Tag Archives: literary agent

Ten Queries, Ten Rejections: Wanna Know Why?

Recently, I dove into the slush. Here’s why I said no to some of the queries that were there…notmycupoftea

  1. Not my cup of tea. A memoir needs to be knock ‘em dead unique or by a celebrity or by someone with an amazing platform. Also, if it’s a memoir it isn’t a novel. A novel is fiction. If your memoir is fiction (i.e. you made it all up) then it’s not a memoir.
  2. Puh-leeze. A plot that’s all over the place in the query is most certainly going to be all over the place in the manuscript. And the author mis-used a word, showing me they’re thesaurus-izing their writing. Huge red flag.
  3. Smoke up my skirt. First the author re-quoted me, to me. Then it was portal fantasy, which I’m not fond of. Then the author bio gave me all personal, unnecessary information and no information about their writing chops.
  4. Delete. Nutty query for something I would have rejected anyway, and the author didn’t follow submission guidelines (i.e. they didn’t include the first 20 pages).
  5. Delete. Another memoir about something kind of not that interesting and the author didn’t follow submission guidelines (again, no pages included).
  6. Woof. I don’t do werewolves. Does anybody still do werewolves?
  7. Oh. My. God. Slightly turned off by the one-sentence intro that repetitively redundantly reiterated the genre, leading in to a synopses replete with multiple infarctions of the law against thesaurus-izing.
  8. Something’s fishy here. I’m not a fan of mermaids and there was something off about the syntax in the query.
  9. I’m so sorry, but NO. The querier’s native language must not be English, because there were non-native-English-speaker kinds of mistakes all throughout the query. Plus, it’s another portal fantasy, it’s unfinished, and it’s way too long.
  10. Out of this world. Another re-quote of me, to me, and a manuscript that’s too long. I don’t really do outer space Sci-Fi. I’m more a social-science-fiction-grounded-in-reality-ish kind of Sci-Fi reader. Plus there were a bunch of spelling errors.


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Manuscript requests, Movies, and Wishes: Thinking about 3 Things


is the first odd prime number and the second smallest prime. It’s also easy to make lists of three. Like when one isn’t sure what to blog about, for instance…

The last three actual books I read :

1. Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

2. Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

3. A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam

The last three manuscripts I requested a full for:

1. An adult literary novel about “the stories that lie just beneath the surface of the people we thought we knew. You might think of it as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society meets Olive Kitteridge.”

2. A memoir, “spanning forty years and two continents” that “offers an authentic glimpse into the world of nursing.” It is a ” personal story, wrapped inside the larger story of the evolution of women, nursing, and health care since the early 1970’s.”

3. A contemporary fantasy that takes place on the Oregon Coast, where dreamers are “people who have the power to turn Dreams into reality.”

The last three movies I went to:

1. What Maisie Knew

2. Star Trek Into Darkness

3. Ironman 3

The last three deals I worked on:

1. Damien Walters Grintalis’s yet-to-be-titled collection of short speculative fiction, to Apex Publications.

2. a picture book by a debut author, which I’m waiting for signed contracts on, so I can tell you more about it

3. a YA book that I’m also waiting for signed contracts on, so I can tell you more about it

The three most frustrating things about being an agent:

1. Having patience awaiting contracts, signatures, return of emails, and decisions on acquisitions (those are all about patience)

2. Being buried under queries and full manuscripts to read

3. It’s not a particularly high paying job, financially (although pretty darn satisfying in other regards)

The last three things I watched on television:

1. Season premiere of True Blood

2. Season finale of Game of Thrones

3. Mad Men

The last three things I cooked:

1. Potato kugel (by request from my mother-in-law)

2. Gluten free and gluten-full Calzones

3. Raspberry, blueberry, strawberry sauce (to pour over frozen yogurt)

Three things I’d like to see in my inbox today:

1. “Interest” turning into “An Offer”

2. Contracts on the 3 things I’m waiting for contracts on

3. More good news about Openly Straight!

Three wishes I have for you:

1. I wish for you to carry peace in your heart.

2. I wish for you to manifest the good things you want to see in the world.

3. I wish for you to feel the warmth of the sunshine and glory in the sparkle of the stars.

Happy Monday, everybody!


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Writing Queries: Three Tools for Success

1245687934448019525Minduka_Present_Blue_Pack.svg.medHere are some things you can do to give your query its best chance at doing it’s job!

1. Start by writing an impeccably good query letter. Um, really? That’s not such helpful advice. Yes, really. Here’s how to do it: Address it to the correct person (without anything smarmy, like “Dear respected agent”); include a snazzy intro paragraph that includes genre and word count; write a clean, quick synopsis with no spoilers and which leaves some unanswered questions; make sure your bio is short, sweet, and inclusive; sign off professionally and make sure all your contact information follows your name. Yeah, well what constitues “snazzy”?

2. In your intro paragraph, have that first sentence start with a fantastic hook. What’s a hook? It’s a one to two sentence teaser or elevator pitch. Like a Tweet, you know? Minus hash tags, of course. Something that will catch an agent’s eye (but not in a weird or scary way). How do I know if I’m being weird or scary? I’m not answering that.

3. Write a great manuscript. Aw, come on! You always say that! Yes, yes I do. Because honestly, even if you write the most kick ass query letter in the world, if your manuscript isn’t great (not just good… great) it’s always going to be a pass. No matter who you query. What matters is the manuscript. So don’t send your work out until it’s complete. That means it’s been through a number of drafts. Complete doesn’t mean you finished writing the story yesterday so you’re ready to send it out into the world today. Fine. Be that way.

You’re welcome.


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