** cross-posted from the Deadline Dames website
Once you become established as an author, an avalanche of emails tends to come your way. 95% of this avalanche is either people telling you how much they love your books or asking you questions—either about the books, your characters, or about the writing process. I try to reply to all these emails, although I get so many these days that I’m woefully behind.
Of the other 5%, 4.9% would be from people who, for one reason or another, didn’t like your book, your characters, or the way you write. I treat these emails the same way as I treat bad reviews—that is, I basically ignore them. Any author who thinks every single person out there is going to like their books has been sipping too much of the crazy juice.
Then there’s that remaining .1%. These emails are the ones that, for one reason or another, call into question your credibility as an author. I generally answer these emails privately, but given the email below has something of a valid point, I thought I’d answer it publicly. Besides, the author of the email gave me no other option by using a no-reply address:
Your article claims that query letters are three pages, sometimes. WHAT? Industry standard clearly demands they\’re no more than ONE page. This draws into serious question your credibility in writing about query letters.
you’ve obviously read the article, so you must know I was describing the two different types of query letters. And you’re right—these days, a query letter of no more than one page, sometimes accompanied by a synopsis and sample chapters (one to three depending on the publisher/agent), has become industry standard.
But when I wrote that article, there was no Kindle, there was no Nook, epublishing and ebooks had yet to truly take off, and the Riley Jenson series wasn’t yet published. Back then (and really, we’re not talking about that many years ago), there were some publishers and agents who wanted nothing more detailed query letter from authors. Now, just how detailed often varied, but two or three pages seemed to be around the norm. Hence my advice in that article.
I’ve never claimed to be an expert in any matter. All the articles on my site are simply there as guides; generally, they’re either about stuff I’ve struggled with as a writer, or stuff I thought other writers might find interesting. Yes, some of the information in that ‘for writers’ section of my site might be out of date, but just because it is doesn’t mean it can’t still be helpful to someone. The sample query letters, for instance, are still as relevant today as they were back then.
Remember too, that no author needs to put articles or other useful information about writing on their websites. Most of us (at least, this is why I do it) do it because we want to help other writers. But as with everything else these days, the articles and advice should be taken with a grain of salt, not as gospel. After all, every writer’s journey is different, so every writer’s experience and advice will be different.
And please, next time you email an author and call into question their credibility, have the decency to give them the right of reply. Otherwise, your email may just be discussed publicly