Sunday, August 29, 2010


There’s been quite a bit of debate this week on sites such as SlushPile Hell and #queryfail (read here and here). So far, I’ve only been reading the opposing side. Points:

Who has time to even THINK about these bad queries, let alone TWEET about them!


I will NEVER tweet/talk of personal correspondence, so query freely! It is an ethical faux pas to do so.

To be fair, I understand that. A lot. Both are incredibly valid points, and I agree with both. The majority of people that send the worst letters aren’t even lucid when they press SEND, and for the ones that are, it’s heartbreaking to receive such humiliation.

But (of course you knew a but was coming) I DO tweet about these queries. Do I do it to be helpful? Well, yes. But 90% of the audience reading my tweets isn’t who should be getting the advice.

So why do it?

Sites like “shit my dad says” may emphasize what I’m about to say the most: really, it’s about having a sense of humor. Do I honestly take it so seriously that every time I tweet about a mistake, I’m FUMING and RANTING about the HORRIBLE quality I’m reading? No.

I still turn to the majority of manuscript pages that I tweet about, because I know for a fact that some people just plain suck at writing query letters. But that doesn’t mean they suck at writing. I also think that writers should be aware of the reality of the slush pile. If anything, I feel my tweets emphasize the importance of research, feedback, and continued perseverance and development.

I also DESERVE to be called out on ANY mistake I make. So, fair’s fair. In my eyes.

Everyone has the right to dislike policies and attitudes of other agents. But…just don’t act like your word is final. For every opinion, there is an opposite.

Ok! Onto fun stuff. How about I level the playing field?

Here is MY own PERSONAL query development. Snarky comments welcome; I made almost EVERY mistake in the book! I cringe to look back…

First Letter Ever:

If you mix a fairy, a goddess, magic, and a story, what do you get? A book written about those subjects called The Goddess of Time.

The main plot is set at no particular time, but resembles the middle- ages, with kings, queens, peasants, and other miscellaneous characters. It is fictional, having magic, folklore, and mystical creatures that you may only dream of. The main character is named Shadow, a fifteen-year-old fairy whom is compelled to tell the truth. She is most unusual, with her blue eyes and black hair, unlike all the other fairies who have brown eyes and either brown or blonde hair. Her best friends, Cider and Wheat, always try to make her have fun, and misuse her powers for simple pleasure, ending in a loss of their friendship.

Shadow finds a circlet in a cave, launching her into adventure with the task of rescuing the former Queen Lilly from the clutches of the evil King Smoldren. If Shadow does not succeed, the kingdom and world could fall into King Smoldrens grasp, allowing him all the power and money he could imagine, killing all who come in his way.

Shadow is not about to let this happen, though. With the help of a prince transformed into a squirrel, a nymph that had previously been a walnut, and Lilly’s husband, she manages to come up with a plan to over-throw the wicked king. Consulting first with her own dear king, she sets up a battle plan, proposing to enter through a secret tunnel and rescuing Moonshine, the head of the teaching department, whom had been captured during the battle. The king and his army would swamp the rear of the palace, taking them by surprise, and hopefully winning.

But the battle suddenly takes on an interesting turn, and Shadow finds herself face to face with the vile Smoldren.
In battling him, Shadow sets Lilly free, whom on her return, kills Smoldren and restores her wasted kingdom. Only then does Shadow learn whom she really is, and with that knowledge put to right the traitor that was smuggling plans to Smoldren within they’re midst.

If I have caught your attention in any way, please read the novel for yourself and decide if it is worthy to be published. The book in whole has ----words, and can be sent disk (floppy), CD, or by mail. Would you rather have a general outline, or the book itself?

I know that as an unpublished writer, I won’t have anything to show or assure you that my work is suitable. But that does not mean it is not good; it just means I may have fresh or new ideas.

My phone number is ___, and my address, ___ Brentwood, TN, 37027. My fax number is ___. Please contact me if you wish to consider my book. I know that I may and most likely won’t be successful on my first try, but that does not mean I didn’t try at all. Thank-you for your time and patience with this letter.

