Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Query Tip: Avoid the Checkbox Grocery List In The Pitch


Diving into a contract first thing this morning.

Listening To:

WAIT UP FOR ME by Amos Lee

Note from Kristin: Jamie is one of NLA’s first reader on queries. He reads hundreds a week so this was worth sharing.

By Jamie Persichetti

As a gay man, it’s always weird to read in query letter book pitches that a story “features LGBTQ+ characters” or “has diversity” like they are bonus content on the special edition BluRay, specs on a laptop with extra RAM, or items to check off a culturally aware grocery list.

I mean, cool! Keep the queer coming. Books need them. But you sound a bit… odd… if you phrase it like they are features. Just say someone is trans, or that he has a boyfriend. Or (and I know this is a hard one) don’t mention it at all if it’s not actually important to the core of the book.

I get it. Don’t write diverse characters and you’re a bad person. Write diverse characters and you do it wrong. It’s a double standard that is suffocating publishing right now. This is just how I felt in the moment.

3 Responses

  1. Daniel Bacon said:

    Couldn’t agree more. And there’s no need to emphasize or even mention a character’s race, ethnicity or sexual preferences. Just let it come out naturally if the story warrants it.

  2. Charlene Marolf said:

    The adult characters that I am writing in my young adult fantasy are based on my spouse and I. Yes, a gay married couple. No where do I mention that we are a girl-on-girl pair. It’s all about our passle of grandchildren! I think it’s time for the world to open its eyes, and accept the fact that we just love our babies.

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