October 17th, 2008


letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 216
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: romantic suspense

Dear Authors:

I have noticed a marked increase in the amount of queries coming from minors, that is authors under the age of 18, over the last few months. I believe the youngest so far was 12. In light of Boingboing reporting today that a high school student is facing felony charges for writing a zombie story*, I wanted to write today to support these young authors and their creativity.

I do not know what is inspiring this age group to not only finish novels, but to get out there and actually submit them - particularly when their writing might make them subject to problems with their schools or families. Perhaps it's the success of the Paolini books (any other very young author stories like his?) or the fact that authors like Ursula K. LeGuin first began submitting when they were 11 years old (even if that story was rejected).

One of the interesting things to me as an agent is to note how professional their submissions are. They take great care with their letters and review the submission guidelines and send what is requested. I think this speaks very well to their potential. Since I get quite a number of query letters every week that are just full of grammatical and spelling errors, not to mention those that are simply a waste of both the author's time, and mine (e.g. poetry, screenplays, and other things I say I don't represent), their efforts stand out to me.

I have yet to offer representation to a minor, but it's certainly not on account of their lack of trying. I suspect it is simply the same issue as with submissions by adult authors. I need to find a story that I fall in love with that I also believe I can sell. I wish them all the best as they continue to create, write, and submit, and I hope they are not discouraged by the challenge that publishing oftentimes presents.

* apparently, this story also showed up on Boingboing back in 2005 and there's a lot more to the story, but I think the point is still relevant