3rd SR Crapometer #89

Dear Miss Snark:

I am proud to introduce my novel to you. [A top publishing executive] at [a major house] has requested the manuscript from me, and I thought you would like to hear about it.

ZAP! Right here I've put your letter back in the SASE and sent it back to you. Why? First, cause I don't believe you and second, if a (top publishing executive) thought your book was so all fired fabulous s/he'd give you a couple of specific agents to query and say "use my name".

Writers will interpret damn near anything as "liked my novel" up to and including "excuse me, I need to step into the stall and throw up now cause I had some bad fish at lunch".

IF in fact you have some person at a publishing house who likes your novel, tell me their name, their position and that they read it. That's it. That's the maximum I will ever believe. And I know this for an ironclad fact cause I've seen what people have said when they get a rejection from me that says "I don't do SFF, why don't you try Agent Spock over at Uranus Agency".

[TITLE] is the story of a love triangle told from the point of view of its three main characters: Micky, the crazy brother; Violet, his beautiful, sad sister; and Dave, the hot truck driver. Through a series of lies and manipulations, their lives intertwine in a complex and funny way, leaving their original perceptions of the world shattered. At 70,000 words, [TITLE] is a literary/commercial blend, an offbeat project with big ideas.

I am particularly pleased with the character of Violet; women are telling me how strongly they empathize with her.(they tell you this cause they want to sleep with you) She becomes a painter in the book, and the subject of art plays a big part in the story. But largely, [TITLE] is about a possible schizophrenic, Micky, who ultimately finds God.

There is no plot here just in case you're wondering what that screaming sound is.

I'm a graduate of New York University, having studied acting and script interpretation with the late great Stella Adler; I have had two short stories published by LITERARY VISION MAGAZINE; and I have written spiritual columns in VICE and NEXT Magazines here in New York. The NEW YORK POST has written a nice article about me as well. (oh please, unless you're on the front page of the Post and above the fold, naked, only your ma cares)

Thank you for your time, Miss Snark. I look forward to hearing from you. (I'll let you change your mind)


[my name]

[contact information]



Most people think that all you really need is a good job. Why? Because most people need to make money. And most people have a work ethic: nine to five, five days a week. And it's best if you do your duty and go to work. And when the weekend comes, you can go out and party and get drunk and laid and have a swell time.

But I don't work. And I don't play. I sit alone by myself and meditate. I contact God. If you call it that. I contact something above or inside of myself.

Why do I do it? I've got nothing better to do.

This private stuff that I do has given me a strange ability. This strange ability comes from this private stuff that I do - where else could it come from?

This ability is that I'm able to read other people's minds. Not all the time, just sometimes, when I'm concentrating. I can know exactly what you're thinking and what the name of your cat is. (I think you just called KY a pussy)

Do you believe me? I could say I don't care if you believe me or not. But that wouldn't be true. I care more than you know. If you don't believe me, though, you could always go back to work - or play - or whatever you do to amuse yourself.

I'm amusing myself by typing on this computer.

Well, as usual, the worst query letters come with interesting writing.
I like weird ass stuff, and this is qualifies.
I'd read on...KY objects but he's still a minority partner in this enterprise.


Writerious said...

I dunno. So far it sounds more like a blog entry than a novel. But then, I suppose these days one could make a novel out of blog entries, an obvious update of the old epistolary novel.

srchamberlain said...

I really hate to disagree, Miss Snark, but I thought this would be nails on a chalkboard for anyone half-conscious:

"Do you believe me? I could say I don't care if you believe me or not. But that wouldn't be true. I care more than you know. If you don't believe me, though, you could always go back to work - or play - or whatever you do to amuse yourself."

I can deal with self-absorption, particularly when it comes with redemption (Rosamond Vincy, anyone?) But not when it comes with overwritten pretension: Holly Golightly without the charm. I wouldn't read any further.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but why is this "interesting writing"? I must be missing something. I get so depressed when I see agents and others get excited over something that seems to me so ordinary. Sure, I guess the ideas here might be qualified as quirky, but as far as style and execution go, I find this flat and rather simple. Can anyone point out what I must be failing to see?

