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A greeting, some venting, and a question...

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

SRHowen

ahh wait--yes you can get one that way

The problem, as we're all too well aware, is that there's exactly zero feedback from the agent/publisher end. No one is ever going to tell us that "Your query letter is great, but we're not interested in this concept,"

Yes you can get ones like this, I have several. Honestly, I do.

The first said, they were sorry but that their list was full--it went on to add that they had never received a query letter as well organized and straight to the point as the one I sent.

Another thanked me for the no frills, no hype query and complimented me on the format of the letter. Then went on to say they thought they would be sorry for not taking my project ton but they didn't feel they would be able to market it.

Another said they wished all their quires were so quick and easy to find the info in. They also rejected the ms based on not thinking they could market it.

On the other note of negative, your query sucks, I've gotten those before I switched to the type of query I use now. One publisher who asked for a detailed synop, blasted me for the thing going on and on and on never ending which they also assumed meant the book sucked as well.

Another when I tried the humor approach-much like what sir s posted as his query, informed me that if I didn't take my writing seriously enough to write a decent query why should they even consider me as a client.

I've also been told to take up one handed knitting, by an editor, as I'd be more useful that way. He made this comment scrawled across the top of my query--which included 3 sample chapters. (this was my funny one)

As to the query I used to get my agent the numbers went something like 64 total queries, about 10 scams, that didn't look that way even in research--about 30 sorry my list is fulls or one word responses on the top of the letter, No, no thanks etc. About 10 very personal ones who told me I was a strong writer but for whatever reasons they couldn't take it on--most gave me some direct reasons why they wouldn't.

The other 14 were requests for further material.

SO a pretty good average actually.

So in my opinion your query means everything--it's the face you present to the agent. No gimmicks, no cute attention grabbers, just straight up info. IMHO

Shawn
 

Sir Scammedalot

Re: ahh wait--yes you can get one that way

Shawn, I was with you all the way up until the very last line. Didn't you infer that you suffered through several rejections by using the no frills approach? I've gotta be honest, I've tried it myself, and regardless of what some agents say about how much they want it or appreciate it, it has never gotten me anywhere. If you can't impart the same information in an eye-catching, entertaining way or original way, well, let's just say that in my case "no frills" hasn't worked.

The reason I decided on humor in the query I posted earlier was that the tit-for-tat "wit" I used is a direct reflection of the type of humor I tried to employ in the book. I think in that case it's appropriate because you can give the agent an idea of your writing style, while also telling him/her what she needs to know (length, genre, et al). I haven't even used it in any mailings, only e-mails, and there was enough interest sparked to give me hope that it could prove successful when I decide to do the "postage thing." But who knows?

I think the point --and here is where we agree--that there are certain imperatives which should be put it the query is absolutely true. But in my opinion how you impart that info should depend on the book you're selling and the agent you're selling it to. There is just to much evidence to the contrary for anyone to insist that there is one cookie cutter way of writing a query. That's my take anyway. But I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable on this subject as many. Victoria, are you out there?- Sir S.
 

HapiSofi

Victoria, the Dandelion contract sounded to me like a "bail out now" proposition on the basis of the author-copies paragraph alone. The contract gives the author a one-time opportunity to buy 100 copies of his book at a 40% discount. Thereafter, the discount will be much less generous.

That provision is only meaningful if the author won't have another way to buy copies at a 40% discount once that one-time opportunity has been used up; but the only way the book can be unavailable at those rates is if booksellers aren't getting a standard 40% discount.

Either the contract doesn't anticipate bookseller discounts, and thus doesn't anticipate retail sales, or it sells the author copies of his own book at half the discount rate they'd give any bookseller who walked in the front door. Both make me nervous. And, as you say, there's wrong stuff all over the rest of the contract.

ProandCon, PA is more vicious. These guys are too greedy up front. That'll tip off the mark. PA's a much more sophisticated design, and I'm sure they do far more business than Dandelion.
 

katdad

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

We all pay someone to print our books, unless you're a printer yourself.
That's not necessarily true.

How about my agent sells the book to the publisher, the publisher sends me an advance on royalties, and prints the book.

