(Kate Flora writers: My editor, Deni Dietz, is a tough, no-nonsense editor who is willing to go the extra mile for writers when their books show promise. Sometimes though, aspiring writers go too far, as the queries below illustrate)
Wearing my Senior Editor hat—which looks suspiciously like a Denver Broncos cap—I thought I’d share some of my wonkier queries.
First… the “perhaps you should consider spell-check” queries.
1] I’ll even gaurantee that my novel would sell as much copies (if not more) than those previously published by your company. I will even buy a number of books myself.
2] I am certain this novel has potential. it’s not just me that’s saying this, it’s a number of people who have got to read the novel for the first time who loved it to bits, including a mature profeesor in English, which had seen many manuscirpts and done tons of proof reading in his days.
3] Where once her unyeilding selfishness is veiled by the customs of tradition, her determined hostile spirit is LAID BEAR in her northern prison.
Next, my favorite “couldn’t help LOL-ing” queries.
1] What goes through your mind when you discover your father, who you thought was just a successful business man, turns out to be a major HEROINE dealer?
2] The HEROIN is confronted with the decades old cold case.
3] She was rumored to be the real HAIR to the kingdom.
4] God wakes up with amnesia, to begin the discovery of who she is and what has happened only to stumble on an incredible truth that changes everything she thought she knew about herself. With slapstick humour and keen insight into the irony of her predicament, God pieces together the traces of her past, from her childhood when she believed she was a cat, to her psychiatric sessions with a mysterious Russian émigré. My book is the love child from Franz Kafka and Alain Robbe-Grillet and I’ve sent it to tens of publishers. Interested?
5] May I submit for your consideration my first novel, a manuscript of 130,000 words. It is the story of an artist whose best friend is a giant walnut tree—to the humiliation of his progressively hostile daughter. Attempting to do the big leafy guy in with an ax, during a storm, she is crushed and killed under a fallen limb. Depressed and filled with guilt, Matthew experiences a religious conversion and an unexpected relationship.
Third, “I hope you’ll read my manuscript despite my dumb query” query.
1] I have turned down two offers to have my book published because I won’t do marketing.
2] (The typo is his!) It would take me over 3 hours to re-format my manuscript per the subsmission guidelines. I am an attorney and that would be quite a chunk of my time, and my time is valuable.
3] Please note that my book is NOT a “mystery.” It is researched historical fiction. Also the manuscript contains some “gaelic” spellings, not many, but those should not be put through a homogenizing process for mass appeal.
4] The book covers middle age angst and naughty youth and needs to be pitched chameleon like to varying readerships emphasising what for each of then would be the particular selling points. The book would need to be perused by ultra busy people so the first few chapters have been written in a magazine style that allows it to be put down and picked up again. The cover of the book is probably the most significant selling item. This I believe should exude the idea of wealth and fame playing somewhat to the cliche of popular culture. In terms of the market it should sell for under five pounds, a price which the reading shopper would readily place in the shopping trolley as a non-extravagant purchase.
5] (From a really moronic writer’s brief query-synopsis): He had to maintain what his boss considered to be a businesslike appearance for the sake of the law firm. And with a tight-fisted Jew for his boss Kevin knew better than to expect any other attitude.”
Next, the “I feel your angst, but…” queries.
1] My book has never been published. I did send a query to Alicia Condon at Kensington Publishing and she rejected it because I kill off the heroine.
2] (Writer’s response after I sent her formatting guidelines and asked for a one-page synopsis) Does this mean you are accepting my manuscript for publication once I fill out all these forms? I did send you a five-page synopsis. Do I need to redo my manuscript according to your guidelines? If so, fine, but I may need some time to do this since changing font sizes, margins, etc. may affect the layout of the book.
3] Demi Deitz (note misspelling of first as well as last name!) I am unpublished but an ex newspaper feature writer, so while I have experience writing I am new as to how to get my book considered by a publisher. I have tried to get an agent but to no avail. My book is a Psychological novel. It is the story of a woman’s plunge into madness and is based largely on my mother’s very sad life. Right now I only have a hardcopy of my book, but if you are at all interested I will gladly put it into the computer, although this would take me some time.
4] I expect you’ll turn this down, but I won’t take it personally
5] (I guess she’s never heard of the Harry Potter books, The Hunger Games, The Book Thief, et al) This is a just-under 16,000-word shirt-pocket version of a novel. Very handy for your readers to take on the subway, bus or to stick into their purse or knapsack. These days, kids like “small”. It intimidates them less!
6] I hope you will read the entire manuscript since, in my own opinion, it starts very slowly and I have not yet, even after several re-writes, found a way to get around this. I have been told Part two is better than Part One.
7] I have completed my first book. I am looking for a publisher and I am having trouble finding someone to take me seriously.
8] If I format, I’ll have to proof the whole manuscript.”
9] **Please note** Writing is a recreational pass time, along with traveling and caring for elderly parents.
10] Please let me know when we can meet. Next week would be ideal as I will be off my meds!
And finally, my favorite response to a rejection (I usually state why I’m turning the submission down) — “Thanks for the quick clear reply. Good to hear from a human for a change” — and my favorite LOL synopsis: “Not to give too much away but the lead character goes from bottom to top to bottom again and it’s quite the rollercoaster ride along the way.”
Denise [Deni] Dietz, bestselling author and Senior Editor for Five Star Mysteries, hid her mom’s hardcover GWTW inside her third grade reader. Caught red-handed, she hid her dad’s Perry Mason paperbacks instead. Deni is the author of the bestselling Diet Club Mysteries. Also, Footprints in the Butter, co-starring Hitchcock the Dog, and a dozen other novels. As Mary Ellen Dennis, Deni penned Heaven’s Thunder, circa 1893 – 1923, with an emphasis on Colorado’s silent film industry, and The Landlord’s Black-eyed Daughter, a paranormal history-mystery-romance. Deni’s Annie and the Grateful Dead is the first story in a recent anthology, The Sound and the Furry. Grateful Dead is a “pop culture cat,” and 100% of the anthology’s profits will be donated to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare). Learn more about Deni at www.denisedietz.com