Pub Rants

You’ll Die If We Don’t Sell Your Book Works Every Time–Not

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STATUS: Good so far… that can always change in a heartbeat. No movie-making today that I can tell.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN by REO Speedwagon

Oh boy. I have to say that it has been a REALLY long time since we received a query like this. Sara and I are totally shaking our heads in bemusement.

First off, this query was in Bookman Old Style 36 point font. I’m not kidding. Seriously, I appreciate the writer worrying about my potential eye strain but 36 is a bit much. All caps to boot.

Now I know the query process is hard and frustrating. I get that but writing queries like this isn’t going to open any doors.

This writer asked me if I were a real agent. Hum…Then the writer mentioned that a real agent could get a book deal for anyone and for any book. I didn’t realize that only “real” agents sold 100% of what they take on. By that definition I guess I’m not real (although I just pinched myself and I feel solid enough.)

But the hardest part about these types of queries is when the writers resort to threats. For this query, that writer informed us that he/she is about to be homeless and will be again if we don’t get a great book deal for him/her right now and if the writer dies, we’ll be at fault.

We respectfully declined to look at material. We did receive a response to our rejection email that announced that we handle only trash and idiots (which I’m sure is news to our clients).

That didn’t, however, change our minds about reviewing sample pages.

63 Responses

  1. Heidi the Hick said:

    Wow…I have felt desperate, I’ll admit that…but this…

    Like, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to buy the kids new winter boots, y’know, but this….

    (weren’t you just the least bit curious to see the manuscript???)

  2. Linnea Sinclair said:

    And it’s not even April 1st… are you sure it wasn’t Miss Snark, testing you?

    In any case ::temporarily donning PI fedora::, I’d hang on to the query, email and email header. The world is full of nutcases. And your office address is no secret (of course, the nutcase would have to get by Chutney the Wonder Dog AND Miss Sara the Wonder Assistant…but still). ~Linnea, one of your trashy clients and retired PI

  3. Katie Alender said:

    I think “Trash and Idiots” is a great name for a book.

    If you find a client who’ll write it, then when you reject people, you can say, “We handle Trash and Idiots,” and the rejectees will be like, “Ooh, glad you rejected me, then.”

  4. Tia said:

    “response to our rejection email that announced that we handle only trash and idiots (which I’m sure is news to our clients).”

    It’s also news to those of us who read your client’s books . . .

  5. Anonymous said:

    Kristin, you really need to be careful responding to nutty queries. These folks are likely to fly to Co…well, you get the picture…This is scary!

  6. Anonymous said:

    That person is obviously mentally ill, and it’s not kind to share that sort of experience.

  7. Poor Struggler said:

    I agree with Katie that one of Kristin’s clients should write a book called “Trash and Idiots.” I want to go into B&N and say, “I’m looking for Trash and Idiots,” so the clerk can say, “Oh, yes, we have lots of Trash and Idiots. Come right with me. All the Trash and Idiots are over here.”

  8. Anonymous said:

    Hehe. I’d have been tempted to request a sample of whatever it was she had written. Just for a laugh.

  9. Anonymous said:

    People like this are why it isn’t safe to put a sentence like this in your blog:

    “Chutney and I were doing the usual walk down [omitted]th street before taking a right on [omitted].”

    That information is too specific, especially if that route is habitual for you.

  10. Mags said:

    Perhaps the point could be made that doubting the realness of your agenting and setting you up to take responsibility for his/her death in an initial query might be indicative of a creative mind accompanied by dramatic flare, but there is never, never, ever an excuse for all caps.

    Not ever.

  11. Chumplet said:

    My husband doesn’t usually listen to my constant yammering about my query woes, but he raised an eyebrow when I told him about this one.

    Funny… said writer is homeless and yet can send emails. Can you do that, using internet cafes and free email accounts?

    Be careful, Kristin. Watch your back. Kookoos out there.

  12. LadyBronco said:

    I am just…well…floored.

    And I laughed so hard I started crying.

    What a kook!

    But seriously, I would totally keep a copy of anything that weirdo person sent you – C.Y.A. – that sort of thing.

  13. Anonymous said:

    I’m with Anonymous 2:57. This query was just plain sad and those of you who get your kicks from feeling superior to the poor person who wrote it really need to reexamine your attitude.

