Contact information: don’t include it. Make me guess. It’s so much more fun that way.
Email address: Make sure that it’s so sugary adorable that I’ll go into a diabetic coma. It makes you stand out from all those other boring authors who create a special, professional email address to use for their queries.
Addys like email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com all make me smile, just like when I have a vise wrapped around my cranium. See, all of them make me wonder which one is the author; Curtis or Amy? Ben or Jerry? Which Jensen has been bitten by the literary bug? Sure, I can scroll down to the bottom of the query letter but remember, I’m a snob and hate to be put out [tongue, meet cheek].
Word count: Be sure to leave it out. Make me ask. It’s so much more fun to establish a rapport, don’t you think?
Percent complete: Don’t tell me whether your work is completed or not. Why would I care whether you have one page, a thousand pages, or a really, really good idea?
Genre: Leave it out. Who cares, right? Fiction/nonfiction…YA/thriller. Make me guess. It brings new meaning to my dreary day. The beagle will thank you for it. Really.
Salutation: Address me as Mr. Behler, Ms. Behler, or my personal favorite – “Hey Dumbass!” There are days when I wake up feeling like a dumbass, and I salute your psychic abilities. As a special gift to those who use the Behler moniker; the name comes from one of my main characters of my novel – it’s an honorary thing because of all the amazing things that happened because I wrote that book. It’s a long story and one day, I may tell it here. It’s pretty bloody in parts, so I’ll need a full pitcher of margaritas first. And a Jack Daniel’s chaser. And an IV unit filled with black coffee and vicodin.
Plot: Hey, I don’t need no steekin’ plot. Just give me the barest essentials. Trying to figure out your plot could be like playing darts. Will I guess right or not, and hit the bull’s eye? I like darts. I once sailed a dart past the dartboard and straight into my favorite picture of Antonio Banderas. That gorgeous hunk of mansteak now has three nostrils, but who’s counting? It’s Antonio…
Exploding word count: Who cares if your baby sports a 789,000 word count? Every one of those words are vital, and not one of them can possibly be cut. We’re happy to publish a book that’s 1,000 pages long and sells for $12. No problem.
What’s that you say, Mr. Bean Counter? We can’t price a book that big for that small a price? Geez, what’s your boggle? You sit on a dart or something? Oh, you did?…one of my darts?
Even though I rejected you, insist on sending me a chapter: Oh, I do love this. It’s kind of like the guest who wouldn’t go home even though you yawned your way through his dissertation about how to shave a cricket’s legs. They lack the DNA strand that picks up on non-verbal cues.
Now in your case, you have been given a very verbal cue: “No thanks.” But come on, rejections are for tourists, and you’re no tourist, are you? You’re made of much tougher stuff than that. And doggone it, the editor should be made of heartier fare as well.
Ask…no…insist on sending that chappie to the editor. It will more than make up for what your query letter lacked. And besides, editors should be forced to read more than a query letter, right? All they do is sit around and drink margaritas all day…
Manuscript Formatting: Why bother formatting your manuscript to editors’ specs? After all, it’s your story, so those lousy editors better darn well get used to seeing manuscripts however you want to submit it. The same can be said for spelling and punctuation errors. Isn’t that why they call it “editing”? Heck, standards are for pussies. And you’re no pussy!
Copyright: Tell me that the chapters you included with your query letter [yes, the chapters I didn't request] are copyrighted and pleeeease do not share them with anyone. And don’t even think of copying them in any manner ’cause, y’know, that’s, like, copyright infringement.
Whew. Thank GOD you told me because there is no way I could have possibly known this. Man, I would copied, distributed, and hey, probably altered your work and put it up in every bathroom stall from here to Barstow along with the usual, “for a good time, call 555-I Am A Dummy.”
And if it comes to the point where I want to sign the manuscript, I’ll just tell my submissions committee, “sorry, tough luck, dudes and dudettes, I can’t show you this. But it’s awesome. No, really.”
In closing, yes, yes, all of these things make my day – just like Dirty Harry. They solidify my conviction that there is a populace brave enough to waggle their middle finger in the face of conformity and decorum. Be different, I say! Be unique!
To which I would yank my tongue out of my cheek and respond, “you feeling lucky, punk? Well…are you?”