Tag Archives: publishing

query fail, part 2

in college (at wheaton), i had a buddy named greg daniel. greg and i lived on the same dorm floor when we were sophomores, but most of the other guys on the floor were freshman. and good times were had (including a hallway game called “dart wars” that resulted in me walking with a cane for a few weeks after i got a dart stuck in my knee cap).

i lost track of greg for years, but noticed he surfaced in christian publishing, as the executive editor of “w publishing” (then a division of thomas nelson). when thomas nelson disbanded w, greg started his own literary agency. now, when i’m in nashville, we usually connect, which has been fun.

anyhow, recently on his twitter page, greg went a little nuts for a day, tweeting a whole wad of “query fail” tweets. a “query” is the letter (or email) an aspiring author sends a publisher or agent in hopes of getting their writing considered. these babies had me laughing out loud, so i asked greg if i could collect them all and post them. they start out almost helpful, but quickly degrade to true weirdness.

here’s part one. and now, for your amusement, i present part 2 of greg daniel’s complete list of query fail tweets:

Your book is titled Frogs of Heaven. Really? That’s what you’re going with? #queryfail

“I am writing a book. What is the going rate for literary agents?” You’re in luck! Special going on now. We’re two for a buck. #queryfail

“Imagine a world where Camelot had never existed” Wow. You’re blowing my mind. #queryfail

“I have 9 completed manuscripts including 2 fiction, a SF trilogy, and 4 fantasy” Okay, just send them all to me. In a big box. #queryfail

“In a week, I read works by Philip Roth, Junot Diaz, & Paul Beatty, & this is what I concluded: It’s my turn! ” Um, no. It isn’t. #queryfail

“I know you don’t represent children’s literature, but I hope you’ll make an exception in my case.” Let me think….No. #queryfail

“Before you respond to my query, please send a test email for my spam filter.” I got yer spam filter right here. #queryfail

“I believe you will be interested in representing my novel & me for many years to come.” I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. #queryfail

“Have you ever wondered what its like to be pulled up a waterfall or to be flushed down a toilet? ” Hey. Have you been reading my mind? #queryfail

“The story has an unusual hero, a former Navy SEAL …” A former Navy SEAL? That is wacky. Where do you come up with this stuff? #queryfail

“Keep in mind that this novel is a bit of my imagination…” I’m just glad its not ALL of your imagination. #queryfail

“This fictional work is meant for entertainment purposes…” Sorry. I represent only novels meant for medicinal purposes. #queryfail

“My novel is a sumptuous feast of meticulously researched historical fact and superbly crafted fiction” Burp. #queryfail

“This isn’t my first published work I have published two articles in G4S Pipeline Trade Publication” REALLY? I never miss an issue! #queryfail

I’m considering changing my name to “Sir/Madam.” More of the queries would seem personal that way. #queryfail

“I understand you’re interested in historical fiction submissions, filled with both action and intrigue” Both action AND intrigue? No. #queryfail

“I’ve queried more than 50 other agents with this and have gotten nowhere and now I’m querying you.” You had me at ‘hello.’ #queryfail

“I am writing this query letter to request permission to submit my proposal to you.” Permission denied. #queryfail

query fail, part 1

in college (at wheaton), i had a buddy named greg daniel. greg and i lived on the same dorm floor when we were sophomores, but most of the other guys on the floor were freshman. and good times were had (including a hallway game called “dart wars” that resulted in me walking with a cane for a few weeks after i got a dart stuck in my knee cap).

i lost track of greg for years, but noticed he surfaced in christian publishing, as the executive editor of “w publishing” (then a division of thomas nelson). when thomas nelson disbanded w, greg started his own literary agency. now, when i’m in nashville, we usually connect, which has been fun.

anyhow, recently on his twitter page, greg went a little nuts for a day, tweeting a whole wad of “query fail” tweets. a “query” is the letter (or email) an aspiring author sends a publisher or agent in hopes of getting their writing considered. these babies had me laughing out loud, so i asked greg if i could collect them all and post them. they start out almost helpful, but quickly degrade to true weirdness.

