June 20th, 2008


letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 104
# of partials requested: 1
genre of partials requested: suspense

Dear Authors:

Just a couple quick notes. This is not a week for complex sentences. I have been ill (one day migraine - yuck - could have been worse). I have been having trouble with the internet connection (yes, again). This has made the blog (and me) quieter than planned. It's not all bad -- I did get a galley of Cherie Priest's Fathom (Tor, November 2008) today (squee). In any case....

* This week's theme - overweight heroines in several queries (it's so strange when this happens -- is it in the drinking water?). The one where anyone who is a size 10 or less was very insulted? Let's just say I'm apparently not in the target audience. I'm not biased. Preaching to the choir wouldn't have worked on me either. Recommended in this category: Alternate Beauty by Andrea Rains Waggener (not one of mine but the editor turned me on to it). It's not that fiction can't have a platform or a message, but it shouldn't bury the story. (Oops, complex sentence.) Plus, I just don't like feeling insulted by a query - strange, that.
* A heroine named Candace Snark, who is a literary agent often confused with the other Miss Snark? Really? (No, I'm not making this up.)
* I finally got my fantasy thriller query which I had posted on the agency "what we're looking for" a couple months back (James Bond meets the Lord of the Rings). It was exactly what I was looking for, but the writing just didn't hold up. I am incredibly disappointed.
* Offering me a 40% commission will not change my answer if I don't think I can sell it. Do the math.

Captain Agent: Weekend reading pile, ahoy. There she blows off the starboard bow.
First Mate: Captain, the monster from the deep! She's huge! Man the life boats!
Captain Agent: That's just C.E. Murphy's next book.... it can be tamed -- it's only 711 pages. Buck up, man.
Disclaimer: This is not to advocate giant manuscripts. Rampant wordcount can be a problem. Think about what each scene does. Save a tree.

In other news: loving Jessica's post about rules, particularly as they apply to queries. One of the most frustrating things for me about being blasted for all of our rules is that so many of them are created because authors ask for them, and so many more are not rules I’ve put out but rules authors impose themselves. Amen.

Good night, and good luck.