Monday, 16 March 2009

Queryfail?

Ten days ago Colleen Lindsay (who blogs over at The Swivet, and is a literary agent with the USA-based Fine Print Literary Management) organised Queryfail Day: a day-long Twitterfest. Colleen was careful to advise those taking part not to post anything which might indentify any of the writers whose queries were being discussed; and she warned that the exercise was not being done to make fun of anyone, but was an attempt to show, in real time, how overwhelmed agents and editors are with submissions and why so many of them fail.

I thought that the concept was potentially useful, very interesting and funny (although I haven't read it all and I didn't participate—I'm not one of the Twittering classes). However, plenty of people take the opposite view and many seem to feel that those who took part ridiculed the writers concerned.

In a few days I'll post my own response to Queryfail: Publishingfail. Expect it to move slowly, as most things in publishing do. And to keep you going until then, here’s some further Queryfail reading.

Editor Unleashed discusses The Queryfail Trainwreck; Justine Larbalestier leads her own excellent discussion; Book Publishing Today discusses Queryfail too; and even The Guardian gets in on the act.

11 comments:

NICOLA MORGAN said...

Hi Jane
Having heard about this a while ago I have been really wanting to find the stuff on twitter (I am an occasional and fimsy twitterer ...) but I can't find any of it, only the fall-out, some of which you've helpfully linked for us. So, without actually having seen it, my view is (probably): a) if it doesn't name or identify people, what's the problem? b) the educational aspect (ie how terribly wide of the mark so many queries are) should be important and valuable c) having said that it sounds a little unprofessional and not something I'd want to do. On the other hand, I regularly have private email conversations along the same lines and we all know how "private" private emails can be ...

Tim Stretton said...

I suspect the very people who are most outraged by Queryfail are the ones who would learn the most if they approached it with an open mind...

Nik's Blog said...

As I understand it only subs which hadn't followed guidelines were selected. Even if one doesn't agree with what's been done, there's a lesson there!

Jane Smith said...

Nicola, I thought I had linked to it: if not, here's one especially for you:

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23queryfail

That SHOULD take you to all the twitters, but I think it starts with the most recent so you'll have to keep on clicking that "older" thingy.

Tim, that's exactly what I thought...!

And Nik, you too.

We're just all so damned REASONABLE here today, aren't we?

BuffySquirrel said...

Some people have nothing better to do with their time than to be outraged about something.

Here are agents giving up their time to help potentially thousands of writers. They're doing exactly what they've been asked to do again and again--telling writers why their queries fail. The fact that a few mistakes may have been made shouldn't overshadow the good intentions and the hard work involved. But la. See above!

NICOLA MORGAN said...

"so you'll have to keep on clicking that "older" thingy" - well, you mean I have to be PATIENT??? Now I see why I couldn't find the thread in the first place and i still can't cos I'm not going to sit there clicking "older" until I get older. So, in my impatience, all I'll ever see is people talking about queryfail. Still, I am meanwhile actually writing instead of reading about writers writing about readers reading writing and writing about writers being bad at writing. Meanwhile meanwhile, the rubbish queriers are probably no better than when they started, just more outraged.

NICOLA MORGAN said...

PS sorry forgot to say thank you for my special link! You are so good to me.

Jess said...

Thanks for the shout out. I'm totally engrossed in this whole business... And I'm glad it got people talking!

Best,
Jess
http://bookpublishing.today.com

amberbromer said...

what do you think about this sort of thing? http://www.blurb.com/

Jane Smith said...

Add Buffy to the list of Reasonable People: realise I already knew that... done.

Note that Nicola is Not Patient: realise I already knew that. Buy her a card for her 84th birthday, which is fast approaching... done.

Jane Smith said...

Jess, I was glad to link to you: I can see I'll need to spend more time over at your place.

And Amber, I've blogged briefly about Blurb and its link with Authonomy: just click on the "Authonomy" label and you'll find it. Feel free to ask more questions when you've read that piece.