That's the direction I expect the money to flow: From the printer to me, not the other way.

When you said that in self publishing "you print the book yourself" I'm sure you didn't mean that you crank up a Heidelberg in the basement. Someone else is printing the book for you, as you have paid them to do.

You're still paying someone to print up copies of your book. I don't see how this differs from a vanity publisher. With a vanity press, you decide on the cover and text and size and whatever, if you choose.

In my eyes, self publishing = vanity publishing. With the single exception that you may pay less per copy for the books if you "self publish".

Tell me this: If I self-publish, can I go over to the local Barnes & Noble or the Borders Books and ask them to put my books on display? Or is all the display controlled and managed by corporate?

Have you ever heard of someone going into a chain bookstore and getting them to display a privately published book?

Or am I missing something?
 

Sarashay

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Peter Bowerman's The Well-Fed Writer is self-published and it is happily ensconsed on the shelves at the Borders where I work.

Then again, it's nonfiction, so that may be part of it.

'shay
 

maestrowork

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

When you self-publish, you're operating as a publisher, not the writer. You'll have to do everything a publisher has to do. So yes, you will be able to go to Barnes and Noble and work with their "Small Press" program to put your book(s) on their shelves -- maybe selectively.

With self publishing, you own the ISBNs, you own the rights, you own everything. You decide on the print model -- POD, digitial, offset, ebook? You decide when it's out of print, or when to offer ebooks, or whatever. YOU have to sell the books. You're a publisher. You do what every publisher has to do, and you can also publish other people's books if you want to.

Another difference is, book reviewers don't review vanity books. With self-publishing, since you're operating a legit publishing company, there's a good chance a reviewer might review your book (nothing is guaranteed, of course).

In a way, true, it's a perception issue as well. To have a book published by iUniverse or PublishAmerica, you're "tinted." But if your publisher comes up as "Katdad Publications," it sounds more legitimate. Another perception issue:
- Vanity will accept almost anyone; so there's no quality control
- True, self publishing means you print whatever you want as well, but since you have to do all the other work (design, publish, sell, distribute, etc.) it just seems more serious, that you're willing to put that much time and effort into the work. Not to mention, again, that you're operating as a publisher now, not just an author.

If you're still not sure what self-publishing entails, read Dan Poytner's book. It's very enlightening. And I am sure a few self-publishers like Greenwolf can explain it better than I do.
 

katdad

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

When you self-publish, you're operating as a publisher, not the writer.
Thanks for the exposition. I do see there's a difference between the self-published vs. vanity. I think the major difference is that the self-publisher is aware of the realities and the vanity person may be deluded.

Myself, I still can't see the merit of paying someone to print my books. That's still the wrong direction for the money to flow, imo.

So I'll stick with the conventional process and let my agent hawk my book to publishers, take her 15%, and let me keep the remainder.

A sale isn't guaranteed but I'm not out any money, either. I can spend that money on better things, like wine, women, and gambling. The rest I'll squander.

Ha ha. No, there's always one more gun to buy or another opera CD or something else. In the meantime I'll keep cranking out the stories and see what my agent can swing.
 

maestrowork

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

It's because you're a writer, not a business man. To self-publish you need to be the business person as well.

That's why many people go vanity, because they don't know how or have no interest in running a publishing business.

The reason to self-publish: Many types of books are better served that way because of limited market -- poetry, short stories collection, anthologies, specialized non-fiction. Some people publish their own books to compliment their services (self-help, consulting business, specialty, etc.)

True, you have to pay to have your books printed (well, your publisher has to pay someone to print your books, too, unless they operate a printer themselves -- you just don't see that cost in your contract). But consider the benefit: you take all the profit, instead of 10-15% of cover or net. So if you sell 10,000 of your book at $10, and the cost of printing/distribution/etc. is $4 a book, you make a handsome $6 per book instead of a paltry $0.85 (remember the 15% you have to give to your agent). The downside, of course, is that you have to put up the capital (not to mention everything else like distribution, selling, etc.) It's certainly not for the faint of heart, but the the profit margin can be very good.

