4.24.2006

Query brochures, dog help us

Dear Miss Snark

Just wondering how you would feel to get a query brochure in the mail
instead of a query letter?!


I think I got one of these, but I don't remember it. I hate fill in the blank postcards but I understand that writers do them cause they are getting frustrated with "not right for us" form replies.

The thing I notice here is that the writer is confusing query responses and memorability with effectiveness. First thing I'd want to know: did this get her an agent? If it did, I'm not going to argue with success, but I will say that gambling on being the exception, betting against the house is the same kind of mindset that keeps Las Vegas in business.

I will also say that lots of times people think their query letter is what is holding them back. That may be true, but more often it's their writing. A good query, a trifold brochure, a partridge in a pear tree is not going to rescue uninteresting, tepid or boring writing. (this is NOT a comment on this person's writing...I don't remember what the writing was)



Forget the gimmicks. Write well.

8 comments:

TwistableSim said...

The real problem when sending in a cover letter, synopsis, and sample chapters (whether agency guidelines or request) is knowing *where* the actual problem lies. Was my query not good enough? Did they not enjoy the synopsis or feel it wouldn't be a good story, or was my writing just not good enough? And while it's great to get feedback from critique groups and the like, most of the time it's the blind leading the blind.

Elektra said...

I should be afraid that the agent would see a borchure, think "junk mail", and throw it away without even realizing it's a query

lizzie26 said...

I agree with elektra. And queries should be able to stand on their own. If a writer sends out,say, ten queries, and all ten get a "no way," then rethinking the query is the best bet. If a writer then gets a few requests for partials, but then those partials are rejected with no comments, then the ms. should be revisited.

I saw somewhere about using a brochure query. I remember I laughed.

M.E Ellis said...

(this is NOT a comment on this person's writing...I don't remember what the writing was)

Hahahaha that says it all really!

So funny.

:o)

Christopher said...

From the link:

...yours might just be the one query that not only gets read...

So the author thinks that queries don't get read, that agents and editors just open the envelope and toss in a rejection slip without even looking at the paper?

That sounds like a cushy, easy job! Where do I sign up to become an agent??

Seriously, if that were true, there would be no books published, period; everyone would get rejected.

qbb said...

Twistablesim, it's extremely important to find a good critique group, in my opinion. A group in which the writers are serious, talented, forthright, and generous with their insights can be invaluable. It doesn't have to be the blind leading the blind! In fact, there are many critique groups consisting solely of published authors. You can generally trust what they have to say.

Kalen Hughes said...

Oh holy mother of dog . . . you have got to be sh*tting me. Combine this with the last entry about query software and I’m afraid we might be looking at some of the signs of the coming apocalypse.

The time for a marketing campaign is WHEN YOUR BOOK IS PUBLISHED. All the song and dance, chocolate bars, special fonts (please don’t get me started on this one), etcetera just make you look like a screaming amateur (which at least makes it easy for agents to send them right into the round file, do not pass GO, do not collect $200).

My editor likes her stable of writers to use colored paper for our cover letters (so she can find our stuff on her desk, “Oh, yeah. It’s the big pile of white paper with the sage green sheet on top.”), but I only do this at her specific REQUEST.

Steorling said...

All fine and good to say "write well" but then you read things like "The X-Files: Confessions of a Lit-Mag Editor" that just appeared in Poet's and Writers this last month. Good heavens, you wonder why authors get a little nuts?! After a while it begins to feel like the whole publishing industry is run by gin swilling fascists bent on crushing all but those who can out drink them in their party games. (or in the case of lit-mags, those who publish other lit-mags. Check the bios some time; what a bunch of inbreds.)

What really gets me is that the whole industry is screaming for "original voices" and then crushes every last jot of originality out of anything they publish with a litany of contradictory style guide rules followed in tsunami like fashion by arbitrary "pet-peeves" numbering in the millions.

Okay, I've had my rant digression, but I think this is where a lot of the handwringing behavior from writers begins. You just mention the words "query letter" or "synopsis" and I'm looking for the guy with the bludgeon to tell me how I've done it WRONG before I've typed a word.