Sunday, April 09, 2006

Paying for Query Services

PLEASE NOTE: If you are not using a querying service, the following message does not apply to you, and, therefore, you need not read further. However, if you are using a query service or thinking of using one, please read on...

Recently we have received a large influx of e-mails generated from various query letter-writing services. Our take on this is that if you need to pay someone to write for you, apparently you cannot do it yourself, and we would therefore have very little confidence in anything you write. This has been borne out in samples and full manuscript submissions received from writers who use these services. In other words, a well-written query usually means you are probably capable of writing a publishable book. Having a professional service generate your queries sends us the message that you are not professional, are in hurry, are possibly lazy, or that you don’t feel comfortable with your own writing skills. None of these are impressions you want to leave with anyone, let alone someone you are trying to convince to represent you and your work to a publishing entity.

The bottom line is there are no shortcuts to finding an agent or a publisher. If you do not have the time or skill to write a simple query letter, you probably do not have time or skill to write a synopsis or a chapter outline. This could be translated to mean that you didn’t take time to write, edit, or revise a marketable manuscript properly either. Some may argue that they are simply delegating the work of querying to someone else; however, there are some problems with this:
  • Query letters are not so difficult to write that you would need to pay someone else to write them for you if you are a professional writer. We sometimes wonder when a writer uses a query service whether he/she paid to have his manuscript written as well, as the descrepancy between the quality of the manuscript and the quality of the query is usually hugely evident.
  • On that note, based on the samples we have seen and compared to their corresponding queries over the years, it is easy to tell that the writer did not write the query letter. This is usually because the query letter says "Wow!" but the manuscript just doesn't hold up to "Wow!" Getting someone who is good at querying to write your letter for you and then sending a so-so manuscript effort leaves a terrible impression.
  • Most importantly, the act of writing a query and revising it as needed keeps the writer in touch with his/her manuscript in a way that is vital to understanding one's own writing.

Consequently, if you are using a query service, please note that we will no longer accept queries generated in this fashion, and, as of April 15, 2006, all such queries will be treated as spam mailings and will be deleted as such, unread.

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