Some self-published books go on to make millions (for example, What Color is Your Parachute)... for some people, it's better than waiting for that big, fat contract...
 

katdad

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

True, you have to pay to have your books printed

This is my sticking point.

Look at this... I didn't pay someone to let me go into an office and perform tech writing. They paid me. I didn't pay someone to write computer programs. They paid me. I didn't pay someone to manage a software division. They paid me.

And right now, when I'm editing a scientific thesis or a legal document or advising someone on advertising layout for a client, or writing an opera review or article for a magazine, guess who pays whom? I don't pay them. They pay ME!

That's how it works. You do the work, they pay you.

If I find that I have to pay someone else to print my books, then I'm in the WRONG PROFESSION!

I may as well run off a bunch of copies at Kinkos and stand on the streetcorner, trying to sell them for five bucks.

In the meantime I'll let my agent do the selling and earn her 15%.
 

maestrowork

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

If you operate a business, you have expenses. If you are an employee, you don't.

If you operate a restaurant, you need to pay for goods, supplies, food items, etc. not to mention employees.

You need seed money to start a new business. But you can end up being the next Bill Gates.... No one says you can't get a loan or an investor... the pay off can be great if you do it right.

If you are a self-publisher, you need to pay for stuff... it's a business. The good thing is, money flows in directly to your pocket as well.

You said you don't pay anything to write programs, etc. That's because you're not running a business. You're an employee, a contractor. I bet if you're the owner of your software company, you'd think differently about expense vs. profits.

If you think of writing as a job, then you shouldn't pay for anything... but if you think of publishing as a business, then expenses and costs are part of the equation...

As a writer, you pay to have your things submitted as well. OK, so you use your office equipment and supplies at work... but that's not the point (i.e. I can't do that since I don't have a day job). The point is, someone has to pay. You're actually making your day job employer pay for your writing career... Your agent might be paying for copying cost, mailing, etc. but it all comes back out of your pocket when you pay that 15% commission.

It's about cost and benefit. You may not have to pay anything upfront if you find a publisher who is willing to put up the cash to invest in your book, but your profit also is 10%. No money in, less money out. Your publisher gets the big chunk of that cash.

The good thing about self publishing (again, it's not for the faint of heart and unmotivated) is you have COMPLETE control of the process. You keep all the profit, and not just 10%. You decide where your books are going to be sold... you decide how exactly your books are going to look and feel...

And don't forget, business expenses are tax deductable.

Yes, to many people, putting up that initial capital is the sticking point. And boy, do you have to work hard for it. But I remember a post today about someone self publishing his non-fiction history book and going on to sell over 15,000 copies. It's a risk -- as most businesses have risks -- but the payoff is great:

Assuming 15,000 copies...

Cost: let's assume $6 a book for printing, promotion, distribution cost, etc. Initial capital $95000. Not something you and I can afford, probably. There's always the bank.... also, some of this money might not be all up front. You can put up and sell 5000 (or even 1000) copies first, then use that profit to pay for the rest as sales continue to thrive... so your initial cost could be as low as $6000... then you grow your "business."

Profit: let's assume you retail the book for $15 and offer the stores 20% discounts -- that's $12 sales. Your profit would be $95,000. That's 100% return. Add the tax benefits of operating a business...

To make $95,000 off royalties, on the other hand, you'll have to sell about 90,000 books. That figure is probably unrealistic for a book like a regional history non-fiction... And you have to pay taxes on that profit.

That's why some people opt for self-publishing. Again, it's a business, and you have to think like a business man. A businessmen have to put up capital to run a business...
 

katdad

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

I'm not a publisher. I'm a writer. So that's how it goes. I also don't have the investment capital for printing my own book.

In your example, the writer spent $95k and sold enough books to make $95k, right? Seems like investing that money in a CD or bonds would be a better return.

If I want to see copies of the book in people's hands, I'll just get over to Kinkos and run off laser printouts, stick them in an acco binder, and sell them at art fairs and such. Zzzzzz.

And understand, I am NOT writing a regional history book. I'm writing modern private detective fiction.

