(The following is a satirical expression of frustration with the egocentric gatekeepers of the publishing world.)
I am not picking on you @badlitagent, I like your snark.
There are many out there who claim to “know the secret” of how to write the “perfect” query letter.
If you just follow, their simple steps, agents, and publishers alike will seek your manuscript!
“Who believes that?”
I am a writer, I write! When I am writing, I am lost in the story. The characters take on lives of their own and demand that I faithfully capture their personalities and character traits, as well as their actions. The story must be cohesive, that is where I live.
When you find yourself spending more time researching each agent, constructing a query letter, creating a synopsis per their idea of what that is, and first few pages in whatever format that desire, something is wrong.
The actual hell of it is, you are not, repeat not, trying to catch the agent’s attention. They are too wrapped up in their position of power, to bother to read your query letter, much less respond to them. No, they have interns that may be going to college or maybe in high school. Hell, they might have their twelve-year-olds reading them.
(Looking for interns)
“If you like to read certain books that we represent, we will hire you as an intern. You must be able to “read” several query letters, and write a report on each in one sentence or less.”
When researching the agent, this is typical.
“If we don’t respond in eight weeks, consider it a pass.”
How fucking lousy is that! You spend hours crafting the perfect Query letter, and the agent does not have time to respond with a simple form reply..!?
“I want some fucking feedback! Why? What about this letter, or this manuscript, turned you off on the project. What was missing? What one thing if it had would make you excited?”
Some will send you the form letter “Your story is not the kind of material we represent.” Please please please continue to bang your head against the wall though; we like to hear the banging, as it keeps us awake!
(It is what you represent, because I researched your damned site, and your bio, and who you have published thus far, so either you did not read it, or your intern cannot read!)
Here is what I think they mean to say. Allow me to translate this for you.
“If you have a proven track record of selling millions of books, we might consider looking at your manuscript. If you were on the New York Times bestseller list, let us know that too, so we can ask the intern to read more than the title of what you send. We only have time to spend on sure bets. If you are not a famous author, please, do not bother us! I know we say that we are looking for first time authors but we all say that, don’t we? Whatever you have written, it is trash unless we can sell at least a million copies of it, without investing any money or time on it what so ever. As the matter of fact; if you can sell a million copies on your own, just send us 30% and we might be persuaded to have the senior intern look at your next project.”
“If you still want to send us a query letter, use one syllable words so our interns who are either stoned or still in pre-K can understand them. Thanks for your understanding now, go fuck off! And, have a nice day!”
You cannot be a one trick pony.
You must have more than one novel in you. Get published in as many places as you can. Whether that be newsletters, magazines, short stories and unfortunately self-publish something. Consider it a giveaway because there is little to no protection for intellectual property rights once you put it on the Internet. There are programs out there that can take Kindle or other types of e-books and turn them into PDF’s so they can be “shared.”
Many write short stories and give them away just to get their “brand” out there.
Truthfully we have no idea what the intern is looking for; it could be word count, Genre, style of writing or eloquent phrases or pixie dust. Since their website does not give us any information on where they went to school or what they like to read, it is a crap shoot!
The bottom line as I see it, you must “be someone” already, to get their attention.
Your thoughts are always interesting to me, feel free to elucidate on your experiences.
Maybe you have an agent that reads his or her own query letters? Tell us about that.
Remember that most of this is satire, with some frustration mixed in.
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