Friday, May 18, 2012

Profound Confusion

When I began this writing journey, those already in the business offered much advice. A lot of it contradictory.

Some of the 'help' came from people who appear a bit touched in the head. Or Laughing Their Collective A** Off at the muck they caused.

“There is no such thing as a ‘query letter’,” snarled one literary agent.

“Here is a sample of a query letter,” said another literary agent.


A published author advised the following in a query:

BOOK TITLE, urban fantasy.

Another published author sniffed and suggested:

Book Title, an urban fantasy


Agents have their preferences. They are people too. Or so I’ve heard. But what about the agent who doesn’t detail exactly how they like their query?

It’s up to the lame-brained writer to decide; does the agent like their query shaken or stirred?

To personalize or not to personalize; that is the question. Actually, how in hell’s name do we write a personalized note to an agent who has no website? Or one whose last post was two years ago? Not much marketing going on there. And not someone who is high on my list.

Conspiracy. Sometimes I wonder if there is an industry-wide scheme to cause confusion. Just for entertainment purposes. 

Agents, laughing uncontrollable, switching, and deleting information like format issues, rich text, HTML, page heading, title page, summary vs synopsis.

There is no such thing as ‘contemporary fantasy’. This came from a fellow writer even though I was submitting to an agent who wanted…yeah you guessed it, Contemporary Fantasy.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, agents rolled their collective eyes at self-pub. With the success of so many in the industry, Amanda Hocking aside, I believe they see it a little differently. And we adjust even as the industry shakes like a dog emerging soaked from a pond.

Confused by sensory overload? TMI? Or are the little voices in your head laughing at you. pipe down, I told you not to say anything!


  1. lol - I agree with you completely. I used to obsess about all this, but eventually you have to just do whatever makes sense and hope for the best.

  2. Hah! This is great. I always heard that pubbed works are italicized, and unpubbed works are CAPITALIZED, but I could easily be wrong.

  3. Ha! We spend so long trying to get the query letter right, we forget about what's in the manuscript sometimes (or I do...)

  4. You're right about so much of the information contradicting itself. I've read enough writing tips to know those are often contradictory as well. My only advice - just do the best you can!

  5. It's very true. Everyone has advice. I think all of it is pmuch worthless. It's not what you know it's who you know. Get an agent to like you and you've got it made. It's the personal connection. Or you could just do what other agents do...become authors. Then they hit up their friends for representation. Nathan Bransford, the Rejectionist, etc.

  6. It's hard to sort it all out some times, that's for sure. ;)

  7. Yup, those darn voices are a pain, lol. I agree there are too many different opinions on how to format or write a query letter.

  8. well, I know you know what they say about opinions...

  9. I couldn't agree more with this. Sometimes I feel like my head will explode from all the conflicting advice. Great post!

  10. Confused.

    Yeah. That's it right there.

  11. Ha, oh wow. Very contradictory, all right! Hmm, contemporary fantasy--I think the better term would be "magical realism" which is a contemporary with fantasy elements. Otherwise it "sounds" too oxymoronic.


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