if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

A live-blog before I leave

So today is my last day in the office before my big trip, and I’ve got a hefty (in bytes) pile of queries to try to get through. In hopes that having to check in with this live blog on each one will keep me plowing through them, here’s another edition of live-blogging my queries. Starting….


1. Close to the type of nonfiction I like, but I don’t get the sense from the cover letter that the writing is humorous enough for me.
2. A combo morality-and-plot-driven series for adults, that I can’t imagine where it might fit on a publisher’s list, or in a bookstore.
3. Urban fantasy for adults that has an intriguing concept, but I didn’t connect with the plot.
4. Good writing, but I wasn’t engaged by the characters. But I wouldn’t mind seeing more from the writer, and I said as much in my response.
5. Quest-based fantasy doesn’t sit well with me.

6. More high fantasy, this time for adults. Not for me.
7. YA novel of werewolves and vampires at war, with the heroine the only one who can end it. Nothing I haven’t seen before countless times.
8. Novel that feels translated, and too young. Not that there’s anything wrong with a translated novel, when it’s done well, but this is very rough.
9. Interesting idea, but I didn’t believe it was well executed. Folks, remember to check your letters for typos and other mistakes, such as “TITLE is a 76,000 word novel called TITLE”.
10. Argh! The same query sent FIVE times within two weeks. Amazingly, I already have a set response to this. It goes something like this: “I can no longer take time from authors who do track their queries to respond repeatedly to those that don’t.” This author’s email address goes on my spam list.

11. Adult literary fiction, with a thriller aspect — in either case, not my genres.
12. YA fiction with interesting bits, but just didn’t connect with me personally.
13. Another YA novel, but this felt a little too serious for me. Again, just a matter of my personal taste.
14. I’m seeing a lot of women’s fiction with a wife/mother who has a perfect life until it all goes wrong. This one doesn’t stand out for me from the pack.
15. The literary equivalent of a raunchy sex comedy movie — with heart. Not for me.

16. YA thriller that might appeal if the writing were stronger. Unfortunately, not for me.
17. A plethora of examples of what not to do, including attachments. But mostly just the wrong genre.
18. Cliche-filled YA “fiction novel.” Not to continue to harp on that phrase, but in writing, when each word you chose should be the perfect one to convey your meaning, not knowing that you’re being repetitive in adding “fiction” to the already appropriate noun “novel” speaks to a level of ability that I’m not sure will be successful in this difficult market.
19. A repeated query, but this time, the author clearly states that it is a repeat, and that he did not get a response to his earlier email. I resend my original reply.
20. Not a huge fan of the novel told only in dialogue. I think you cheat yourself out of some quality description.

21. Trying to hide your novel’s twist by spelling a character’s name backwards doesn’t speak too well of your sense of the intelligence of your readers. Or the character’s.
22. I can’t overemphasize the importance of creating characters I want to know more about from the very first page. In reading this sample, I just wasn’t draw in enough to want to read more.
23. A request! Paranormal women’s fiction with a time constraint. An interesting concept that makes me want to see more.
24. See above #14.
25. A checklist of chick lit cliches — which works for some, but doesn’t help this manuscript stand out for me.

26. Too cutesy for me.
27. A travel memoir, a genre I love to read. I’m requesting the manuscript, and hope it lives up to my expectations.
28. I think sometimes I’m a wimp, because I don’t like unduly harsh beginnings. I also worry that this manuscript focuses too much on morals and themes at the expense of story.
29. Without sample pages to assuage my concerns that this manuscript is too twee, I can only decline.
30. Character wakes up in opening line. Besides that, the writing feels very raw.

31. Reads as introspective literary fiction, rather than the more plot-driven novels I like to represent.
32. Again, genre fiction that reads like several other examples of novels in that same genre, without standing out from the pack.
33. Chick lit with cute concept, but for me, the execution lacks something. Some zing.
34. Women’s fiction that, again, emphasizes lessons and moral rather than plot.
35. A query from an author who has sent four other queries to me in the past year. Having read previous samples and declined, I’m not convinced this one will work for me either.

(Ok, time for a break. There’s packing to do! More this afternoon.)

Woot! And we’re back! Still got a bunch of stuff to do before I go, but I will do my best to get through a few more queries today and possibly tomorrow on the plane, if I can get Gmail Offline to work appropriately. Otherwise (and I will pull this out in a separate post), please consider that any queries sent between March 19th and April 1st will not be looked at until April 2nd, at the earliest. I would consider it a great kindness if you just held off on any submissions during that period, and waited until April 2nd to email them.

36. YA novel featuring a supernatural love story and a “chosen one.” Doesn’t feel original enough to me.
37. Memoir that’s not up my alley. Personal tales are all well and good, if your story is of interest to others. In this case, it’s not of interest to me, specifically.
38. A little too young for me — an early chapter book submission.
39. Possibly something I might like to read, but not represent. It’s an ever changing line. Fantasy.
40. Women’s fiction that makes me worry for the sanity of the main character. While I’ve read some fiction I’d term “uncomfortable,” like watching an episode of “The Office,” it’s not my first choice.

41. Again, a novel I would find difficult to place. Feels somewhat dated, but might work as a thriller if updated — but then, I don’t do thrillers.
42. Science fiction, where I didn’t think the writing held up against the concept.

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