For some reason, I received a couple query letters from authors wanting me to represent them. Since I’m not an agent, I wrote back telling them they made a mistake. I think that the letters must have been generated by a computer program, because if memory serves me, the letter I got went something like this: (there were no bold words but it was easy to imagine the spaces to fill in the blanks)
Dear Sir or Madame Jennifer Macaire (this should have been a tip right there – I don’t know many Sir’s named Jennifer, but I gave this author the benefit of a doubt and read on – after all – he could be foreign.)
I have written a fantasy novel called ‘the Queen of the Ring’ and I was hoping you would be interested in looking at it. It’s a sword and sorcery tale with lots of adventure and humor. I think this book will be a best seller in the fantasy genre because it closely resembles Lord of the Rings, which as you know, was a huge success. (well, at least he got his genre straight.)
I think you are the right agent for me because I like your agency. (agency? What agency?)
My writing experience: None, but every famous author had to start somewhere! (Yes, and most started with rejections.)
Can I send my manuscript to you by e-mail or do you prefer snail mail and hard copy?
Thank you for your kind consideration,
Dear Nit Wit,
This is Jennifer Macaire’s computer replying. I’m sorry for the computer generated response to your computer generated query letter, but Jennifer has too many important things to do this morning, including getting her coffee brewed just right and writing two chapters on her WIP. Yes, you dim-wit, you sent a query letter to an author, and while she sympathizes with your plight (she was once in your shoes; just starting out and sending out query letters) at least she took the time to write her query letter herself and make sure the agent she was sending it to really had an agency.
Rejections are never happy things, but I, (Jennifer’s computer) am chuckling over this one. If you can’t be bothered to write a query letter, which is your first contact with a person who is supposed to love your work and represent you, then why on earth should anyone be bothered to read what you really have written? Luckily, I, Jennifer’s computer (you can call me Benny) intercepted your sorry excuse for a query and took the time to reply. Not that you even deserve it. At any rate, we are not looking for fantasy books at this time. Jennifer is writing a novel and needs research about bridges. If you have any non-fiction about the history of bridges let us know.
Please do not send anything by e-mail. If you do send your manuscript snail mail, make sure there is absolutely nothing on any of the papers and that the paper is good quality, 80 g/m2 white, and virgin. Do not print or write anything on it; we don’t want to read your tripe but paper is always running low here. If you have extra envelopes, send them along too.
Jennifer is busy right now, otherwise I’m sure she’d love to reply herself. I know from experience she likes to help aspiring authors, but what she says about the spam she gets in her e-mail would carbonize your manuscript. If you want her to give you some advice, take mine: next time don’t use a computer program to speak for you.