Formal vs. Informal Queries…wtf?

Blurgh…just to state what should be obvious…there are no “informal” queries. You either query or you don’t. And, anyway, I don’t get it. If you’re taking the time to “informally” query me, what does that mean? What are you trying to say? It’s like you’re saying, “I’m a little bit pregnant.” As a mom of three kids, I know for a fact thar be no “little bit” about it. It’s an either/or proposition.

Do you think an “informal” query gives you a pass so you don’t have to supply all the pertinent information I need in order to render some sort of decision?

Is this a pre-query, as in, “I’m querying you to ask you if I can query you.” Facepalm.

Or is it a case of, “I’ll give you barely enough to whet your appetite, but I won’t give it all to you in case you blow me out of the water”?

I think that’s so strange. In those cases I’ll just blow you out of the water anyway. Well, not really. I’ll politely decline to review the work. After all, my mother would ground me if I was that rude.

But can someone please explain what an “informal” query is and why anyone would partake in such silliness?

15 Responses to Formal vs. Informal Queries…wtf?

  1. Digital Dame says:

    Never heard of such a thing. Are you seeing this a lot?

  2. Ray says:

    Hey, I have a great book. Wanna hear about it? Call me.

  3. Every now and then I get a query that says something along the lines of, “I’d like to informally query you…” Huh? Why?

  4. Ray, don’t make me hurt you. However, in your case, *you* can informally query.

  5. NinjaFingers says:

    I’d still formally query you. If you would read my stuff, which I know better than to think you will ;). I do have this great urban fantasy novel…

  6. Sarah says:

    I had to laugh. Informal queries sound like they belong to that horrible breed of half-baked date invitations:

    “So… you wanna do something later? Nothing big- just think about it and give me a call…”

    (With whom? Later when? And if I’m supposed to call, why are you Facebooking me?)

    Love it.

  7. They say ‘I’d like to informally query you’ and you hear ‘I’d like to waste your time.’

    I’m guessing the informal query is a form of denial. They want to query and get a feel for how their proposal might work – and if it gets shot down, the writer can shrug it off and say ‘it wasn’t a formal query anyway, so It wasn’t really a rejection.’

    It’s maybe a bit of ‘sounding out’, like the woman you meet at a party who sells make-up products and you ask ‘is there a lot of work going in that area?’ to which she might say ‘oh, we’d love to have you on board’ or ‘oh no, it’s as tight as a fish’s bottom’.

    It’s all about putting in zero effort ‘just to test the water’.

    Or . . . heaven forbid I should suggest this . . . they are trying material out on you before they shoot for Harper Collins. Kind of like the practise boyfriend every girl has before she goes after the guy she really wants.

    Uh-oh, I’m talking about myself again . . .

  8. It could be any of those things, Ebony. The end result for me is that Mr. DipMyToesInTheWater needs to get serious because I can’t do it for him.

  9. Lauren says:

    Lynn, I cannot believe you don’t know this!


    Dear Ms.Price:

    I am writing to ask if you would be interested in seeing my 746,823-page fiction thriller romance novel. The hero, Matt Hard Abs, is slaving away at his accounting job—this being tax season, he is very busy—to help save the government, which is being threatened by a rogue planet bent on destroying the New York publishing industry. As Matt delves deeper into the NSA’s computers and a secret cave in the mountains of Georgia (battling moonshiners to do so), he discovers that the planet’s comrades-in-terror include the ugly Facebook, a evil U.S. Senator, and Betty Boobs, a blonde, 22-year-old who, seeing the first wrinkle under her right eye, will let nothing stand in her way to obtaining the ultra-secret formula for Ultimate Wrinkle Cream.

    I know this book is destined for years—no, decades—at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List so I urge you now to request the manuscript. I am fully prepared to be sent on worldwide tour as long as it includes five-star hotels, gourmet meals, chauffeurs (because getting around in foreign cities is so hard), and a daily massage to work the stress of touring out. Naturally, this won’t cost you anything but my massive royalties since the money will be pouring in.

    Oh, and don’t forget the phalanx of security I’ll need everywhere since we don’t want my adoring fans to run roughshod over me.




    Hey, Lynn baby.

    I got us the ticket to heaven! You and me are gonna make major news!

    I have this novel, and it’s, uh, fiction with a romance (gotta have that, ya know), and it’s also got lots of guns, and traps, and killings and all kinds of good stuff. The hero is named Matt Hard Abs (he’s fit case he’s the hero—get it?) and he’s slaving away in one of those stupid jobs that sucks the life right out of you. Then one day while he is working on fomr 1040 he gets a call to help save our government that is in trouble from a whole lot of people—and a rogue planet! Yes, an evil planet is threatening the New York publishing industry, and only he can save it.

    Thankfully, he has access to the NSA’s computers and a deep, deep cave (unknown to anyone else) in Georiga—well, okay, it’s known to the local moonshiners but having filled their heads with moonshine they have no idea what to do with it. Matt does though, and when he teams up with Betty Boobs (who has blonde boobs and a Chiclet smile), well, sparks are gonna fly, ya know.

    I’m telling ya that this thing—we might need to pump it up as it’s only 746,823 words but I know you can do that for me since you’re the editor and you have to do something to earn your keep—is gonna hit the New York Times list and stay there. I can see it now. Me, it’ll be all about me. And you. Don’t worry, I will be sure to mention you when flashblubs are popping in my face and I am being fetted (vetted? Whatever) by the locals fans who adore me. So, you gonna pay for all that right? But don’t use my royalties! I’m gonna have my lawyer watch you. Can’t trust them publishers; they’ll take it all if they can.

    So, you want me to send ya the manscript today?



  10. Bwahahaha! Either way, I MUST have this story – all 746,823 words of it. Send today by carrier pigeon.

  11. Scott says:

    In college, I won’t say how long ago, I took an informal approach to writing essays, after years of doing the formal, boring, OMG, I’m going to go insane if I have to write another formal essay, thing. The language was informal and, my grades improved . . . except for the one professor who said my essay was too casual. Go figure.

    So perhaps, the person meant that an informal query shows a bit of wit, a bit of snark, a bit of something about who the author is – not that any one might care – versus a dry, formal query with just the facts, nothing but the facts.

    Okay, that’s probably not what they meant.

  12. Alas, this gent’s idea of informal was to exclude any pertinent information about his story. This was informal, as in, “Hey, whaddya think? Wanna see it? ‘Cos if ya do, I’ll send, like, something more formal.”

    By this time, I’m dozing in my Cheerios. How do I know if I wanna see it if I don’t know what it is? It’s not a good idea to send a query to query.

  13. Lauren says:

    Thanks to the beagle the carrier pigeon is not feeling up to flying this morning. But when she recovers I’ll send it right over!

  14. Lauren, oh wow, I love your work!
    Does your carrier pigeon deliver to Australia??????


  15. Immer die neuesten und besten Bücher im Überblick…

    […]Formal vs. Informal Queries…wtf? « Behler Blog[…]…

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