    And yes, Virginia, homeless people access free computers in the public library which is often the only place they can come in out of the rain.

  14. Anonymous said:

    *Rolls eyes* And not just at the query writer. At the people all in a tizzy because Kristin posted this and people found it amusing. Seriously, get a grip. The author isn’t mentally ill; the author is a diva. I know plenty of sane people who are idiotic enough to respond to rejection in just this manner.

    And from one Katie to another, hey, that was a good idea! I agree that Trash and Idiots is an excellent title for a novel.

  15. Anonymous said:

    Nutcase. Crazy. Kook. What are all you commenters adding to this discussion that isn’t aleady obvious by the post? This makes about as much sense as children making fun of “retarded” kids. I don’t understand why it’s okay to say things about a person on a blog that you would never dream of saying to him/her face to face. Okay. Rant over.

  16. Anonymous said:

    Although it’s hard for us anonymice to distinguish ourselves, I also don’t think the responses to this post are very “nice” – a quality Kristin claims to value.

  17. Poor Struggler said:

    A ridiculous query letter like this does NOT prove the author is mentally ill, so everyone needs to quit jumping on the “Oh, you’re making fun of the mentally ill” bandwagon. Rather than sounding like someone with mental illness, to me it just sounds like a self-absorbed writer with no clue how to compose a query. Not every aggressive, unpleasant person is psychologically damaged, you know.

  18. Anonymous said:

    A ridiculous query letter like this does NOT prove the author is mentally ill . . .

    I was thinking the same thing. Yes, it’s possible this person is mentally ill. It’s also possible he or she has a nice house or apartment somewhere, and thought pressuring agents with a tale of woe would be effective.

  19. Church Lady said:

    *changes font size to 34 point and resends query*

    Thanks for sharing you don’t like 36 point font. That changes my whole query-sending strategy.


  20. Anonymous said:

    While it’s possible the person isn’t mentally ill, I think it’s highly doubtful. In my day job, I see a lot of things written by mentally ill people, and yes, you can tell. It’s not just the tone. It’s the font, and the caps. Quite often, there’s an injudicious amount of bold an italics. And a lot of imperatives.

    Not only a lot of imperatives, but a lot of strange logical chains, that often end in death and/or treason.

    A relatively normal writer who wants to pressure an agent usually resorts to things like, “30 other agents are looking at this.” A relatively normal person doesn’t write query letters that end in homelessness and death. And they don’t do it in all caps and weird font. They probably also don’t bold the words REAL AGENT.

    I’ve seen this enough times to recognize it. If the querier is reading this and really might become homeless, he or she should seriously consider talking to Social Security.

    There are people that can help.

  21. WitLiz Today said:

    Ok, let’s analyze this particular query and not resort to name-calling. Kook, Nutcase, etc…are inappropriate responses if you’re a serious commenter on blogs. You might as well just commit hari-kari when you do that. Instant loss of credibility. Plus, there is a very mean spirit attached to those words.

    BTW, piling on is a big fat fucking NO NO as well. Don’t ever follow the leader.

    I didn’t have to morph into Sherlock Holmes to see the problems this querier has. Imo, a little more compassion and understanding was in order here.

    Number one, in all probability, this person has at least one serious physical disability. I wouldn’t be surprised if he/she is half-blind. The big font was for their own benefit, most likely so that they could proofread their work.

    Number two, generally, people in our society saddled with serious disabilities ARE in reality one step away from being homeless, if they are not wealthy. I’ve never known a wealthy disabled person.

    Number three, rejection can and will send them over the edge quickly. I’m not surprised the reply was totally inappropriate. But then again, after a lifetime of abuse, and make no mistake, they have endured alot of abuse, the ceiling on what they can or will tolerate is very very low. Add fear into that equation and there is no ceiling.

    Doesn’t make the reply to Ms Nelson right, nor does it excuse it. However, it does merit closer examination outside of name-calling.

    I’m glad Ms Nelson posted this, because it gave me an opportunity to look behind the surface of this letter. What I read was pain.

    Anonymous poster number infinity, probably said it best: sad, very sad.

  22. Josephine Damian said:

    I’m beginning to see the potential for my next serial killer novel, “Trash and Idiots” – all about a deranged author who kidnaps an agent and tortures them by making them read “shouting fonts.”

