Some things really aren’t a good idea

Agents and editors have seen every kind of query letter under the sun, so not much gets past us. Like the time a woman tried convincing me she’d won a Pulitzer. Wanna guess how it took to look up and verify? It took the beagle a half hour – one minute to uncover the lie, and 29 minutes laughing.

This was not a good idea.

— Your query letter claims that you’re hugely popular in social media, yet your provided blog link shows that you only post once a month and have zero comments.

This is not a good idea.

— You state that your blog establishes your platform, yet all the blog posts discuss your query experiences – and your book is about divorce and starting over.

This is not a good idea.

— Your query letter provides a link to your blog, and I go over to take a peek and see a screen capture of MY rejection letter to you that I sent only two months ago.

This is REALLY not a good idea and I will curse you and your future children. And reject you faster than the beagle can suck down a margarita.

NOTE: Never, never, never do a screen cap of someone’s email, or quote directly from it. It’s a huge intrusion, copyright infringement, and definitely not a way to make friends and influence others. And no, it doesn’t matter if you removed my email address and contact information. It’s rude.

— You tell me that you won a PEN Award.

Like Ms. PulitzerPants, this is ridiculously easy to verify. This is not a good idea.

— You tell me that you have a contract offer from a “big” publisher, but you’re still “looking around.”

This is not a good idea. Case in point: A woman made this claim about a publisher whose editorial director I happened to know. So I asked her about it. My friend wrote back; “Never heard of her.”

— You claim that your agent is XYZ.

Unless you really do have an agent, this is not a good idea because I’ll check. And I’ll also wonder why they aren’t querying me instead of you.

— You tell me your book (previously published) sold thousands of copies.

This is not a good idea because I’ll check. To date, no one has ever been able to prove to me their book enjoyed the sales they claimed to have.

The moral of this story is you will be found out if you try to make yourself bigger and better than you are. My advice: don’t try it. Just be yourself and have faith in your writing because at the end of the day, it’s all you have.

16 Responses to Some things really aren’t a good idea

  1. NinjaFingers says:

    Hee. My blog is just…personal, although I’m hoping to get more followers to it, of course.

    But then, I write out there fiction. The only ‘platform’ I need is to write well, not make stupid science errors (I do occasionally, I have to admit) and show myself to be a reasonably intelligent and pleasant person.

  2. Madison Woods says:

    At least those queries gave you and the beagle a good laugh!

  3. Wow. I can’t believe people would lie about such easily verifiable facts. Okay, I can, but still.

  4. Actually, Madison, only the beagle laughed because she’s…well…a beagle and has a warped sense of humor. I just shook my head because this stuff is so unnecessary, and they’ll never realize that.

  5. Madison Woods says:

    I guess I would only find it funny the first few times it happened because it would get old if it happens a lot… but my sense of humor is a bit warped, too.

  6. What ever happened to integrity?

    I must say though, I never knew it was a copyright infringement to post someone’s email. I’ve never done it because it seems just rude, but I also always thought once someone posts something anywhere on the internet, even in email, it’s free game.

    Hmmm…learn something new every day. Thanks.

  7. NinjaFingers says:

    Nope. Only fair game if its posted publicly…or we wouldn’t be able to email our stories to editors without using first rights.

    (Now SOME ISPs have TOS terms that ‘claim’ first rights on anything sent over residential accounts…I don’t think it’s enforceable, but was sure to choose an ISP that did not).

  8. Donna and her dogs asked the million dollar question:
    What ever happened to integrity?

    I think it went the way of bell-bottomed pants and platform heels. In this person’s defense, she used my rejection letter as a learning tool – but it still rankled me. She took it down and apologized after I voiced my displeasure.

  9. kimkircher says:

    One thing I truly love about your blog is how you remind us to keep it real. Don’t try to be something you’re not, just be yourself. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Kim, no one keeps it “realer” than you.

  11. Lev Raphael says:

    Lynn, at least it was just an email and not a YouTube video of a dark cellar with a voodoo doll. You can fill in the blanks.

  12. Eddie says:

    Hmm, then I guess I should take out the part in my query about having a Nobel Prize, a Fields Medal and being VH1 Male Model of the Year.

  13. lorcadamon says:

    I LOVE it that your dog is apparently a closet alcoholic! LOL My dog demands cheeseburgers, but I’m NOT sharing my margarita (or it’s awesome secret recipe…hint, it calls for beer. No lie. Don’t worry, there’s still tequila in it.)

  14. To be fair, the beagle makes the margaritas most of the time, so I have to stay in her good graces.

  15. […] Bad Pick-up Lines for Snagging an Agent.  And worse ones.  Also, drunken […]

  16. Mark says:

    I must be a proper writer ‘cos I love margaritas.

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