Saturday, August 14, 2004

I doubted your methods. I owe you an apology.

 I doubted your methods, and I now owe you an apology. I only gave your archives five days to gestate revision ideas, and now, on the seventh day, I have a new draft that I would like you to review.

Friday, August 13, 2004

I'm in your debt!

Just a quick note to say thank you for all your Query Shark posts. Reading through/dissecting every entry helped me write a query letter good enough to open some doors, and I landed an agent a few months ago. I'm in your debt!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

"I've never gotten this far with a publisher until now."

I don't even know where to begin to thank you for all your hard work that you've put into the Query Shark website. I've read your posts for the past few years now and used them to learn how to master my query letter. Well, all that hard work paid off. My novel now sits in the hands of a publisher who is mulling it over. I've never gotten this far with a publisher until now. Even if the publisher rejects my novel, the fact that I've walked through the gate makes me very happy. The publisher said, 'This is right up my alley,' Thank you again for everything you do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

OMG! Where once I was blind, now I see.

OMG! Where once I was blind, now I see. I have read dozens of your shark bites and thought I had it down. I am shaking my head at the crap I sent you. It’s dribble, trite and pedestrian. I have never been so happy to be literarily emasculated. Thank you so much.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It has been a pleasure being ripped to shreds

A word (or 604) of thanks:

I am writing this letter before you post my last revisions to my query letter. I have faith in my writing (as much as any of us do) and have thick skin, so I am hopeful I will be published someday. I will always believe this is due to you and both of your blogs, regardless of who my agent will be someday. This is because I am certain you will be the reason I get an agent in the first place. Without your help, I would have soldiered on in my ignorant ways.

Before I queried The Shark, I read through the posting guidelines and other information. I followed your business blog for the last few weeks. This past weekend I read through many of your posts, dating way back to when you started posting. Not because I am a stalker, but because they are a wealth of information. Not only that, but you are one funny lady.

When I said many of your posts, I meant even ones that had nothing to do with queries, publishing, pitfalls, and the like. Regardless of your 'snark' at times, your free and independent spirit shines through, as does your heart. A couple of your posts regarding how much writers mean to you (and how brave we can be) brought a tear to my eye. Your genuine gratitude for those who work so hard to have their voices heard is moving. We know you fight for your clients and the staff that supports you. We know you will stand up for a cause if it deserves attention. We know you have our best intentions at heart.

I am writing this letter of gratitude before you wash your hands of my query letter in training (because I think it's time to free you of it and let you help others), but will not send it until after you post the revisions -for obvious reasons. In case they are not obvious, I will state at least one: I do not want you to go easier on me just because I thanked you. I want an unbiased thrashing of what I've written.

Your assistance has been invaluable, and your blog a great gift. I know I have already thanked you at the bottom of my query, but I fear you will think I was just sucking up. I have no expectation you will ask for pages or have interest in my manuscript, and that sets well with me. I was one of many who asked for help and you chose me as the one who needed it most (possibly because I was the most pathetic). That means more to me than I can say. You were under no obligation to help me at all, but you did.

You did.

And that is what makes you one of the finest agents in the business. There is always a bottom line, always the consumer and the stockholders of publishers to consider, but you also consider the writer. You help who you can. You pluck people from the sea by the scruff of their shirts with your mighty jaws and toss them onto the shore. I know your clients appreciate you, as well as your support staff, bloggers, and many others. But I wanted you to know I appreciate you, too.

It has been a pleasure being ripped to shreds. Keep those teeth sharp.

With actual sincerity,

(redacted)

PS: I removed all the bad 'that's again before sending. See how well your lessons stick?

I used your Query Shark blog to revise my letter multiple times.

Thank you so much for the Query Shark blog. I know it is time-consuming, and while generating goodwill, probably doesn't generate much in the way of income. I have been querying agents for a little over a year now. (I haven't queried you because you don't represent my genre.) With the exception of one handwritten note with a few invaluable specific comments, every reply I received was a form rejection. I knew I had a flawed query letter.

I used your Query Shark blog to revise my letter multiple times. Even though you never critiqued my letter, I recognized my mistakes in the letters you did critique. Finally, after more than 40 form rejections, I received a request for a full. I know rejection is still possible, but I feel like I've made another step forward, and I owe you a big thank you for that.

"Brutal Honesty"

Dear QueryShark,

I just wanted to pop you an email thanking you for two things:

1) Landing an agent! I recently signed on with an agency after using the exact copy that you approved on my revision query letter. I'm pretty sure my agent would have shunned me for all eternity if I'd sent the earlier format, so kudos to you.

2) Inuring me to humiliation. Of course, it took plenty more rejection to get to that agent, but I discovered that being mocked and ridiculed before all the world (okay, before your readers) helped to turn my thin, you-hate-my-work-therefore-you-must-hate-me exterior into something a little bit more resilient. I think that's something that's going to come in handy for the rest of my writing career.

So, thanks again - for taking the time to post the queries, for choosing mine, and for being brutally honest when so few people will.

--

"This is where I'd stop reading"

Dear Ms. Reid,

No, this isn't a query or a request for information. It's a simple note to say thank you for your remarkable blog, Queryshark.

I think I'm a decent writer. Perhaps I'll never get my novel published, but I should at least be able to interest an agent in reading a few pages. Yet the way I was going about composing the query in my head, it would never have happened.

I'll spare you all the gory details, but the main reason my letter would have prompted the auto reject is that I simply had no idea what a good query looked like. Now, thanks to Queryshark, I think I know. No, I know I know!

I found myself laughing out loud and nodding my head at many of your comments—and wincing at the tortured writing that provoked them. You see, I'm a university professor, and every semester I have to slog through a dreary stack of term papers, 90% of which should never have been written. After the first couple of sentences, and definitely after the first paragraph, I know whether it's going to be a good paper or not. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of pressing auto-reject, nor can I be as snarky as you are in your comments; so the bloodied, dissected letters you post on your blog provide me with some much-needed catharsis.

One very illuminating thing you've done on a couple of occasions is to say, "If this had been a real query, here's where I would have stopped reading." I'd love to see that with all the submissions: maybe a big "X marks the spot" or a set of teeth marks :)

Thanks again for the blog. Perhaps one day you'll receive a real query from me. If, after the wealth of guidance you've provided, I can't interest you or another agent in a few pages, then I'm a nincompoop.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Nope

Hello Janet Reid,
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No.
That's your job.
 

Sunday, August 1, 2004

"I did not think all of your advice applied to me."

Dear Query Shark,

I am a fool. I, probably like a lot of people, thought your advice did not apply to me. More accurately, I did not think all of your advice applied to me. I didn’t think I really needed to read through all of the query shark posts before shooting my query off to you. So I read about half, rewrote, and then sent it off. As I waited I continued to read, and I learned so much more.

My current query letter is below, followed by the first pages of my novel. If you’re REALLY up for a laugh, check out the first query letter I sent just a few months ago, before I found your site.

It is at the bottom of this email, and truly cringe-a-riffic.

Now I’m off to apply what I’ve learned to my manuscript.

"I read every entry multiple times"

 I've been meaning to write to you for a while. I just wanted to say thank you for your Query Shark blog. I never actually sent you a query to critique, but I did read every entry multiple times. The tips, guidelines and suggestions you offered helped me write a perfect query on the first try. I ended up being 12 for 12 with requests for my full MS. That never would happened if I hadn't encountered your blog. Happily, things only got better from there.