Given that I’m still suffering from Query Block, I decided to try something a little different today.
Like I’ve done dozens of times, I visited one of the most awesome query-writing resources out there, Query Shark. Only this time, I wasn’t looking for formulas or tips or anything. This time, I just wanted to sample a few mixed entries–both those whose many failures had been pointed out by The Shark, and those which had earned her stamp of approval.
Now, I didn’t do this to argue The Shark’s pointers or tips, or to make myself feel better about my current inability to revamp my own ineffectual query. No, no. I just wanted to imagine for a moment what it would be like to be an agent myself and get a couple hundred of these mixed queries in my inbox every day. I wanted to see where I would stop reading and why.
If I had been an agent receiving these queries–even the good ones, I probably would have only asked for pages for about three or five from a sampling of a few dozen. Let me tell you why:
For me, other than skipping the queries with glaring spelling mistakes and/or brutally dreadful prose, I didn’t care much for whether the query was considered to be “good” or not so much. Basically, I just found myself just gravitating towards the stories I actually wanted to read, informed by nothing other than the fact that I’ve been a voracious reader since I learned by ABCs.
Interestingly, many of the “queries that worked” wouldn’t have worked for me, personally. Not because I disagree with The Shark’s assessments–this wasn’t an exercise on analyzing form and content. It was a genuine “what would happen if I received all these in my inbox today?” experiment (morbid as that may sound).
While the quality of the good queries almost invariably prevented me from just stopping reading and moving on to the next one, that didn’t mean I liked what I read enough to request imaginary pages. And having dozens of those puppies to get through, I was sure as heck not going to write a personal response to everyone. But at the end of the day, personal taste did rule above everything else when it came to imagining myself requesting pages for x, y, or z manuscript.
So, I get it, agents: There’s a reason why you do the things you do. Sometimes, “not for me” isn’t actually code for “you suck.” (Although, sometimes, I’m sure it is). Sometimes, “not for me” simply means “not for me.”
Thus endeth today’s little bout of procrastination… erhm… experiment. Let’s see what else I manage to cook up to avoid rewriting this sonofagun letter of mine…