July 20th, 2009


letters from the query wars (delayed from 7/17)

# of queries read last week: 159
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: YA

Dedication: This one goes out to dawnmaria (based on last week's comment).

Acknowledgments: In my pursuit of reviewing queries and reading sample pages included therewith, I am thankful to all those who take the time to research guidelines and follow same. Without you, assessing and finding projects would be so much more difficult. Thank you to every one who understands that my time is finite. Your professionalism and dedication to your craft are a credit to you.

Dear Authors:

It is regrettable that there are those who, whether through ignorance, arrogance or some other misstep, make things more challenging for both agents and other authors by not following guidelines. And, in some cases, clearly not even being aware that such guidelines exist. It may be even more of a cause for dismay that the queries that fall into this category are fodder for entries on agent blogs and that discussion of them seems to sometimes cause misunderstandings or even just some kind of "query exhaustion" for either agents or writers.

On more than one agent blog and from more than one commenter, it's been mentioned that those who follow guidelines and do research are frustrated with being lumped in with those who do not.

I admit, it is sometimes challenging when looking at the folder full of queries as a whole (usually these days numbering in the hundreds at a time). It can feel daunting. It can feel overwhelming to consider spending hours combing through them. Hours that are so often stolen outside of the office. Even when one hopes to find a jewel in the haystack, it can still feel like a pretty big pile of hay. And sometimes, as evidenced by the query wars posts and those on other agent blogs, there can be those who just aren't ready, who try to take advantage, who react in damaging and destructive ways, those who don't think the "rules" apply to them. They make it that much harder for everyone else. And it can be a stumbling block to an agent's resources, taking time away from others who may be more prepared to pursue publication.

However, taken individually, the queries that are professionally crafted; that indicate research and personalization; that demonstrate the writer's dedication to seeking publication -- these really stand out. I cannot speak to other agents and how they approach queries, but I certainly do not lump those in with the others. In fact, they are the queries that encourage me to keep taking submissions and to keep reviewing each letter, synopsis and those first five pages. I know from experience that there may be a jewel to find. Be ye not dismayed. Your efforts are worth it.