Tuesday, June 14, 2011

EVIL EDITOR CLASSICS


No evidence that the book featured in the query below was ever published, unfortunately, but the query did create quite a stir when it first appeared.


Guess the Plot

Anna and the Whale

Note: The author neglected to provide a title for the book in this query letter, so Evil Editor was forced to make one up.

1. After the disappearance of her husband Jonah, Anna is determined to explore every clue. But when she finally finds him, will acid reflux lead to tragedy?

2. History repeats itself. So does the bible. When Anna finds herself trapped in the belly of a sperm whale, will love find a way... out?

3. Morbidly obese Dan falls for beautiful Anna, not realizing she's a call girl Dan's boss hired. Now Dan, having accepted his "payoff" is expected to keep silent about the boss's numerous affairs.

4. Fifteen-year-old runaway, Anna Banana, takes up with Lester "The Whale" Brown, a 25 year-old mostly unsuccessful grifter who promises to make Anna a star.

5. After being dismissed from the court of Siam for excessive prudishness, Anna is sailing home to England. Her life changes when she spots a man adrift off the starboard bow who says his name is Ishmael.

6. Anna just couldn't help herself - she loved him. Sure he was overweight, and at 700 pounds could not get off the couch without the use of a crane. But there was just something about Shamu that she couldn't resist.


Original Version

Hello Evil Editor,

I probably shouldn't email here, but sod it. No doubt what I'm about to write will get posted ASAP as a prime example of how to really screw up a submission. Quite frankly I couldn't less. I am only sending this to you as my ex-girlfriend is making me... and yes, I did say ex. The crux of the matter is she that thinks what I write is profound and needs to be seen, whereas I write to fill my time and consider my “work” not much more than an overblown and frankly worthless etude. [So far, Evil Editor is on your side in this.] My ambitions are not to be published, [Not exactly shooting high, are we?] I just want a quiet life and as means to an end I send you this turgid trash for the vindicating rejection letter. As I said: I couldn't care less. And if you're wondering how I came to be here when I've already twice stated I couldn't care less and am thus sounding a little bit hypocritical, [And repetitive.] my ex found the site... women. [and no, it's not a hook, or a handle, or bad ploy, some of us do actually speak the truth, albeit factiously.] [Surprisingly, despite having done nothing right so far, you have Evil Editor's rapt attention. But do you have a book?]

Well here goes, I'll try to summarise my dire tome. It goes without saying that I've never been published. Never even tried to be published. [What was that about summarizing your tome?] It's a first person tale told through the eyes of Dan and stretches to about 114,000 words. It's a bit James Joyce meets Jerry Seinfeld meets Bill Hicks. It's a vitriolic rant about nothing, [Your book? Or your query letter?] a book about life. There's a plot hidden there somewhere too, but damned if I know how extrapolate it in three paragraphs. [No doubt there's a title hidden there as well, though having scanned the entire letter, I'll be damned if I can extrapolate that.]

Dan is fat. Actually, Dan surpassed being a long time, he now lingers in the lonely world of the morbidly obese. Stuck eight till late in the basement of the faceless London bank, Dan works tirelessly on his computers whilst describing and lamenting the world which he feels owes him. His nemesis Robert Jenkins-Parker, fiancée to the boss's daughter, is a cretinous wretch whose only prerequisite qualification is nepotism. In return for Dan keeping his fat mouth shut about numerous illicit affairs he has eye witnessed, Dan is sent on a date with beautiful beau Anna. She is the first woman not to scorn him and she quickly becomes an all consuming obsession. However, when Dan discovers that he's been deceived Anna is nothing more than a call girl has hired to placate him his life falls apart and he's determined to take as many people with him.

Spiralling out of control, Dan faces Robert's wrath after confessing his secret. He's forced to run away into the rainy English country, and this is where the story actually begins, [And possibly where the query letter should begin.] where becomes the victim of a hit and run. Lying in his hospital a repenetant woman comes to see him. Confessing to drink driving, she offers Dan one favour in return for his silence... again. He sees no harm in asking, so he asks to made thin, so he can win his obsession, the nubile Anna.

