Thursday, February 04, 2010

Slush Week is coming!

by Chasya

One of the most frequent questions we get here at DGLM from unpublished authors is about what makes a query work. What catches our attention? What turns us off? What are some common faux-pas? What should an author absolutely never do? How does one create that needle-in-the-haystack submission that will surely be plucked out of the groaning piles of slush? You get the picture.

We try to answer as best we can on our website, our blog, at conferences, pitch sessions, etc.... When one of our readers (thanks,Wanda B. Ontheshelves!) mentioned that she would love to read some of our slush, we thought that this could be a really great opportunity for writers to see what goes into the query process on the other end. So, during the week of March 1st, we will be dissecting and critiquing queries right here on the blog.

Here are the rules for people who want to take the chance that their query is one of the ones we post. Send us your query to dystelandgoderich@dystel.com with the subject line SLUSH WEEK SUBMISSION anytime between now and February 12th.  By submitting a query with that subject line, you're agreeing to let us post that query, minus your name and contact info, on the blog.  Please note that these queries will not be considered submissions to DGLM, so if you were planning to query us in general, you still should. We’ll pick nine queries at random from the emails we receive (others won't receive a response, but if it proves popular, perhaps we'll give you another chance at a later date!) and each will be paired with one our nine staff members. During Slush Week, each agent's daily post will be one of the letters along with the agent's comments.  We’ll let you know what about the letter speaks to us, what we think works, what we feel doesn’t and how these can be improved if they need to be.

Our hope is that our readers will not only have a chance to see samples of other queries, but also gain some insight into a part of the process that they wouldn’t otherwise see.

So rev up your keyboards, get creative, and send us your submissions!

17 comments:

  1. AWESOME! I'm excited! Thanks for letting us play the fly on the wall, and thanks for a great blog anyway. :) -Emily

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  2. Sounds great! I can't wait!

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  3. What a fantastic opportunity! Thanks!

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  4. Looking forward to it!

    Interested in seeing how 9 different voices respond to 9 different queries - as in, possible to recognize a DGLM "house voice" throughout?

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  5. Yowsa. Switching phasers to "stunned with excitement." Can't wait. Thanks for hosting this!

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  6. That sounds great, and like we unpublished writers can learn a lot from it. Thanks for doing this!

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  7. The temptation is going to be for the agents to critique the submissions, perhaps a little more fully and formally than they would in real life.

    I've got two requests. First, could they all mark the exact point in the text where they started registering serious reservations?

    Second, could they all please make the last paragraph of their write-up a summary of what action they'd have taken, had this crossed their desk? 'This would have received our standard rejection slip' or however they would have actually proceeded. Don't just let us know what you thought, let us know what you'd have done.

    I ask because there are two distinct things would-be authors might get from this: feedback on the specific proposal is one. That is, I predict now, for at least eight of them, going to be fairly standard advice about starting strong, hooks, unique selling points and establishing the main character and their situation fast.

    The most useful thing here, something only DGLM can offer, is a sense of how far it got with an agent and what an agent would actually tell an author.

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  8. I want to add one more request to the list of Anon above, which I think captures the spirit of those suggestions...Could you do it in the "Query Shark" format? Ms. Reid's comments are helpful and insightful, but it would give us a good understanding of what your specific agency is looking for and not looking for.
    Thank you for your time and for doing this for your readers.
    PLJ

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  9. Oooh - this is exciting (and a tad scary!). Thanks to all at DGLM for doing this - I am sure we will all learn a lot.

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  10. This is a great idea and I'm game. I've got a virgin query just sitting here, waiting to be savaged.

    (We really can query again, right? By doing this, we're not totally, um, queering our pitch?)

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  11. This is a fantastic idea! I can't wait to see the results.

    I'd also like to make a suggestion, if I may.
    A lot of online query examples are YA, Paranormal, Fantasy or YA Paranormal Fantasy. I realize many people write in these genres/subgenres, but as someone who writes literary fiction, I find few query examples online that are pertinent to adult, non-commercial fiction. I know you're choosing queries randomly, but if you happen to have similar or repeat genres, could you sub in a literary fiction query?

    Thanks, and good luck to those brave writers who are submitting their work!

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  12. Thanks very much for all the suggestions! We'll take them into consideration as we work on this!


    -Chasya

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  13. Fantastic idea! Query sent.

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  14. RE: "could you sub in a literary fiction query?"

    I second this.

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  15. Yay! This is exciting! Now i just have to build up my courage and send mine in...

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  16. Thanks for being willing to do this. Even if I don't send in a query, it will be quite an experience to hear (some of) your thoughts out loud.

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  17. I was so excited to send my query I forgot the basics - my contact information!!!

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