Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Query letters?

   
Author Topic: Query letters?
JeanneT
Member
Member # 5709

 - posted      Profile for JeanneT   Email JeanneT         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
*hears everyone wondering if she will EVER stop talking about queries*

For those of you who have gone through this agent thing--at what point do you decide that you need to revise a query letter and how do you pinpoint what the problem is? (ignoring the possibilty that your novel sucks--or mine in this case)

I'm currently at 10 rejections and 1 partial. Now, I'll admit a lot of those rejections were from some agents with really full client lists. That has to make rejections even more likely--or I suspect it does anyway. (Pffft I have yet to have Russell Galen even bother with a rejection--the pain lol)

That seems like a pretty poor percentage, but I'm really not sure. Any opinions? I did decide to take a rhetorical question out as the hook. A lot of agents hate that although I thought it was a GOOD rhetorical question. *sighs*

Edit: Does anyone besides me suspect that "I'm not enthusiastic" equals "you suck"?

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited March 11, 2008).]


Posts: 1588 | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Christian
Member
Member # 7825

 - posted      Profile for Christian   Email Christian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Edit: Does anyone besides me suspect that "I'm not enthusiastic" equals "you suck"?

lol. too funny. I don't think that's what it means. I think it means that the story was 'nice' but not overly so. It's more of a "It's not you, it's me" for writers; it's their way of saying, "this isn't right for me, but someone else may enjoy it". Or, to quote Peter Griffin:

quote:
"You strike me as someone that I don't like, but that others may find enjoyable"

So, I think it's just a matter of finding someone who likes your subject matter and style.


Posts: 135 | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
darklight
Member
Member # 5213

 - posted      Profile for darklight   Email darklight         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm at six rejections, no requests for further material (I send the first three chapters with the query). Of course, I have no idea how many of these agents have actually looked at the material I send with the query. Reponse has been mixed, some personal letters, a couple of short sharp form letters and one I know for sure that read the material.

I considered changing the letter after the first three rejections, and tweaked it after five so waiting to see if that has made any difference.

I'd say, JeanneT, if you think the letter needs changing, change it. As for pinpointing the problem, it's gut feeling more than anything else. If something doesn't feel right to you, change it, you know the story better than anyone.


Posts: 626 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm at...let's see...8 rejections and no requests for anything. I think 2 of them might have actually looked at it. Either that, or they have really personal-sounding form letters. That means it's almost time for me to consider round 1 (submissions to top picks of agents who sell SF) a loss, and move on to round 2 (submissions to top picks of agents who sell literary fiction) because my story occupies a no-man's land between SF and "regular" fiction.

I also suspect "This isn't for me" and "I don't feel I'm the right agent for you" really mean "I think that is the dumbest idea for a book I've ever heard." But then, I know they're wrong, and it is actually the greatest idea for a book they've ever heard.

Twenty-something said no to JK Rowling before somebody said yes.

Whenever I play a show with my band and people leave before we go on, I think to myself, "Well now we have to play the best show ever, so that all those people will have missed the best show ever." I would love to leave a trail of agents and publishers who are kicking themselves, saying, "Damn it! I had a query for that one on my desk and I said no! Why am I so stupid?"


Posts: 1528 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JeanneT
Member
Member # 5709

 - posted      Profile for JeanneT   Email JeanneT         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, I tweaked the letter and sent out a new round of queries. Got rid of the rhetorical question which according to certain agent blogs is one of the worst techniques imaginable. *shrug* I rearranged some sentences, made one comment a little clearer... We'll see if this round does any better. I'm still in at least near the top fantasy agent list. There are about 30 who (according to Locus) the biggest selling agents. I must admit I can't get the TOP selling agent to even give me the courtesy of a rejection. *sniffles*

I'll make him sorry. I'll query him again. *mutters under her breath*


Posts: 1588 | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KStar
Member
Member # 4968

 - posted      Profile for KStar           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have between 5-10 rejections. Only 2 form letters, and the rest personalized. 1 was extremely helpful but a rejection to the partial nonetheless. 2 I couldn't bring myself to read after noting they were rejections. 1 was just so mean and nasty for no reason, once I'm published I will TP that agents office.

I am trying not to get sad and chuck the whole thing. I've still got 4 letters out there. We'll see...


Posts: 141 | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JeanneT
Member
Member # 5709

 - posted      Profile for JeanneT   Email JeanneT         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Remember that 5 to 10 rejections is just a start. People have been known to find representation after 50 rejections. It's a matter of reaching the right agent on the right day.

I have now tweaked my query and am going to do round two of querying - 15 letters this time.

KStar, don't be sad or chuck the whole thing after only 10 queries. That will hopefully give you enough feedback to decide if you need to work on your query and then you keep on keepin' on.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited March 12, 2008).]


Posts: 1588 | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tiergan
Member
Member # 7852

 - posted      Profile for Tiergan   Email Tiergan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi, I am new here but couldnt help post my first time to this conversation. 10 rejections is nothing. My wife gave me one of those chicken soup books, for the writer's soul and Louis L'Amour got 350 rejections before selling his first piece, and in the end I believe he did well. As for my own, I have had 12 rejections with 1 partial. And the only one of the lucky 13 queries I sent out that didn't get a response-R.Galen, the one and the same.

He must have one heck of a stamp collection from all the unreturned SASEs


Posts: 1165 | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JeanneT
Member
Member # 5709

 - posted      Profile for JeanneT   Email JeanneT         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
With his client list (it includes David Farland and Terry Goodkind), Mr. Galen can ignore all the submissions he wants to and people will still beg him to talk to them. I'm convinced he'll never bother to even send me a rejection.

I agree that 10 and 1 isn't terrible. But I'm not sure it's as good as it should be. Anyway I sent out queries to ten of my A List agents (who rarely takes on new writers) using a new letter and got an immediate request for a partial.

Which could be simple good luck or could mean the second try is better. It's a continual guessing game.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited March 15, 2008).]


Posts: 1588 | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Evokka
New Member
Member # 7855

 - posted      Profile for Evokka   Email Evokka         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Jeanne, have you sold any short stories? I have found most agents won't give you the time of day if you haven't published anything.
Posts: 5 | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JeanneT
Member
Member # 5709

 - posted      Profile for JeanneT   Email JeanneT         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, I have sold short stories. And a novel as a matter of fact.

Edit: Whether the agents will give me the time of day--that I won't know until after they look at the partials. lol

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited March 18, 2008).]


Posts: 1588 | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mommiller
Member
Member # 3285

 - posted      Profile for mommiller   Email mommiller         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have found most agents won't give you the time of day if you haven't published anything.

I've known at least two authors now, not big time names, newbies, like us, that have found agents without any previous pubs.

Granted, I don't think having a long list of short story pubs is ever going to hurt your novel career.


Posts: 306 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JeanneT
Member
Member # 5709

 - posted      Profile for JeanneT   Email JeanneT         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think you're right, mommiller. Writing credits get your query letter your query letter a bit higher in the slush pile is about all, from what I've read from agents.
Posts: 1588 | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2