I’ve been meaning for ages to do a #tenqueries on Twitter. If you aren’t familiar, that is when an agent goes through his or her query inbox and shares the reasons why they do or do not request manuscripts. I personally tend to do most of my query reading during odd times, when not many people are on Twitter, so I haven’t made the timing work for me yet. Then I realized, hey! I can just write this up on our blog and you guys can peruse when you’re all actually awake and this won’t get buried in your timeline. Plus, I might be able to give you a bit more than you would get in 140 characters.
#1 – Commercial fiction. Author personalizes her query talking about the agency, definitely shows me she has done her research! Writing is solid but the premise of the novel is a bit too out there for me. Pass.
#2 – Novel in verse. Okay, so, really just not my thing to begin with so it was a hard sell. When it then doesn’t scan as well, it is definitely a pass.
#3 – Commercial fiction. This one has historical elements and the synopsis is intriguing, but I don’t love the writing. Pass.
#4 – Women’s fiction. The query itself is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Pass.
#5 – Literary fiction. Author has done her homework and it shows in her query letter. The writing has great voice. Request.
#6 – Commercial/thriller. Not really my genre. Pass. As an aside, it came from a shared email. You know, one of those husband and wife things? You guys. Don’t do this. It is fine for friends and family, but it rubs me the wrong way in queries. Go to gmail or something and get a professional sounding email, just your name or pen name is fine (and PLEASE go into your account settings and check what, if any, picture you have associated with the email address. Some people’s are, shall we say, inappropriate for business dealings). If you don’t want to have to check another inbox, you can always have it forward to your primary account. If your primary email is shared or totally goofy, just go get a new one.Ditto if you tend to use your work email. What if, heaven forbid, you are fired and I can’t tell you how much I love your manuscript? Anyway, enough about email addresses, back to the queries…
#7 Historical fiction. I need more of this in my inbox, you guys. Unfortunately from the query I cannot for the life of me figure out how this one hangs together, so pass.
#8 Mystery. This one hinges on astrology and I am just too skeptical about that, I can’t get behind this plot. Pass.
#9 Historical fiction. Not my favorite time period/setting, but wow! what an opening paragraph. Request.
#10 Commercial fiction. Don’t down-sell yourself or tell me in your query how you know nothing about publishing, between the internet and the library there are a million free ways you can learn at least a little about the business. Then you can write a strong, confident query letter and be much more likely to get a favorable response. Pass.