Some people are very snarky. They become movie critics.
Some people are very nice and very snarky. They have to work hard to balance these two sides of their personalities, and eventually become children's book editors.
Certain impressions aside, I do not actually want to hurt people's feelings, and I had hoped that I'd given enough warning about what kind of comments were to be offered in this contest.
It seems to me that there's a great deal of mystery around editors—what happens at our desks, in our meeting rooms, and in our heads. The pain and trouble of writing query letters is that you are trying to write for an audience you do not know.
Thus, this window into my actual reactions as I read these query letters. This is meant to show
- how editors extrapolate from the writing in the query letter to the writing they may find in the manuscript.
- how editors may react to various aspects of your plot / summary.
Most of the things I am responding to negatively (whether mildly or strongly) are things that may in fact make perfect sense (both logical and emotional) in the context of your manuscript, and I know this. What I hope to get across is when you are not offering the reader of your query letter the context they need to see your manuscript for what it is.
This is not an opportunity for me to bash strangers. I can do as much of that as I like at work (and whatever you may think, I don't do much of it. It's a waste of time). This is an opportunity to fine tune your understanding of what assumptions readers might make based on your letter, and to fiddle with your letter so that they make the right ones.
It is a fact of life that editors are both loving and judgemental—we must be able to guess what book reviewers will criticize, as well as what children will love. Your editor will try to show you her judgemental side gently, but don't make the mistake of wanting an editor without one. Your writing is worth more than that.