Pub Rants

Queries That Sounds Like Past Lives

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STATUS: One frantic day in the office before I leave for RWA in Atlanta tomorrow morning. Rather like sticking one finger in a hole in the dam as an attempt to keep it from breaking.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? TRUE FAITH by New Order

I got a huge kick out of reading several other blogs this weekend. POD Girl literally had me helpless with laughter on POD Books where she didn’t make it past the first line or paragraph. And Jason Pinter did some Agent/Editor speak translations that were incredibly hilarious too.

One of these days, I’m going to have to negotiate with him and we will barely be able to hold a conversation. We’ll have to email the deal points.

Today Sara was in the office screening queries. Suddenly, she gasps aloud and says, “you won’t believe this. Some guy just wrote us a query saying that he’s not really Joe Smith but a guy who lived 1,000 years ago and was name XYZ.”

She was genuinely startled and was ready to hit the REPLY button to zip that NO out into the cyber world.

“Wait,” I said. “Are you sure he’s not just writing to you as the character in his book? I don’t recommend this technique but I’ve seen it before.”

“Aha!” she said and decided to give it a longer read.

Needless to say, the query didn’t get any better (and she had to read a while to figure out that the “character” of the book was indeed “writing” the query), which rather defeated the query’s purpose.

You literally could be considered as a believer in reincarnation or even schizophrenic if there are too many voices going on in the letter. I remember a query that was the writer and the character in the book having a conversation about the query.

Strange and unique–and not in a good way.

What makes a query letter stand out and what makes it tip into the realm of the bizarre? Well, it’s a fine line so I caution you to be careful if you are employing what most agents would consider as a gimmicky approach.

We receive a lot of strange letters and some of them are literal—as in the writer who is writing it considers it to be true.

No joke. Not sure you want to be confused with that company.

If your character is writing the query letter, at least make that clear in the opening paragraph. And you know my advice, I’d avoid that altogether. A short and professional letter with a pitch paragraph blurb has won the day more times than I can count.

6 Responses

  1. Shanna Swendson said:

    Well, there is that lady who wrote a novel that sounds like it’s in the vein of The DaVinci Code who is claiming to be a descendent of Mary Magdalene, and she’s getting some pretty good press for it, like a feature in USA today.

    It seems like you’d have some great publicity angles if you had a novel that was someone’s memoirs of his past life.

    Apparently, just being an author isn’t enough anymore. You have to be a talk-show-worthy freak to get much attention.

  2. Elektra said:

    passed a book in B&N the other day which was called–no joke–The Magdalene Cipher. How much more can you rip off?

  3. December Quinn said:

    I once read a blurb about a book written by a woman about her marriage to John Lennon in a past life (both of their past lives, that is). Really. She has a website, even, I think.

    It might have been a PA book. Which wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  4. Bernita said:

    Hmmm, a Mary Magdalene decendant.
    All I have for that sort of platform is a descendent of the slayer of the Sockburn Worm.

  5. Anonymous said:

    I think I’ll write a book set in the future where the main character has discovered both time travel and all of their past lives. Turns out one of the MC’s past lives is the agent being queried, and the story is about the MC returning in time to confront her past-life selves. Now THAT would be a query letter.