View Full Version : Question about Query & Explicit Content!

05-30-2013, 07:06 PM

So I am trying to put together my query letter and I'm wondering about mentioning explicit content. My book involves drug use, group sex and sexual assault, but I don't really know if this is something that needs to be pointed out in the query.

I kind of figured it might be something an agent would want to know right off the bat.

Any thoughts?

Thanks! :)

05-30-2013, 07:53 PM
I don't think you should mention it in a query. I think your description of the story should make it clear that it contains sex and drugs, and that as long as the agents you're querying represent projects that contain those concepts (which you can assume they do if they represent horror, thrillers, and murder mystery type things), you should be okay without mentioning "by the way, my book contains these things." If they find it over the top or objectionable in the pages they request from you, but they still like your story enough to want to work with you, they will tell you what to tone down if they think it needs it. That's what I think!

05-30-2013, 08:12 PM
If you are doing your jobs correctly, both in terms of finding appropriate agents and writing an appropriate query, you shouldn't have to specify......you should be querying agents who take that genre and style (as opposed to sending your Trainspotting to agents specializing in Christian fic, for example) and your query should make it clear without needing to say "there are orgies and needles"

I certainly haven't in any query I've worked on, anyway, and I've usually advised people to cut them if they do have "disclaimers." Generally I believe if you have to tell an agent something at the end of the query as a special side-note, the query wasn't pulling its weight.

The book I currently really, really need to finish has a bunch of folks who swear and a good deal of violence, for example, and the query mentions the MC intends to kill a group of folks for murdering his wife. My current query focuses on the MC's need to live a bit of a dual life, healing and hiding behind a veneer of normality as he plans and recovers enough to do what he has to do, and while the intent is clear I don't have a disclaimer saying "killing them will be bloody, and one of the bad guys says 'fuck' a lot."

05-30-2013, 08:13 PM
btw, get to 50 posts and take it down to QLH; they'll help you untie things there.

05-30-2013, 08:23 PM
Thanks so much! You both rock! :)

05-30-2013, 10:46 PM
If drug use, group sex and sexual assault are integral to the story, they must come into the query. If they are incidental but essential to the milieu, you might just hint at them, as in "Character A lives a debauched life in a very rough spaceport, accompanied by his loyal if perpetually stoned android B."

Mud Mamba
05-31-2013, 12:04 AM
I agree; if it's that kind of story it should be clear in the query just from describing the characters and plot.

05-31-2013, 04:30 PM
I haven't put a disclaimer about explicit content in mine, because I feel like after mentioning "pulling out his urethra and strangling him with it" in the query, a disclaimer would be pretty damn redundant.

(course I ain't never sent a successful query so pthpthtph)

05-31-2013, 08:50 PM
If the query is well done I think those topics can be hinted at without being explicitly told in the query. Unless the whole story is about the daily ins-and-outs of a busted hooker who can't find a decent vein then I don't think you need to spell it out in the query.