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Thread: Where Can I Post My Query Letter for Feedback?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Where Can I Post My Query Letter for Feedback?

    I was wondering where on this site is the appropriate place to post my query letter. The work is nonfiction and true crime, a personal experience. I have an agent, but he's getting nowhere, too. I've sent to some publishers myself, and they all say of my query and first chapter, "We read this with interest, but...." I'm not a newbie to the process, just to this site.

  2. #2
    Megalops Erectus Silver King's Avatar
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    You can post your query letter here, but first you'll need to accumulate fifty (legitimate) posts.

    You have only thirty-eight more to go.

  3. #3
    Gaze upon my shih-tzu powers! Billtrumpet25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver King View Post
    You can post your query letter here, but first you'll need to accumulate fifty (legitimate) posts.

    You have only thirty-eight more to go.
    Oh, for heaven's sake...I was so close to answering first.

    I second SK's statement, and welcome to AW!
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    Megalops Erectus Silver King's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billtrumpet25 View Post
    Oh, for heaven's sake...I was so close to answering first.
    Do I win anything besides just bragging rights?

  5. #5
    Gaze upon my shih-tzu powers! Billtrumpet25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver King View Post
    Do I win anything besides just bragging rights?
    Nope.
    My WIP:

    War of the Wizard (Book 1): undergoing editing

    The Wizard's Curse (Book 2): 60% complete

    "The Dark Ages: Life With a Bipolar (WIP-narrative nonfiction of my experiences with my bipolar dad, and how to deal with the bp dis.'s turbulence.

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  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I thank all of you for you input. I'll start posting more.

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    Your friendly neighborhood Chat Op AW Moderator JMC2009's Avatar
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    RWH,

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  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Queen JMC, I bow to your knowledge. Grin. Thanks much. Whenever I see something that says stickies, I think of stepping in maple syrup. Guess I should pay more attention to them. Thanks for the welcome. I've been looking for the right writing forum. This seems to be a good place.
    Last edited by RedWritingHood; 11-19-2012 at 12:29 AM. Reason: I left out a word.

  9. #9
    Cadence of Her Last Breath Ms_Sassypants's Avatar
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    Welcome! A real life crime story! Sounds interesting already! Do you need a query letter for a publisher too? Man, what a headache...as if querying an agent is hard enough, now publishers wants a query too?

    Isn't your agent supposed to do that for you?

    (Sorry, I'm a goon who isn't too familiar about how publishing works - please enlighten me...)

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Ms. Sassypants, Thanks for the welcome. I see you are a newbie too. Yes, the agent does that. But it's nearly impossible for agents to find publishing homes for things now with publishing houses closing, consolidating etc. There are small houses, but often one has to do so much that you might as well use a vanity press. I did that. I lost $20,000 on four different books - the publisher embezzled $10.5 million of company assets and used it on hookers, gambling and such and was forced into bankruptcy. He'd defrauded people in another state in an insurance fraud scam. Oh, joy. Anyway, when periodically I find a publisher who is open to author submissions, I query them.

    My true crime story - my brother shot and killed four of his neighbors. It broke my gentle parents' hearts and launched us all into a nearly unending nightmare. My story is about that nightmare. I published a book about it before, but errors found their way into the work, errors I did not insert, making some of it not true. I was extremely upset. That book was about victims on both sides of the crime. It was published nearly twenty years ago. I recently rewrote it using time-laced lenses and focusing only on the crimes, my family and most of all me. I've grown a lot because of this horrendous experience. But the growth was soul-ripping.

    So, anyway, I have what I think is a good query. I've been writing for over thirty years. But I can always use input from others to see if that can help. Fresh minds see things I'm jaundiced to. When I come up with a good query I also send it to my agent. It reminds him I'm there, and he likes me to do that. He adapts it. He represents a number of my works. We work in cooperation with each other.

  11. #11
    Whose amusement exceeds all known standards of propriety AW Paladin
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    Yes, the agent does that. But it's nearly impossible for agents to find publishing homes for things now with publishing houses closing, consolidating etc. There are small houses, but often one has to do so much that you might as well use a vanity press. I did that.
    That's nonsense. Seriously.

    I'm moving this thread to Basic Writing questions, which is a much better fit.
    Please take a look at The Newbie Guide to Absolute Write.

    Look! FAQs !!! OMG Eleventy

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  12. #12
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    it's nearly impossible for agents to find publishing homes for things now with publishing houses closing, consolidating etc. There are small houses, but often one has to do so much that you might as well use a vanity press.
    Red, that's just not true.

    The publishing world isn't in the dire situation you describe. Yes, some publishers have closed but they tend to be the ones without a good business behind them: the better ones remain afloat, doing well.

