Friday, 6 August 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins of Querying

Bad querying is a sin and can guarantee you a one-way ticket to Hades. Okay, not really, but it certainly won't help you get an agent. To help you avoid damnation on your querying quest, let's go over the seven deadly sins you must not be tempted by.

GLUTTONY: Do you stuff your query full of more junk than found in a Vegas buffet? Does your email query address EVERY agent who ever lived? Is your pitch ten fat pages long (and still doesn't get the point of the story across)? We know you want to quadruple your chances by telling as many agents as possible every single detail about your BEST NOVEL EVER, but avoid doing this. Keep your pitch simple and concise with a killer hook, address one agent at a time, and you shall be healed!

ENVY: Do you use sentences like "My book is ten times better than the crap found in bookstores nowadays." or "All the bestsellers I've read suck. I'm a REAL writer!"? Could it be what you really feel is jealousy that you're not published? Could it be that you just insulted every single client your dream agent has? Avoid putting down other writers, big or small, and you shall be healed!

LUST: Do you slut yourself out in an attempt to land an agent? Do you send provocative pictures along with your query letter? Do you offer time-share condos in the Bahamas or send coffee cups stuffed with your lacey underwear in hopes to sway an agent's judgement? Do not try to seduce your way into the hearts of agents, and you shall be healed!

PRIDE: Do you brag that your mommy says your novel is the best piece of literature she's ever read? Do you claim that all your friends think you are the smartest person alive? Avoid proclaiming how great a writer you think you are and let your writing speak for itself, and you shall be healed!

SLOTH: "My fiction novel is attached." Is that your best attempt at a query letter? Do you address the agent with To Whom it May Concern? Do you even know if the agency you're querying represents the genre you write? Don't be lazy. Do your research, follow submission guidelines, and take the time to perfect your pitch, and you shall be healed!

GREED: "My novel is so good I'm certain I'll get six-figure offers from multiple publishers." "I know the publishing industry usually takes time, but my novel is so kick-ass that I'll land an agent, get a publishing deal, and my book will be in stores IN A MONTH!" We know this is your dream, and you have every right to chase it. But don't let your greed make you delusional. Be sensible, and you shall be healed!

WRATH: "How dare you reject my masterpiece! I'm going to write a scornful blog post wherein I tell everyone I know how much you suck! Agents are just jealous because they can't write!" Have you seen the statistics of how many query letters an agent gets a week, and the percentage of those writers who actually get requests for submission, and the percentage of those writers who actually land an agent? Do not let rejection make you a monster. Be professional, and you shall be healed!


Unknown said...

I wish I had a time-share condo in the Bahamas! The sad thing is that people who do the things you mention don't typically take the time to read blogs like this. Happy Friday!

Stina said...

You forgot the one about requerying the same agent 100 times with the same query in case she changes her mind. And doing that for every agent, 'cause we all know they don't talk to each other, and they've never heard of Twitter. ;)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Kristi, good point! LOL, and I wish I had one of those condos too. ;)

Stina, you're so right! :)

April Plummer said...

Nice post! So clearly written. And I can't have my mommy read my stuff. She'd disapprove. *evil grin* I probably won't ever know how she really feels about my writing. The one book she read she was so...unenthused. Humph.

I want in on that timeshare!

Dr. Mohamed said...

Creative post, harmonizing spirituality with the business of there a harmony between those subjects? :).

One can hope.

Happy weekend!

Annie McMahon said...

That's very clever. I'll try to be a good girl and keep that in mind when I start querying. ;)

DazyDayWriter said...

Ah, very creative approach -- loved it! Stop by @ when time -- I'd love to get your thoughts on various blog topics now and then! Sunny Room (a creative, sunny space for kindred spirits) welcomes people like you with open arms. Query letters are a challenge for many, indeed, and you covered the various sins well. Will be back again soon. Regards, Daisy Hickman aka DazyDayWriter (blog name)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Thanks, Daisy! I stopped by your site - looks great! I'll have to pop by more often. :)

Laura Sibson said...

Awesome post - put a smile on my face :)

Anonymous said...

This is very creative. :) I've read blogs where funny, deranged query letters are posted, and this stuff is actually true.

Gabriela Pereira said...

Clever post and very well thought-out. I especially like the Sloth one because it's a new spin. Usually one would think of being lazy as just not querying at all, but querying without doing your research is just as lazy.

This post made me smile.