How To Be Annoying as Hell in your Query Letter

1. Spend a paragraph telling me you aren't wedded to the title and suggest options.

2. Tell me what friends of yours - who are "knowledgeable about publishing"- think of the book and/or of you.

3. Fail to tell me whether this is a novel or narrative non-fiction.

4. Putting "first draft" on your cover sheet. First, you don't need a cover sheet, and second, don't ever send me a first draft.

5. Talking about yourself in the third person in a letter is just weird.

6. Using the phrase "a perfect life" followed by "unravels". First, no one thinks they have a perfect life. You may construct someone you think would have a perfect life (usually it's the one you want) but you're not letting the character be anything but your fantasy creation. Perfection is dull dull dull and it's also boring, and did I mention a total snore?

7. Hyperbole about how I'm the perfect agent for you. Yuck....and a little scary since you're writing stalker serial killer fiction.

8. Telling me an editor from a major house has read it and commented favorably. Either you had another agent for this, or he read it at a conference. You'd do well to tell me if it was a conference (or whatever the circumstances were) so I don't wonder if this has been shopped around previously.


JPD said...

#5- Is it okay to lapse into third-person, as an effect?

For example, if my 750 hook says that "my book will do this," and "it will show that..." can I then slip into third-person and say that "this Nitwit's manuscript will spackle your unprepared keyboard with ruminant globs of gin?"

JPD (trying his best not to be weird, and failing, and to repent for his prior annoyances, and failing in that, too.)

charles said...

annoying addendum: how about when people plaster copyright 2006 all over query letters, sample chapters, etc.? (especially when it appears "copywritten 2006 . . ."?

Anonymous said...

Is 'perfect life' acceptable, if I precede it with the word 'seemingly'? Can I do 'unravels' if I pair it with 'suddenly'? How about if I replace 'perfect life' with 'fairy-tale existence' and 'unravels' with 'falls apart'?

I'll shut up now.

Ryan Field said...

If we swear to Dog we won't do 1-7 can number eight be forgiven?

Anonymous said...

This was posted by an editor in the "Common First Time Mistakes" thread on Absolute Write.

It struck me as having some good points.

Beverage alert.


a naughty miss said...

Dear Snarky Dream Agent,

We had preferred to talk about ourselves in the plural person past perfect tense, and had selected you as our perfect agent to represent our non-narrative fiction novel, Perfectly Annoying As Hell. Our dogs' best friends' editors had spoken positively of us and our manuscripts, recommending alternate titles such as First Draft, Craptrocious, and Begging For Rejection.

No SASE enclosed, as we had waited eagerly by the phone for your prompt affirmative reply.

NitWitness said...

I only follow you every other day, Miss Snark. Except Saturday. Every Saturday, from dawn to dusk, without fail. I never miss a Saturday.

Well, got to get to bed early. I'll see you tomorrow.;)

MichaelPH said...

If I've read with and been critiqued by Author C at an SCBWI critiquenic (they're called) and she happens to be a client of Agent B who I'm to query...is it okay to drop Author C's name in my letter?


Kim Stagliano said...

I prefer to talk about myself in the pluperfect or Plus que parfait en francais. And yes, third person, which always adds a certain erudite mystique. "Kim will have had 10,658 cocktails (Immunitinis) by the time she publishes her book."

My middle daughter speaks in the third person a lot - but in a child with autism its kind of endearing. And it works for Bob Dole. Just not for Miss Snark.

Kim Stagliano said...

Wait - Future perfect? Grumbling and looking for pail sized coffee cup. To hell with it, I'll drink from the pot.

wordver: "THETO" LaToya's lispy brother?

Sam said...

Dear Agent,
We'd like to send you our book 'Paragrams of Stabbings' - which we have also thought of calling 'Dreams of Gore', but we're open to other suggestions. We don't want you to think I'm inflexible. Our mother's friend Quinn, who works as an assistant in a publishing company, thought this story was unbelieveable (And we quote - "It was really unbelieveable".)
The story is about a man with the perfect life and the perfect wife. Everything is perfect until a serial killer starts to stalk him and everything unravels from there. We think it would be right up your alley as we see from your website you take fantasy and non fiction. We just know this book will blow your socks off.
Sincerely yours,
N'it W'it