.


Ken Boy said...

My Dearest Ms. Roth:

I am overcome. Simply overcome. This opportunity which you have granted to me, to represent you and your magnificent work, to represent deepest TRUTH . . . I don't know what to say. Words fail.


And yet.

I must be resolute. One can never do more than one's duty, and one should never hope to do less.

Therefore, uh, no.

a. m. burns said...

Dear Ms. Roth,

Zeke? A dead cowboy/rancher with a disembodied voice who brings a woman to "self-realization"? This has happened to me too. Unfortunately, the current temperature of the publishing industry prohibits passing off a memoir as fiction or vis versa. Bull stories are simply not selling well.

Ms. Snark

Reggie said...

Author's name. ISBN. Title. Lampooning a real human being on the World Wide Web.

I don't know Miss Roth or her work, but seeing another person, even the foolish and ignorant, vilified in this matter is truly sad, and unprofessional.

I've loved this blog. Please tell me this is a marketing ploy, Miss Snark, and you haven't gone from clever to cruel.

Lady M said...

Dear Eleanor -

I think based on your recommendations, you may have a good story, however, your query letter leaves a lot to be desired.

Agents have to be swept off their feet at the get go. And while you have some excellent recommendations, I need to know what the story is about in a short 25-word blurb.

Please write a very brief explanation of the story line and submit again.

Thanks for your interest in my film rights representation.

And if you do not represent film rights:

Eleanor -

Regrettably, I do not handle film rights representation. Please submit your query to other agents who handle film rights representation.

As a personal note to assist you in your query endeavor, please minimize your query to a brief 25-word blurb. I have found that we agents prefer to have the "short and sweet" story line hook us simply because no matter how well written a query is, we simply do not have the time to wade through countless paragraphs to get to the meat of the story.

Thanks for your interest and may you find appropriate representation.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

LOL...Words fail me...LOL

Lady M said...

This is asked in an honest questionable tone - not a scathing rebuttal tone:

All I want to know is did ANYONE catch the FATHER ANDREW GREELY Reference.

Y'all do know who he is - right?

I understand that if it is THAT Father Greeley - and he is devoting his time to give the screenplay rights a thumbs up - one MIGHT want to take notice.

Or is that a whacked out thought?

Remember - I'm still way way way way new to the agent game.

The blog is not the place to query - there are some excellent screenplay query places. So, yeah, I would have been a little miffed at the blog query... still.

Yet - that reference did catch my eye.


Scribbler said...

I think ski wins.

Bladeswinger said...

Many thanks indeed for allowing Rainbow Dust into my life. Having seen these two words placed so delicately and unexpectedly side by side for the very first time, my immediate reaction was to feel the intense pain that only writers can feel.

Was it jealousy? Was it envy? I don’t know. I’ve never known quite how they differ.

How well I remember that awful day in college when my English teacher Prof. Brian W. Doust beckoned me to the front of the class and asked me to define the difference between the two – knowing full well that I could not.

Prof Doust hated me because he wanted me in a way that..oh shit, I’ve gone and repeated that ’in a way’ bit. OK, I’ll just go for the truth. He wanted me in a manner that would require me to remove some of my clothes. In the event the best definition I could offer the class, delivered almost in a whisper, was “I don’t know, Professor Doust. All I can tell you is that they’re both emotionally corrosive in their own way, and in any case, your name is an anagram of Rainbow Studs“

Hours later, having once again refused to remove some of my clothes, I was summoned by the Dean who accused me of insulting Prof Doust by suggesting that his name was nothing more than a pitiful anagram. And then he threw me off the course.

I had no choice but to return home. And here’s the amazing thing. Having locked myself in my room for 2 months I BEGAN TO HAVE AN AFFAIR WITH A DEAD MAN.

It was Professor Doust. Unknown to me, he’d fallen out of a train near Berlin shortly after my expulsion.

Gosh, I grew to hate my mother for calling up the stairs: “Is that dead man still up there with you?“, shortly followed by my father who would shout “I know we live in Savannah, but how many times do I have to tell you that I don’t allow any paranormal affairs in this house? He would not be assuaged, even when I begged him to understand that I was simply trying to expand the genre. (Assuage is a word I can highly recommend for future use, meaning to soothe, or calm. I say this because when I finally came to my senses I realised that my only hope was to become an agent and as an agent, I am always encouraged when I see the word ’assuaged’ being used in different contexts, not to mention immensely long sentences that work because they seem to shout “I am long, I am controversial“ before sinking to a softly spoken “But I succeed because I am perfectly constructed“ )

Do you know Barbara Cartland, by the way? She’s also dead.

I think you do, you naughty girl, and I think that’s enough said about that.

But now let’s get down to business.

Although I am immensely excited at the prospect of working with someone whose life so closely mirrors my own, I think we should now move on to the subject of Neuroleptic medication.

I’m sure you will appreciate that in my capacity as an editor I’m often obliged to deal with otherwise good people who seem to have very little idea about the universe itself, or the universe they believe they inhabit.

The bad news is that you are perhaps the most perfect example of such a person.

The good news is that Neuroleptics were invented for people like you.

Although I’m not a doctor, I do know that these drugs fall into two categories - Typical and Atypical. To the layman, these descriptions are simply another way of saying Brutal and Not Quite So Brutal.

Haldol is a drug that falls into the former category, and as I happen to have a few psychiatrist drinking friends, I have heard on more than one occasion that “It shouldn’t be fed to a dog“. I believe this is an indication that it is rather powerful.

With this as a backdrop, may I therefore offer you a three pronged package of advice.

1. Eat a bucket of the stuff as soon as possible.
2. Repeat immediately.
3. Stop raping my monitor.

Kind Regards, etc