Let me ask you this. Can you name ONE mystery novel that was self-published that's been reasonably successful? A book that I can go over to Murder By the Book or Borders or B&N and see on the shelf?
 

maestrowork

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

That's $95,000 PROFIT in my example. The actual revenue is $190,000 for the initial $6000 investment (or $95K total expense, which is tax deductable).

Show me one stock or CD (except crazy stocks like EBAY) that makes you 100% ROI in a year or two.

As a matter of fact, show me a $95,000 advance from a publisher...

Of course, not all self-published books go on to sell 15,000 copies as in my example. Then again, some go on to sell millions. Who knows?


Very well, if you just want to write. I'm just telling you if you want to "self-publish," you're no longer just a writer.

And since you want to just write and (let someone else) publish your mystery novel, go ahead and find yourself a publisher. I have never said it'd be right for YOU.

I have repeatedly said: self-publishing is good for some types of books and some types of people, and it's not the same as vanity (which was your original question). Self-publishing doesn't carry the same stigma as vanity, and many books do go on to become best sellers ("What Color Is Your Parachute" or Richard Paul Evan's "A Christmas Box," for example).

Obviously, self-publishing is not for you.


The following is from Morris' website:

Self-publishing is one of the fastest growing segments of the publishing industry; authors find it attractive for many reasons. Unlike using traditional publishing companies, self-publishing allows the author to be in control of the entire creative and selling process.

As a self-published author, you pay the full cost of producing your work and are responsible for marketing and distribution. Therefore, the finished copies, the copyright, all subsidiary rights, and all money received from book sales are exclusively yours.

First-time authors may find it difficult to be accepted by a traditional publishing house because of the unpredictable sales of a newcomer's book. You can test your book's sales potential by self-publishing a small quantity through a short-run book printer.

Profit is not always the primary objective of writing a book. Your book may be designed to explore your own interests or to fill specific needs of an organization, a business, or your family. Traditional publishing companies prefer books that will interest the mass market and will usually not accept a work intended for a small audience.


Seven Reasons to Self-Publish

1. Time
Most traditional publishing houses work on an 18-month production cycle. With self-publishing, you can have your books ready within weeks.

2. Control
A book is a reflection of the author. Self-publishing gives you the final word on the direction of your book. The decisions are exclusively yours and not limited by third parties with intentions and interests different from your own.

3. Profit
Since you, the author, will primarily handle your own promotion, why not self-publish and earn a profit of 40 to 400%? A large publisher finances a project but may only offer a 5 to 15% royalty. If your book becomes a hit, publishers may come calling. Your high profit margin will give you the upper hand in negotiations.

4. Possession
As a self-publisher, you own all rights to your book. If you use a traditional publishing house, they will own all rights. If they lose interest in your book, you will not be able to print additional copies unless you purchase those rights back.

5. Niche
Because your book may fill a niche that has not been met, you can test the market by printing a small quantity of books. Books specifically designed for the needs of a smaller audience may not be found in the mass market because publishers feel the demand is not great enough to warrant a large press run. If you are an expert in a field and understand that market, who better to self-publish and sell than yourself!

6. Locality
Books about local or regional topics, e.g., historical books about certain towns, projects, etc., are generally produced by local authors in short-run quantities. Large publishers will decline publishing these books because of limited sales potential.

7. Legacy
Making money is not the only reason to publish. Sharing what you have learned or leaving a legacy are other admirable motives. A book is an expression of yourself.
 

James D Macdonald

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Tell me this: If I self-publish, can I go over to the local Barnes & Noble or the Borders Books and ask them to put my books on display?

Yes, it's possible, and detailed instructions for doing just that are available.
 

James D Macdonald

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Profit: let's assume you retail the book for $15 and offer the stores 20% discounts -- that's $12 sales. Your profit would be $95,000. That's 100% return. Add the tax benefits of operating a business...

Maestro, if you offer the stores a 20% discount they'll say "Call us back when you're serious." Discounts start at 40%. Distributors expect heavier discounts than that.

If your only expense was printing, in your example, you'd see a large return. Unfortunately, printing isn't your only expense. Sure, business expenses are deductable. But you have to have the money to pay 'em long before they're deducted.

