Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the Same Vein

Here is one I sent out later that same day. You'll probably be glad to see it is at least slightly different. Or like me you'll be dismayed ... because it's jut as bad if not worse than the original.


The jury is apparently still out on this. Some agents seem to be fine with just a first name (as long as you get it right). Others, such as the late great Miss Snark (at least for blog related emails) and Mr. Bransford, prefer a slightly more formal approach. Research to at least TRY to find their preference. When in doubt go formal and make SURE you spell it correctly.

I am writing to you seeking representation for my young-adult fantasy-adventure novel which has the working title, Warrior-Monks, which is complete at approximately 475,000 words. The sequel, which is untitled, currently exists only in outline form. I am enclosing a synopsis but will not include any sample chapters because the REDACTED Agency website does not clearly state that writing samples will be accepted. I will say though, that this story really has to be read to be appreciated as the synopsis included here simply does not do it justice.

I won't rehash points already made, but every sentence in this paragraph sucks. It's great to follow the agency's submission guidelines who you are writing to, but like the great rule of writing SHOW them you read and followed the guidelines, don't TELL them.

I love Eastern Cultures and art forms – Martial Arts, Calligraphy, Japanese Swords, Tea Ceremony etcetera and all the tradition and high level of art that go into them. I also love magic and fantasy and eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Warrior-Monks incorporates all of these themes in a fantastic way which has never been done in young adult fantasy to my knowledge.

I really do love these things, and they're actually really cool. The way they are described and occur in the book is great, fun, colorful even. The way they are written about here reads like a personal ad. Blah, blah ... a sort of damp farting sound made by blowing against your lips until they vibrate ... moistly. Yuck.

Lee is a troubled young man from a broken family. After being expelled from boarding school and having experienced several brushes with the law, his adopted parents, who also happen to be his cruel aunt and uncle, decide to ship him off to a strange and distant reform school which is in the remote wilderness in the panhandle of Northern Idaho. He becomes a member of a group of 12 other students who arrived at the school at the same time as him. They are all very afraid and apprehensive about what will be going on at the school but they are soon pleased to discover that it is not nearly as bad as they had feared. After working in the Wood-Corral for several months they begin taking classes like Aikido, Kenjutsu, Calligraphy and Meditation. It is some time before they discover that through meditation they can imbue their calligraphic scrolls with ancient magic. The book consists of many themes such as the beauty of nature, the life-energy that exists in everything and the awkward struggles that teenagers go through as they grow into themselves and become adults. Lee’s coming of age and struggling with the loss of his mother and the breaking of his family form the core of this introspective but also character driven tale.

This starts okay, certainly better then the previous queries. But still not good. The prose is slightly descriptive, not quite as boring as a technical manual. Then it takes a swan dive in the last couple sentences. SHOW don't TELL.

I have never been published but I am confident 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 to write to me at home at:


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


Matthew M. Rush

Her reply:

May 8, 2009

Dear Author:

Thank you so much for sending the REDACTED Literary Agency your query. We’d like to apologize for the impersonal nature of this standard rejection letter. Rest assured that we do read every query letter carefully and, unfortunately, this project is not right for us. Because this business is so subjective and opinions vary widely, we recommend that you pursue other agents. After all, it just takes one "yes" to find the right match.

Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.



Quick but form rejection. Really truly kind and encouraging though. Doesn't mean a lot since it is probably exactly the same as thousands of others they send out but I still think it is a nice gesture. This particular agent also happens to have a great blog with lots of good advice. If you happen to figure out who she is, query her, she knows her stuff, but please don't get mad on my behalf because her rejection was very gentle and certainly a necessary step in the whole process for me.

So, slight improvement perhaps, but still a lot of room for improvement. I will continue to try to post everyday but sometimes it's just not possible. Please let me, and others, know what you think.

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