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Query Letters (and JetWit!)

February 18, 2009

There’s something terribly painful about reading query letters.  Personally, my biggest pet peeve about query letters is that so many people fail to realize that what interests me the most about a query letter isn’t the plot or the hook or the synopsis.  The first question I ask is ‘Does this person have any writing ability?’

This does not mean that I expect every letter to have accolades from Granta and One Story and various awards and writing residencies.  I expect a letter, for starters, to mention who the author is.  I get at least ten letters a week that just end abruptly without so much as a ‘The author is from Ohio and likes kittens’.  And while I am interested to hear that someone submitting a story about mutant sharks growing legs and attacking Manhattan is an accomplished marine biologist, if that’s all there is, I ask, ‘Can this person write?’  

Then there are all the weird letters.  Letters that don’t say much about the story or author but are WAY too overly familiar and ask to take my agent to lunch.  Typed form letters where the author writes our name in….in pen.  People who send marketing kits for their documentary…on YouTube.  Multi-colored submissions on stationary with the author’s photo in the letterhead.

Most of all, I hate QueryBlaster.  It just sends everything from people’s cookbooks to scripts to all sorts of random genres we wouldn’t even begin to know how to represent into our mailbox everyday, until just the very sight of ‘this message sent by queryblaster’ makes me wish I could subscribe to RejectionBlaster.

In happier news, I’m reviewing books over on JetWit.  Check it out!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 18, 2009 6:27 pm

    Multi-colored submissions are the best…and the worst, all at once. Ah, I do miss going through query letters and slush as an editorial intern sometimes.

    I used to love the holiday themed stationary. Nothing says professional like a Jack-O-Lantern address label at Christmas! 🙂

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