here, for your amusement, i present part 1 of greg daniel’s list of query fail tweets:

Includes 50 other agents in the address line of the query email? #queryfail

Asks me to be patient with their 300,000 word novel because it really picks up steam after the first 50k words? #queryfail

Starts out by ranting about the idiot agents who have rejected their masterpiece? #queryfail

Addresses me “Dear Sir/Madam…”? #queryfail

Insists on calling me to tell me about their book because it’s too difficult to describe in writing. Uh…. #queryfail

Can’t correctly spell “query” in the subject line. Hmmm…. #queryfail

Asks me how to go about submitting? Uh. If you have my email address, then you obviously have my web site address with my guidelines #queryfail

Say you don’t know how to paste the first five pages of your manuscript into your email? Please get your 3-year-old to teach you. #queryfail

Tell me that God told you I would be the perfect agent for you? #queryfail

Start out by addressing me , “Dear Colleen…” #queryfail

Refer to your work as a “fictional novel”? #queryfail

Tell me you have an idea for a novel and want to get my opinion of it before you start writing it? #queryfail

Send me a snail mail query despite the fact that my guidelines say I don’t accept them? Pray for absolution for killing a tree, then #queryfail

Include a cover design you insist that the publisher use if your book is published? #queryfail

Call yourself a “published author” when what you really mean is “self-published”? #queryfail

Tell me your Aunt Ethel and her 6 cats loved your manuscript? #queryfail

“I channel notes and put into format and would like to be considered for a partnership…” Wow, tempting, but #queryfail

“I have written a 2,500 word novel…” No, you’ve written a pamphlet. #queryfail

“I read about your interest in poetry so I’m querying you.” Really? Where? You mean in my guidelines where it says I don’t accept poetry? #queryfail

You want to write a nonfiction book but you have no impressive credentials or platform? This is a huge issue, folks. #queryfail

“I selected you through web listings, in which you appear to be in good standing” Stop. I’m blushing. #queryfail

“Hi. Are you a visionary agent who wants to take the stagnant fiction literary marketplace to new heights?” No. Not really. #queryfail

I’M TYPING MY QUERY IN ALL CAPS SO YOU WILL BE SURE TO NOTICE IT. Okay, now that my pupils have stopped burning… #queryfail

click here for part 2

if this kid wrote a book, i’d read it

publisher’s weekly is the graceful old behemoth of approval in the publishing world. so, when they publish a letter written by a (shockingly articulate) 13 year-old boy named max leone, about what teen guys want in books, it will actually shape things. anyone who loves middle schoolers will love this kid (though he’d likely role his eyes at me/us and tell us to get a life). seriously, publishers not only salivate for this kind of kid as a reader, i’m sure there are already mulitple publishers trying to track him down for a book proposal. and what youth worker wouldn’t hope for a couple of these guys in our middle school groups?

here’s an absolutely classic paragraph from his letter:

And then there are the vampires and other supernatural creature that appear in many contemporary teen novels. Vampires, simply put, are awesome. However, today’s vampire stories are 100 pages of florid descriptions of romance and 100 pages of various people being emo. However much I mock the literature of yesteryear, it definitely had it right when it came to vampires. The vampire was always depicted as a menacing badass. That is the kind of book teenage boys want to read. Also good: books with videogame-style plots involving zombie attacks, alien attacks, robot attacks or any excuse to shoot something.

but, this final point of his really sums it up in a way that reflects what we’ve been trying to do with our line of books for students here at youth specialties:

Finally, here is what I consider the cardinal rule of writing for young adults: Do Not Underestimate Your Audience. They actually know a lot about what’s going on in politics. They will get most of the jokes you expect them not to. They have a much higher tolerance for horror and action than most adults. Most of the books I read actually don’t fall under the “young adult” category. I can understand the humor in Jon Stewart’s or Stephen Colbert’s books as well as any adult.

(ht to ypulse for the link)