November 19, 2010

It's good for a laugh, at least.

This is a query I submitted1 to one (and only one) agency for my first novel, BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE. I repost it here as a lesson for you all. How not to get an agent:

Attention humans

I am Cyrus the Conqueror. I am not Mr. Whiskers. I am not Kitty the Conqueror. And I am most asuredly not Wittle Whiskers the Wonkerer. If you must speak, address me as your majesty, as you should every cat whose presence you are fortunate enough to be in. It has come to my attention that one of your ilk had the good sense to include me in his manuscript. I will overlook the fact that he did not ask my permission. The quality is such that to execute him would be a waste of human talent, what little your species possesses.

The story does not focus on me, and I am thankful for it. It is unlikely a book could adequately capture the wondrous life a cat leads. No, this monkey scrawl focuses on one of your own, Cy Lekkas. He is extraordinary in comparison to the rest of you and not just because he buys me gormet cat food. He can speak to me in the majestic language of cats, not that gutter language you use. He can speak to other things as well, doors, stoves, ceilings, anything really. He is called a Speaker. His kind has been known to my people for millennia. They live forever, speak in tongues, and eat strange foods that fuel their powers.

They are still humans despite themselves, and monkeys will be monkeys. They play games, steal from one another, beat their chests, and fight. Really, if you hadn't shed so much of your fur, I don't know if I could tell you apart. It seems that Cy stole a pearl from another Speaker, Christian, who then sold the pearl to antoher Speaker, Seth, who discovered it a fraud. Seth demanded that Christian find Cy and retrieve the pearl, hence the fall of dominos that lead to action-packed fights, daring rescues, and an epic faceoff of immortals. I watched the whole thing from the top of my couch and was quite impressed.

The whole thing is 110,000 words. How a human assembled 110,000 coherent words, I do not know. But there it is. He calls it contemporary fantasy and titled it BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE. His name is Joe Selby, and he has written coherent words before. Perhaps he is a genetic anomoly. His ten-minute play was produced in Sioux Falls, SD, as a finalist in the Kennedy Center ACTF. He wrote the role-playing rule book, Dangerous Denizens for Kenzer & Co. in 2003. And he wrote 33 role-playing adventuures for Kenzer & Co. and Wizards of the Coast. This will be his first commercial novel. I am told he also follows your blog. I do not see the appeal. Your inclusion of a dog marks it as an inferior endeavor. Perhaps if you were to feature a cat, you might garner some success. I may be willing to make an appearance if your tribute is worthy.

That is all.

Your benevolent feline overlord

Cyrus the Conqueror

on behalf of
Joseph L. Selby

1 In case you were wondering, yes, this is the query with which I set my rejection speed personal record.


  1. I like it, in theory. I did notice, however, that you misspelled 'gourmet', and you had the objects backwards when discussing who stole the pearl from whom; at least, I'm assuming that, since I don't think Cy can steal a pearl and then Christian sell it to someone.

    Those two things alone might put someone off just from the letter, no matter how clever it is.

  2. I know I suck at queries now, but I really sucked at queries then. Cy did indeed steal the Bishop's Pearl and then replaced it with a forgery. Christian Bugeau then sold the Middlesex Chalice along with the fraudulent pearl to Seth Soliman. Seth purchased the chalice (once rumored to be the holy grail) specifically for the pearl, which is in fact a powerful black magic fetish. Discovering the pearl a fake, he demands Christian retrieve the real one lest there be a reckoning for the error.

    Christian then comes to St. Louis where our story plays out.

  3. People say how their first novels are awful. I never finished any of those. For the first novel I ever carried to completion, I still enjoy BM/BBQ. I enjoy Cyrus the foul-mouthed cat. I enjoy Mother, the Albert Pujols-obsessed fan. And I enjoy watching Cy try to use a computer.

  4. Seems like you deliberately took pot shots at all those hard and fast agent rules. I love it!

    What does the query look like now?

  5. Well this was my first completed novel and my first querying experience. While this one is good to laugh at, the more serious query...well, I'm not sure if I hate myself so much to post that one. :)