Saturday, September 22, 2007

Query 8: Reservations

I see that _____ is seeking lively stories for ages eight through twelve and chapter books for ages six through nine.
Then are you querying two manuscripts? Or do you think that they’re the same thing? Clearly the publisher doesn’t.
In RIDERS ON THE REZ , a 5700 word character-driven chapter book, the skateboarding hero, Billy Tsosie, is meeting his Navajo relatives for the first time. Before his trip is over, he has a fight, makes a friend, and learns to ride a horse. Most importantly, he learns what it means to walk the Beauty Way.
Wow, four things that mean nothing to me. If you’re going to leave out this much description, you might as well just say “before his trip is over, stuff happens.” What makes these events meaningful?
This story compliments the third grade social studies curriculum in most Western states.
Third grade? When they do the history of the city they’re living in? Which states are you talking about? Remember that California and New England are the biggest book-buying areas, so their curriculums should be given some weight.
I have been published in academic journals, papers, and industry magazines on topics that would put the average reader to sleep.
Was one of the topics “self-deprecating admissions you shouldn’t share when introducing yourself”?
I have only recently started writing for children. In addition to this manuscript, I have completed a three-book picture story series of children’s encounters with creepy critters. In each case the MC learns some real-world facts that help them to overcome their fears.
Why are you mentioning this here? If you happened to be querying those, which of course you’re not, I sure hope you’d make it clear what “picture story” and “critters” mean in this context.
I anticipate returning to Billie Tsosie some time this year, and writing a sequel to his story for this same reader level.
Thanks for letting me know. As I haven’t any idea whether I’ll like the first one, though, I don’t know why I should care.
I hope you like his first story enough to request a full. I would be delighted to send it to you either by e-mail or snail mail.
I'm unconvinced there's anything here I want to read. More detail about the story and less about your other pursuits might help.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that the author might do well to tell more about the book and less about him/herself.

However...
Third grade? When they do the history of the city they’re living in?

Yes, they do. Not, however, for the entire year; that might be a bit, um, tiring. Many states, including some east of the Missisippi, also "do" American Indians (aka Native Americans) that year.

Which states are you talking about? Remember that California and New England are the biggest book-buying areas, so their curriculums should be given some weight.

On the other hand, this author might well be querying regional publishers, in which case the editors also would be more likely to know what s/he was talking about. The author could hardly tailor the query to suit EA, since EA is, er, anonymous...

This book might fill a niche quite nicely, IMHO... and, no, I'm not the author.

Anonymous said...

You're quite the mean bitch, aren't you? Snark pulled it off because A. she was funny and B. she showed she had a heart under the rhino skin.

Your comments are destructive, not instructive. Either learn how to give or give up.

literaticat said...

Anonymous 4:21 - You don't know from mean bitches.

ae said...

I think them quite instructive actually. I LOVE this blog. And EA.

If you don't like it here, then don't come here, and for God sakes spare us all you torment. Like we care.

Spend some time in theater and hear the directors roar. This is nothing.

Keep it up EA!! Happy face.

Big Momma Pimpalishisness With A Cherry On Top said...

Yup, I'm agreeing with AE here- I found this helpful...it is pointing out what people do wrong so others don't do it. Any moron should be able to figure that out. Also, I don't find her mean OR bitchy and usually the posts are quite funny. So lighten up!

Karen said...

As one of the victims--er, recipients--of EA's input, I don't think I'd ever go so far as to call her a "mean bitch," but I do think Anonymous 4:21 has a point about Miss Snark. It's a different quality of snark.

Karen

Angela said...

Look guys....If I had to choose between an editor that's going to cut to the chase and tell me her initial reactions as compared to an editor that's going to give me some fluffy, pat, editor speak. I'll choose the raw, snark any day of the week.
#1 cause it's what your reader will possibly think and....
#2 See #1
Sure, it will sting a lil' but I'll come out of it with a MS that's worthy of publication. You can't beat that!

Anonymous said...

I feel for this poster because her feelings have been hurt. We all know what it's like to put tender feelings on the line and show someone else our work.

To receive a public beat-down for what she thought was good can't be pleasant.

But you will get over it. Maybe you already have. And no, AE isn't quite Miss Snark, but who is?

Here's the thing. It doesn't get easier. You learn to rise above, is all. Because if you do get an agent and then a publishing deal you're going to receive an EDITORIAL LETTER.

You have not truly experienced pain until this happens. Then you know, you know that all the hard knocks and rejection you took before you got that deal have prepared you for that Editorial Letter.

It's single spaced. Page after page of single spaced comments. Not praising you. Nu uh. But ripping your fine work to shreds. Shreds, I say. And this is for a book someone loved enough to BUY. For actual MONEY.

Then, under DEADLINE, you get to try and hash out an editor's comments because she doesn't like A, B, or C. And now you've got to please her. For some stuff she'll be spot on and you cannot believe you didn't change this before. For others, you truly think she must be a bitch from hell if she wants you to do THAT. And you may be right. Some edits detract from what the book was originally. Why? Because the editor is a human being too, and also not a writer, and sometimes that is just how the world works.

You'll take that Editorial Letter and do it anyway. You'll find a way to make it work as best you can. Why? Because this is your book. You love writing. You want, very badly to be in the game. To be on the bookshelf.

Fortify yourself. Right now. DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY!!!

Anonymous said...

This is to ae 7:07--

I question whether or not you are a writer, or even in this business in any capacity. This author just got snarked and it stung. Later she'll probably go back, when she's calm and try to gleen something from the comments if she can.

YOU are not AE, and yet you say:

"...If you don't like it here dont' come her and for god sakes spare us all your torment. Like we care..."

So where's your work so we can hack it to bits? Those types of comments are why I'm starting to hate publishing blogs. That is nothing but you being a jackass to someone you don't even know.

I mean, really...

(and no, I'm not the author)

sylvia said...

Personally, I find getting an editors knee-jerk reaction quite enlightening ... much more useful than polite empty comments about story-telling and voice. EA gives feedback in such a way that I can understand the issue and see how my query would be read.

I know lots of people prefer sugar-coating but personally I think it's good (although not always as palatable) to see what the internal dialogue is in reality when going through the slush.

Janniel said...

I offered the query, hoping for the best, prepared for the worst. As far as I'm concerned, what I got back was fair trade. Thanks for the objective feedback EA.

Many hanks to the rest of you for coming to my defense (particularly on the social studies curriculum issue, Anon at 2:36 p.m., but hey, no pain, no gain, you know. The next query will be much better.

petrichor said...

About three weeks too late, I know, BUT:
"to compliment" = to say something nice, as in "to give someone a compliment."
"to complement" = to complete, to provide a counterpart, as in "these two things complement each other nicely."
This is a common mnistake, but it's the kind of mistake that makes me doubtful of an author when I read his/her cover letter. I start each letter with no opinion at all, and my opinion of the manuscript/author goes up or down according to what I read (of course). If you make mistakes in your cover letter, my opinion is already below that noncommittal level when I start reading your manuscript. I would never judge a manuscript JUST by the cover letter, but it does give me a general idea of who you are. You're an author: you should take care to present yourself well in writing.

Anonymous said...

The correct spelling is "complements" the curriculum, not compliments.