Nov 27 2009

Janet Reid’s Query Count

Published by at 11:42 am under Getting Published,Writing a Query

Janet Reid tallied up a day’s worth of queries.  (A query is a letter asking an agent to represent your novel). 

I’m getting impatient with writers who can’t seem to tell me what their book is about. I get lists of characters, descriptions of setting and events, but nothing about choices/conflict/decisions. 

I started at 10 pm with 68 queries. 

  • Query letter missing too much plot: 21
  • Not enticing: 12
  • Nothing fresh or original: 8
  • Not right for me but someone else will snag happily: 6
  • Writer clearly uninformed about genre or category s/he intends to write in: 3.  (B. Mac adds: a common mistake here is using the phrase “fiction novel.”  Novels are ALWAYS fiction, so “fiction novel” makes the author sound uninformed). 
  • No platform (non-fiction queries only): 2.  (A platform is a tool used to market a book or author.  For example, this website.  They’re only required for nonfiction authors). 
  • Just plain old bad writing: 4
  • I don’t think I can sell books in this category: 4
  • Overwritten (probably should be included in bad writing): 1
  • Unable to suspend disbelief (also bad writing): 1
  • Writer is a crackpot: 2.  (Dammit!  I wish I had known that this was a disqualifier before I started writing). 
  • Topics I really loathe: 2
  • Queries set aside to read more closely: 2

A parting thought for you:  decisions and conflicts are the intersection of character and plot.  Don’t neglect them!

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Janet Reid’s Query Count”

  1. Ragged Boyon 28 Nov 2009 at 8:53 am

    Although this list is highly selective when you break it down the aspects that she rejected the queries over seem like they are quite simple or easy enough to avoid. I suspect that if I was to have a problem with any of them it would probably be overwriting. I can ramble and sometimes I find it tricky figuring out what is important and what isn’t. For example, I think an explanation of Showtime’s power is very necessary, but that may not be true. Especially since the focus should be on the “what” not the “how.”

  2. B. Macon 28 Nov 2009 at 9:57 am

    In all seriousness, I’ve probably committed at least half of these. The only one I know I haven’t committed is the platform one. (Ahem, this site is my platform).

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