Your best bet as a self-publisher is in specialized non-fiction. For general interest fiction -- good luck.
 

vstrauss

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

>>Self-publishing doesn't carry the same stigma as vanity, and many books do go on to become best sellers<<

Self-publishing carries pretty much the same stigma as vanity--even where it is true self-publishing--because the truth is that as with vanity, most self-pubbed books should never have seen the light of day. A self-pubbed--or vanity-pubbed--book that can show good sales (several thousand copies sold within a few months of release) has the potential to intrigue a publisher or agent, and some self-pubbed books do indeed become bestsellers. But these represent a miniscule percentage of all self-pubbed books--a far smaller percentage than of commercially published books.

Self-publishing boosters like to provide lists of famous authors who "chose to self-publish" but these lists are misleading, because they don't cite special circumstances (for instance, Anais Nin's work, by the standard of her times, would have been considered obscene), or are drawn from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century, when commercial publishing as we now know it didn't exist.

- Victoria
 

Sir Scammedalot

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

I'd comment on the self-publishing/vanity publishing debate but I'm afraid the subject is a bit out of my league. I'm not quite sure how this thread became predominately about this subject, but seeing as how I began it I hope you'll allow me to briefly re-direct.

Victoria, glad you're back. The amateurs and unaccomplished among us need you. Any feedback on proper querying is appreciated. Also, I just received a contract offer from Andrew Whelchel asking for a $375 postage deposit so I promptly threw it in the trash.

A question; I recently sent out a round of feelers to small publishing houses and, concerning Ludlow Publishing in particular, how much in the way of "selling" or printing some material for publishers should the author be expected to bear, even at a small, struggling artsy house? These guys sound a bit desperate, even for a small house. Is being published for the first time important enough for me to consider such a devotion of time and expense?

Thanks, Sir S.
 

maestrowork

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Everyone has good points. Obviously, self publishing is not for everyone (and I've said that time and again). I won't encourage anyone to go that route unless you feel it's necessary. Still, I'd tell people to self pub and never go vanity, ever -- I do believe there's a difference in perception, and possibly quality.

General fiction is a beast anyway. It's also not for the impatient. It could take years, if ever, to see your first book in print. The reward could be grand, for those who persist. And you have a better chance succeeding with a traditional house for general fiction.

For those who are extremely driven and business savvy, though, self-pub could be a really good route to take.

p.s. my example is based on my assumptions. Obviously, you can get your books printed for cheaper in bulk ($2.5 - $4 a book) and spend the rest of your expense budget on marketing and promotion and sales. That's why I use the $6 figure for total cost. If 40% is what the bookstores expect, then raise your retail price to $18 instead of $15, or settle for a smaller profit margin ($4 profit is still a pretty good deal). The thing is, you CAN do that because you are the publisher, and get your books in stores if you want.
 

vstrauss

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

>>I recently sent out a round of feelers to small publishing houses and, concerning Ludlow Publishing in particular, how much in the way of "selling" or printing some material for publishers should the author be expected to bear, even at a small, struggling artsy house?<<

I've never heard of this publisher and can't find any info on it. What expenses exactly are they asking you to bear? I'm guessing it's the usual schtick with dinky hobbyist publishers where they don't have the budget to do anything resembling marketing and distribution, and therefore want to convince their authors that this is their job. It shouldn't be. Of course you'll want to do some form of self-promotion, but it shouldn't be up to you to hand-sell your own books.

>>These guys sound a bit desperate, even for a small house. Is being published for the first time important enough for me to consider such a devotion of time and expense?<<

If the publisher can't market and distribute your books, being published by it is probably equivalent to not being published at all.

- Victoria
 

Sir Scammedalot

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Victoria, I found the link under Eraserhead Press www.angelfire.com/az2/era...inks.html. The houses are mostly fairly quirky, dealing with experimental works (which mine certainly is). From the site it looks like Ludlow has only have one author, Richard Ramirez ("The Losers Club"). Maybe I'm seeing it wrong but they're even selling tee shirts. Sad.

