From the most recent several weeks of slush encountered, here are some random facts.
Longest read before a no: 70 pages
Shortest read: 3 paragraphs.
Most common reason for rejection: lack of interest in the main character.
Second most common reason for rejection: Unsupportable plotting quirks.
And yes, I'm still bemused by people who send me query letters via the contact form. Especially since this is directly below the contract form:
Any one who attempts to submit or query through this form will have their email address banned across the whole domain.
And of course it is nearly always for something I don't represent in the first place.
Next I had the signing turned pitch session. This was in the dealers room, thankfully far enough away from most things that I could here the people who were talking to me. The dealers room is large and I spent half an hour talking to Howard and Sandra Taylor. I ran into Jeremy from Night Shade and talked to him for a while.
So aside from Schlock Mercenary I also noticed the folks from Girl Genius, and a demo station for the various versions of Soul Caliber 4, featuring Star Wars characters like Darth Vader and Yoda.
Today the only real plans are a brunch with the conchair of Lunacon to
After that is a late lunch with canarynoir and then visiting folks at one or two of the parties.
For those keeping track; I talked to Steve Stirling, Jay Lake, Peter Heck, Ken Shoels, and a half dozen others i should remember but don't.
Depending on mood and energy, i may send out a few more submissions later this afternoon.
"As he thrust his quavering blade into the unyeilding flesh he felt a burning power and smote the foul beast. In it's death throws the fare maiden fell and he catches her quickly. He takes his newly freed bride to his starship their to roam the heavens looking for fame and fortune."
The fab SarahaHoyt scores a one line TKO with the amazing presumptuousness of her first line:
Dear Mr. Hawke,
I am delighted to announce that I have picked your agency to represent my definitive opus on the human condition.
Right behind her is another delightful lady:
Herewith find my novel MICHELANGELO D.N.A., which is a sequel to Dan Brown's DA VINCI CODE. My writer's group all voted me the best writer of the year, based on this novel. Everyone at work has read this novel, and says it's far superior to DA VINCI CODE. My parents are hard critics of novels, but they both were fascinated and couldn't put it down.
Which is about the neatest way of proclaiming you know nothing about the industry, and are having been set up will probably be the type of whiner who goes crying to the world when their work is rejected.
Not to be out done Robert Hoyt chimes in displaying a charming flair for lack of contact with reality.
I would like you to know that I must insist my story be provided to the public freely, since the enlightenment I have reached should not be subject to mortal prices; but I think that I can count on you to think about the good that this book can do and work just as hard, even without money as an incentive. When you respond, I’ll gladly mail you the six cardboard boxes containing my novel. Do not worry about the fifty blank pages at the end, I invested them with my K’oldorta so that they would guide the reader to the ending in his(or her, although that’s rare) mind.
Tomorrow, or the next day... well soon, The Winner!
Laziness: Dear Agent or Editor: (I know I'm one of the two, but does this fictitious waster of time know which, and what my name might be?
Vagueness: I'm enclosing the first 500 pages of book one, in which the amazing story begins to unfold. I'm in the middle of book two now but I already know how book 3 will end. Lots of writers don't know anything about what they write about, but I've been an avid fisherman for years, so I thought this was a natural subject for a trilogy. Of course, my fish live on another planet and fight evil monsters, so it's much more exiting that way. People will be amazed when they read it. ( Notice the lack of anything about the crucial characters, plot, or how it is resolved. )
A lack of understanding for how the industry works:
Please call me as soon as you get this so I know it got there. I really look forward to working together. Of course, if you want something changed in the trilogy I'll be glad to think about it. I'm flexible. If you don't have time to look at it, I hope you will send it to another agent or editor that might like it.
(One can either spend two hours a day letting people know their baby has arrived safely, or actually be productive.)
And more laziness and probably poor command of the written word:
Call me write away. (no further comments)
Amandatkd had another one that is inspired.
This letter displays:
This paragraph is a work of art:
(WiM explains not only what the human condition really is but why. Set in the future five thousand years from now, it's a mixture of Tolkien, David Webber and Dan Brown. Cool, huh? What more could you want but elves, exploding spaceships and religious conspiracy theories and truths?) It displays gross arrogance, delusions of competence and a wonderful ability to attempt to combine widely divergent styles that would probably make someone who actually tried to read something like this throw up.
(I'm offering you first crack at this masterpiece before I ship it off to other agents. Three days should be more than long enough for you to realize what a find this is. You can read a sample and see the artwork my little brother Shemp has down to accompany it at the following website: www.imafool.con or the companion site, www.youareafoolforlooking.com) Takes the assumption that bribes will work. And adds in more work for the agent!
Archangelbeth too does fun things:
( Dear Ms. Hawke,
I am twenty-seven years old and I have always wanted to write a book. Now that I have disvoverd your wonderful blog, I have been inspired. I have the outlines for a five book trilogy, spanning twohundred years of a star-spanning empire's death throws, from the last True Queen to her illegitimate grandson who will lead his people from the ashes of their former empire to a new world and civilization, with the help of energy beings who make stargates.)
Misidentifies the gender of the agent. Continues by showing only a loose ability to count or spell, and is states enough about the ambition of the book to make most agents turn it down here.