(I should have put the thanks for time and patience at the beginning, and yes, this was in the time of floppy disks...)

Biggest Mistakes Ever:

I am a writer. I haven’t come to you asking for proof. As a girl of only sixteen years of age I can’t truly tell you if that’s what I’ll be in ten years. All I can say is that getting there will be a long, and yes, expensive road.

Naturally a writer can’t help but go to the computer and type out a story. Mine happens to be called _____, a ___-word _________ novel.

I’ve been “agenting” for quite some time now, trying to find one to slip my manuscript under your “big, scary door”. The thing is, I am, after all, still learning about how to properly write and polish a five-paragraph essay. God forgive the unlucky soul that tries to take on and read a pitted, grammatically incorrect manuscript that may or may not even be anything more than a big run-on sentence…right? Then again, you have to consider the fact that I have actually picked up a copy of Writer’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents to find your name. It has, unfortunately, become my Bible. You might be surprised at how many tricks a person can pick up after reading a gazillion and one books such as that.

One thing that might have you reading no further is the fact that this is a query letter, a piece of paper that pitches a novel, and I’ve only mentioned the book once. In my experience, it might not be my letter that gets me thrown away but the close-mindedness of adults who can’t imagine a future for a silly little sixteen-year-old girl. That’s why I’ve dedicated this entire cover letter to getting you used to the idea that not all teenagers sit and drool in front of the TV all day.

The thing is, I’m not out for glory and fame. I am surrounded by peers who probably can’t even read. The general audience I’m targeting prefers movies to books any day. Here’s the catch: teens also like to read things other teens have. A book, written by a teen herself? Put yourself in my shoes. I know I would personally go to the store and pay money to check out what this girl has to offer.

What does this girl have to offer? A very dedicated soul. The glossy cover of the bookfront does not blind me; I do know what work goes on to put it there. Editing, editing, and yes, editing are not beyond me, nor are promoting, cooperation, and patience. I offer you my query: please sample it. The taste might just be to your liking.


I currently have a contract with _____ Literary Agency. I am writing you because I wish to find new representation for my novel, Love and Navy Slippers, due to the unsatisfactory representation I have received so far.

Alarm bells, and several questions, should be popping into your head right now. As a contracted author, I have no right to try and find new representation before terminating a current contract on that novel. However, I have been unable to contact my agents for several months now, and I do not wish to sit around waiting for failure. I still want to succeed as an author, and to do so I cannot afford to wait for my agents to find me a publisher when it is convenient for them.

In an effort not to offend, I will not use this space, or your time, to list my complaints about my agents. All I ask is a review of my query and a response. I have enclosed an SASE for this purpose. I thank you most sincerely for your time.

(guess how far the last two letters got me? *snort* My tweet would be: "I will not use this space or your time to list my complaints" <-- data-blogger-escaped-br="" data-blogger-escaped-didn="" data-blogger-escaped-do="" data-blogger-escaped-just="" data-blogger-escaped-t="" data-blogger-escaped-that="" data-blogger-escaped-uh="" data-blogger-escaped-you="">

Last Letter Ever:

How typical of Charlotte Huntington to fall in love with the stable boy. Unfortunately, how also disastrously embarrassing that, after a passionate confession of her love, he broke her heart, coolly dismissing her passion and walking out of her life for good. Broken, Charlotte is shipped off to London for a proper season, where she bitterly decides to never let any man reject her—ever again.

Three seasons, many coy smiles, and fitted bodices later, Charlotte has become the toast of the ton, the most sought-after and elusive woman in all of London.

Until he shows up again.

The stable boy. And every ounce of her carefully trained façade begins to crumble, her heart skittishly surrendering to his very presence. Not that he even bothered to notice; the man barely even acknowledged her existence. He was the most infuriating creature she’d ever come across in her life! Not that it helped that he was, apparently, her father’s new manager. When he’d left her, not only had he rejected her love, but rejected every ounce of his former self, nearly breaking his back for two years to become as ruthless and cold in business as her father, managing the astonishing feat of completely taking over Lord Huntington’s company.

