March 27th, 2009


letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 209
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: fantasy

Also, responded to a previously requested partial and asked for the full manuscript -- it's a southern gothic novel. Had to send the request by snailmail because the email bounced -- this is an important reason to include other contact information in your query, whether it's electronic or snailmail.

Meanwhile, there are two, shall we say, industrious individuals contesting for this week's casualty -- or possibly casualty of the year.

Casualty #1: The author has sent me 8 queries in the last 6 months for the same novel, 3 of those queries have been in the last month. They did change the title at least once. They've also used 3 different email addresses (after I, admittedly, blocked the first one because I had begun to feel harassed). The body of the query, however, is essentially identical.

Casualty #2: The author has also sent me 8 queries, albeit over the course of 9 months, and only twice so far this month. Six of these queries were for the same novel. Recently, they gave me a bit of a stalker impression by suggesting that if we could only meet in person they were sure I would change my mind.

In each case, I have responded politely to the first couple rounds of queries in my usual fashion declining interest. Since that didn't seem to be having any effect, I then sent my 2nd tier response which thanks them for the opportunity to reconsider their work and indicates that I am still not interested and kindly suggests they should seek representation elsewhere. Apparently, in these two cases, this is not having any success either as I continue to receive the queries over and over. I have now ceased to respond because I fear that no matter what I say, they simply won't believe these projects aren't of interest to me. And, sadly, with one of them changing their email address in a chameleon-like way, I cannot simply consign them to the killfile.

And, to be honest, I feel uncomfortable with the notion of sending queries to the killfile based on any sort of filter - they are only as good as the computer thinks they are. However, as I said above, I have gone past feeling spammed and have now made the transition to feeling harassed. People like these are why agents don't want to get re-queried.

I find myself flummoxed by these. I simply cannot conceive of what these authors hope to accomplish at this point. Can someone please explain it to me?

Meanwhile, I can't quite seem to craft something that is a more stern and unequivocal rejection that will nonetheless pass professional muster. So, do tell me in comments how you'd suggest I convince these two authors to move on to another victim target agent. Or, share with me the worst rejection you've ever received (please do leave out any identifying names, etc.) for comparison's sake.

And have a happy weekend.