Pub Rants

Better Left Unsaid?

 63 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: The day started with a laugh, it’s going to be great.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SMILE by Lonnie Plaxico Group

I know I’m going to get lambasted for posting this link and by mentioning that in reading these blog posts, I snorted my iced chai this morning but I’m going to share it anyway.

Some days, this is exactly what we agents are thinking when we read some of the odd query letters we receive.

And yes, I know, not all writers are as savvy as my blog readers and we really shouldn’t think it funny but trust me, if we didn’t have a sense of humor some days, we’d go nuts…

The July 13 entry might be my fav.

63 Responses

  1. T.J. said:

    Um….it just makes me feel happy that I actually do my research and that. Of course I read that and laugh. Who doesn’t?
    Your title for this post is wrong. It should be: Better Said Than Not.

  2. Melody said:

    Okay, this was just hilarious!

    I feel a little treacherous laughing at my fellow writers, but…it’s funny.

    And now I know what not to do, right? 🙂

  3. Kristan said:

    You know, when I first heard about it, I wondered if Slush Pile Hell was really a good (or nice) idea. But I think 99% of the examples this agent posts are so far to the extreme that only the people who make those mistakes would be upset to see them derided. The rest of us have more common sense.

    The ones that are less obviously crazy — the ones that are honest mistakes — she mocks more gently, I feel. And don’t we always love our funny teachers more than our grumpy/stodgy ones?

  4. Kathy said:

    Hey, if we can’t all laugh at not only the ridiculous things others say, but the ridiculous things we sometimes say ourselves, then this would be a sad world. Have been an ardent follower of Slushpilehell since it started. Hilarious and reminds me to be careful about the things I say in my query letters.

  5. T.Y. said:

    You can also follow that agent on Twitter. More funny stuff that doesn’t show up on the blog.

  6. abkeuser said:

    Ok, these are priceless! I’ve added it to my reader. Thank you for this.

    It’s always good to see what others have done and learn from those mistakes. Even if we sometimes feel that said mistakes are errors in common sense.

  7. Alyson Greene said:

    Pretty funny, but I do feel sorry for some of these writers. Like the one channeling the angel. This person clearly has some issues and it made me a little sad.

  8. Anonymous said:

    Sarcasm done well is called wit. Reading SlushPile Hell, most of the responses seem like shooting fish in a barrel. The sarcasm is there, but it’s missing the wit.

  9. Nancy said:

    I disagree with the anonymous person who said it’s not witty. It’s hilarious exactly because the agent is so witty in his/her responses, whereas I’d be tempted to just be mean.

  10. Seven said:

    The July 13 one doesn’t make sense. I *know* what chain mail feels like in winter, and they didn’t mention the difference between aluminum chain or steel. Aluminum keeps to your body temperature much better than steel, especially in winter. I also find that Japanese style chain pinches bare skin more than European. That was such a vague question.

  11. Ulysses said:

    The silliness of the quotes is exceeded only by the silliness of the responses.

    Oh, wait, I may have got that backwards…

    I have new respect for your fortitude. You’ve been finding this stuff in your inbox for years and haven’t quit publishing to become a cheerleader for the Darwin Awards.

    You’re tough, Kristen.

  12. Kristin Laughtin said:

    I’m glad that site isn’t too big yet because I’m planning to read through the rest of it right now.

    Since so many of these examples are so extreme, and could have been fixed with a little research, I don’t mind the snark. At the very least, it’ll help those of us who do our research feel better about our chances (although for the sake of humanity, I hope most queries aren’t like these. I doubt I should hold out much hope, though).

  13. Nicole said:

    Oh no, this place again. Haha. These are the things you read and think, “This is awful, but it’s hilarious at the same time.”

    And man…July 9th. I’m glad I’m not drinking an iced chai, or I’d probably be snorting it too.

  14. Andrea said:

    These are the people that audition for American Idol and rip the judges apart when they are told they totally suck (and they really do totally suck) I particularly like the July 12 entry.

  15. Tiff said:

    Thank you for sharing! That just made my week. I was fresh out of chai, but water definitely came through the nose.

  16. J.V. Altharas said:

    RSS subscription, engaged. There’s true value to “don’t be this guy” examples, and whatever agent is writing this should be doing stand up comedy.

  17. Natalie said:

    Aw yes– I love Slush Pile Hell. Your link made me read through all of the posts again, and I think they are just as funny the second time.

  18. Maya said:

    Nah, we might have lambasted you over the receipt idea (sorry, there are issues with it!), but these are truly hilarious.

  19. Alwyn said:

    Dictated by angels, told to write the book by God, most important book on earth, the next generation’s greatest author… Why do I feel like the rapture might be nigh?

