Note: This post was written while I was still a literary agent. I’m no longer an agent, but I’m available to help edit manuscripts and query letters.
I don’t know what is in the air or the water or the pumpkin pie mix these days, but people are being excessively polite lately. Not excessively polite as in they’re infused with the holiday spirit, more like politeness so excessive that it’s no longer polite.
I’ve been getting tons of query letters from people asking me if it’s ok to send me a query letter.
Yes. You heard correctly. A query letter to see if it’s ok to send a query letter. Not a letter to see if it’s ok to send a manuscript (which is what a query letter is), but literally emails that read “May I send you a query letter?”
Now, I don’t know if you can tell from these posts, but I am a philosophical person. I don’t need to be contemplating the nature of the universe while I am sitting at my desk at 8:07 in the morning. I don’t appreciate being prompted to ponder the infinite, mobeus-strip implications of receiving a query letter to see if it’s ok to send another query letter.
I mean, what if I say yes? If I say yes, that it’s ok to send a query letter, then when I receive the next letter I will have received two query letters and I never asked to receive two query letters. Or what if I say no, you can’t send me a query letter? But by receiving the first letter I had already actually received a query letter, thereby invalidating my denial. DO YOU SEE WHAT THIS DOES TO ME?
In the end I always just delete the meta-queries or throw them in the trash. Save it for the philosophers, people!
So please, I beg of you. Do not make your prospective agents ponder the nature of the universe early in the morning. Just send the query.
And another thing! (can you tell I’m fired up this morning?) Do not send your emailed queries with the read receipt thing turned on! It smacks of intrusion and makes me think you’re the type of prospective client who is going to send a 600 page manuscript and then email me two hours later asking me if I’ve read it yet.
You don’t need to know when or where or how I read your email. Just know that I’ve read it. Unless of course I was unable to do so because my brain was stuck in an infinite loop thanks to a meta-query.
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For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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