Query Letters: “Hello, Dr. Freud?”

This goes in the Insane Stuff That Sometimes Fills My Day file:

I received a puzzling query letter yesterday that left me scratching my head. I’m not sure if the author was A) Serious, B) Mocking, or C) Attempting to be clever

I’ll let you be the judge:

Dear Ms. Benevolent and Kindly Editor:

Are you finished boasting about yourself? Now, it is my turn.

Some answers:
(1)  About 75,000 words.
(2)  I don’t make pitches. Just throw the flickendoodle letter away if you are too great to peek at what I wrote. I’ll survive.

(3)  I wrote the book to become famous, to get accolades and to make money.
(4)  The audience I am after is the world.
(5)  The book’s unique quality is that it is about me. I am large and cannot be contained.

(6)  You want “a smattering about” me? This is bul- sh-t. [Fill in the blanks, if you can.] But, hell, if it is only a smattering that you want, I’ll oblige. I’m an old fashioned tough guy who rose up from the streets of [redacted] to become a pretty well known [redacted]. The fact that I spent my life as an [redacted] does NOT mean I can’t write. Nowadays, (since I retired), I write and edit two blogs that are viewed by a few thousand people. Take a peek, if you must: [redacted].
(7)  I expect to be dead before I have time for another book. So much for my future plans.

See what I mean? It’s obvious the author read our submission guidelines and even went so far as to read our sample query letter (as evidenced from the salutation), so why, after all that, would the author choose this particular style of communication? Makes me wonder if Sigmund shouldn’t be taking notes on this author, with his counterculture, anti-query query…

Sig (adjusting glasses and posing pen over notepad): “Ja, ja, vere you dropped on your head as a child? Or vere you raised by volves?”

I would have passed this off as someone who’s a sandwich shy of a picnic, but he included his websites…all quite legit It’s a bit unsettling that anyone would expose themselves in such a manner and expect to be regarded with any modicum of respect…but we do see them. Every editor and agent does. This is just one of the more oddball of the bunch. Sadly, this gent’s name will be forever etched in my cerebral hard drive as one to be given a wide berth.

But what I really don’t get is; why bother? Surely he can’t have expected to be taken seriously after insulting me. The logic eludes me. He had to actually sit down, research, write the un-query letter and hit the Send button. At some point, there must have been some thoughts that rambled around his brain, like, “Gee, you really want to be published, so is this the most appropriate way to appeal to an editor?” or was his intent to simply irritate and insult? Either way, I’m an editor, and I have kids, so he has stiff competition.

The idea that anyone would waste an opportunity is tantamount to shooting one’s own foot with an Uzi. For the record, I simply hit the Delete button, so Mr. GrouchyPants accomplished little, other than to put a name and face to brain-addled.

11 Responses to Query Letters: “Hello, Dr. Freud?”

  1. What a twat! Mind boggling!

  2. stephanieberget says:

    If he was trying to be funny, he missed.

  3. Strange and a bit terrifying that he thought it was a great way to attract your attention. Must share this!

  4. So I have to share what one of my goofier authors wrote:

    Dear Mr. Behler:

    You think you’ve read good books before but NOT SO MUCH as good as my books are real good and FUNNY and SCARY and NICE. I have a novell for you (500 pages at least) and doesn’t everyone luv a good storey that makes them feel HAPPY and SMART? I’m not famous. Okay, not YET I’m not, ROFLMAO. My book is about vampires but it’s kinda like Cocoon where the old people get younger again, haha and there’s zombies and stuff. If you don’t do fiction right now Mr. Behler I can make it non-fiction, just tell me and I’ll do it. And I can put CRAZY SEX in too because you ladies like that shades of grey crap, hehe. Spank a zombie? WHY NOT LOL?

    The big asswipe publishers don’t want my book so I thought I’d give you a chance to get rich and bwahhhaaahaaaaaaaa they’ll be so sorry, y’know? Jerks dunno a good thing when they see it. They’ll come back to me, sure, as soon as they know how good this is going be. Ha. Buttheads rule and then drool. I’m super hot and not fat or old or pimply so I just no I’ll look great on a cover. I can send pics if you want, or my video, LOL. People will buy my book ‘cuz I look so good. Just see. I even have Facebook and can do more stuff if you help me.

    My dad loves my storeys and my mom does too; even my kids say they’re okay, and kids don’t like anything that’s not videogames or twilight LOL. If they believe in ME you HAVE TO as well. Someone told me I should pubulish this myself but I said NO I don’t HAVE the money for that. They said I’d make MORE money if I did it myself and I said that’s “GREAT” but I don’t have the money RIGHT NOW!!!!!

    Anyway Mr. Behler I’d like to let you have the PERFECT chance to BE RICH and famous and cool LIKE me and all you haveto do is just buy my book . Ten thousand and its all yours. You ROCK; just look in the mirror and you know it. We are great together and we’ll be like JK Rolling.

    I can send it to you RIGHT NOW if you just let me no.

    S. Purious Pitch*
    I will now laugh myself through this whole day.

  5. Lauren says:

    I don’t know, Lynn. Is it insulting? Yes. But I also think he might have been trying to match your snarkiness. And, I suspect, he is pretty sick of query letters. (Who isn’t?) I personally would probably have requested the manuscript because if nothing else it shows this is an author with a *personality* (that with a little fine-tuning just might work in marketing), someone who does read your blog and takes it to heart, someone with a way with words (assuming the blogs were interesting), and maybe, just maybe, worth a read.

    So I guess I am alone in my feeling but I really do think you might have missed an opportunity.

  6. You could be right, Lauren, and I did consider the fact that he may have been going for the snark factor. And of course, any author is sick to death of query letters, but how smart is it to fill a query letter with this kind of bilge and expect to get a favorable reaction? It’s a risk I would never take if I was looking to be published.

    And sure, I may be missing a good thing, but publishing is a whole lot more than just the book – it’s about character; it’s about relationships between editor and author. If someone is willing to write such nonsense before he even knows me, then why on earth would I want to work with him?

  7. markos says:

    Lauren, if someone is sick of query letters, they can self-publish. It’s not an excuse to be rude or to waste the time of a busy professional.

    And I don’t think having a “personality” is such a big asset for a writer; I read two author blogs, because I like their snark, but I don’t buy their books, since I don’t like their writing in one case and am not interested in the genre in the other.

    In any case, “just might work in marketing” is a long shot. It is much more likely that the guy will come off as an entitled jerk.

  8. This really made me laugh! especially that letter from Lynn Price. Thanks for sharing!

  9. D. D. Syrdal says:

    Oy. I think he’s as in love with himself as the letter makes him sound. I’ve worked with those types, they really do think the sun rises and sets on them, and just don’t understand why the rest of the world can’t see it. This is beyond snark, it’s just nasty.

  10. Wasted? Well, I see conspiracies in everything… and you did write a post based on what was sent to you… Hmmm… maybe sometimes delete doesn’t necessarily mean delete. Jus’ sayin’.

  11. tbrosz says:

    Another possible explanation:

    One of the Great Rules of Life is never to let your ex-girlfriend anywhere near your computer until you’ve changed the password.

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