September 11th, 2009


letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 174
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: N/A
queries in queue to be read: 400+
oldest query in queue: 8/20/09

"It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't."

-Josh Olson, screenwriter A History of Violence. From an article in the Village Voice about how he will not read your effing script.

Guess he would find our first five pages allowance for queries far too generous. Some people would agree. Some people say it's not enough. There's at least a few who reply to my responses every week to explain that I can't possibly make a decision without reading their book, usually in its entirety. Too ironically, they are often the people who didn't take advantage of the opportunity to include those pages as per our guidelines to begin with. It's even worse when they mention getting contact information at or our website where those materials are explicitly requested. I never quite understand how they manage that.

What do you think? How many pages does it take to decide if you want to read more? Not to decide that it's perfect or the most life-changing story you've ever read.... But just to know whether there's enough there for you to think you - or others - might want to read it....

And, while we're at it, what do you think of the rest of the article?

Other out-takes:

"...not only is it cruel to encourage the hopeless, but you cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you're not a writer."

"You are not owed a read from a professional, even if you think you have an in, and even if you think it's not a huge imposition. It's not your choice to make."

Happy weekend!