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,


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


Paula Millhouse said...

OK, Janet.
I know it's an older post, but your readers HAVE to know how valuable QueryShark is. You rejected my query via form X 2 (thank you), so I went to work and read the entire blog(ouch!).
I revised five times (maybe more?), answered your questions, (work!), jumped back into the pool and got a request for a TWO WEEK EXCLUSIVE on a FULL on the fifth submission.
You are da' BOMB.
Paula Millhouse, Author

Scribble Orca said...

I'm still wading through the waters. I see lots to avoid, lots to do, and this is an amazing resource if the reader perseveres.

I'm just missing the jigsaw puzzle piece that takes a mythological race out of the realm of fantasy and into that of science. It's the crux of my MS. And it's the biggest stumbling block. It colours the rest of my query dismal.

Time to keep trawling.

Lin said...

I agree the education you provide is invaluable. After several rewrites I sent my query to 1 agent after completing my novel in November. I got a request for a full already. Don't know if she will represent me yet, but it was great receiving that email. Should know something soon. thanks for all you do. I'll keep reading

Ryan M said...

Dear queriers,

She's going to be rough on you. Know that going in. But consider this question: What's worse than having your writing ripped apart?

Not having it read at all.

I've got an MFA and a finished book. But (shocking!) it turns out that ain’t enough to get published in this world. I had no idea what at agent was looking for, and I burned through a few really good-sounding agents by sending a very bad query.

Then, on her own time and for FREE, Janet Reid tore me apart. A few red-faced moments, a couple of “what the hell was I thinking” moments, and four revisions later, I’m armed with the real deal: a query that could actually generate some interest. My prospects are a whole lot brighter, and I’ve got Janet to thank.

So just do it: Send that query. Don't be nervous. Actually, no, be nervous. Shark teeth hurt. Read EVERYTHING on the blog, THEN submit that query and submit yourself to a little punishment. And know, above all, she's doing it to make us better.

Ryan M