Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, October 25, 2007

LIFPC Update #5 (also some query advice re: ignoring guidelines)

Lainey is right, we've not yet hit 700 entries so my resolve should not be crumbling, particularly after I expressed so much confidence that I could handle a billion.

It's just... I mean... Have you seen the....

But no matter. Please continue to enter!! And sure, tell your friends. Because I'm crazy. But please note that the deadline for entering is 5:00 PM Pacific Time. Then it will be time for the bourbon I mean judging. Or maybe both. Preferably both. Definitely both.

And I cannot thank May Vanderbilt from Good Girl Lit enough for helping me judge the entries. Please buy her books!

Now then. Due to the contest, this week has been light on ye olde publishing advice, and I thought I would offer some query advice to balance out the contest.

Lately I have been receiving a solid number of queries who mention my blog, which is great, because a personalized query increases your chances of a partial or full manuscript request by about 7,000 percent (and not just with me -- this goes for any agent). But then a good portion of these individuals then proceed to ignore nearly all of my submission guidelines and tips on how to write a good query letter.

Let me assure you that I do not expect you to wade through all 200 blog posts before you query me, and, for instance, a rhetorical question at the beginning of your query won't doom your chances (it will merely cause me to shake my fist and yell, "Cursed rhetorical questions, I WILL DEFEAT YOU YET!" before I read on). But some people will even go so far and tell me, "I know you like shorter query letters but I can't do that so here's a really long one." Hmm...

By no means do I expect you to read this blog like your life as an author depends on it, and you should take everything I say with a heaping grain of salt. But at the same time, I do not host this blog for my health (if anything, maintaining it is detrimental to my health and personal hygiene). If you mention the blog in your query, there's a certain level of responsibility that goes along with it in order for you to receive the accompanying increase-in-partial-requesting-odds.

So before you mention the blog in a query, please please please, at the very least read the "Essential" posts on the right hand side of the blog, and you ignore the Good Query Letters and Query Critiques at your peril.

And now back to the contest!


sex scenes at starbucks said...

Go Nathan Go!

I really think we all should pitch in for a bottle of bourbon for the poor man.

Josephine Damian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bria said...

Hey Nathan -

I'm tempted to post this "anonymous" so to not look like a kiss ass during the contest, but oh well.

I've been reading your blog for awhile and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to say THANKS - for keeping the info coming and doing it in a way that makes me giggle - or maybe that's my bottle of bourbon speaking.

Mrs. Revis said...

Personal hygiene? Oh, dear.

Shouldn't you just make the judges for the voting officially you, May, and the Captain?

(ok, ok, that's rum, but I don't know my bourbon...)

David said...

My son introduced me to Bulleit, a moderately priced but remarkably smooth bourbon. It would probably go well with this contest.

Linnea said...

Well, you'll have one less entry to look at, Nathan. I've tried five times to post my first paragraph but the darned thing won't load. Don't know if it's my server or my computer, or both! Anyway, thanks for doing this. It made me rethink my opening and now it's so much better.

Heidi the Hick said...

I must say this. I must.

Let's not be saying CRAZY like it's a bad thing, okay?

Crazy can be good! Crazy can lead us to do adventurous things, like stupendous contests, which really in many ways improve lives, people!

Sure, the laundry's piling up around here because I can't stop checking in on how high the number of entries has gotten. Of course I find it irritating when it takes two minutes to load up the comments page. But think! The education! The entertainment!

Is this crazy? YES. I love it.

(Although I'd really hate to have to judge this thing...)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I would LOVE to have to judge it, but I do stuff like this for my day job, so I guess not.

But then, so does Nathan! Yea for Nathan, you crazy man you!

And I mean that in the nicest way!

liquidambar said...

Be brave. Remember, it's just another discovery pile.

Laurel Amberdine said...

I didn't really expect the number of contest entries to hit the ten-digit range... but I was kind of hoping you'd break Blogger.

Nothing against Blogger, of course! But it would be a nice bragging point.

Morgan St. John said...

I know you're not a kiss a$$ bria... no worries here to you either, Nathan. I'm not looking for an agent!

I've been reading and I know my entries aren't going to win...not this time, anyway. ;-) There are some really great ones. Have fun finishing up. Sound like a great weekend for the internet cafe and Joe's diner -- 24 hour service, pink uniforms and memorable characters. So that when you look up, cross-eyed, from your laptop, there's someone that might give a damn and bring you a refill. :D

Happy Reading.

DW said...

So, may I ask what it means when someone does read your blog and tried very hard to get the query right, but still gets a rejection? Honestly curious, no bitterness.

Nathan Bransford said...


Unfortunately, while reading the blog and following query guidelines definitely improves your chances, the odds are that I still won't request a partial. It could be a lot of different reasons -- it might just not be for me, I might not connect with it, the writing might not be there... it could be lots of different things. It's just sort of the way it works, sadly.

Josephine Damian said...

My own personal choices for runner-ups are posted!

Finalists and my choice for best in show to follow on my blog....

Just my humble opinion! And not a single drop of booze was drunk in the process.

cate said...

I was hoping you might address the issue of agent location in your blog at some point. It seems to me that an agent's location does not matter in this day and age, given the ease of communicating via the web and email. However, I've come across several debates on the issue, that an agent's location does matter, and one who is in NY is going to garner better sales, etc., because of the proximity to the publishing houses. Kristin Nelson addressed this issue on her blog a while back, and I would be interested to hear your take on it, as well.

Thanks much!

Nathan Bransford said...


I actually addressed this a while back. Hope you find it helpful:

cate said...

Nathan, re agent location - Wow, that was fast! Extremely helpful, too, like all your posts. Though, I might be a little biased, living so close to SF.

Good luck with the LIFPC judging. Looking forward to the results!

Josephine Damian said...

Ok. While we're waiting for Nathan and May to sober up, er, I mean post their choices, do drop my blog to see who I think shined in their opening paragraph.

Again, much thanks to our tireless host for the opportunity for us all to learn exactly what makes a great opening.

Anonymous said...

I want to say thanks to Nathan first, and May for helping him! Wow what A great bunch of openers! Congrats to everyone who entered, they are all awsome! And thanks for reminding me of who I am by showing me that there are so many out there who still believe. I have been ghosting this blog site for a few months now, and I am always impressed with its' quality and content. Way to go!!!

Vianne said...

Could we get a disclaimer about people posting other people's entries on their blogs? without permission? Without even going into copyright issues, etc-it's not cool without permission from the author.

Amanda said...

Nathan, I've just discovered this blog and its the best thing since sliced bread!! Actually its even better than sliced bread since I could always slice a loaf of bread myself if I needed to but I could never in a kajillion years write a super-helpful blog like this one! Thank you!!!

P.S. Your cute too! Don't tell my husband I said that!!! LOL


Topher1961 said...

By the way, the folks on offer great advice on query letters. Sometimes they even rewrite them for you. People can be mean at times, but I've gotten helpful hints before.

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