If something doesn't pan out somewhere I'm not sure what's left to do, besides tinkering with the query for the umpteenth time and changing the name of the book and going through the entire cycle again. Very disappointing. I know the book is good, as do many unpublished authors, yet no one can seem to find a place for it (or in most places even give it a read).

When I began this process I never dreamed it would be so difficult to get published. Naive of me perhaps, but I thought good, well-polished literature would sell even if there was no target market per se, much as a studio might produce 1 or 2 movies a year they know could possibly lose money but which will give them clout with the critics (humbly speaking). My naivety is gone. This is about money, money, money and it was probably ever thus. But they haven't beat me down yet. I simply must learn and adapt and you and the others are helping with that.

Sir S.
 

katdad

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Ludlow Publishing... etc.
If this is a legitimate publisher (they pay you, not a joint venture), and they want to buy & publish your book, I'd say go ahead.

It's better to get published by a small house than not at all.

That being said, make certain that Ludlow isn't a scam publisher. (myself I don't know anything about them at all).

For example, they might ask for perpetual print rights or require a huge fee from you if you want print rights back.

Or they may ask for your "partnership" (i.e. please send us your hard-earned money).

But if they check out as okay, even if they're a small house, go with them. Getting published by a small but legit house is fine, because it gets your book in print and out there. You may not garner the reviews or attention that a Doubleday or Random House imprint might, but that may come with your next book.
 

Sir Scammedalot

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Thanks, Katdad--will check on them further...Sir S.
 

maestrowork

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

Do you mean Ludlow Press based in New York?

www.ludlowpress.com/quest...lisher.htm


They seem very small and they expect some sort of "partnership" with the author. Their royalty system is unconventional as well (50%) but they expect the authors to do lots of marketing/selling.
 

Sir Scammedalot

Re: Difficulty finding an agent

That sounds exactly like the one. At first glance at seems as if they're a starter outfit with limited resources, thus the "partnership" clause. The editor/publisher has the same vision I do for what constitutes exciting writing content, but I fear I couldn't pull off the "selling" aspect they require.

For example, it looks like she wants you to call other authors you've never met and beg them to read enough of your book to give you a blurb to put on the back cover. What's the etiquette there? Is it acceptable to beg another author to do such a thing? I'm not sure I've got it in me to be the businessman it may take to sell my book at some of these smaller places, thus, due to a lack of starter capital as well, self-publishing would also be out...Sir S.
 

SimonSays

Sir Scammed

Hey Sir,

I read your sample query earlier in this thread and I have to say that I think you are doing yourself more harm than good.

You take way too long to get to the good stuff - which may lead agents to think your novel takes way too long to get to the good stuff. One of the things that agents et.al. look at in queries is HOW the writer WRITES. They make sweeping judgements on your ability and style based on how you handle that one page.

You waste precious time on what possessed you to write (agents don't care what possesed you to write) and compare your work to true masters of their genres (never advisable).

And once you get to the good stuff - you keep pulling the reader out by making asides and editorial comments. (Again this could be interpreted by agents as what your novel will be like as well)

I also think the addressing the reader aspect is not very effective in a query. You mentioned that you got some bites - but my guess would be that you probably lost far more than you interested.

There's nothing wrong with using humor in a query (especially if you are pitching a work that is humorous in tone) but the humor should be in service to selling your story - not detracting from the sales pitch.

That said, the book sounds interesting.
 

Sir Scammedalot

Re: Sir Scammed

Thanks, Simon. Though it is somewhat difficult to have one's work negatively critiqued, yours was exactly the type of specific info I was looking for in regards to preparing an effective query.

When mentioning the masters of the genres in my opening statement, it certainly was not my intention to favorably compare my work to theirs but only to express the INTENT of my work. Horrors! I would never mention myself in the same breath with Jack Kerouac! But reading his book "On the Road" did inspire me to write mine. Perhaps I should rephrase the opening statement if it gives the wrong impression or is ineffective.

I'm not sure what you mean by "getting to the good stuff." If by that you mean a bare bones type of info, like genre, # of words, et al., then you're absolutely right. As I mentioned before, I've tried it that way and have never gotten any agent responses. This humor angle is like the last straw for me. Professionality and succinctness ONLY, do not guarantee an effective query, either, as I can fully attest.

