Pub Rants

Name Dropping (part one)

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STATUS: Good. I got a lot of small things accomplished. Little detailed stuff that I had stacked into a pile and was making me feel guilty. It makes me feel like I’m clearing stuff out so I can create something new when I tackle and complete the small things.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? CRAZY by Patsy Cline

This little rant has been niggling at me for a while.

Something that just makes me laugh is when a writer name drops in their query, but they use the name of a person I do not know or have no recollection of.

It usually ends up sounding something like this.

“Joe Smith gave me your name and the contact information of your agency and strongly recommended that I contact you. He thought my novel XXXXXX would be perfect for you.”

That’s it. No explanation. No frame of reference such as Joe Smith knows you through XYZ.


As if Joe Smith were one of my clients—whom I would, of course, know. (And just to make note here, I am always delighted to get a recommendation from one of my current clients.)

But I don’t know who Joe is so the fact that he recommends me carries zero weight. Zilch.

In fact, now I think you, as the query letter writer, are a little suspect.

If you’re going to name drop, make sure I know the reference (and it has been made clear in the letter); otherwise, it’s just silly.

10 Responses

  1. Shah of Blah said:

    My advice bill…’stop doin that’…if u rnt getting calls for any partials…u know why..

    and if u hav…then i’d like to know who the agent is..

  2. Ryan Field said:

    My problem has always been just the opposite with name dropping. I will mention the books and editors and publishers where I’ve worked and published, but one of my best friends is a literary agent in New YOrk, very well known, and I don’t dare mention his name anywhere. We maintain an excellent friendship by never discussing work, but in the same respect it would be great to drop his name. Though, I don’t dare.

  3. farrout said:

    jana, i don’t care WHOSE god! i’d be happy for beezlebub’s help. (Can you tell i’m frustrated?)

  4. Jana DeLeon said:

    farrout – I feel for you, really – God knows (I’m southern Baptist, by the way), we’ve all been where you are. I can only offer you two things:
    1. All things happen when they’re supposed to and we don’t get to choose when that is – just keep trucking.
    2. It only gets worse when you sell. You never reach a point where you say “I’m done, I’m arrived.” Nope, not even close.

  5. kis said:


    If god’s telling you to do stuff, getting published isn’t your biggest problem. 🙂