Friday, May 2, 2008


Dear Ms. Reid

I would like to submit for your consideration 2 completed 120 000 word manuscripts. Although both stories stand on their own, they are part of an on-going paranormal series I am currently working on.

I have a short story published in Reader's Digest and was first place winner in the Saskatchewan Romance Writers 2006 "We Dare You" contest.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Well, you certainly have mastered the art of brevity, but this query letter isn't effective.
There's nothing about the books, other than the length. It's also considered clueless to talk about two books in one query letter. Talk about one, mention there's more on the horizon.

I look forward to hearing from you soon is one of those phrases I personally loathe. It doesn't matter, I just don't like the idea of you telling me when to answer my query letters. Yes, I'm being a bitch, but I'm ok with that.


BuffySquirrel said...

Nothing to see here, move along :D.

Aimless Writer said...

Being a bitch? I think thats what I like about you. Up front honesty is always appreciated.
Although, I think, "I look forward to hearing from you soon" might be more professional then "Ciao baby!" (which is how I secretly want to end the letter)
Question: if the book is the first in a series would it help or hurt my chances to tell you that?
If I tell you its a series would you assume thats all I can/or want to write and reject me on that premise?

Lehcarjt said...

I kind of wonder what the point of submitting this one was. Did the sender not understand what was going on here? (not that I would ever do something so embarrassing. Oh no. Never.)

jjdebenedictis said...

Aimless Writer: If the book is first in a series, you want to downplay that a little. The idea here is that if the agent can't sell your first book, then they can't sell the series. Thus, they might not be happy to hear you're working on books 2 or 3 since it all might be wasted effort.

It is suggested (by passive voice, as well as various blogging agents) that you make your first novel a stand-alone piece, even if it is intended to be the first book in a series. In the query letter, all you would say is, "This has potential as a series" or "I envision this as the first book in a series."

If your book isn't a stand-alone novel, then I'd suggest not mentioning that in the query letter. The agent will find out if-and-when they read the full manuscript, and they'll make their decision about offering representation then (after you've swayed them with your brilliant prose.) No need to give them cold feet before they've even asked for pages!

Moth said...

Also, you're pushing it with the 120,000 words. Especially for TWO manuscripts. Ouch.

Cookies for remembering to mention the genre. Even if you did forget to include the plot in your letter.

zoubie244 said...

Wow... don't know what happened but half my query is missing. Don't know if it's a glitch because I have a copy of the email I sent and everything is there. Weird.

I emailed the complete query again.
Here's to hoping this will correct the problem.


beth said...

Was this one a joke? Seriously...who, after doing minimal research, could consider this a complete query?

And Ms. Reid, we have no problems with you being a bitch! I prefer bitchy, snarky honesty to complacent lies any day of the week.

beth said...

...just read the previous comment to mine. Sorry! It's good to know that this was a mistake in email land.

Margaret Yang said...

Janet, you say bitch like it's a bad thing...

ChrisEldin said...

LOL! Even shorter than mine!

Ward said...

I look forward to hearing from you soon is one of those phrases I personally loathe.


Melissa Biemans said...

Wouldn't it be lovely if all agents blogged about things they love/loth in a query. Then, with a little research, a person could avoid putting their foot in their mouth.

Sure, "Looking forward to hearing from you" wont be the kiss of death if the rest of your query stands out (I HOPE that the choice is made before the agent in question gets to the last paragraph), but it could be an extra pin prick, ya know?

BuffySquirrel said...

*pats "I look forward to hearing from you" on the head*

*consigns to dustbin*

yessum said...

Ms. Reid, what do you think about writers using a quote from their manuscript as a hook?

Julia said...

Yes, I'm being a bitch, but I'm ok with that.

This needs to be needlepointed on a pillow for you.

Anonymous said...

You say bitch, and I don't think anyone - author included, is bothered by that.

that phrase gets most peoples backs up, but it has also been proven in direct sales marketing to be very effective. The annoyance to it creates a reaction to make teh advert/pitch/query stand out and it also creates a subconcious need to reply uickly to it (even if its a no).

So I don't think that is such a bad thing. I don't for a second think you would ever deny a pitch just because it had that as its sign off - you are too professional, but it might compell you to act quicker.

I am no longer in direct sales so please don't shoot the messenger, just thought you might like to know why so many pieces of correspondance carry this line.

Julia Weston said...

I'm getting out of the water. I don't want to be around when Query Shark reads nickjfoster's comment. :)

ray said...

I was just wondering if there are any specific reasons Query Shark doesn't critique some queries?

Janet Reid said...

Hey Nic, there's only one thing that makes me answer a query more quickly. Good writing. That's it.

The thing about signing off with "I look forward to hearing from you soon" is that if you annoy me enough, I don't want to work with you. Obviously one "soon" isn't going to do it, but that along with several other things just might.

There's no upside to "hear from you soon." None.

Janet Reid said...

I pick randomly as I have time. Maybe you haven't noticed, but I have this full time job thing going. I know it interferes with me helping you with your query letter, but sadly, there it is.

Just fyi, there are 140 queries in the shark tank. I've posted 19. If you're on a deadline to get my input, you're on a fast track to disappointment.

R. Lyle Wolfe said...

Where I can find a directory of agents, editors, and authors who offer help for novice writers?
I only know of Ms Reid's and Evil Editor's sites.
These blogs are wonderful since critcism from Confucious is better than praise from Popeye.
BTW . . . only women can use the word bitch. Any male who uses the word should be hung by the balls until castrated.
Then she may use the word.

Phoenix said...

R.L. Wolfe: Here's a list of blogging editors/agents compiled over on the RWA boards, so focus is on those who rep/pub romance. It's a start. And I'm lazy, so some of these you'll need to google to find the url. Many of these blogs have links to other industry pros...

Agent Blogs
Caren Johnson
Dystel & Goderich
Agent Sydney
Lori Perkins
BookEnds, LLC
Folio Literary Management
Jenny Rappaport
Full Circle Literary
Rachelle Gardner
Laurie McLean
Matt Wagner
Kate Schafer
Elizabeth Jote
Colleen Lindsay
Diana Fox
Nathan Bransford
Lyons Literary (kristen nelson)
Miss Snark (no longer blogging, but a wealth of info on her site)

Editor Blogs
Jane Friedman, Editorial Director at F+W Publications
Editorial Anonymous, Children's Book Editor
Cheryl Klein, Scholastic
Isabel Swift, Harlequin
Joe Wikert, John Wiley & Sons
Micheal S. Hyatt, Thomas Nelson
Lynn Price, Behler Publications
Derek Armstrong, K√ľnati Books

talpianna said...

A query, Shark:

Is "I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience" as annoying as "hearing from you soon"?