This rant came on yesterday.
It clearly states on my website (and in every listing imaginable where my agency might be featured) that I only take queries by email.
I just don’t want to open up a letter and deal with the recycling. Not to mention the cost of printing out my standard rejection letter in terms of paper and ink. And then envelopes have to be stuffed and mailed.
Gee, I’m getting cranky just writing this.
Invariably, there are quite a few people who can’t seem to follow this simple direction. Queries by email only.
Once every couple of months, when the stack gets too high, I sit down and open them all up and give them a cursory glance. For the most part, if you can’t follow directions, I’m really not all that interested in signing you as a possible client so it will have to be an AMAZING query letter for me to not to send the reject letter. Doesn’t happen often.
But I’m so dang nice, I can’t quite bring myself to just pitch them. I usually have my assistant handle them (and I don’t even look at them) but she’s been busy reading the partials inbox.
So last night I tackled them.
It was also my turn to host book club. If you’re curious, the book we discussed was THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson. Our next book will be THE KNOWN WORLD by Edward P. Jones.
The gals came over about 5 p.m. but arrived early. There I am, sprawled on the floor of my living room with paper queries all around me.
Immediately they sprang into action (gosh I love these gals). One friend opened the letters, one folded the response letters, and the last friend stuffed the envelopes and got them ready to mail.
What did I do? Well, I read the query letters aloud so I could share it with them.
And then it hit me why I should share this story with you guys on my blog. Have you run your query letter through the read aloud test?
Let me tell you. It was quite revealing. Some of the queries had my book club members in tears laughing—and it wasn’t because it was a query for a humor project or a comic novel.
Some of the letters were just that poorly written or they had really outrageous storylines that became extremely apparent when read aloud.
My book club was so entertained (and probably not in the way you, as writers, would prefer); they offered to come over one night in the future just to do the queries with me.
Moral of the story?
If you follow directions and just query by email, guess who reads them? Me. And I may chortle at a few of them but I rarely read them aloud to others for their listening pleasure.