But damn him, she would win. She’d learned a few tricks herself over the years. And Charlotte is going to make him pay for his cold heart. She will make him fall in love with her, and as soon as she hears the words—she’ll run off and marry someone else.

Unfortunately…that’s only if he doesn’t rekindle her weary heart first, which, as time goes by, starts to become a very frightening possibility. Because the more time she spends with him…the more she remembers as to why she fell in love with him in the first place…and the more it feels like she’ll lose, either way she decides to play. Because what she doesn’t know, is that Jake Jennings never intended to leave her at all—because he has always loved her. And he intends, now that he has gained the means to claim her, to never let her go.

Unfortunately…he’s got a new secret of his own. A secret that, innocent and darling as she is, could keep them apart forever.

No wonder it takes an entire book for the two to finally live happily ever after. It’s all the unfortunate reality of Natalie Maya Fischer’s AN ERRONEOUS ROMANCE.

(this was the point I ended up with "great writing, needs plot")


Is this proof enough that I will NEVER “write off” an author just because of a bad query? I’ve had quite a journey. I expect every writer to as well. Development. Happens.

And for the record, using my “agent hat” now, I would have ONLY looked at the pages for the last query. I am SO HAPPY I was not published at age 11!!! The universe knows. Trust it.


  1. I think there's a part of me that, as an unpublished writer, likes the idea of pointing out the major flaws in queries so that we wouldn't make them. The other part of me doesn't think it's necesarry to use ACTUAL examples from ACTUAL queries to do so. Something along the lines of "Don't do such & such" would suffice without ridiculing anyone.

  2. This was great! Thanks for sharing. Now I don't feel so bad about my queries. :D

    And being one of those people who don't need the advice, but enjoy the tweets anyway, I have to say I don't think you're ridiculing anyone. There are a few agents out there I would say probably need a tiny bit of couth when then tweet, but you aren't one of them.

  3. That first query is sort of amazing for an eleven year old! :D I had no idea what an agent *was* at eleven.

  4. I can understand that it might sting for the writer, but being a writer myself, and knowing how crappy my first queries were when I finished my first book, anything that could have power-washed the cobwebs from my naive mind would have helped. Now, two years later, I know how to write a great query, and it has worked very well with my latest book, but without those initial rejections and the advice from agents' blogs/tweets, I wouldn't have been able to progress. I say do your thang and don't bother responding to those who complain.

    One word of advice for you now that you've started accepting e-subs, and thanks for doing that btw: maybe tweet updates like "if you sent a query before ___ (date), it's a pass from me." I know a few others do this, and it helps the writers to know it's time to move on. It also helps the agent because you won't have writers sending a duplicate query thinking their query may not have reached you. It also boosts your following! Just an idea.

  5. It's awesome of you to share all this with us! Like Kat Zhang said, I didn't even know what agents were at 11 so I'm actually impressed!

    And I agree that it's actually helpful using real queries. It's like with writing - showing is more powerful than telling. Simply saying X and X is bad query structure couldn't possibly help as much as showing the bad query habits in action, so we can see for ourselves why and how they don't work. And we can more easily compare it to our own queries. That's honestly what helped me learn. :)

    I def don't think you're 'ridiculing' anyone. A writer has to learn how to take public criticism anyway since it's pretty much a part of the biz, right? Gotta start somewhere.

  6. I'm in the 10% that actually started following your for the query advice. There are so many opinions, so many posts, and so many preferences when it comes to what to DO in a query that it becomes a little overwhelming. Some say to compare your work, some say don't. Some want personal letters that show research, others find it creepy. No one can seem to agree as to what makes a universally good query.

    It's better for me to see what not to do. The rest can come through researching individual agents. Besides, your humor and your ability to be so candid with your work makes you a million times more accessible and approachable. You don't hide behind the sort of agent mystique that clouds the business.

