Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Miss Snark Can't Mark Your Checklist Right Now. She Suffered Carpal Tunnel Syndrome After Her Latest Crapometer.

One of Miss Snark's readers asks:

I was thinking of adding a short questionnaire to my query letter. Something along the lines of:

"Please tick any and all that apply for rejection
(I will not take any feedback as an invitation to correspond with you further, unless explicitly indicated.):
_ I don't handle this genre.
_ This has subject matter I don't deal with.
_ No plot indicated.
_ This is poorly written and needs to go through several re-writes.
_ I like it, but I can't sell it.
_The market does not buy manuscripts like this."

Should I do this? Or should I ready my passport for a certified stamp from the sovereign city-state of Nitwitville?

Miss Snark's response:

No. You and I both know you'll honor the "I promise never to follow up on this" but the agents don't. Trust me on this: we've all been on the wrong end of 'please give me some feedback' also known as "there's a reason we print up form rejection letters and it's not cause we can't type".

I never answer these things. I use form rejection language unless I want to say something nicer than "no".

I understand your thirst for assistance but that is why Dog invented Crapometers, critique groups and the Evil Editor. Miss Snark was spawned by Satan, as were all of her ilk.

Critique groups are useless. The feedback of no-talent wannabes won't improve your writing. And you can hardly expect either the Evil Editor or Miss Snark to be there when you need them or that they'll select your submission the next time they decide to do a run of critiques. Also, I wouldn't put much stock in a brief response from someone who blogs anonymously as an agent or editor.

Here's what I can't understand. Miss Snark just spent her time reading and critiquing dozens of entries in her latest Crapometer thing. But she can't be bothered to make a pen mark on a checklist? Give me a break. This really makes me wonder about her credibility.

Her rationale is that she doesn't want to invite a correspondence with a writer whose work she's rejecting. Who says she has to? Since when can't you simply throw a letter in the trash? I'm sure that there are writers who don't take a simple no or form rejection for an answer either, and they attempt to get more of an answer out of an agent.

I would think that agents would like this checklist, as it offers a fast way of giving something more specific than the usual vagueries and would actually reduce the incidence of follow-ups from writers desperate for feedback.

At least one agent, Richard Balkin, uses a postcard with a checklist. I know. I got one once.


Blogger Mark said...

I agree Peter. Warm Front in the firstchapters contest. Brief registration required to vote.

I'd appreciate your vote and don't hold your query review against you at all. That was a sorry first draft I sent by mistake while traveling. I've already made the changes suggested by the readers.

9:44 AM  

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