  20. Andrew C. said:

    Dear Kristin,

    Are you interested in taking your blog to the next level? This comment was dictated to me by angels, is likely to establish me as the greatest blog commentator of our generation, and–so my friends tell me–would make an EXCELLENT movie.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  21. Anonymous said:

    Shirley you can’t be serious!

    Funniest thing I’ve seen on the net for a long, long time.

    Loved the chain mail one. Surely a slushpile book beckons — but would that be too embarrassing for agents? 🙂

  22. Anonymous said:

    If those are the queries; I’d love to read the book. My own query got a response in three weeks from Lori Perkins. It was my adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedies into a contemporary adventure that failed.

    B.P. Haynes

  23. Jacqui Pirl said:

    My favorites are farther back: June 25th and June 28th. No. You will not be lambasted! This blog is hilarious! Thank you for sharing!

  24. Anonymous said:

    This business is hard enough, and frustrating enough as it is. We all make mistakes, especially when we are first starting out. We dont need those in positions of power ridiculing us. These are aspiring professionals, you are a professional. As a “nice midwesterner with a genteel upbringing” you should know better. If agents want to commiserate and vent in private, no problem. To do so in public is unprofessional, rude and extremely mean spirited.

  25. Rowenna said:

    I *have* always wondered how chain mail would feel against my skin…

    No, this is funny. I’m a writer getting my query rejected dozens of times, and this is funny. Anyone who can’t see the humor here needs a quick shot to the funny bone, stat.

  26. Anonymous said:

    Look, I have as much of a sense of humor as the next person, but this makes me shake my head. (no offense to our resident agent), but we are constantly beaten over the head with ‘Agents are busy, busy, busy!’ ‘2 months minimum to hear back on you partial – very busy over here!’ ‘Don’t waste my time, I’m busy!!!’

    Ok. Fine. But this agent has time for this b.s.? Really? I understand needing to vent. I would love to post things about the people that come into my office and waste my time at work. The thing is, you see, I’M BUSY, so I can’t.

    Is that site funny? Yes it is. Does that agent come off as professional. Not at all. Would I ever query said agent? Well let me think. If that person was my agent could I believe my book was getting all the attention it needed or would I worry it was being ignored in favor of someone trying to sound clever making fun of people who will NEVER be clients?


    No, no, give me a minute, Still thinking here…


    Ah nevermind. I guess I’m just being unreasonable….

  27. Anonymous said:

    Anon above, please relax. Yes, agents are busy. They work on commission. They work long hours and they do it because they love the written word. Excuse me, I think what they love is the well-written word. They take time from their day to blog and post about what we writers are doing wrong. Agents are all different, and so they all approach it differently. But, I truly feel they are trying to help us get better. I follow about 15 agent blogs and I’ve learned a lot. I find shushpile hell funny. I’m sorry you don’t. But, don’t take it away from the rest of us with your blasted political correctness.

  28. Anonymous said:

    When did professionalism, common courtesy and basic human decency become confused with political correctness?

  29. Anonymous said:

    Basic human decency? Isn’t that a tad dramatic? It’s called humor. Look into it.

  30. Anonymous said:

    Anon 9:33

    You should make an appointment with your proctologist to have that stick removed from your anus.

    As for un-professional, indecent,, insensitive and down right rude… I figure one of those retarded queries is yours so I’m going go back and laugh at all of them again. (Notice how I’ve managed to be politically incorrect too.) Neener neener neener. (And immature. I think I’m going for a record here.)


    Just finished re-reading them all. Still funny as hell and as crazy as a nut house. What planet are these people from? Seriously.

  31. Anonymous said:

    I agree. Many of these queries are from people “crazy as a nut house.” Certainly, many of them will never in their wildest dreams be professional writers. But isnt that the point. Kristin Nelson is a professional and I find it beneath her to poke fun at those less capable than her. Would you walk into a loony bin and laugh at the inmates? Do you go to a house for the deaf and make fun of the way they talk? I dont have a stick up anything. I’m not that sensitive. I’ve been rejected hundreds of times. But I simply have no respect for agents who have fun in public at the expense of writers, particularly ones that clearly are going nowhere in writing, or most likely in life as well.

  32. Anonymous said:

    So your the humor police? And what are we dictating exactly? Kristen can’t laugh but you can? And I thought your problem was just the stick.

    It takes a nutter to know one, I guess.

  33. Elizabeth West said:

    “God told me to write this book and that it would become a bestseller.

    I talked to God. He said he was just messing with you.”


    Omg I shouldn’t read this at work. It’s really quiet in here and I’m bound to get in trouble for laughing.

  34. Anonymous said:

    Dear Agent,

    Read my book and hear the voice of God.


    The God Whisperer

    P.S. Excuse me. I need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be back in 15 minutes.