Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Q & A 80 Do I have to follow directions?


When an agent merely asks for queries, is it acceptable to also send the first 5 pages? I have read conflicting opinions. Yes, it is fine as well as expected to send a few pages; and, no, only send EXACTLY what they ask for.

The idea to toss in the first five pages probably sprang from the assumption that the query letter was sure to suck, and thus a writing sample was the only hope. However, now that you have Evil Editor in your corner, your query letter is surely brilliant, so you have no incentive to send anything not requested.

In my experience, a writing sample is the last thing you want anyone to see, anyway. It's a sure deal breaker. Evil Editor's fifth rule of submission: Never let an agent or editor see the quality of your writing before the contract is signed.

7 comments:

Saralee said...

Ah, now your evil side is showing, EE. You sarcastic thing, you.

Have you been reading The Nasty Little Writing Book?

Saralee

Heather said...

Miss Snark says yes. EE says no. I am torn in twain.

But, as a good little Canadian girl, I shall follow the rules, even though that means not following her Snarkiness.

(ver: goesrerr - what Miss Snark does when people don't do as she says)

Evil Editor said...

Never choose Evil Editor over Miss Snark when the question was about what an agent wants. Especially when EE was going for a laugh.

Kendall said...

To add to what EE said, if you actually read her blog, Miss Snark said something along the lines that [her] definition of a "query" includes the first few pages. She said some agents don't want pages, and only wanted a query letter.

Sometimes submission guidelines make this clear, or the person's blog (if they have one). Agen Kristin's web site clearly states she wants a one-page query letter. But I read an editor's blog the other day, where the editor wasn't really into query letters. Yeah, he wanted a query letter, 50-60 pages (!), and a synopsis; but it sounded like he really cared mostly about the pages and found query letters tedious/boring/whatever.... ;-)

Frainstorm said...

"... tedious/boring/whatever ..."

Now there's a fine strategy I might adopt! If I make my query scream with tediousness and boredom, won't my first five pages just sing in comparison?

Thank you. I'm taking back all the query revisions I made after EE donated his wisdom. And I'll blare Point Blank out the speakers as I do so, guaranteeing agent requests.

John

desert minion said...

Evil Editor's fifth rule of submission: Never let an agent or editor see the quality of your writing before the contract is signed.

So that's why established professionals prefer to sell on proposal!

Anonymous said...

Most hilarious thing I've read in a while...thanks for the laugh, EE.