I tend to be an overly logical person. I can’t listen to the song “Whoomp! (There It Is)” without cringing every time Tag Team raps, “These three words when you’re gettin’ busy/Whoomp there it is.” It’s four words. FOUR WORDS!! 1) Whoomp 2) There 3) It 4) Is. Geez. Come on, Tag Team. Get it together.
And yet every now and then I like to shock my fiancee by buying a lottery ticket, such as when I spontaneously bought a Mega Millions ticket even though I had a better chance of being immediately beamed to Pluto by space aliens — someone has to win, right? There’s something about beating the odds that appeals to me.
All of this is to say that I really like queries. I like them a lot! Yes, I have to reject virtually all of them, it takes a huge amount of time, and the odds aren’t good. But I really enjoy reading them. I like the good ones, I like the bad ones (except these), I particularly like the ones that don’t make any sense whatsoever. It’s anything but a drag, and I swell with a rosy hopeful feeling every time I start to read a query. I’m always hoping someone is going to beat the odds.
I’m telling you this because lately I have been receiving quite a few queries where the author thinks it best that we both first acknowledge how horrible the query process is and how much time we’re wasting before we get to the actual part of the query where the author tells me about the story.
Things like: “I know you’re probably slogging away and it must suck to read all these queries, believe me, this sucked to write too, but anyway, here’s my story, not that you’re probably reading past this because reading queries is so boring, but hopefully since I’m acknowledging how horrible it is to read queries and demonstrating my self-awareness about how much this process is ridiculous you’ll actually read my story.” (I made that up, but it’s not far off)
Look: no apologies necessary. Maybe people have gotten the idea from some blogs that we literary agents sneer at every hopeful author who crosses our desk, love to skewer the bad ones and laugh maniacally every time we press the reject button. But I’m here to tell you: queries are not unpleasant to read. You’re not going to find a sympathetic ear with me if you want to complain about the query process, because I find that it is an incredibly effective mechanism for weeding through submissions, and I don’t mind the time I spend reading them. Respect the process, people.
If you want to sneer at someone, I have three words for you: sneer at Tag Team.