Pub Rants

So-N-So Recommended Me

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STATUS: Ah, New York City. Chut is snoozing on the couch next to me and making those hilarious puppy dog sleeping noises. Feels just like home—only smaller. Significantly smaller. And I know if this place I’m living in were for sale, it would probably go for 500k. Crazy.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? FEELIN’ THE SAME WAY by Norah Jones

So if you are a New Yorker and live on the Upper West Side, be on the lookout for me and little white spotted rat terrier roaming your streets and running in Central Park. And don’t be afraid to say hi. But I’ll tell you right now, if I’m running in Central Park, I’m wearing a tiny iPod shuffle and might not hear you right off so don’t think I’m ignoring you. Besides, Chutney is very focused on her CP runs…

So I actually didn’t have any meetings today (they officially start tomorrow) so I haven’t any inside scoop to share as of yet but will soon. Get your notepads ready. I have noticed an interesting trend in query letters as of late. Writers are including in the opening line that So-n-So recommended they contact me.

Only problem? I don’t know who So-n-So is but yet there’s an assumption in the query letter that I do. There’s no mention of the person’s name in a context (as in So-n-So from Backspace Writers Forum or something of the like). Just a name that says he/she should query me.

Guess what? That’s only a helpful tool if I know the person. Now Sara and Julie always check in with me and ask if I know So-n-So. If I do, then they’ll drop the email equery letter into the electronic folder for me to review. If I say I don’t have clue, they treat it like any other query letter.

So my point being this. If you are mentioning that someone is recommending you query me, you need to give me the context. It may just be that I’m having a brain fart and if given the context I’ll say, “oh yes, I know that blogger. She held a contest that I was involved in” or what have you. No context means you run the danger of name dropping and it doesn’t remotely ring a bell for me.

Which ultimately doesn’t help you very much.

20 Responses

  1. Tracy said:

    Well, at least I know this is one problem I’ll never have – who knew it would be a good thing to not know anyone? I’ll just have to rely on my supersonic querying abilities…

  2. Parker said:

    Great advice! I’m an attorney and the same thing happens to me regularly. Generally, I probably DO know the person somehow, but without the context, I can’t for the life of me bring the name or face to forefront of my brain. When you’ve attended numerous schools, lived in various states, go to numerous conferences a year, it’s impossible to remember everyone all the time.

  3. DebraLSchubert said:

    Kristin, Is it OK to say, “My mom referred me?” Because she’s quite influential, you know. At least, that’s what she tells me. BTW: I’ll be in NYC for BEA and the Backspace Conference next week. I hope our paths will cross and that I won’t trip over Chutney!

  4. darkened_jade said:

    I’m with Tracy, in that I know nobody, however I’ve been meeting lots of people online and through webook, twitter and blogs I’ve slowly been making friends who possibly know somebody. Maybe one day I’ll be writing a query letter and remember this piece of advice, and be very thankful for it.

    Thanks for sharing, it is always great to read advice from the people on the receiving end of the letters.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Hope you’re enjoying your trip. Had a giggle though at your line, “this place must cost 500k”.

    I don’t think you can get a closet in NYC for that price. Not much available that’s decent for under a million. Shocking, isn’t it?

  6. Anonymous said:

    I agree with Anon 5:05. No way you can get anywhere on the UWS for $500k. MAYBE if it’s a tiny studio with today’s economy you could get it for 800k. MAYBE. If it were run down and without a doorman.

    My 300 sq ft studio to RENT when I lived there was $1,800 a month. And that was considered a bargain in the neighborhood!

    That said, love the UWS. Such a wonderful neighborhood. And great to be near the park. 🙂

  7. Madison said:

    The only time I asked an author if he would consider recommending me to his agent, he said no. His reason was that he wasn’t that comfy with his agent yet. So if I queried said agent tomorrow, I would not mention this author’s name.

    I can’t believe that people would try to get you to think that someone recommended them when they didn’t. That’s just crazy. But I guess you run into a lot of crazy in any industry. 🙂

  8. C. N. Nevets said:

    I wonder if those writers have day jobs as cold call sales reps… It seems like at least once a week I get a call from a prospective vendor who opens with, “I was talking with with So-n-So and they said I should really give you a call.”

    Probably the same So-n-So’s who recommend that they query you, because I generally have never heard of them…

  9. Torsten Adair said:

    Well, my nephew was loitering in Barnes & Noble one day and discovered Ally Carter’s “I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You”. He recommended it to me (a 24-year old coach), I enjoyed it immensely, discovered her blog, which recently led to yours.

    Hope you enjoy the Upper West Side. I spent nine years at the B&N in Lincoln Center, and recommend it, especially if you need CDs or DVDs. (We acquired the Tower Records staff when it closed.)

  10. Amy Talley said:

    I once had an author tell me I could use her as a reference in a query to an editor. She wrote for the editor; you bet I used it. It worked too.

    But, I don’t think I would have used it otherwise (especially without permission – talk about coming back to haunt you)

  11. Anonymous said:

    Are there any blogs for published authors discussing how to stay in the publishing industry, as opposed to aspiring writers looking to break into the industry, as with the agent blogs?


  12. Shannon Ryan said:

    Another type of bad name dropping: I sent a query to an agent saying that my work was inspired by Tom Holt and Douglas Coupland. In his reply, he admitted he had never read Coupland and never heard of Holt.

  13. Heather B. Moore said:

    I’ve recommended your blog quite a bit in workshop presentations, etc. It would be funny if a writer took that as a personal recommendation to you as an agent (as if I knew you personally). Hmmm… entirely possible 😉