Friday, June 14, 2013

Query First, Absolutely No Attachments

 How to write the perfect (okay, nearly perfect) fiction query.
 Or why you have less than a snowball's chance in hell of ever getting this garbage published.

 Type of book: Should precisely define and locate your book within the nearly infinite and mostly incomprehensible jungle of all other books.     Example:  Sort of a novel, I guess.
 Title:  Should be clever and catchy, if possible bearing little or no relation to the book's actual content.   Example:  Marilyn Monroe vs. The Humanoid Flesh Eaters Of Upstate New York

Genre: In fact, a trick question; while announcing the genre of your work is required, the vast majority of literary agents insist they do not represent "genre" fiction. Selecting a genre, therefore, is in effect the metaphorical equivalent of slitting your own wrists.

"Found your writing to be exciting, sexy and brilliantly unique, but unfortunately we don't do genre."

 Basic rule of thumb: be as genre-vague as possible. Employing multiple genres, if possible to the point of absurdity, is a proven method of getting noticed.
Example:  a speculative, quasi-erotic, dystopian, multicultural, urban, nanopunk, family saga       

Story Outline  (a.k.a. the irresistible hook)


 "Something pretty weird bad is happening in Rochester, N.Y., and you're like so what else is new, but this is bad beyond bad, cause, and who the hell knows why, people are like turning into cannibals, running around like crazy famished fiends and eating people, and you're like holy crap, what is up with this, and you're running too, like a lunatic for your own life, and eventually you figure like what the hell, and you pull out your last pack of smokes, even though you like totally swore on a stack of holy books you'd quit, but then if this ain't a mitigating circumstance what is, and so you're trying to at least finish one smoke before you're, you know, eaten, and then out of the blue there's this cannibal right up in your face, and it's like thanks for nothing God, but then, like wham, a fucking miracle happens, cause the cannibal is back-peddling away from you, trying to tear its own face off while shrieking at the top of its lungs, and it hits you - these fuckers can't stand cigarettes."

"Maybe it's like passive smoke damage paranoia or something, who knows, but you're all of a sudden thinking you may not get eaten after all, all you got to do is keep smoking, except the city is turning fast into a ghost town, and in this dark day and age cigarettes just ain't that easy to find, so now you're like searching for smokes while at the same time ducking the cannibals, and then, lucky you, you run into this totally weird Born Again C girl, who latches on to you and would rather rip your arm off than let go, scared out of her head, but she won't stop whining, and you're like, why don't you just send up a flare or something, give the crazy ghoul people our exact G.P.S. coordinates, and by the way shut the fuck up, but that ain't going to happen, cause Jesus has like bailed on her big time and she knows it, so you're like, hey nutcase chick, calm down, have a smoke, and she starts like really freaking out, screaming cigarettes were conjured by the Devil himself, smoking is a sin against God, blah, blah, blah, and how she would rather be like torn to pieces by inhuman monsters than smoke a single cigarette, and you're like, fine, have it your way, cause that's pretty much what's going to happen, probably like really soon."

"Meanwhile, it's still day one in scary nightmare cannibal land, and you're like already really fucking exhausted."

 Agent responses:

1:  This is the absolute worst query I've ever read. In fact, it's so bad that, for sickeningly perverse       reasons I can never hope to fully fathom, I actually want to read more. God forgive me.

2:  Are you like fucking kidding me?

3: Will there be a sequel?  I sincerely pray not, but will there?

4:  Novels are rarely if ever written in the third person singular. There is a good reason for this.

5:  Please send the manuscript in its entirety, so that we witches (sorry) agents can perform upon it a ritualistic burning.

6:  This so blows. For the first time in my life I actually envy the illiterate.

7:  Loved your query. Unfortunately, the market for experimental, postmodern, high-school-dropout, ironic horror/humor is virtually non-existent.

8:  If by any chance you're actually Thomas Pynchon, please inform us immediately.

1 comment:

  1. Please, please don't call upon TP.

    Uno Culus