Friday, March 21, 2008

Queries Go Into Repeats

Normally I wouldn't post about a specific query, but I honestly think this guy does not own a computer. If he did, maybe the query wouldn't be made on a typewriter.

About every 3 months or so - sometimes more, sometimes less - we get the same query from this crazy ex-army guy. After the "Dear ____" line, he launches into a 3 page, single-spaced, type-written discussion of his theory about how every single president since Roosevelt has been a Communist. All of their policies are "pro-Red," some of them gave information to the KGB, and basically we're totally screwed and we've been screwed for a while because our government is run by a shadow government in Moscow. He ends with a photocopy of his honorary discharge papers, for reasons that remain unexplained.

The second time we got it, we wrote a note saying it was the second time and we still weren't interested. Today, I wrote a little PS saying that it was the third time and we still weren't interested.

There are a class of people who buy a Writer's Digest, make a lot of photocopies, and just mail a query out blindly to every agency on the list. Then when they get rejected, they wait a little bit and send it out again. If the query hasn't changed at all we notice it. If the query is distinctive (like this guy's) we make it a point to, you know, tell him we aren't interested. The fact that he's a conspiracy nut makes it all the better, or at least more interesting.

If you work at a literary agency, have you gotten a letter from this guy?


John said...

I used to work as an editor at a business magazine, and we used to get whacked out letters from some guy in Las Vegas ... handwritten on notepaper that went on for 8 or 10 pages, about all kinds of cosmic BS and flying saucers and such.

I also used to work as a newspaper columnist, and once I wrote a column that mentioned clowns. My columns didn't generate a lot of mail, but that one did. Really disturbing mail. About clowns.

My guess is that there's still some power in publishing ... or at least the nut jobs believe there is.

Blonde Zilla said...

Dood; I would not even reply for deep-rooted hockey-mask fear somewhere in the depths of every limb that ever hung off the bed, that I would end up being hunted in my parking structure at the end of a very long business day and possibly even after one too many Manhattans to use my Mace properly and in uniform and even manner as suggested on the label.
Nicoel Suzanne

Anonymous said...

Hey, just imagine the positively atrocious photos that sleazy smut rags who say "send us your photos" must have to reject, and be thankful you're not in that biz.

Audrey Shaffer said...

My e-mag just opened to submissions last fall, so I haven't seen a lot of activity yet. (non-paying market at this time)

What I do have is someone who rewrites the articles and emails them in. He seems to be trying to show me what's wrong with my mag, but I haven't seen anything from him yet that is close to publishable.


Anonymous said...

I don't think this counts as clueless querying; I think this is bona-fide, and tragic, mental illness.

Zoe said...

I used to get annual submissions of the same book that alleges the stock market's activity is directly correlated to sunspot activity when we conduct our contest for magazine articles. We've rejected it several times because it's a book and we're looking for magazine articles, because it's been published and we're looking for unpublished material, etc..

Anonymous said...

I have to say - I know a physics professor who gets whacked-out queries monthly and sometimes weekly, from amateur physicists (read, little or no formal education in physics) who are positive they have found the Grand Unified Theory of Everything. He's not in a position to publish anything of course. And I gather this is not uncommon, at least if you're faculty in a department that draws self-isolating nuts (I imagine Astronomy gets their share).

bookfraud said...

i don't work at a literary agency, but like john above, i've worked in print journalism. every publication i've ever worked for, from newspapers to trade pubs, would have a few wackos who would ply their nutty stories to us.

such as government marijuana farms, anti-semetic conspiracies, and the inevitable rant on fluoride in the drinking water. or like credit cards being a banker cabal to ruin the economy. well, maybe that one's true.

i can't beat the sunspot/stock market proposal, though.

Chumplet said...

If he gave you copies of his discharge papers, maybe you should trace him and have a 'keep 200 feet away' court order issued. That is just plain creepy.

Travis Erwin said...

I'm prety sure I workm with this guy but then again I work at the post office so quite a few of my coworkers are are a few stamps short of full postage.

Aimless Writer said...


God loves the crazy people-
that's why he made so many of them.

Belvoir said...

Agreeing with anonymous; this sounds like paranoid schizophrenia, not mere unprofessionalism.

Though tragic, I once read an enormous essay online about how the Wizard of Oz film is a coded illustration of Satanism. The writer threw in a lengthy secret world history about the CIA, FBI, JFK, mind-control drugs, shadow governments. It was out there, and I must admit, hugely entertaining to read.

Greg Lyons said...

"There is a class of people . . ."

doug said...

Yeah- I would chaulk the letters up to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and/or schizophrenia.

...But then again, have you noticed our president always wears a red tie on May Day?

Anonymous said...

I think I ran into the guy at a gun show under Anaheim Stadium many years ago. Did he pimp General Douglas MacArthur as America's Savior and try to unload Turner Diaries on you? (When this happened to me, part of me wanted to stick around to see if he'd plug Protocols of the Elders of Zion next, but I decided I didn't want to know. When the Pomona Gun Show got run out of state to Nevada, all the sane dealers went with it.)

These days, Crazy Army Guy's probably running with the 9/11 Truthers who were all over the UCLA Festival of Books last year. Or showing up on Penn & Teller's BS or South Park.

And all their Conspiracy Theories sound the same. When are we going to hear something original? Like Richard Shaver's "Deros Shining their Telaug Rays up from Inside the Hollow Earth"? Or Francis E Dec Esq's "Communist Gangster Computer God on the Dark Side of the Moon Parroting Puppet Gangster Assassins Through Frankenstein Earphone Radio Controls!!!!"