July 11th, 2008

books

letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 122
# of partials requested: 1
genre of partials requested: general fiction


Dear Authors:

I bring you this week's theme: autistic chlidren -- several pitches featured them. Did I miss a recent news story or something? Just curious. I find it so peculiar when an element like that makes repeat appearances. Must be some trigger in the collective unconscious.

I believe at this time that I have responded to all queries received prior to June 26th (whether email or snailmail). Please check your spam filters or allow sufficient time for traversal of the post awful system before concluding your query was lost and re-sending. As per guidelines on our website, please note our official response time on queries is 2-3 weeks from receipt. I also got two of my responses bounced back with errors of "domain not found" and "response error - Reverse DNS is missing"...

So, you remember this dilemma of mine about someone who didn't really understand that I was declining to pursue their work? Someone else did it this week too. My note that their idea was just not right for me apparently fell on deaf ears. They wrote back and suggested that I take 10 minutes to re-read their material (which I had already read). Really, it wasn't an issue of their writing. I just wouldn't buy the book in a store if I saw it, so that wouldn't make me a very good advocate for it to publishers either, imo. 10 minutes may not sound like much time, but if every query I read this week required that much attention, that'd be around 20 hours of review, at a rate of 6 queries per hour -- not so efficient for generating prompt replies. I tend to work more than a 40-hour week (who doesn't these days), but I do need much of that time to devote to my current clients. Honestly, I'd love to live in a world where I had that kind of time for more detailed feedback, especially for those queries that I'm on the fence about. But, seriously, it just can't be done. And so many authors think it already takes too long to get responses. Anyway, is there some site out there giving this advice as to how to respond to rejection? Just wondering.

This is not to say that I'm adverse to second chances. Sometimes people have break-throughs in revisions or with peer writing groups and the realization changes the approach to the book in a fundamental way, which has an effect on both the pitch and the pages and, perhaps, the quality of the submission. There's people currently on my list that were initially rejected, and were either signed up because their revisions were amazing or for a different project all together. So, that does happen. But that's a whole different situation than what I'm describing above which is simply someone not realizing that I assessed what they sent me carefully and replied accordingly. Seems to me there's a difference between that and a careful and thoughtful resubmission. Agree/disagree?