The "editorial comments" you referenced were purposeful, in that they are meant as a reflection of the banter which exists between the main character and an alter-ego (he's a bit of a schizo). Of course, that may also be inadvisable and ineffective as a querying device. But I'm really running out of ideas.

It was my desire when writing the query to be concise, informative, entertaining, and and also give the reader an example of the writing style I employ in the book. It may fall flat in some peoples' eyes but it's the best I've been able to come up with, and if I may say it has had its moments (more than I can say for any of the other queries I've done). I may be losing more agent inquiries than I garner, but there is of yet no evidence of it, at least in my case. Anything over zero inquiries is a real plus.

For any of you who have a bit of time and the inclination, there is nothing I'd like better than to see you take the exact info I gave in my own query to write it the way you'd write it if you were contacting an agent. I promise not to plagiarize because I'm just arrogant enough to think I don't need to. But I might adopt a couple of ideas if they're good.

I'll re-post my query (slightly altered) from page 1 and also add a marketing statement and blurb I've prepared in order that you have more info at your disposal. Having said that I don't really expect anyone to waste their time doing this, but if so inclined, feel free. I think you will see what I'm up against when trying to describe such an experimental work...Sir S.


Query

One day, a bit bored, I asked myself a literary question: Would it be possible to combine the carnal rants of Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” and existentialism of Kerouac’s “On the Road” and, while I’m at it, weave several obscure, Warhol-like pop culture references into the tale, all while maintaining plot consistency?

Hmmm…with your writing ability?

Easy now. What if I was to embellish my main character (“Alex”) with an alter-ego who likes to write poetry and dwell on idiosyncrasies and then have them engage each other throughout, in a steady stream of witty banter and philosophical debate?

Yeah, the mental health angle. How novel.

Patience, unbeliever. What if Alex then fell in love with a superstitious college girl with golden Bo Derek-braids who just so happened to be a distant relation to Count Dracula, and what if he began to blow things up in his spare time for money?

Oh, great; sex, violence, greed…and Dracula? You’re nuttier than this guy.

No name calling, please. Assuming the answers to the prior three questions are “yes,” could I then possibly weave this bizarre hodgepodge of dizzying variables into a fairly classic espionage tale, with corrupt FBI agents, car chases, burning SUV’s and assassinations?

Hmmm…let’s just say the answer MIGHT be yes if you were…FRANZ KAFKA! Which you assuredly are not. Are you insane in the membrane?

Uh, no comment.

Hello, the result of my temporary insanity is a novel entitled “Green Asylum.” The manuscript is just under 93,000 words in length and would perhaps be best characterized as enviro-terror/psychological/experimental. It is at once a book of classic espionage, carnal cravings, crackpot ravings, rebellious views, demented ideas, poetic musings, pop-culture allusions and loony humor. It’s no genre book, to be sure, but there should be a little something for everyone...



Green Asylum Book Statement



Meet Alex Booker. Brilliant…hip…sexy…and frankly, a bit mad. Alex is a carnal-obsessed, ex-army demolitions expert who performs contracts for a secretive, radical environmental group known simply as the “Organization.” As time progresses, the contracts become more complex and dangerous, eventually calling for targeted assassinations against CEO’s of major industrial polluters. But Alex has a problem. He has unwittingly fallen for the daughter of a CEO who is soon to be targeted, and the FBI is hot on his trail. But more importantly, he must deal with an increasing sense of alienation to the world in which he lives and a fleeting reality which is beginning to elude him. Eventually, he has no choice but to surrender to the dark forces tormenting his soul. The Dr. Caligari of espionage thrillers, Green Asylum is bizarre, yet engaging; disturbing, yet enticing. Both distorted and existential—ultimately, it is simply original.

Marketing statement


A sassy, street-smart, slang-infested diatribe of existential furor and “beat” rhythms, Green Asylum is the Dr. Caligari of espionage thrillers; an unrelenting foray into poetic madness.



See what I mean? - Sir S.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away