Sunday, September 14, 2008


One query per person.
Don't resend if you don't see it posted.
If I received it, I sent you an email.
Sending it more than once doesn't move you any closer to getting on the blog. In fact, I just delete the duplicates, and throw the sole remaining email to the back of the line.

If you send queries for more than one project, I delete them all and email you to send back ONE. Your choice.

There are almost 400 emails in the pen. Even if I did four a day, every day, for three months, I'd still be behind. Look at the dates on the posts and it's more like four a week.

You don't have to have your specific query critiqued to benefit from this so don't write to me begging either. The Tin Man isn't the only one here on the road to Kansas with no heart.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Do sharks not have hearts? Hmm. Research time.

Reality bites as well as sharks!

Thanks for the reminder of how many are sitting in the queue. I appreciate you doing the ones you're doing and learning a lot from the critiques.

talpianna said...

I knew it! The chums are just chum to you...

What about posting a hook (or even two) for critiquing? I have two story ideas to start as a serious project, and am not sure which one has more appeal.

jeanoram said...

We all think you are doing a great job and love to hear your feedback--it is incredibly helpful. Who knew there would be so many eager writers jumping up and down to get their heads chomped?


Congrats on the success of your blog!

Adam Heine said...

I appreciate what you do, and like you said, I've learned a lot from reading the others even though mine hasn't been critiqued yet.

It's good to know how many are in your queue. I was wondering about exactly that ever since I sent in mine. Maybe that information (even an approximate number, like you gave) could be thrown into the sidebar to give people an idea of the wait they're in for?

nn Angel said...

Wow, that's a lot to have to go through. Even if you don't get to the one I sent, I've learned so much about writing a good query letter just by reading this blog. Thank you for that.

Bane of Anubis said...

Definitely appreciate the feedback and feel quite fortunate to have mine critiqued (thanks for the feedback, y'all). I guess my biggest general question is:

Is there something that makes you choose to critique one query over another... e.g., easy chum, really stands out as a great query?

I guess I'd like to know to make sure I'm not suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect :)?

Definitely have learned a lot in the few weeks since I've found this site. Your and Bransford's sites are two of the most helpful out there in the ether and it's greatly appreciated.

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

you're so mean and tough, Janet. I LOVE IT

DCS said...

I've got a suggestion for talpianna: go to Ray Rhamey's blog "Flogging the Quill" and submit your opening page. He flogs as hard as Janet can bite and other readers get to vote on whether they like your hook.

talpianna said...

DCS: I don't HAVE a first page! Just a title and a first line! And a sort-of-outline...

danceluvr said...


I can't imagine going through 400 emails in a timely fashion -- on top of your regular work!

You're doing us writers a GREAT service by showing us what works and what doesn't.

Elissa M said...

I'm learning so much from reading the posted queries, I never even thought to send my own. Knowing the depth of the chum bucket only convinces me I was right not to toss mine in.

Gypsum said...

Au contraire mon Frere-Reid. You do have a heart, but it longs for reciprocation.
People need to realize that you do favors on your terms- not theirs.
I once had a young woman ask for cigarette money, and I said "Yes."
Then she asked me to drive to the store and get them while she stayed at my apartment and called her mother Long-Distance on my phone (this was back before flat-rates).
I rationalized that she would be appreciative of my efforts; therefore, she would perceive me as a good-person and not a shmuck.
I got back, gave her the cigarettes, and then listened to her complain to her mother because I got her lights instead of full flavor.

I sympathize.

talpianna said...

Janet, are you still in the market for old Jewish guys? I might be able to get you some.

talpianna said...

When are we going to get some fresh meat around here?


Sound made by a Mole when an annoyed Shark sinks her teeth into same.

Wordsmith said...

Perhaps, if this blog posted an update sooner than every two months or so, people would not resend their poor, ignored queries.

At what point do you declare this blog dead? Three months and no update? Four? Five? Six? Does anyone (other than me) even remember this blog exists?

I understand everyone's busy. But maybe it's time to pass this duty on to an intern.

This blog was a great idea. May it rest in peace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Janet Reid said...

How very telling that you call keeping this blog "a duty."

Wordsmith said...

I'm heartily cheered that you're still reading comments. What a wonderful Thanksgiving day present.

"Duty" as in something you once did out of love or passion or generosity, that you no longer seem to have time for. So instead of enjoying it, it becomes an unwelcome, time-sucking intrusion on your day. So it gets pushed. It's human nature. Not duty as in 'obligation.'

And maybe it's me projecting on you. I remember when I pulled a volunteer shift on an online service, like this one, for my profession. It rapidly went from being fun to feeling like a duty.

Still. I'm glad to see there's some life in here yet.

Ginger said...

comments like these really "stick in my craw" as my old Granny would say. Regardless of how frequently the blog is updated, Ms. Reid clearly states in her directions for submission that if you do not see your query posted within 120 days of submission, then you're not likely to. Thats it.
You can consider the blog "dead" in whatever time frame it pleases you to do so. Or not. It really doesn't matter.I don't think the point of this blog is to offer a query critique to every aspiring writer who cares to submit one. I think the point is to show examples of queries that work and those that don't. If you're among the chosen few to be ripped to pieces for all the world to see, then lucky you. But don't expect it. Just take the valuable information available here and be grateful. If you really want to know whether or not your "poor, ignored query" is any good, submit it to a handful of agents and prepare yourself to be ignored all over again. If agents aren't ignoring you, well, you're probably not trying hard enough.

ashbdavis said...

What a great, encouraging point, QS! You don't have to have your letter posted to benefit from the efforts of this site. Thank you for all your long hours and dedication, QS!

Nate said...

this blog is great. I am reading through all the archives from the back and trying to edit my own query letter.

This post is my favorite so far--it is the first time that we see Ms. Shark has a strong voice too, just like she craves in others' queries.

Shabaescaba1 said...

Duty? The nerve of some people. There's always that person who ruins it for everyone else. It's similar to the person who tells the joke before the teller of the joke finishes. You've heard the joke before, so why ruin it for everyone else?

It is unwise to insult a person (in this case The Shark) who is doing others a great service, especially when it has the chance to further careers and dreams. I hope this isn't the way you treat people who do you a favor. Stay humble, my friend.