Monday, April 5, 2010

Auto-Reply

Today's post will be simple because I need the time to work on my guest post for Justine's blog that she will be putting up tomorrow. It will be just another query and what passed for a rejection. No time for much commentary.

May 14th, 2009

Dear REDACTED,

I am writing to you seeking representation for my young adult novel, which has the working title WARRIOR-MONKS and is complete. Warrior-Monks is intended for young adult readers ages 13-17, who are buying books in droves these days, but I am certain that once you read the manuscript you will find that it is also mature enough and compelling enough to enthrall even the most discerning adult reader. I am including a sample of the introduction/prologue chapter because that is what your website suggests.

The book is about a young man named Lee, who is from a broken family and who eventually ends up being sent to a unique reform school in Northern Idaho after he is expelled from a normal boarding school and kicked out of his aunt and uncle's home. He is very worried about what will go on at this school but eventually discovers that he enjoys the curriculum. They teach him things like Aikido, Meditation and Calligraphy and take him and several other students camping and backpacking in the mountains in Montana as he grows and puts his self-conscious and shy tendencies behind him. It is an introspective and character driven novel in which the plot is not necessarily the focus but still has enough interesting occurrences to move the tale along as the reader comes to know and love the characters.

I have never been published but I am confident that many authors like Christopher Paolini and Brunonia Barry have proved that you do not have to be a highly experienced or best-selling author to write an incredibly entertaining book.

Please feel free to reply to this email, or to call me on my mobile phone at any time at 206-555-1212, or even to write to me at home at:

ADDRESS

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Matthew M. Rush

FIRST FIVE PAGES

Her Reply:

Thank you for your query. Unfortunately, I am unable to respond to all queries that I receive. Therefore, my policy is that I will respond within six weeks, only if interested. In the meantime, thanks again for offering me the opportunity to consider your work.

I don't remember for sure, but I think I received this response right away, like an auto-reply. I never heard from her again.

Not surprising. This query IS better than some of the earlier ones but certainly still is not good enough. As you can see I left the word count out. This is not wise. Yes it might mean that I don't get quickly rejected by an agent's assistant after reading only the first sentence but it does not mean I will get offered representation. An agent is still going to eventually read your entire MS before offering to represent you. It's disingenuous and tricky to leave the word count out.

I guess I thought it was a good idea at the time because I was getting so much rejection (and because of that one angry response; see: First the Worst). It wasn't.

19 comments:

Jen said...

Well at least you were gradually getting better throughout the process!!! Thanks for showing us yet another rejection... to show that life isn't always a piece of cake!!

Yay for the guest post on Justine's Blog!!!

JustineDell said...

Yes, getting better!! And I'm sure the new one you've been working on will be the bomb!

~JD

I still love this part "are buying books in droves these days" ;-)

Matthew Rush said...

Thanks Jen, agreed.

Thanks Justine, I was tempted to edit it out after we discussed it last week ... but I do believe honesty is the best policy (usually).

T.D. Newton said...

Hi Matthew, thanks for the comment. I'm following you now, and this looks like an adventure of a blog.

angfla said...

Matthew, if you feel like your query still isn't as strong as it could be have you considered going to absolute write or Nathan Bransford's forums or submitting it to Query Shark for some new eyes to take a look at it and tell you how to make it better? I went with a professional editing company for help on doing mine and it only cost me a total of $25. I've had a lot of rejections but I also got one request for a full off of it, so it might be worth investing a bit of money to get the query as strong as possible. Good luck!

Slamdunk said...

I like your content. It is helpful to learn from another's experience, and if you get to laugh as well that is icing.

Matthew Rush said...

Angfla, thanks so much for your suggestions, I appreciate your desire to help.

I actually have a new query that got a lot of help from both Ask Daphne! About My Query, and the forums at Nathan's blog. I'm not currently querying the novel though because I've learned that the MS is too long and I am editing it for length.

The idea behind this blog was to share a bunch of horrible old queries from last year that I've learned a lot since but I thought would possibly help others avoid the same mistakes.

Now there will also be guest bloggers each Friday sharing their succesful queries, so please continue to come back!

Thanks Slamdunk for stopping by as well.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Looking forward to your guest spot on Justine's blog tomorrow!!

Matthew Rush said...

Thanks Nicole, it should be pretty good, or at least spark an interesting discussion! Right Justine?

Lisa and Laura said...

I think this is a good start, but you may consider editing the paragraph with the plot details. Whenever we write a query, I always imagine a movie preview. In a preview, they don't say, "The movie is about..." but rather, "Lee is all out of last chances. His parents don't want him, his aunt and uncle have kicked him out, even his boarding school slammed the door in his face," or something like that. Don't be afraid to integrate your unique voice. In fact, this is what will grab an agents' attention. Not sure if this helps, but it definitely did for us!

Sheri Larsen said...

Wow, Matthew. Had to come make a comment with a title like The Quintessential Questionable Query Experience. Cool. Caught you over on Candyland's blog and on Lisa & Laura's blog. Nice to meet you.
S~

Matthew Rush said...

Thanks Lisa and Laura, I really appreciate you guys stopping by.

Maybe I should make another welcome post with the current query? I love all the advice and people's willingness to help out is amazing, but it seems like I'm confusing people.

The query in today's post is not my current query. It is a shoddy old one I sent out last year before I had even an inkling of a clue as to what I was doing. Not that I know much now either ... just a little bit more than I did then.

Otherwise great advice ladies, thanks again!

And hi to you too Sheri, nice to meet ya. I'll come check out your blog if you've got one.

Shelley Sly said...

Thanks again for sharing another query. Have I said before how much I admire you for sharing this with the blogging community? Not so we can say, "Oh, look what Matthew did," but because quite a number of us have been through query hell, except not everyone is open enough about it (myself included.) So thank you! Following along as always.

Matthew Rush said...

Thanks Shelley, it is a little embarrassing sometimes, and I definitely have had a few head scratching moments, but I have learned a lot from this process and am not afraid to admit that I was completely ignorant about the publishing industry in the beginning.

I just figured if I could muster the courage to share my mistakes with the community I might help someone avoid some of the foolishness of my experiences. I'm glad you appreciate it.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Query writing is so frustrating. I've had a lot of head in hands moments. But I've learnt a lot from my fellow writers and bloggers. Thanks for putting yourself out there like this :)

Joanne Brothwell said...

Matthew, great idea for a blog - I'm totally coming back to follow.

Queries are so difficult, I think I have about ten different ones I have written and I'm still not satisfied. I've had five rejections, after which I tucked my tail between my legs and decided to go back to the drawing board.

Will you have a link to where you're guest blogging?

beth said...

One of the keys to writing queries--like all writing--is practice. You'll get better as you continue working on them, I know!

SAMUEL PARK said...

It'd be cool to see the old query and the new one side by side, and have you discuss what changes you made and why--I myself was very curious to hear about the progress. Although I can see that you may not want to have your current query posted on your blog (although if an agent happened to chance upon your blog--or an agent's assistant--they might be intrigued?)--

Matthew Rush said...

Samuel, that's a pretty good idea. Not sure how I could put them side by side but maybe above and below?

I'll look into it.

And yes Joanne, there will be a link in this morning's post.