Saturday, 21 March 2009


How bad could a query be?

Think you've got the hang of how NOT to sell your book idea to an agent or publisher? Think you've absorbed all the cringe-making "don'ts" from the pages of this blog and others? Think you're now so good that you could be really really bad? Want to have a bit of constructive fun?

Well, here's your chance.
The prize (don't get too excited): a signed copy of your choice of one of my books, which I will generously post anywhere in the world. (Note to pedants: by this I mean a book that I wrote, not one that happens to be sitting on my shelves, written by someone else.)
The task: to produce the worst query letter about an imaginary book (as judged by a totally partial committee of my friends).

Now a "query letter" is like a covering letter but shorter. (Common practice in the US and getting more common here, and a topic I need to cover soon.) A query letter is what you would send on its own, to persuade an agent / publisher to agree to receiving a submission from you. So, you won't be including any material such as synopsis or a sample of your writing: you are simply trying to make the recipient desperate to read your masterpiece. So, you will be selling your masterpiece as a masterpiece and yourself as an author of masterpieces.

A good query letter does that, throwing a fabulous hook to catch the person you want to catch. A good query letter is a letter that tantalises and convinces and tempts and produces insane drooling in the receipient. But a bad query letter ... well, there are so many ways it could be bad. But how bad can you be?

  • all entries should be emailed to me at (How cool is that address? It's the one I created that weekend when I was planning an on-line tuition course.)
  • I will acknowledge receipt of your entry but not enter into any discussion about it. (I have to maintain my crabbit old bat status.)
  • one entry per person. (Do you think I've got nothing else to do?)
  • any comments or questions should go in the normal comments bit below, not emailed.
  • I will not be berated for mistakenly not judging you to be the worst, even if you are really bad.
  • no money instead of glorious prize will be considered - how could you possibly want money instead of one of my books? Unless you've read them all, in which case you've definitely won already.
  • the deadline for entries is 12.00GMT on Sunday 29th March
  • I promise not to do anything nasty with your entry (like pretending it was a real query letter and sending it to the Bookseller with your name).
  • by entering this competition you agree to be bound by the above rules blahdy blahdy blah.
  • oh, and you agree that the three winning entries can be published on this blog, without payment to you (or me, obviously) and without you losing your moral rights and copyright. Though why you'd want moral rights to a piece of rubbish, I have no idea.
  • I think that's about it but I may think of something else while I'm walking the dog.
Have fun!


Sarah said...

Fun! I'm so going to send you one.

Chicklit Addict said...

Oh this does sound like fun! So bad it's good.....sounds like a challenge I can't resist!

morphine-moniza said...

ooh sounds fun! I could easily send in one of my earlier attempts.

Jo Franklin said...

Ooh Nicola you've got me going now!
Do kids read your blog? I might need to tone down my entry or you won't be able to publish it.

Nicola Morgan said...

Jo - on my website I do say that the blog is for adults, but I can't stop anyone else reading it. I wouldn't worry. (Within reason ...!)

GutsyWriter said...

I can't wait to read the winner's query.

Ebony McKenna. said...

I want to win this. Step one, disengage spell check.

Cindy said...

This sounds like fun. I don't say this a lot, but I really, really, want to be bad.

Ebony McKenna. said...

That felt really good. Soooo cathartic.
Can't wait to read the entries. How are you going to narrow it down to only three winners? :-D

Redleg said...

Well, I hope I win this contest although I have no idea if I made the deadline or not. Is it midnight or noon? Although, in a way, missing the deadline might add to the amateurishness of it - so Point: Me!

Ebony McKenna. said...

Missing the deadline is Epic Fail, which would make it a win!