    So please, keep doing what you're doing.

  7. The fact that you were willing to share your query letters shows that you understand the learning process writers go through to break into the publishing industry. You made mistakes just like everyone else does. I think your #queries comments are helpful to new writers. I don't think they are mean or hurtful. And I love that you understand that some writers are not good at writing query letters, but they are good at writing novels. I say keep doing what you're doing.

  8. The idea that an agent might post part of my query letter online would sting, except...

    1. No one would know that it was mine, except for me. (Well, and the agent.)

    2. I'd be getting feedback in a roundabout way that I otherwise wouldn't have gotten in a form rejection, or the no-response-means-no silence.

    In my opinion, so long as the agents/editors posting this stuff aren't giving out names or whatnot to directly point fingers at writers, it's all good.

    Aspiring authors are going to have their writing picked apart by reviewers when they're published, anyway. Best start developing those thick skins now!

  9. I have mixed feelings about this issue. On the one hand, I'm desperate for any information that will help me improve my query letter. So I appreciate the things like "Don't start your query with a rhetorical question." Or even "Today I received six letters with rhetorical questions--instant rejections."

    My feelings start to change, however, when the intention seems to shift to making fun of specific queries. Yes, it's clear the author hasn't done their research and may not be the best writer in the world, but is that reason to publicly mock them? Especially when agents take direct quotes, or are specific enough about their mockery that the authors would be able to identify themselves, or--even worse--other agents currently in possession of the same submission could recognize it.

    At that point, it seems to stop being humorous, all in good fun, educational, etc.--and starts just being mean. It starts to become about people with power using it to make fun of the people who don't. Yes, those people could empower themselves by educating themselves, and they don't, which means some of the blame does rest on them. But do victims of bullying deserve all the blame, because they haven't empowered themselves against it?

    I'm sorry to be the lone voice of dissention here, and I very nearly did this comment anonymously because I think I, like many writers, are terrified of being labeled somehow "difficult" or "precious" for it. But I do feel strongly about it, so I guess I shouldn't hide that. I think it's a really fine line, and one I'd find extremely hard to walk if I were an agent. But as a writer doing research about agents for the first time, I have to admit that when I see an agent getting specific about bad queries, it ends up being a mark against them when it comes to deciding whether or not I want to query them. It's not the deciding factor at all, because there are a lot of things that are much more important, but it's definitely there.

    I know what it's like to be bullied and mocked, and as writers are largely an intelligent bunch and smart kids get teased, I imagine I'm not alone. I've yet to submit a query and so have definitely never been called out on one, but that's not the point. Whether or not the querier is ever going to see it doesn't matter. It's about the agent carrying that kind of meanness--or at best, thoughtlessness--inside them, that makes me wonder if I want them representing me.

  10. O_O I cannot believe you posted those. There is no WAY I would show you the query letters 15 year old me wrote! OR THE BOOKS. :D


    Otherwise, I specifically follow agents/interns who do query threads. And I AM listening for anything that sounds like mine or could actually be mine. I love it.

  11. Meagan, you are not the lone voice.

    Any agent who pokes fun (either for humor sake or learning sake) at people who are trying to get repped is a bad agent in my book. Unless the person asks to get ripped--ala Query Shark.

    Remember how great you thought your first query was? Yeah...that's how unpublished writers feel, too. Telling the entire twitterverse or blogosphere that this persons writing/query/premise/word count/blah/blah is bad is just in poor taste. Why not give the PERSON that feedback instead of some stupid form reject? That would help loads more than what's going on now.

  12. Wow. I think it's incredibly brave of you to publish these letters.

    Personally I'm hoping if I ever become a less-than-unknown writer that no one will remember any of the stories I wrote for the high school "lit" mag. I shudder to think I might one day feel the same way about the book I'm subbing now (though I feel pretty confident I won't. Now, anyway.)

    Kudos for not drooling in front of the TV all day and for being who you are. An unabashed writer.

    My stance on the whole queryfail thing is that the tone the agent takes shines through. If it's more educational than mean-spirited, it works. If it's snark for snark's sake, not so much.

