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letters from the query wars 6/4/2010

# of queries read this week: 177
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 2
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: contemporary fantasy (1), romantic suspense (1)

oldest query in the queue: May 11

In a recent post, I mentioned that I preferred for people to only query one project at a time; to choose the project that one thought was the best and strongest. By this I meant the most polished, and the most viable for publication, even while fully realizing YMMV.

This comment was prompted by the fact that someone had queried me for 3 different projects in less than 24 hours. I doubt highly they read this blog as they didn't follow the submission guidelines. Nevertheless, in due course, I responded to each email declining their work.

Just a few days later, I received a query for a 4th project. Again, this author did not follow the submission guidelines. I have to admit that I feel somewhat irked since a link to my submission guidelines was included in the responses I sent. So, while I could attribute the first 3 to a lack of research or care, the 4th certainly doesn't have the right to claim same.

I don't know what responding to this person again would accomplish. I think my guidelines are relatively clear and easy to find. Even without a response that includes a direct link to them. What would you do at this point?

Persistence is widely advocated in the pursuit of publication. The first novel queried may not be the first that gains representation. The first novel written may not be the first novel published. Ergo, one is encouraged to try, try again.

I admire persistence. But what does persistence alone achieve? Without a learning process of craft and/or approach, the same actions will yield the same results.

I am NOT saying that an author can't query an agent more than once. I'm just suggesting that doing it without due consideration is a waste. It may waste the author's potential without them realizing it. It may cause an agent to be that much slower in response times due to numerous queries with materials that aren't ready to be submitted, or aren't submitted with enough information to evaluate them.

Some say the query system is broken. I don't think so as I still find clients via queries. But it may have a flaw here and there. And I think this sort of abuse of the system is one of those flaws. Before you query, read -- and follow -- submission guidelines. Be sure that your novel is ready for submission. And don't query again without learning something from the first time.