Why I’m not going to request your Vietnam-era Sex Memoir

July 12th, 2010 • Kate

pile_of_mail.jpgI will freely admit that I’m currently behind on my query reading. Instead of that two-week window I aim to respond within, I’m somewhere near the four week mark, and horribly embarrassed about it. So I’m trying to get caught up as quickly as possible, and that means long days of plowing through query after query, responding personally to every single one I receive — unless you sent an attachment, which means your query never came to me and went into spam instead, or you sent it multiple times and I already responded once. Within that ever-growing pile of queries, I often find hordes of letters about manuscripts that are patently and obviously inappropriate for me. I think I’m pretty clear on my own website about the genres I represent, and whenever I’m asked by another site or query service, I always say the same thing:

We are looking for:

  • brilliant, funny, original middle grade and young adult fiction, both literary and commercial
  • witty women’s fiction
  • pop-culture narrative nonfiction.

That’s it. That’s everything. But every high-tech thriller, epic adult fantasy, or Vietnam-era sex memoir still gets a personalized rejection, and honestly, it’s beginning to drive me up a wall. I contemplated a query service or web form I can put on my website that would ask queriers to select from a drop-down menu of my listed genres, and if their books doesn’t fit, they can’t submit to me. But I KNOW people would just select something else and submit anyway, and in the meantime, I’ve made it more difficult for those of you who can and do follow directions.

I don’t want to make it more difficult for great writers who write in the genres I’ve chosen to represent to send me a query. I WANT to hear from you guys!

I don’t know if I’ve found the best answer, but for now, I think I’ve found *an* answer, at least. I’ve adjusted my form rejection letter to specifically include “I don’t represent this genre” for those queries that are entirely off base, and those won’t be personalized — they will just say “Dear Writer” and “regarding your book”. I hope this will give me more time to spend on those queries that get it right.

Oh, and since it also seems to need to be said, I don’t personally respond to anyone who asks for reasons WHY I rejected your query. I do give my reasons when I decline a partial or a full, but I can’t for queries. Anyone who asks will just see their email go unanswered. The ONLY queries I personally comment on are my weekly About My Query posts, and you can get more information about those here. That post is also permanently hotlinked on the main Daphne page.

So that’s my little rant for the day. Now back into the query pile!

Filed Under: Slushpile

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6 Responses to “Why I’m not going to request your Vietnam-era Sex Memoir”

  1. Mommyk8 Says:

    As a writer, I carefully study Writer's Digest, agent's websites, etc. before submitting anything. It drives me nuts that other folks are taking up time with completely inappropriate queries because it takes the time and focus away from editors and agents from those of us that actually make an effort to select the best audience for our work. I think it's more than generous to send a form e-mail in return.

  2. Rissa Watkins Says:

    I get annoyed having to repeat myself to my six-year-old son over and over- I think I would snap if I was an agent.

    Very happy to hear you aren't going to one of those form services. Some of them make writers fill out a lot of extra info most agents don't care about.

    And don't feel too embarrassed about being behind. A lot of agents are after all the conferences the last few months. 4 weeks is still a pretty good turnaround time.

    Oh and Vietnam-era Sex Memoir? ick

  3. CFD Trade Says:

    LOL! Ok, ok I get it. Will Greek-sex era memoir do? 😀 On the part of writers, maybe the reason why sending to the incorrect agent is a long shot of "Maybe they would rather read something that they don't represent rather than miss out on something great."

  4. FranYVeal Says:

    So, does the book have to be funny AND quirky? What about quirky, somewhat brooding, with a bit of funny? Just curious

  5. Megan Says:

    I really love this heading.

    Just saying.

    Also, you'd think it would be simple to read some simple instructions, but guess not.

    It makes you think if you'd want to work with that person anyway if they can't follow instructions!

  6. Diana Peterfreund Blog | Don’t Take Yourself Out of the Game Says:

    […] the best part! You can submit it to both places! You might be scared, because you’ve read agent blogs where they complain about having completely inappropriate work submitted to them (Vietna…) — but your situation doesn’t apply. In good faith you are submitting to a YA agent a […]