Rachel Dryden said...

Sigh. I tried to like it. No go. I don't see what you're seeing, obviously. Perhaps because I'm really used to reading speculative fiction, this opening feels cliche to me.

loftybit said...

I'm a little concerned about the love triangle that involves a brother and a sister. Is this "Flowers in the Attic, Redux?"

Anonymous said...

Talk, talk, talk; nothing's happening. ZAP, as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a joke. It's a joke, right? It has to be. There is no way on earth anyone would read this. And, WTF is "script interpretation"? Sounds like a bunch of BS to me.

LoulouH said...

Why don't you believe the thing about the major publishing house? There's an easy test for proof, so the author would be silly to lie. The very same thing happened to me, not that anything came of it. I certainly told agencies about it when I queried them and the agent who signed me showed no of disbelief. I expected the mss to be rejected by the publisher, which of course it was since all he'd read was a query and synopsis, but I thought I'd capitalise on the fact that he'd requested it while that fact was true. He took six months to get back to me with the rejection, so I had plenty of time.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to the author: she only said the publishing exec had "requested" the ms, not that s/he'd actually read it. And why is that unbelievable? The same thing happened to me, and that agent just said, send me the ms, not, send it to agent soandso.

Anonymous said...

Hi gang, I'm the author. I was typing a comment before and my keyboard went totally dead in the middle. I've been on the phone with a technician for over an hour, but we fixed it. Maybe it was a sign not to comment on my own entry here! Thank you, Miss Snark. I anticipated some of your comments this past week. I have a version of the query with more plot that I sent to about 7 people via email recently; but so far, the version that's posted here has worked pretty well for me, including the real and true top publishing exec! She really exists, I would never lie about it [the brackets are just for the crapometer; normally I include the real name and house.] But she only requested the ms, didn't say she liked it yet. I now wish I included more than one strict page for my entry, like so many others here did, because the second page really gets going. But glad you were intrigued by the first. In general, it's been getting a very good reaction, but no offers yet. Thanks again. I enjoyed this, and actually LOL'd a few times. You're the best, even with the ZAP!

Anonymous said...

wierd ass stuff doesn't equal good.

Nadia said...

I hope to God you know what you're talking about when you say "a possible schizophrenic, Micky, who ultimately finds God". If you mean split personality, say so. If you mean the actual disorder, tread carefully. It's not pretty. I'm not saying don't go there, I'm just suggesting very strongly that you make sure you go to an asylum and see what it really is. If you do know, I apologize, but then I'm also sure you'd understand why I'm making this comment.

writtenwyrdd said...

I would read on, but I think this is still a draft, not a polished manuscript. Tighten this up, keep the indifference in the voice, and inject just a trifle of interest, some wierd reference. As is it is too repetitive, too in love with its own voice.

heidi said...

I agree with Miss Snark that the query letter has no plot and is full of "these people love me and my characters".

I disagree with Miss Snark about the first page. Like the query letter, I found the narrative to be self-centered navel-gazing.

Really, is starting a book with a meditation sequence any better than starting it with a dream sequence?

I'd be passing as a reader.

A. M. said...

HUH? How is this "show don't tell"?
Where is the action we've been looking for in other entries? We've got a guy sitting at his computer telling us about something potentially interesting in a not-so-exciting way.

I'm waiting for action, for him to interact, for the story to start.

I don't see "weird ass". Not at all.

Stargazer said...

I'd read on, probably from another part of the book, 'cos I was intrigued by the 'voice'. Calm but probably crazy.

If he doesn't work, what does he live on? Perhaps he's one of these 'spiritual' people who claim they exist on air? Part of me wants to believe them. Same here.

But then my track record for spotting the potential partial is zilch.

Anonymous said...

