Monday, January 9, 2006

Queries: How (Not) to Find a Publisher

Between email and snail-mail, I get a lot of queries. No, really; I get a LOT of queries. Sometimes, the queries themselves are fine, but I reject them because I'm simply not interested in the work described. In other cases, however, I reject queries because they have annoyed me in some way -- and those are the queries I want to discuss today.

Before going into details, I would like to point out something that I suspect a few inexperienced authors have not considered: an author/editor relationship is a business relationship, but it is still a relationship. Why would I want a relationship, business or otherwise, with somebody who pisses me off?

I have two secrets to share with those who think their work is of such staggering genius that this stuff doesn't matter:
  • You're probably not as talented as you think you are (no matter what your fifth grade teacher said).

  • I don't care how talented you are; if I don't like you, then I don't want to work with you.

Now that I have that out of the way, here's the rest of what you need to know to kill your chances quickly.
  • Attach a BIG file to your query, preferably your entire manuscript.

  • Don't bother to check the publisher's submission guidelines. Better yet, send that query (with the attached 700 page PDF of your Civil War saga) to every publisher on the planet. And you might as well save some work and send them to all those publishers at the same time; in a distribution list. It's so good, that'll start a bidding war, right?

  • Instead of sending a query, send an email with a link to Amazon for your self-published book. Editors will be happy to purchase a copy just for the sheer opportunity of reading it. And if they don't offer to publish it, then you'll still have made some money.

  • If an editor rejects your query, send it back. And back. And back. And if the editor continues to reject that query, then -- Quick! -- Think of another one and send that one too.

That pretty much covers what's been pissing me off this week, but I'm sure next week will bring a whole new batch of fun.

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