On Thursday we discussed the query process and whether or not queries adequately reflect a underlying work’s quality. Can someone really make an assessment of a book project based on a query? Really really?
Let’s test it out. Here’s how this is going to work.
Today I will be soliciting queries from you, the esteemed readership of this blog. I will semi-randomly select five of them. (I say semi-randomly because I’m going to choose one genre from which to select the five queries, which should eliminate any possible Internet genre bias.)
Tomorrow I will post the five queries on the blog. There will be a poll and everyone will have an opportunity to vote on which one they would request if they were an agent.
On Wednesday I will post links to the first thirty pages of these novels so that everyone will have an opportunity to take a look and vote on which partial they think is the most likely to sell to a publisher (and like any busy agent, you need only read as much of each as you need to make a decision).
On Thursday we shall compare notes, see if the most-requested queries corresponded with the most-liked pages, and discuss What We Think and What We Have Learned.
On Friday we dance!!! (Just kidding, on Friday we recap This Week in Publishing).
If you’d like to volunteer your query and first 30 pages for public consumption/semi-competition, please e-mail said query and pages to [redacted]. UPDATE 9:22 PM PDT: ENTRIES ARE CLOSED! THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR ENTERING! It would be great if we could leave the sample pages up as long as possible so that people can continue to check out this sort-of-scientific experiment, but after the contest concludes if you need/want me to take your pages down for any reason I shall do so, and of course all rights belong to you. If you are chosen, please keep your identity/participation top secret while the experiment is going on so as not to compromise the voting.
In case you missed last year’s Be an Agent for a Day event, the posts can be found here.
Well, sort of…
Josin L. McQuein says
DangerMouse is better than Pinky & the Brain any day. He had an eye patch!
Are you getting many entries, Nathan?
Very exciting! Can't wait to read the queries and pages.
Emily Anderson says
After reading a few blog posts about putting your work online, I'm leery of submitting myself (maybe I'll change my mind as the day progresses). Either way, I can't wait to see what you pick and come back and vote.
I love Pinky & The Brain.
I'm guessing the genre will be YA.
Flint Ory says
My only regret is that I missed this last year! What a great idea for a contest!
Rick Daley says
This should be fun, I'm eager to read the entries.
Jaycee Adams says
I know what the genre will be. I'm not saying, so as not to jinx it. I think it'll be obvious once it's revealed and you'll all kick yourselves.
Wow, two early comments for me!
Ee Leen Lee says
I love Pinky and the Brain
let's take over the world!
Cynthia Reese says
The Husband and I adored Pinky and The Brain … thanks for the reminder!
And bless you, all good agents everywhere, for your job is a hard one and so under-appreciated!
Fawn Neun says
Interesting idea… can't wait to see how these come out.
Guess what I'll be humming the rest of the day?
Elaine AM Smith says
Oh, yeah! Learning Day, again? Er…
maybe not 😉
WV: primp? It took a bit more work than that.
Caledonia Lass says
Jaycee… My beginning is intolerable as well. Just send it, it is an experiment after all, right?
I sent mine. I must be the insane to have sent it.
Can't wait to see the queries! This should be a lot of fun.
Sounds like a great plan! Can't wait to compare notes.
And, Friday we will all dance.
I'd love to submit, but I think 30 pages is a LOT to be posting online. I'm not worried about people stealing the work, but I am worried about whether the work would be considered "published" at that point.
Well, I'm hoping to throw my query into the public consumption/semi-competition fire. This will be my first time out, when is the last day for submissions? and will there be an acknowledgment of receipt?
Nathan Bransford says
I'm going to choose them sometime tonight, and no, I'm afraid there won't be acknowledgment of receipt.
At first I was going to submit my query and pages then I realized my novel might be a little to raunchy noir with a lot of language and racist language (it's a historical 1929) So I'll just come around and check out the ones that get posted.
That's fine Nathan, I'll check back tomorrow or Wednesday to see how things are progressing. Good luck in your selection process.
Yeah, I do wonder if 30 pages is too much to post online?
Mary McDonald says
Okay, so I'm trying to get my entry put together, and my nine year old daughter keeps talking to me. "Look, Mom! It's Justin Bieber! Can you find that youtube video of (insert some teen idol)?"
I finally had to ask her to please let me finish, that I was trying to enter a contest. Her eyes got big as saucers. "What can you win?"
"If I'm really lucky, maybe an agent."
Her face fell. "Oh. I thought you might win a DS Lite." (I won one a few years ago and she got it.)