This is quite well-written. The narrator starts off sounding like an irritating bore, and winds up sounding like the crazy man who sits next to you on a train and tries to tell you about how They are persecuting him. He doesn't have to be likeable - but if I end up wishing he'd just go away and leave me alone, that's not going to be an incentive to go on reading.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, oh grand and wonderous awful one, have you been hitting the gin too hard? Had KY yapped too long and sent you around the twist?

There's weird-ass and there's just plain irritating, and this, IMHO is the latter. If there was approximately half the length to say what he said here, I would give it another page or two to grab me. As it is, I skipped half the words.

Good luck with it, author, but you won't get a sale from me - sorry.

Anonymous said...

" . . . is the story of a love triangle told from the point of view of its three main characters: Micky, the crazy brother; Violet, his beautiful, sad sister; and Dave, the hot truck driver."

The love triangle involves a brother and sister?!?!??! That's just sick. -JTC

xiqay said...

Miss Snark,
You like this?

Wow. I don't. "I'm amusing myself typing on this comupter." Self-indulgent cr*p.

This would be close to the worst, by my reading taste.

But then taste is personal, and Miss Snark, you're the agent.

[shaking head in disbelief]

K.Irene said...

This character's voice sounds like a two dimensional, egocentric, 15 year old boy with delusions of godhood.

I am completely befuddled at whatever Miss Snark found intriguing.

FunkyPink said...

I just wanted to point out exactly which parts of the writing niggled me in case it helps.

Firstly, all the sentences beginning with 'And' in the first two paragraphs:

"...money. And most people have a work ethic: nine to five, five days a week. And it's best if you do your duty and go to work. And when the weekend comes, you can go out and party and get drunk and laid and have a swell time.

But I don't work. And I don't play."

Upon reading again, I can see that the whole thing is actually littered with and, and, and.

Secondly, the repeating:

"This private stuff that I do has given me a strange ability. This strange ability comes from this private stuff that I do"


"Do you believe me? I could say I don't care if you believe me or not. But that wouldn't be true. I care more than you know. If you don't believe me..."


There are more instances of repetition and a lot of it stems from the FOUR questions you ask in this short section. Why, why, where... I wanted to slap the narrator and scream "YOU TELL ME!"

I also like the weird shit and I think you probably have some great ideas. There just seems to be something off in the execution.

Virginia Miss said...

I liked the first paragraph but my interest dwindled after that. It perked up a bit with the reading minds, but since the narrator was a bit creepy I didn't have the urge to keep reading. In a bookstore, I'd have put this right back on the shelf.

Having said that, this will probably end up being a literary best seller...

acd said...

Wow, I didn't like the voice at all. I guess that's why I'm not a literary agent.

srchamberlain said...

Well, based on the nearly universal negative response, it's good to see that this wouldn't sell, even if it was picked up by an agent.

This is called a restoration of faith.

Bernita said...

What they said.

Janny said...

I'm with the people who said this sounds like an self-absorbed 15-year-old boy. I can see why you would call it "weird ass," but I remembered thinking about one paragraph into this, "This guy can't be for real. He can't think this is a story."

And then you liked it?

Okay, who are you REALLY and what have you done with Miss Snark???

KY, help!


December Quinn said...

Count me as another no. Didn't like it. Pretentious and wordy.

There might very well be a fun, quirky story here, and Author, if this sells please tell me and I'll publicly apologize to you. (I'm not kidding. I'm really curious to see what kind of response this gets, when Miss S loved it and we all did not.) But I thought it was self-indulgent and dull.

One thing, though--I suspect the people who got longer entries were asked by Miss S to send more. She did say she would do that for some entries. Can anyone confirm this? I know people didn't follow guidelines but I can't believe people totally broke the word count limits and MS said nothing.

Anonymous said...

this will probably end up being a literary best seller...

Thank you, Virginia Miss. You are undoubtedly a gifted psychic.

JDuncan said...

Please tell me this query letter doesn't actually get agents to read any further. From everything I know abou query writing (ok, that's not much, but still) nearly any agent who read this would have it back in the sase with the form rejection letter before they reached the end of it. One could also hope they would use their superagent powers and sense the ebilness sitting in the query pile and send it hurtling out their 10th floor window to be run over by millions of NY taxi cabs.

blaironaleash said...