    Not very scientific, but I've seen both kinds.


  13. There are a lot of great points here; part of the reason I posted this was to hear them, so thank you!

    Yes, reviewers will be just as nasty, if not nastier, and they are far from anonymous; and yes, there are some that I would agree should tone it down more when they do this.

    I've never viewed this as a form of bullying, because I'm not picking specifically on anyone. I didn't even know about #queryfail until this whole debate popped into my radar! And I suppose I've developed such thick skin myself that I don't see it as bad, because it's not even direct!

    I would disagree that agents who do this are bad agents. There are agents out there who are horrible, horrible people, but they're absolutely incredible agents. And no one is doing this to be mean. I honestly think people just didn't think this through fully when it started...which is why these discussions are vital.

    Much food for my thought, at least!

  14. I hope it wasn't my comment that led to the response about agents who do this being bad agents! I don't think that's true at all. I do believe that for most agents, it comes out of a desire to help, and show other writers what mistakes are being made in queries. And one of the things that makes me really love certain agents is a devotion to aspiring writers.

    I guess the point I most want to make is that it does have the potential to come across as mean, no matter the intentions. And I can only speak for myself, but it does influence my opinion of an agent. It doesn't wholly inform it, but it will be a mark in the endless tally sheet of factors to consider when choosing which agents to query.

    Your comment about agents who are horrible people but brilliant agents does make me pause though. It's something to think about. Would I want an agent who's just an awful person but can sell books like no one's business? I really just don't know. I don't need my agent to be my best friend, after all. It's definitely something really interesting to think about.

  15. Meagan - no, it was actually anonymous I was responding to :) No worries! I really appreciated your post - it takes guts to start up the dissenting voice!!

    I think in general, with so many mixed responses, it's a grey area. People who share my sense of humor will appreciate it, and people who don't won't. I'm on twitter so people get a sense for my personality; I like to click with my clients too, and so in the end, I feel like it's turning a negative into a good situation: people who are offended by it wouldn't click with me, as I am so candid, and so they won't query me...

    I would never want a client who was heartbroken by my notes when they aren't positive! I love my clients; they are amazing, fabulous writers, and I need them to understand that I KNOW this and will NOT give up just because of a plot hole!! We BOTH have to be strong! :)

  16. P. S.: Can you please send me the full MS for The Goddess of Time?

    I think it has potential, and I love fairy tales. And you're not averse to editing. And editing. And (pant, pant) editing.

    It took me until my 30s to finish a novel - I'm in awe of those who work so hard in their teens.


  17. Love it. That's all. Except for the chuckling.

  18. I think this is a really gray area, and I'm glad more people are talking about it. :)

    Personally, I don't query agents who post queries (leaving off identifiable information) or tweet about them specifically. It's not because I have thin skin. I want an agent that won't coddle or sugar coat things for me. For me it's a matter of respect. When I query an agent, I'm doing so with the hope to find someone who connects with me and my writing, not to be made a word of warning publicly.

    I think most agents that do this do so with the best of intentions whether it's to educate or use their humor to survive. But I don't think it's okay unless both people are having fun, and the only way to be sure is to ask for permission first.

    I do appreciate agents that generalize the do's and don'ts. I think those are the most helpful for the very reason that they are general and not personal.

  19. I won't repeat what others have said (I'm usually lengthy enough), but this is a subject that's been on my mind lately. Simply put, I'm uneasy about a lot of the #queryfail tweeting that I see. First, if these people are on Twitter, they're certainly going to be able to identify themselves. I think this applies to the #queries hashtag as much as the #queryfail hashtag.

    The person with the beautifully dark picture book, the person with the love story about a man raising his daughter after his wife dies -- those people will know you were talking about their work. The person who got a 'geez' for their book about 100,000 men and boys being potentially abducted by aliens will know. I mean, that's not a book I'd write for a number of reasons and I doubt it's one I'd read, but I'm not convinced that 'geez' is educating your followers.

