Resist Miss Snark barked, resist

Dear Miss Snark,

This is probably a nit-wit question, but I'm curious, so I'll go stand in the nit-wit corner and ask anyway. Have you ever gotten a creative query? (ie. A query for a pirate book on the back of a treasure map. Or maybe a package with a skeleton key, a shot glass, and a golf ball with the query saying "These were the only clues left for Detective Sly in the case of the missing golfer". Or perhaps a query in a mock up of the book they are trying to sell.) If you do get creative queries, are they annoying or welcome? I'm itching to send a creative query, but wondering if this would make me look bad. If so, I'll stuff my creativity into the trash and force myself into conformity.

Oh yes, I get these. They go directly in the trash.
Do NOT do this.
I don't care if anyone tells you they did it and got published. Don't do this.

First, if you're querying a lot of agents, you're going to spend a lot of money. Save your money for promotion where you'll need it.

Second, at the query stage of the process we're determining interest in your IDEA and getting a sense of your writing. Making this difficult, ie printing something on a treasure map, is counter productive.

Third, at some point in this process you have to write something that can be placed on the scanner of a black and white xerox machine and reproduced 50 times for the acquisitions committee to pick at. It might as well be now.

And don't think of this as forcing yourself into conformity. Think of this as following the directions so that you and your brilliant idea and writing can shine through.

The place for showing your brilliant origianl creative work is when I call you after reading your query letter and start begging for more.


LadyBronco said...

Awwwww...but I was going to send mine taped to a bottle of gin!

Oh well...

WordVixen said...

Save your "creative query" ideas for after your book is sold, and use them as "creative promotion" ideas. This website is a great example of doing just that. Besides, when you're asked about promotional ideas, you'll have a whole stack ready to go!

ORION said...

So I guess the fifty dancing girls are out.
And I got such a deal on the airfare.

Anonymous said...

This question made me wonder: Movie company marketing departments send this kind of thematic geegaws out all the time to newspapers and TV stations and so forth.

But it's extremely rare in the book biz. They just send out the ARCs. Sometimes they get real fancy and send out the cover art or illustrations for children's books. But no chocolate bunnies or pirate hats or spy glasses.

Not that any of that stuff would get any more actual attention for the books than it gets for the movies, of course. But wouldn't it be fun to collect?

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the story of the student writing magazine which did a deal with condom manufacturer Jiffy - they issued an edition with a free mint flavoured condom STAPLED to the cover.

(A friend tried to persuade me that this was a clever allusion to Polo - otherwise known as 'the mint with the hole'-- but I wasn't convinced. Do you have Polos in the US?)

Kit Whitfield said...

They sound like cute ideas, but cute ideas tend to look like gimmicks to an agent; they'll assume that you're trying to bling up weak writing. (Possibly unfairly, but there you go.) A publisher couldn't sell the book by printing it on a treasure map or fixing golf balls to it - way too expensive - so it's best to stick to what the book will be: words on a page.

And don't mock up the book; unless you're a professional artist, odds are your work will look amateurish to an experienced eye. It's jumping the gun: publishers have excellent typesetters and cover designers on their books, so there's no need for an author to do all that. Again, it looks like an attempt to distract from the writing.

Keep that lively imagination of yours in your writing. You've clearly got a sense of humour and an inventive mind: force it to have all its fun in your prose, and who knows what it'll come up with? Good luck.

Cynthia Bronco said...

And I just shaved my query onto a monkey butt.
Well, Bobo, I guess you can let it grow back in; we'll be using paper today.

Anonymous said...

Save the creative stuff for a future book signing.

I turned up at one with an actor decked out in 18th century finery posing as the hero of my historical. The sweet greyhound he brought with him was a huge hit at the bookstore. (All cleared with the management first!)

At another we promoted a friend's pirate story while wearing eyepatches and gave away plastic doubloons and candy from a cardboard pirate chest from a party supply store. We said "yar!" a lot and talked like Robert Newton.

But spare the poor agents and editors the song and dance. Just sell your words!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, there will always be exceptions, but don't attempt to BE one. The author and husband/illustrator for Elle the Elegant Elephant broke the rules; they physically assembled the manuscript and artwork into a folder, attempting to make their submission appear as much as possible like a real book. it was published, but not because they did that. They got published (with a five book contract) because the story was very cute and the artwork eye-catching.

Rei said...

I think Miss Snark should have a form reply for people like this:

"This is a business, stupid. Treat it like one."

Elektra said...

*looks wistfully at all the toga-shaped queries on her desk*

Andy said...

So...does this mean you don't want a copy of the soundtrack I created for the movie I know is going to be made from my book?

Kanani said...

I can attest to the utter failure of 'thinking outside the box' when it comes to queries with Miss Snark.

I had George Clooney deliver my query letter to her.

She tossed out my query and kept George.

So no, don't go there, unless you want to be bringing your publicist as a date to the Oscars.