    Seriously, I’m with the person who said this querier is an ego driven diva, and not “mentally ill.” What surprised me most was they left out the more common threat: “My book is SO good, it’s guaranteed to be a bestseller, and you’ll live to regret not representing me.” Perhaps they’ll include that when they respond to your rejection – I’m willing to bet they will!

    And yeah, Kristin, you might not want to be so public about your dog walking route (unless Chutney is a killer pit bull).

  23. Heather said:


    It must be emotionally difficult in addition to “bemusing” when you receive such a query.

    In the future I’ll be inclined to be more sympathetic to what agents have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

    No one should be abused in such a manner, and no one should tolerate being abused in such a manner.

    You were professional in responding, and given the threatening nature of the letter that was kindness in and of itself.


  24. over the top, anyone said:

    While telling an agent that you will be homeless if they don’t take you on may be emotional blackmail, it’s NOT a threat.

    Even so, Kristin’s post (and entire blog) is meant to be informative. Nothing else. That’s what she did here. She didn’t name anyone, and therefore didn’t actually offend anyone.

  25. Bernita said:

    Calling Kristin’s clients and their work “trash and idiots” sounds pretty diva-ish to me.
    Why, then, did the the writer query her – if that’s the case?

  26. Heather said:

    Emotional Blackmail = Threat in my book.

    Someone who tries to make me feel emotionally icky is attempting to damage my psyche. Therefore it’s threatening.

    I’m interested in tone more than in semantics I guess. But I think we agree on the finer points.


  27. Anonymous said:

    Listen: all writers are crazy, and there’s something seriously wrong with this writer. It’s not wise to post this type of info on your blog, Kristin. In fact, I recommend you delete it. We live in a different world today.

  28. Wow said:

    Perhaps this is someone unstable and perhaps even mentally ill. Maybe he/she is legally blind. I’m on a list where a member types his emails in 72 point font for this reason. Or, it could just be one of the dingbats who bashes you HERE on your blog trying to get your goat.

  29. Anonymous said:

    This is a great reason why you’re an agent and I’m not. I would’ve sent them a rejection back that said “Not for us. R.I.P.”

  30. Tricia Grissom said:

    Sometimes students try this stuff on me:

    “You can’t fail me because I didn’t turn everything in – My job won’t reimburse me, and I can’t pay for the class!”

    “My dad won’t get me a corvette if I don’t get all As. You wouldn’t want to be responsible for that!”

    I don’t know if this person is mentally ill, but some people want to make their problems your problems.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this isn’t how you get an agent or anything else you didn’t earn.

  31. ~Nancy said:

    Reminds me of when my sis-in-law worked as an assistant at Warner Books (forget what imprint). Apparently, this particular imprint was stilling taking unagented mss., and my sis-in-law had to go through the slush.

    She told me one ms. came in a pizza box – yup, with PIZZA and whatever else is emblazoned on pizza boxes. 😉 They also received stuff on curiously colored paper and received similar threats, that if they didn’t take on this ms., they must be dense/whatever.



  32. Linnea said:

    If this wasn’t so pitifully sad it would be funny. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. If you handle only trash and idiots and he/she was hoping to join such a motley crew, what does that say about them?

  33. Marianne Mancusi said:

    Cynjay –

    Trash and Vaudville is still there and thriving!! That’s where Liz Maverick and I often get our infamous RWA conference outfits.

    Guess that makes me one of Kristin’s trash clients. 😉


  34. Kate said:

    If you read the post while drinking copious amounts of Jack Daniels, the query starts to sound a lot like it was a joke. (and i’m sure there are a few anonymous commenters here that could use a good Jack & Coke or two too!)


    Trash & Idiots – love it!… though a little American sounding for me. Perhaps I’ll call it ‘Rubbish & Idiots’… hmmm.. methinks there is a story there!

  35. Carradee said:

    ad misericordiam, ad baculum, arguable false cause or equivocation…

    Thanks for the logic practice! I have a logical fallacy test on Monday. 🙂

  36. Heather said:

    Why has no one pointed out the obvious logical conclusion?

    The the agent only represents Trash and Idiots, and you query them, does that not mean that you think yourself trash or an idiot?

    The problem with flinging mud is you can’t do it without getting some on you.