    I love the agents who go to the trouble to educate writers about the process. It's something that none of you are obliged to do, and I know it's got to take up a lot of time. I also think, though, that it's worth being aware of the ways in which some actions might be perceived. Sometimes it's not the intention, but the perception that counts, and sometimes the #query tweets (by a number of people) can seem a little mean, or an easy way to get a quick laugh, or share an eyeroll with people at the expense of somebody who, however misguided, has tried hard. I think we're smart enough to come up with lots of other clever ways to entertain ourselves.

    I love that you've posted your old queries, which I'm not sure I'd be game to do! That said, the fact that you have the necessarily tough hide to expose yourself doesn't mean that others do. The fact that somebody will be exposed to your editorial letters later or to reviewers who may be frankly unkind doesn't mean that they need feedback in this way. Your feedback will come to your clients in a different format. Reviewers' won't, but I think most writers could take that with a little more fortitude. After all, if someone's reviewing the book, at least you're published!

    See? I said I was lengthy. I really admire that you've raised the issue and I admire even more that you're listening with an open mind. Like Meagan, I hesitate to comment, but I think this is an issue that's about who we are as a community, to some extent. For me, this isn't about the risk that I'll appear in one of those tweets. It's about making sure we treat each other with respect.

  20. Well you (Natalie) know that I can't write a query to save my life. But I don't take any form of response to it personally. It's just 3 paragraphs.

    Sometimes queries pick up on the right plot points, sometimes not. Sometimes they are completely unreadable. If I were to end up on #queryfail I'd probably react by thinking, "Sweet, now I know exactly what to fix."

  21. It's brave of you to share your query letters, and yes, there's a lot of education and experience between the first and the last. I recently read some posts that talked about a writer's DIYMFA program. I love that concept because, no matter how much (or little) natural talent we have, or how well we have developed it, we still need to learn the business side of the business. For me, the tweets and the sites like are a learning opportunity, a reminder, and a good laugh rolled into one. I don't see anything mean-spirited in #queryfail, and I appreciate the slightly British flavor to the humor. (I was, however, bothered by the #queryslam hashtag, thought not so much by the content as by the name.)

    As a writer, I have to laugh about the process to survive it. Getting to learn from the humor makes it less painful.

    That said, now that we've done two contests on our blog--and many thanks again for judging the first!--Marissa and I have had a minute taste of things from the other side of the desk. By the nature of the blog, our readers are relatively further along in the learning curve than many writers who are querying for the first time, yet Marissa and I still have to spend amounts of time tracking down and fixing submissions where a contestant hasn't followed instructions. We've been reluctant to disqualifying, but when we see how much time it costs us, we've had to make a few hard decisions already. If I extrapolate that out to how many queries each agent gets, I cringe.

    Yes, each query letter that appears in #queryfail, #queryslam, or sites like represents a year or more of someone's time and deserves to be taken seriously. But as writers, we have to also understand that there are rookie mistakes in querying just as there are in any business. And every rookie mistake you and other agents point out on #queryfail represents a thousand other rookies with the same or similar mistakes. It's not disrespectful to point them out. It's therapy for all of us.

    For an analogy, look at American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance. Sure, there are always one or two contestants whose talent is so amazing they were able to bypass the traditional learning process. Then there are many contestants who work hard for years to develop their craft and learn to present themselves professionally. But the majority are others who haven't bothered to learn that there are rules and steps that exist for a reason. Those contestants clog up the system and steal time from everyone. Even the kindest judges (and the audience) have to laugh at them to survive what they put us through. And yes, I do mean that last pronoun change consciously.

    Just as every contestant on those shows who comes in unprepared or overconfident makes it more expensive and time-consuming for other contestants, every writer who fails to learn the business and approach it professionally contributes to the doors closing for all of us. We need and deserve to be reminded of that.

    So thank you. Please continue doing your #queryfails. They're important, helpful, and funny.


  22. Oh, and I'm using #queryfail as a generic for any tweet about a query problem, whether it comes up with that hashtag or not.