Well, I assumed Micky and Violet were both shagging the hot truck driver, and good for them. Not necessarily at the same time. Maybe I'm insufficiently twisted.

Anonymous said...

ohh christ, what horse shit!...snarky--you've been reading too many of these--you need a break--this has got to be one of the worst of 95% total crap you've received--a 12 year old could do better than this--not a chance in hell of being represented, let along published.

Jeb said...

Query: who ELSE but the main characters would anyone reveal the main plot through?

Opening: "...self-centered navel-gazing."

Yup. Had to force myself to wait until morning to read it again and see if I was missing some obvious sign of star-dom.

The Rentable Writer said...

There's something quite basic about the writing that wouldn't have me fully captured, but I did like this. (It sucks, because I've been pondering an idea similar [though different at the same time] in my head for a few months now.) I think I'd take a partial if I were an agent.

Anonymous said...

I pitched my ms to a few publishers who handle my niche. One requested a partial and one the full. The acquisitions editor who read the partial liked it and asked for the full. I mentioned all this to the three agents who subsequently requested partials, and I got no snarky feedback.

So what's the big deal? Why diss the writer for mentioning this? And why would you believe that the writer is lying? Makes no sense to me, unless mentioning such stuff at the query letter stage is a huge gaffe, but okay when the agent requests more?


Anonymous said...

Very instructive - the post, Ms Snark's comments, and the others. Great reminder of the subjectivity of this whole process. I'm sure there are many agents out there who would abolutely hate this, just as much as MS likes it.

And she would probably have a tough time selling it. Remember where she spoke about those submissions she fell in love with but eventually had to give up any hope of selling?

Then again, she just might get it sold. And it could become either a commercial or critical success. Or both. That's the biz.

Janet Black said...

Anonymous said... "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but why is this "interesting writing"? I must be missing something."

No, you're right. Ordinary is oridnary. But I sometimes wonder what it is 'literary' critics see in a particular piece that I, simply do not! I subscribe to Zoetrope - and usually end up reading one story out of all of them, because they're so damned plain. I can only read just so much touch-feely crap. Thinking and pondering and remembering. Jeez. It's time for a train wreck.

Feisty said...

I liked it. But I like weird stuff.

I'd read more.

Anonymous said...

If Miss Snark slammed on all the other stuff but likes this, then I'm really worried. This one seems to break every single rule about querying and first pages. Is this what is takes to catch an agent's eye. Well, dang, I can write this fluff in my sleep. ... Everyone needs to sleep at least 8 hours a day. Yes, sleep is good for your mind and soul. But I choose to sleep only six hours. For the other two I write stupid letters like this one. And I don’t care if you don't like it because I do. Blah Blah Blah! (And I just wrote that brilliant piece while watching Oprah and picking my nose).

WTFx3 said...

This is the equivalent of a blank canvas posing as art.

The writer is deft at self-promotion and name dropping, not at writing.

one of the 359 said...

My God, the snarklings are funny! And wise. I suspect Miss Snark is more influenced by the "a well-know pub has requested..." than she cares to admit.

Miss Snark said...

The info was redacted in the email. I didn't ever see who it was.

Miss Snark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janet Black said...

I'm curious to know what was deleted! Must have been pretty bad!

Ha! my verification word would be pronounced 'septic'

Loriba said...

This author's writing puts me in mind of 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being'. The MC in that is self-centred and arrogant too, which is why I hated him.

Although I could be mis-remembering. The only time I picked up TUBLoB was twenty years ago, and I managed to get through all of eleven pages before giving up in disgust. (Even Jeffrey Archer got twenty.)

Still, the fact that I hated it didn't stop it from becoming a huge success. Maybe the same will apply to this.

Beth said...

(1) Miss Snark likes it and would read more.

(2)Others in the publishing world have shown interest in it.

(3) Almost everyone here, including me, hates it.

Someone please explain this to me.