“‘Fiction novel’ is an automatic rejection. This is not a mistake I ever overlook. It’s not a typo. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what two words mean, and it’s a HUGE RED FLAG for bad writing… If you grew up in juvenile detention and murdered your first three husbands, stir fried your cats and enrolled your children in Fagin’s School for Thieves, I’m ok with it. The ONLY thing I care about is whether your novel is enticing. Sadly, it’s not. And it’s a fiction novel, so it doesn’t even really exist.”
— The Query Shark (Janet Reid)
“In truth, there isn’t a single most common error that puts me off a query letter… It’s never about one thing in the letter. It’s about every facet of the query letter as a whole. And even then, if you put the same good query letter in front of 10 different agents, all 10 of them might have a different response. And some would ask for sample pages and the others wouldn’t.”
— Kristin Nelson on what makes a successful (or unsuccessful) query letter.
“If you’re working on your query and finding it hard to come up with something that makes your book sound special, maybe it’s that your book isn’t special.”
— Jessica Faust, literary agent
“To be honest, even the crappiest (apparently word of the day) book should be getting requests because a good query, like a good car salesman, can sell anything. If you aren’t getting any requests on 20 queries (that means at least one request for every 20 queries you send), you need to rewrite your query. It’s not working.”
— Jessica Faust, literary agent (BookEnds), in reference to an author who received 120 rejections on query alone (not one agent requested a partial).
You’re going to want to take this call (email)
… And I’m back.
By the way, wanted to direct you to a post from Rachelle Gardner. If you don’t know her, she’s a literary agent.
Her frustration-suggestion: provide a way for an agent to contact you. This doesn’t mean via a post-comment. An email address. She mentioned there are times when she’s visited a writer’s website only to find no way to start a dialogue (not necessarily to represent but to connect).
To be honest, I am surprised but happy to hear agents make contact outside of usual submission processes.
So do yourself a favor, make it easy on them. You might be opening more than one door.
One of the most interesting things to observe in people is how their self-image contradicts the image others have of them.
Almost all powerful characters can be described as hypocrites to some extent, because few are so self-aware that they understand all their own flaws and foibles.
Let your characters show themselves through what they do, and let their words contradict their behavior whenever possible to reveal even deeper character.
— Rachelle Gardner, literary agent, WordServe Literary.
“Requested material” is not what you put on something if I’ve said “sure, send a query.” A query is never requested material. You don’t need permission to send me a query.”
— Janet Reid, literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management.