Thursday, March 4, 2010

Querying faux pas

Oh my goodness. Hold on to your seats because I am posting two days in a row and the world might end! It is really sad that it takes a group blog thing to get me to post. But today I am posting in conjunction with Old People Writing For Teens, a totally awesome, amazing group blog - yes, I am a blogger there and a shameless pimp for my friends ;)

For those of you who have entered query land, think about the biggest screw-up you've made. Perhaps it was addressing the query to the wrong agent. Or maybe, like me, not following directions correctly. I can just hear that agent now, "Silly woman, if she can't follow directions, then how can I work with her?" Ugh, sounds like my grade-school report cards. Or perhaps you called the agency and demanded to know why they rejected you. Another possibility is not including word count or the title of your manuscript.

All of these things are very easy to do - well probably not the calling the agency and demanding anything - that might border on mashugahniss, not simply a faux pas, but I'll move on from those people. I would be willing to bet that I made one of the biggest mistakes out there with my first query attempt. Now, I have only queried two manuscripts. The first is where the mistake was made and the second I've only sent out a few queries and have decided to switch my first two chapters, since I netted only rejections.

So, now you're really wondering what I did that was so bad on that first manuscript. I won't tell you just yet, but I will say that my first query letter sucked. Majorly. Embarrassingly so. Once it got changed and really sounded good I sent it out with my first chapter. And that is where I made the biggest mistake of all. A mistake that just about anyone knows not to do. Most agents blog about it, some even tweet about it. What was it? My ENTIRE first chapter had my MC waking up from a loooong sleep. Yep. That's it. Something seemingly totally minor, but completely major. Finally, one agent let me know that she would not read on after the whole, "I awakened from a deep and dreamless sleep and looked into the soulful brown eyes of my father." Eeeek! Wouldn't read on. Wouldn't even give it a chance. Not that I blame her. Not at all. I wouldn't read on either.

After I hit myself upside the head a few times with a frying pan and then threw a few pots -- and after talking with two betas -- my first chapter got totally cut. Of course, I decided to take their advice and switch it from third to first also, so it is pleasantly trunked for the time being. But writing goes on because we are all artists (shameless plug from yesterday's blog post.)

So, here's the fun part. Go here and see the other posts on this topic. Put your own faux pas, or as I like to call it - screw-up (um, I actually use a different word there but need to appear a good role model, why, I don't know), in the comments or blog on your own and put your link in so we can all read it. But make sure if you link, you do it here because so many more people read that blog than my own. And hey, if you want follow me, I love followers, not that I blog much, and I am kinda random. Okay, really random and I ramble but I so love followers and will be doing some great book giveaways soon.

The biggest advice I want to leave you with is this: don't beat yourself up if you made a mistake here or there. We can only live for today and learn from our mistakes. When the right agent is there, it will all fall into place. Mistakes happen to all of us.


  1. Ah, don't feel bad. In one of my early, early drafts of TG, I had directly after my preface a scene where the character wakes up.

    Great minds think alike or screw up alike, huh? LOL

  2. ha! I haven't had a first chapter like that...BUT my very first completed mani that I sent for a ride on the query train had a very detailed first chapter, and I mean VERY detailed. I had not one but TWO agents come back to me with "this was good, but you have 'turn right, turn left' syndrome. cut out all those details!" I laugh at myself now, but it was a tragedy! lol

  3. Yes, Krista - we do have great minds!!

    Awesome that you got feedback, Karla, so many don't and have no idea what's wrong.

  4. Hey, I'm with you--I had no idea the waking up in the first chapter thing was a big no-no until I joined AW. I guess it's part of the learning curve... ;)

  5. DUDE! Sometimes dream sequences kick ass, and who knows in about three or four years from now--when it's not a no, no--agents may suggest for us to start a MS off that way. Who knows. It could happen, right, considering how this industry seems to constantly change. :)

  6. Haha I agree with Annie. In a few years it's gonna be a total trend. :P

  7. What if it isn't a dream? My MC has died and wakes up in another world. Now wondering if I need to change the first chapter completely...


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