View Full Version : Want to know how NOT to do it?

09-17-2015, 12:30 AM
I'm sure somebody already found this, but my agent Chip MacGregor has posted some truly wretched queries (names redacted) on his blog today. Enjoy!


09-17-2015, 03:24 AM
Awesome! Thanks for posting.

09-17-2015, 06:01 PM
Yesterday, Janet Reid posted a pic of a handwritten query on a postcard. So bad.

09-17-2015, 06:24 PM
After reading those queries, I feel so much better about my life as a writer...:roll:

09-17-2015, 10:06 PM
It must be noted here that McGregor's agency does NOT accept unsolicited queries, good, bad or in-between, period. That's explicitly stated on their website.


09-18-2015, 12:55 AM
Wow! Just, Wow!

I love the poetry queries and responses. Ha

Emily Winslow
09-18-2015, 12:28 PM
I often enjoy things like this, but the level of detail makes me uncomfortable. It's not just making fun of queries; it's making fun of these books' entire concepts.

When people volunteer their queries for comment (as in Miss Snark's glory days way back when--what a fantastic time to be on the internet!) I learn a lot and laugh a lot, hugs all around. But publishing and mocking queries sent in earnest--and private--is a whole other thing.

I do get a kick out of, for example, Slushpile Hell, but what gets quoted there tends to be the business parts of queries, highlighting an inappropriate way to approach an agent, not generally including the book descriptions.

I guess it's a continuum for me, and this falls on the uncomfortable end in my opinion. Not to mention that some of the concepts he makes fun of could maybe be actually good, if they were executed with brilliance. There are lots of books that can sound ridiculous in summary, especially if they have an experimental element.

I feel badly for any authors who find their queries there :-(

09-18-2015, 06:48 PM
If he publishes those regularly, I'll consider sending him a fake funny-bad query to publish. There's a section of the NY Times called Metropolitan Diary where they publish people's "odd fleeting moments" and I'm convinced that a good percentage are fictional. I'm thinking of writing one of those too.

09-18-2015, 09:38 PM
What's the point of this, other than to make fun of people? I understand publishing bad queries that just didn't work, and explaining why, but this is a guy with far too much time on his hands, and far too little respect for people who are sending him their dreams.

He isn't helping writers with any of this. As for this "humdinger, the poor guy obviously hasn't solved the problem of obnoxious agents. And wouldn't it be hilarious if it turned out this writer has done just what he says he has, only no one will listen.

~—Also got this humdinger: “I’ve solved multiple thousand year old philosophical, religious and scientific contradictions that can change the world. Please contact me if you are interested. I write about about very new and intriguing concepts relative to every culture and society. So far i have had over a hundred people tell me I have changed their life.” (I suggest you call and ask him to change your life. Right now.) - See more at: http://www.chipmacgregor.com/#sthash.Zhyf13eb.dpu

09-18-2015, 10:38 PM
some of the concepts he makes fun of could maybe be actually good, if they were executed with brilliance.

I agree. I'd like to try writing this one as humor:

"...the story of her two breasts leaving her body and “traveling to foreign lands, and commenting to each other along the way"

I could see the girls taking offence over the lack of dairy in Asian countries. And in cold climates, disembodied penises would be making unwanted advances due to the difficulty of accurate nipple reading.

Aggy B.
09-18-2015, 11:31 PM
As was pointed out above, these are unsolicited queries to an agency that only accepts referrals. Those writers are lacking many skills, namely proper research, but also basic punctuation and grammar. The ribbing directed towards the concepts seems like an aside to the fact that these are simply bad queries.

09-19-2015, 01:55 AM
I agree that some of this agent's comments go beyond good-natured joking. I know he is a top agent in his field and only takes referrals, but that doesn't give him the right to judge or disrespect other people's efforts or manuscript concepts, however amateur or bizarre they may seem in snippet form. Like James said, these are people's dreams and years of effort he's trashing.

I can't imagine what a query for a Haruki Murakami novel might sound like coming over the transom, but it might not be too far off from the breasts story. :)

09-19-2015, 02:10 AM
Funny, but if he thinks a "Children's book written for adults" is a completely inane, unmarketable idea, he's obviously never read Go the F**k To Sleep.

Whether the particular children's book written for adults is inane or unmarketable is, of course, another issue.

Aggy B.
09-19-2015, 02:32 AM
I don't know how Go the F*ck To Sleep was pitched, but I imagine it as a Picture Book for Adults, rather than a Children's Book for Adults.

As far as Mr. Macgregor, he seems to be opting for mockery rather than straight up anger/irritation. And yeah, I can see how it might rankle, but some of those excerpts are barely readable and are good example of content being pitched as something it most clearly is not. (I.E. the "family friendly" serial killer, child rapist thriller.)

Now, the question is, are these the sort of folks you want to piss off by writing about them in public? Perhaps not.

09-19-2015, 02:46 AM
As I said, Chip's my agent, and we've talked at length----online, on the phone, and in the flesh--about various subjects, including the bad queries (unasked for, mind) he's gotten over the years.

Does he suffer fools gladly? No. Is he astoundingly good at what he does? Yes. Does that combination work for everyone? Nope.

But it did for me.

09-19-2015, 08:10 AM
Hey, somebody's gotta try to fill Ms. Snark's Manolo Blahniks...