    If you have a good enough book, and a good enough query letter (and by "good enough" I mean strongly commercial as well as well-written), you will find a good agent and a good publisher for your work.

    Small publishers can and do publish books as effectively as the larger publishers: the trick is, as ever, to find the right small press.

    And it's never a good time to use a vanity press.

    I did that. I lost $20,000 on four different books - the publisher embezzled $10.5 million of company assets and used it on hookers, gambling and such and was forced into bankruptcy. He'd defrauded people in another state in an insurance fraud scam.
    That sounds like a nightmare. I'm so sorry you had such a difficult time: but if you lost $20,000 was that money lost in royalties due? Because it sounds like you paid the money over to your publisher, and if that's true you were working with a vanity press and not a reputable trade press. Not that you should have lost any money at all, but if that was the case then it just highlights why it's not a good idea to work with vanity publishers.

    .When I come up with a good query I also send it to my agent. It reminds him I'm there, and he likes me to do that. He adapts it. He represents a number of my works. We work in cooperation with each other.
    Agents represent authors, not books.

  13. #13
    Girl Detective AW Moderator Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Welcome to AW, Red!

    I admit to finding your situation a bit unusual. Can I ask who your agent is (you can reppie or PM me if you like; "reppie" means click the little cloud beneath my name, and it will give you a space to write a little message)?

    I ask because it's unusual for agents to have their clients querying publishers on their own, or writing their own queries, so I'm curious. And as Medievalist and OH said, books are still selling to publishers every day.

    Also, SYW has places where you can post not just your query, but your first chapter as well, so please do feel free to post that chapter when you've reached your 50 posts. We'd love to help you with it; it sounds like a fascinating story!
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  14. #14
    Feeling lucky, Query? jclarkdawe's Avatar
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    One of the best ways to get some of your fifty posts is critiquing. See, for example, Queriers, want a shortcut to writing a good query letter? ( 1 2) as to why this helps you.

    But I'll warn you that many of the critiquers in QLH (Query Letter Hell) are going to be a bit cautious with critiquing your query. As others have pointed out, some of what you're saying doesn't make sense in the world of publishing as it is commonly seen, and memoir writers can be difficult to work with. (Yeah, I know, you're calling this "True Crime," but your mentality is more like a memoir since it occurred to your family.) A previous (or current) agent and sending to publishers make this even worse from our prospective.

    I'd prefer to see you not becoming a train wreck such as occurred in this thread: Go Ahead, Make My Day ( 1 2). It's not our only train wreck, just one of the best. We're willing to help you become commercially successful , but we're not always nice in how we kick your butt (all of our butts have been kicked).

    Best of luck,

    Jim Clark-Dawe
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  15. #15
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    RedWritingHood!

    What the others said.
    Susan

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  16. #16
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    I have an agent, but he's getting nowhere, too. I've sent to some publishers myself...
    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    When I come up with a good query I also send it to my agent. It reminds him I'm there, and he likes me to do that. He adapts it. He represents a number of my works. We work in cooperation with each other.
    Er... If this is true of your agent, I really wonder whether he's a good agent.

    Has he had success selling your work previously? Is this just a set-back in an otherwise profitable, symbiotic relationship? (You don't pay him anything, right? He just takes a commission on what he sells?)

    There are scam publishers, but there are also scam agents. Have you checked him out on Preditors and Editors?

    Even if he's legit, an agent who isn't doing anything for your career is often worse than no agent at all. You shouldn't need to remind him that you exist, and you shouldn't need to query publishers yourself.
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  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I've been doing this since 1981. I know what I'm talking about - which is verified when reading stuff about the presses in all kinds of places like Publisher's Weekly, Writers Digest, Poets and Writers, etc. What I say is not nonsense. Everyone has the right their opinion, but overtime one learns the ins and outs.

    He is listed in Preditors and Editors as one of the good guys. He's not a scam. And most agents don't get back to a person very often. He always does. There are strategies one learns over time. My agent didn't ask me to do this. I decided to on my own. He was not offended. He's actually a cool guy and knowledgeable guy.

    To me, whenever someone publishes it themselves, using another service, it's a vanity press. A lot of people getting published these days go this route. The big houses go with what's safe and what will make them money. The money I lost was the money I paid for them to publish my work, like anyone does who publishes it themselves. I won't make that mistake again.

    After all these years I know about people not telling me the truth about what I've written. Most people don't want to offend, but even so, one can pick things up from even the worst critique. Thanks for your input.

    Namaste.
    Last edited by RedWritingHood; 11-20-2012 at 03:22 AM. Reason: Forgot something.

  18. #18
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    The money I lost was the money I paid for them to publish my work
    Whom did you pay to publish your work?

