Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Stupid Things This One Guy Did

Today we got a query on colored paper from someone who had some program to reverse his text. In other words, to read the query, I had to go to the mirror above the sink in the bathroom and hold it up.

Not only that, at no point did he really mention what his book was about. He mainly focused on the fact that his writing credentials were having lost a contest to host SNL in some "anyone can host" contest NBC ran in 1977. Yes, that's right, he lost the contest. Oh, and he has a novel, or something, but he didn't mention what is was about and I was already pretty annoyed, so I don't think it mattered.

Look, don't send us text that is unreadable unless we figure out how to do something to it. I didn't think I would have to say that, but apparently I do.

25 comments:

JohnO said...

Your blog readers are crying -- crying, I say -- for a photo of said document. Heck, I'd offer to take the photo myself, if I weren't geographically inconvenient.

Heather said...

Unfortunately, I'm guessing the people who need that slap upside the head probably aren't with it enough to be reading this blog (or doing any other sort of agent research, for that matter).

Gail said...

Must see this Query. It gives us hope.

"See, I didn't do any of that. My query is much better."

Seriously, would love to see it.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you actually held it up to a mirror. I would've just written "!ON" on it and sent it back.

1979 semi-finalist said...

I'm pretty impressed you even took the time to take it in the bathroom to TRY to read it!

Carolyn said...

oh my gosh.

Anonymous said...

So I guess that means my queries written in invisible ink won't be well received. It took a lot of urine to write them all!

Cathy in AK said...

I'm with Gail. With things like that being submitted, surely MY query will seem golden and prompt a request for pages.

Terry said...

I suspect his novel is about a guy who composes letters after gobbling a fistful of hallucinogens.

David said...

Wow.

Or, in reverse, wow.

I'm with anonymous#1. I'm surprised you bothered reading it. The suggested response "!ON" is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I also lost that SNL anyone-can-host contest back in the seventies. I didn't realize it constituted a writing credit.

Myrlin said...

Hmm...now I can see something like this working in marketing/promotional materials, assuming it was relevant to the story (a "through the looking-glass" children's fantasy, for example; or a mystery in which the reader had to decipher backwards clues). But in that case, I imagine it would still be better to mention the idea in a paragraph of a standard cover letter.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who's weary of being told about query letters from complete idiots? And I'm not specifically talking about The Rejecter here -- one sees this on other agent blogs as well as various writer's websites.

I don't write query letters on flowered paper, or use human blood for ink, or misspell words, or use 5-point Art Brush fonts, or address agents as "Hey, pal," or announce that I'm the greatest writer since God. I submit normal, hopefully well-composed, standard businesslike query letters. And it doesn't help me or the others like me to read about queries from deranged cretins.

If you want to do a real service for those of us out here in unpublishedland, please tell us about properly-written queries that were rejected by your agency, and for what reason. Reading about the query from some nutcase who thought it would be cute to write everything backwards doesn't help us to improve our own queries in any way.

Aimless Writer said...

I can't believe you bothered to hold it to a mirror. Sometimes I wonder if people realize that writing is half creative and half business. If you want to get published you have to be ready to put on the business coat and LISTEN to agents who tell us what they want and how they want it.
Another good lesson.

Richard said...

This is obviously a case of someone who missed the fine line between being doing something creative and standing out and being annoying and conspicuous.

writtenwyrdd said...

Like someone said in an earlier post comment: I feel much better knowing that this is my COMPETITION. LOL.

All Adither said...

But he's so quirky and goofy that surely his novel will be a smash hit. No matter what it's about. Right?

docdume said...

Rats. I just spent days translating the entire query into runes.

Oh well, I'll hang it in the bathroom with all the others. Waste not, want not.

Nancy Beck said...

This reminds me of when my sister-in-law worked for some Warner imprint over 15 years ago.

Yeah, she was going through the slush.

One time, she received a manuscript in a pizza box. Yanno, the ones with the script all over them saying "Fresh Pizza" and such.

Yeah.

Another one she received was a handwritten note wherein the scribbler went on and on about how great he/she was, that his/her writing deserved to be published, yadda yadda yadda.

Except nothing was attached to the note.

Yeah.

You can't make this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

I find it very hard to believe that you even took the time to try to read it in the bathroom mirror. If even talented writers get their query letters ignored, how is it that a query letter by someone too stupid to follow protocol gets your attention?

The Rejecter said...

Anon 9:55

If it makes the story more credible, I should add that I occasionally have to go to the bathroom anyway, so it's not like I was wasting a trip.

Also we couldn't read his email address to send a rejection and he had no SASE.

Carrie said...

I work for a literary agent in Los Angeles and we got that query too! Our was on multi-colored paper though. Nonetheless, I put it straight into the trash bin. But it had a cute chicken sticker on it that I saved for the fun of it.

Marian said...

Of course you had to read it in the mirror. If the guy sent in reversed text on colored paper, who knows what he might have actually written in the query letter. The curiosity would've been eating at me.

Elaine Bach said...

Are you sure the whole thing wasn't just a big joke. Can anyone be that stupid? Also, obviously, he did get you to read it in the bathroom mirror because you knew the content. That picture is pretty funny. Elaine

David said...

I'm a writer who has had to submit queries before, and honestly, if I were on the publisher's end and received such a query it would have it the "circular file" in record time.

Here are some pointers at writing a query letter:
1. Find out what the publisher wants and how they accept submission letters.
2. Make yourself look good according to what you've found out about them.
3. Make your story look really good according to what they publish.
4. Hustle up anything else that can make you look better.
5. Do your best to make your query point not only to quality writing, but to something unique and original.
6. Don't hold your breath. Editors are busy people, so send several other queries out. First response gets a shot at your novel.

If you get rejected find out, if you can, why and start all over again. Be professional. Be persistent. If you do you will get published. If you don't you won't.