November 13th, 2009


letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 272
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

A lot of people have good luck rituals. Lucky ties, shirts, jewelery, etc. Throwing salt over their shoulder. Not stepping on cracks. And so on. Many people believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky. For me, however, this day seems auspicious: it's the first time my query folder has been under 200 since early April (pre London Book Fair). On the other hand, I can remember a time that I used to be surprised that it got over 100.

On this day, Friday the 13th, I bring you some query letter superstitions:

* What time of year a query is sent makes a difference.
* A random sampling of people liking the book guarantees it will sell widely.
* Spell-checking and proof-reading are done by copy-editors and therefore the manuscript doesn't need that beforehand.
* Arguing with a rejection will change the agent's mind.
* Sending the same exact query 3 weeks later will get a different reply.
* In the same vein, repeat queries over the course of many months will wear an agent down until they agree to representation.
* Agents never remember who they meet and what they've requested, so it's okay to lie about that. This is particularly successful if referencing a conference the agent has never attended.
* You can't get published without an agent; you can't get an agent without being published.

Some agent superstitions about queries:
* It is bad luck to read queries on vacation, on birthdays, and during the holiday season.
* Burying a query at the cross-roads means it won't come back to haunt you.
* Don't feed them after midnight or get them wet.
* They breed while you sleep. (Oh, wait. That one's true.)

What query superstitions can you think of? Or, do you do anything that smacks of ritual when you send a query out? What is it and what is it supposed to augment/prevent?