Tcastelb fortunately writes better cover letters in real life:
The greeting is classicly bad:
( Dear Mr. Jennifer Jakson,
i have this awesome idea for a kid's book. i sent you the whole thing even if it isn't done yet. Kids--and kids at heart--are going to love it. My dog Squeaky inspired this story. He (not Squeaky, the dog in the story) gets adopted by a kid named Jimmy that doesn't want a dog and Jimmy keeps getting in trouble and the dog, which is a very pretty collie (Squeaky's not, Squeaky is a chiwawa) saves the kid from all kinds of trouble. Jimmy falls into a well (this takes place out in the country because i think kids should understand nature more) and the dog, whose name is Laddie, goes for help. It's all real exciting and Laddie almost dies. Jimmy loves him a lot after that and everyone is happy.)
It confuses gender and agent showing a wonderful attention to detail. Then we see blatant ripoffs of Lassie with a thin coat of (clear) nail polish on the serial numbers. And one can not overlook the ability of the paragraph to stay on topic. Since all if you have I'm sure read my submission guidelines you'll know that this person is not only sending something I don't represent, but sending me something that isn't complete.
This bit shows a clear distance between the writer and reality as well:
( And i'm warning you now, if you tell me no i'm going to send Squeaky to you via FedEx and he's going to rip your office to shreds to teach you a lesson. And that's after i put a curse on you. i watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks a lot and i learned all kinds of spells from it so you better watch out or i'll turn you into a rabbit.)
( I've written a really great book that I really hope you'll take a look at. I know you said that you want it as an attachment, but I couldn't get that to work in my e-mail, and I figured it would be just as easy to scroll down (even if the formatting is kind of weird, I couldn't get it to work. It's right in the document though!). Anyway, what's one little scroll down - so easy, you might as well read it and skip the letter! ;P )
This one says the writer is ignoring the rules out of laziness, and resorts to emoticons over ya know using words. Always a plus for a writers.
Wrote something that could be some of the stuff I get in my contact form a couple times a month. Paranoia, shaky grasp of reality and of course the not so subtleties of publishing. ( I've written the first book of a multi-volume epic fantasy and would eagerly like to submit it to you. I've read your livejournal and feel you would be perfect to represent my work. The nearly completed first novel comes in at slightly over 500,000 words. I'd like to tell you what my novel is about but first I have attached a legal document for you to sign and return to me guaranteeing my idea will not be stolen while in your agency's possession. )
More to come tomorrow, and of course the winner. Eventually.
A lot of agents and editors rail on and on about people who can't seem to follow submissions guidelines. There is good reason for this, but that's not what this is post is about.
I just want to thank the people who have in the past and will in the future follow the submission guidelines. Often I download six, seven or more submissions or more and take them with me if I expect to wait for a while. I can be sitting in an airport, a doctors office, or getting my taxes done. When after going through several bad submissions be it here at my desk or sitting on a train, I'll get to someone who got it right. Opening a file and realizing i don't have to worry about how to contact this person because their file isn't book.doc and they have heaven forbid put their contact info in the file is an unalloyed joy. It's also about the only one an agent or editor should be able to count on every time they hold their nose and go spelunking.
So to those of you who get it right, thank you.
I'll be looking at some of the slush this weekend as well. Anyone who submitted to the correct inbox for Winter Workout who has not received a final response yet should drop me a message via the contact form on my website.
Super secret subtle hint below:
For those who have received their reply, the shorter and more positive it was the more i liked it. If i said something about there being a better place to start the book, I may have really liked it if that was the largest comment on it.
A lot of interesting projects this year. Some were very hard to say no to, and one or two I might not say no to at all. Between the Winter Workout and cleaning out the regular slush pile (which is filling up again) I'm pretty certain well over a million words have passed my eyes in the last month.
Thank you all again for taking part.
One the subject of submissions that have made it past one chapter, I would prefer if you each gave me forty five days from the day you receive notice to either offer my services or give a rejection from something past the first chapter.
And while i make no money for saying it: Svedka vodka is nice.
I should get to at least the first chapter of everyone I haven't at least done the first chapter for tomorrow or Friday the latest. After everyone's first chapter has been read I will start those that have been held back in earnest. Please note that this applies to the submissions sent to the WW@onyxhawke.com email address and not to the ones sent to the regular box, those i should be reading again in two weeks or so.
So, since i'm feeling obscenely generous, an amazing thing given that I'm still sober...for anyone who has submitted, who couldn't decide what to send. Go ahead, send a second if you have it, but it may not be in the same world and must also follow all guidelines.
The science fictions ones stories that make not just interesting addendums to the laws of nature as we know them are always ah, eye opening to say the least, I can't call any of those the weirdest. There are also the stories that seem to have been modeled after the bawdiest of Rice or Hamilton's adventures in bed sheets, those are just a touch too formulaic to be weird. There are also the submissions by those for whom English is not their first language, and while this leads to some unintentionally jaw dropping turns of phrase and sentence constructions, those two are not that odd.
I've gotta say the single weirdest submission was one where the entire story (the three chapters i read) was dialogue. No dialogue tags, no internal monologues, no descriptions of anything. The only reason we knew a character was 'rude' was because the main character said so. The reason we knew what someone looked like, or how they talked was because of the dialogue.