  19. #19
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    I've been doing this since 1981. I know what I'm talking about - which is verified when reading stuff about the presses in all kinds of places like Publisher's Weekly, Writers Digest, Poets and Writers, etc. What I say is not nonsense. Everyone has the right their opinion, but overtime one learns the ins and outs.
    No one implied it was nonsense. I just wanted to make sure you weren't one of the naive ones. If you're not, then I'm happy.
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  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I paid a publisher - the person who actually does the printing, marketing, etc. There were all kinds of things they planned to do. It all seemed legit. The pub. house was referred to me by a friend. She put me in touch with a person who used that publisher and was satisfied with the results. Two of the books were published, and there were sales. It seemed to be going well. So I paid to have two more published. Then it hit. The attorney general of state the publisher was in forced him into bankruptcy for nonpayment of his bills. All at once the five thousand I had invested for each of the four books ($20,000) was gone. Writers get paid last. There wasn't enough money to pay everyone, so I lost my investment in myself. So now, when people tell me they are paying a publisher/printing house to print their work, I cringe.

    I've gone to about myriad writers conferences. I've taken numerous writing classes, college level and through community schools. I have a large library of how-to-write books, including three on writing queries. I've gone to a literary attorney for publishing advice. My first agent was the late Eleanore Freide, the editor who discovered Richard Bach. At the time she was a giant in the industry. She and the publisher of the first version of this book told me it was true crime, not a memoir. I bowed to their expertise. Books stores shelved it in the true crime section of their store.

    The first chapter of both books shows the murder scene. The reader is with my brother as he shoots three of the people through three different windows. As he sees the woman run to the back of the house he tries the door. It won't open, so he breaks out the glass with the butt of his gun, climbs through the window, chases her down the hall holds the gun to her head and fires. Brain splattered all over the place. It was the most gaud-awful experience of my life. My family knew one of the families. We'd gone to church with them.

    jjdebenedictis, Thanks for your concern about my naivete.
    Apparently you didn't read all of the thread. AW Administrator said it was nonsense. Look above. I don't mind someone trying to inform me, even when their assumptions were not true. What I mind is someone who is disrespectful, like AW was. I'm not being thin-skinned. I'm seasoned at people disagreeing with me. No problem. This demonstrates a little immaturity. He who truly knows has no occasion to shout, Leonardo said.

    All I really wanted to know was where to ask about having my query read.

  21. #21
    Keeper of Fort Blanket L.C. Blackwell's Avatar
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    I think it was AW Admin who said it was nonsense, regarding the supposed near-impossibility for agents to home work due to publishing house closure, consolidation, etc.

    RWH, you've brought up a slightly sticky point here. If you've been struggling to place work since 1981, then you've certainly been doing this for a long time. However: there a number of multi-published (traditionally pubbed) authors on this board. Most of them can tell you--and will--that if you've been trying to home the same book for over thirty years, and your agent has encouraged you to do this, it gives rise to real concerns, professionally speaking.

    Best wishes, and welcome to the forums.
    Last edited by L.C. Blackwell; 11-20-2012 at 08:27 AM. Reason: Cross posting.
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  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I don't care if you have reservations or not. You don't know enough about me to make the statement you just made.

  23. #23
    Keeper of Fort Blanket L.C. Blackwell's Avatar
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    Which is why I had taken it down, after reading your post that came in while I was replying.

    Since you read it, however-- Let me say that we see a lot of people come through here. Every now and then, there are red flags that someone is going to have trouble. I'm seeing a lot of those flags through your postings, even though you're just getting started.

    I'd like to say we're all having a giant misunderstanding here, and everyone is going to settle down and get along happily, but I'm beginning to feel pessimistic.
    I am sometimes here. You can also find me at: First They Came for the Communists, a human rights blog.

    "We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them.

    -JRR Tolkien
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    All I really wanted to know was where to ask about having my query read.

    I gotta say, dude, this board tends to be pretty rough in terms of delivering home truths. And we see a lot of folks come in here with that "I know what I'm talking about, I don't need any of you clueless people who don't even know me to tell me what's what, yo!" attitude.

    It usually doesn't end well.

    Like L.C. Blackwell, your response to people raising eyebrows at your publishing experience does not fill me with optimism. Nor does it make me inclined to want to critique your query letter, when you get to posting it, since there tends to be a strong correlation between people who think they have publishing all figured out while saying things of questionable merit and people who .... do not react well to critiques when those critiques suggest that a deficiency exists.

  25. #25
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedWritingHood View Post
    jjdebenedictis, Thanks for your concern about my naivete.
    Apparently you didn't read all of the thread.
    You're absolutely right; I didn't read closely enough. My apologies!
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