March 22nd, 2009

Sly: Bentley Writing

QueryFail and Happy Writing

Last week, agent Colleen Lindsay held an event called QueryFail. The concept is that agents and editors using Twitter would tweet as they went through their submission slush piles and say what caused them to reject certain queries. No names were used, especially as some of the commentary got rather snarky. But it was very interesting to see (a) what caught their attention and triggered them to toss the query and (b) what bizarre submissions they got.

As one observer said, QueryFail makes me more optimistic about my chances if that's the competition. And there is something to that. It's remarkable how many of the queries are just flat out inappropriate. Mur Lafferty on one of her recent I Should Be Writing podcasts said "this is a business, people." Agents are trying to find properties to sell that fit the market. They are not going to be your new best friend and they aren't going to represent your book just because you've labored on it for twenty years and your mom likes it. Sad but true.

Nathan Bransford, another agent, posted some great observations on his blog under the title 10 Commandments for a Happy Writer. He rocks. They're good advice and a reminder about keeping perspective about what matters.

(In case you're curious, I've submitted to and been rejected by both of these agents. They're near the top of my list.)

Below the cut, I've collected my favorite comments from the twitter feed. It's long but this is still edited down by maybe 80%. Some of the comments are hilarious (at least to writers who've done any sort of homework). Enjoy!

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