  23. I think what bugs me most about the #queryfail's is that they're such silly mistakes. I would never, under any circumstance say 'fictional novel' or 'this is going to be the next bestseller.' (Although, I did send out a 'dear agent' one by mistake-but it was like, 3 in the morning and it was for my first MS)

    As far as the whole 'year's worth of work deserves respect thing' can find an abundance of advice of query letters that advise against the #queryfails that I've seen you tweet about. So, the research on that qualifies as work, too. We all make rookie mistakes. But, with writing, you have to have thick skin. And, while it may be insulting to think of your failed query being tweeted about, you just have to realize that hopefully it will help someone else avoid the same mistakes.

    That said, I think it's cool of you to post your query letters. Hopefully people will stop complaining about them now.

  24. Yes, very brave of you to post your query letters! Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to post mine. I'm so glad I don't have to write another one.

  25. To laugh at one's own mistakes and accept truths graciously (even if they sting a little) are truly great qualities in a person. I love that you take time out of your busy schedule to enlighten us, Natalie. The world needs more enlightening...and laughter. :o) Thank you!

  26. That's awesome! Thanks for sharing something so personal! It was very inspiring.

  27. What a great example you've given us - not with the amateur query letters but with the ability to see past yourself and help others. That's a rare thing.

  28. Thank you everyone for your thoughts - I think I've digressed since I started doing #queries and am only being negative (funny, but negative). Like a wise cab driver once told me: "the money in your business is in the positive side."

    So look out! #queries is going to get...gasp! GENERICALLY HELPFUL.

    Oh that just sounds depressing. Ok, I can't promise to keep my snark out. But I am going to make more of a conscious effort to be helpful. ;)

  29. I just think it's so amazing that you seek out people's opinions on this. It's not just a blog topic, it's something you're really interested in. I mean, you're entitled to do what you want, and clearly there are tons of people who really enjoy #queries the way they are. But I just have to say that this whole discussion has made me really admire you for it, if you can tolerate the cheesiness.

    And I will be the first person to sadface if you ever got rid of your snark. I never said #queries didn't secretly make me laugh... :P

  30. I agree with both Meagan and Martina. When it's done just to be funny, it tends to be snarky and mean and I'm not comfy with that, but I think Martina makes the most relevant point to me: the mistakes laughed at in these things are so egregious they're harming the system. There's no way they'll be published and they just waste people's time.

    That or I've just developed such a thick skin myself I can't help but laugh and think this will speed up their own skin development. Or they'll be so hurt they'll stop writing. Which, in its own way, is a wheat and chaff separator.

    I'm sure that's way more harsh-sounding than it should be, but I've been working diligently for years and while I hate to see anyone bullied - and when it IS that, I'll call it that and not participate or watch - I don't want my time wasted because agents have to wade through utter unpublishable drek and I don't appreciate the glibness with which so many people treat writing and trying to be published.

    And lest the pot calls the kettle black, I completed four novels before I ever researched agents. I knew I wasn't there yet. All I had to do was open an actual book to see my writing wasn't at the same level. Sometimes I wonder if the really bad queriers read. (Okay, putting my bitter hat away now. Sorry, Natalie.)

    I love that you shared those queries. Makes me want to post my first query just for people to take pot shots. Maybe I'll offer it up to you for your bad query contest. ;)

  31. Great post and well said! I've been all over blogs posting excessively regarding my opinion on this issue. Here's my post at my blog about SPH:

  32. This is great. I found some old writing of mine and was so aghast that I burnt it to destroy all evidence. That's brave of you to keep it. Even braver to post it. I suppose after enough years "horribly embarrasing" turns to "embarrasingly funny".

  33. I love your letters - they're very entertaining. I've never sent one of my own, but hope to eventually (once I get a novel finished that I'm happy with :))

    Could you possibly maybe send me AN ERRONEOUS ROMANCE? It looks really sweet... I love that type of book in a I-already-know-what's going to happen way. Please?