So, sorry Nathan. You rank lower than a DS Lite in my daughter's eyes. 😉
Nathan Bransford says
I don't feel that posting an excerpt is going to compromise anything you plan to do in the future, but everyone should make their own determination, and if you're concerned no need to enter as we have plenty of entries.
K. E. Carson says
I'm really excited for this. I sent my query in. I really hope I'm picked. 🙂 If not, I still think this is a great experiment.
Kate Lacy says
I'll volunteer to play agent this time around. We're hassled about playing on the computer with personal papers while we're supposed to be teaching America's youth to save the universe from humankind.
ryan field says
I love observing these things. I always learn something I didn't know.
I have submitted my stuff but I'm fairly sure it won't be my genre that is picked. Nevertheless, just screwing up the courage to email all that junk to you, Nathan, has made me feel very daring and brave! 🙂
Emily White says
*said in my best Mr. Burns voice*
Yay, first time I commented on this blog!
This sounds like fun. I'm going to submit my query, even though I'm not ready to really send it into an agent. Too bad my genre probably won't be picked.
Writing a query is a different skill from writing the book. I look forward to seeing how other writers handle the challenge.
Okay, so I'm only posting on that Pinky and the Brain bit! HAHA! My cousins and I still quote Animaniacs!
Darn it. Every time you have an open call like this, Nathan, I'm on travel and can only post through my iPhone.
Love to join in, but I'll have to wait until next time…hopefully.
Looking forward to it. What a great way to get feedback on a query!
Dang I missed the deadline.
I guess the world shall never get to see my social commentary masterpiece with five strong female characters, blown to shreds by the winds of change: when one of their members, (pardon the pundit) has to adapt to life before during and after a sex change operation occurs among the small seaside town's group of five fellow travelers: its the best version of Freddy Kruger meets The Bronte sisters currently surfing the market. An explosive cliche ending of mass slaughter revealed on the first three pages and slowly resolved through flashbacks, diary readings and gritty black and white surveillance videotapes. Sheik modern disgusting. A must read for wackos everywhere.
Ms. Writer Thang
(Critic/Agent At Wily Hasben Agency)
I'm not a woman but I play one on TV and I'm sure you'll recognize the tagline "Mom its my birthday."
Yikes I'm an agent.
To much pressure, to much pressure,
to much pressure: sedate me already!!!
Maybe you took the Brain and Pinky theme to serious Anon. The Zen of Critique is more in line with the task.
Kimber An says
I made the deadline!
Unfortunately, I corrected a mistake just before I sent it, only to realize afterwards that I'd left a glaring mistake in its path. And it was only on page four. (bangs head on desk) Oh, I hate it when that happens.
I sent Mr. Bransford an email about it, so maybe it won't be in the running after all. Oh, well.
I won't be heartbroken. I'll just have a bruised forehead. (kidding!)
It'll be fun for everyone and I'm sure we'll learn a lot too.
Ted Cross says
Darn, that was too quick. I would have entered if I had seen this faster. I would love to see what the community thought of my first 30.
Kate Evangelista says
Aww, I missed sending in mine. Oh well, I'll vote.
Nathan – any chance of having separate polls for "most liked" and "most likely to sell"?
(I think there can be overlap, but the two are definitely not the same.)
Jaycee Adams says
Thanks Caledonia Lass, I probably should've done it anyway, but I really feel it's not ready for prime time. I might've driven someone to insanity. And then trying to compose a query letter on such short notice when I've barely been able to understand the Shark's teachings as of yet. No, I'll take my lumps and wait 'til the next one.
I got the word out to one of my friends who IS ready for primetime, and I'll live vicariously through her. She promised me a steak dinner if she wins. She will. Or I'll dump a few tons of dihydrogen-monoxide on all of San Fran during the next rainy season and see how they like it. That stuff is dangerous if you breathe it in liquid form!
Diane F. says
Very cool contest Nathan! I am new to the blog and happy to be here! My manuscript is not quite to the 30 page mark….but I sent you a query and attached it just the same. If it doesn't qualify for this contest, that's ok, I will happily read the ones that do, and patiently (well sort of : ) wait my turn!
Claire Dawn says
Contests just keep getting better!
Kathleen MacIver says
Neat idea! Make sure you adjust the meta tags to keep the google bots from indexing those 30×5 pages, though, or their first 30 will be permanently floating in cyberspace, retrievable through quite a few different methods.
Harbinger of Truth says
"Crystal Blue" is a novel worthy of your time. I sent you a sample chapter and summary as part of the contest.
Been busy as a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rocking chairs. Missed the deadline uhmmmm…..