Well, it's thin, but it has a murder at the end.... fuck it, it's complicated. If you want to read it, then read it, if not then don't... I send those usual first 2 chapters for a quick once over (barbecue) and hope that my venous text will bring laughter to countless EvilEditor readers. [Evil Editor suspects that your hopes will be realized.]

Thanks for the automated reply telling me I suck...


Revised Version

Hello Evil Editor,

No doubt what I'm about to write will get passed around the office as a prime example of how to screw up a submission. I'm only doing this because my ex-girlfriend is making me. She thinks what I write is profound and needs to be seen. Whereas, I consider my “work” not much more than an overblown and frankly worthless étude; I send you this turgid trash only for the vindicating rejection letter.

Dan is fat. Actually, Dan surpassed fat long ago; he now lingers in the lonely world of the morbidly obese. Stuck in the basement of a faceless London bank, Dan works tirelessly on his computers whilst decrying the world, which he feels owes him. His nemesis, Robert Jenkins-Parker, fiancé to the boss's daughter, is a cretinous wretch whose only qualification is nepotism.

In return for keeping his fat mouth shut about numerous illicit affairs he has witnessed, Dan is sent on a date with beautiful Anna. She is the first woman not to scorn him, and she quickly becomes an all-consuming obsession. However, when Dan discovers that he's been deceived, that Anna is no more than a call girl Robert hired to placate him, his life goes to hell. And he's determined to take with him as many people as he can.

Anna and the Whale is a first-person tale, told through the eyes of Dan, that stretches to about 114,000 words. It's a bit James Joyce meets Jerry Seinfeld meets Bill Hicks, an incomprehensible, vitriolic rant about nothing. Two chapters are enclosed; if you'd like to read Dan's complete story, I'll put a copy in the mail. Thanks.


Notes

He asks to be made thin? Does he believe she has magical powers? Does she? If the book has fantastical aspects, that should be made clear in the letter.

Why is it that whenever Evil Editor gets a query letter that is preposterously bad, he finds himself wanting to take a look at the book? The writer has, despite the missing words, misused words, and misspelled words, a vivid vocabulary. One suspects that the take-no-prisoners, straightforward style of the letter is an indication of what's in the book. Evil Editor even left some of the first paragraph intact, knowing that the very few editors who can get past that are the only ones who would look at this book anyway.

Let's be reasonable. No editor would request the book based on the original query. And if an editor reads the revised version, requests the manuscript, and finds it in the same condition as the original version, he's not going to care how good the story is (and it does sound kind of cool). Editors aren't so hard up for books that they'll slog through an error-riddled rough draft.

Evil Editor suspects there's a spark hidden in there, something your ex-girlfriend spotted, so you're not getting the automated reply. Nyaah, nyaah. You're getting a suggestion that you spend a few months editing your novel to see what you come up with. Unless, of course, you don't care.

8 comments:

150 said...

The crazy thing about this query was that it was a hot mess but STILL had enough voice to make it seem like a book worth requesting.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I LOVE that query. And the plot. And the fu&8ing voice. So there, again.

Jo-Ann said...

I'm enjoying the "classics" since I'm a relative newcomer to your blog.
That one was...different. A fake, I suspect, or a very clever ploy.

Since EE referred to the "stir" it created, I would love to read the original comment stream, but not so much to plough through each and every query in the archive.

EE- do you mind including the query number?

Evil Editor said...

That was Face-Lift 21.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Much as I hate Morals, this query has one:

Do not take advice from ex-girlfriends.

vkw said...

I loved this query as well. I like the plot as well. I would read this book.

Anonymous said...

EE, the hunt for this query (I was on my phone; it should have been simple) led me to a bunch of other, early posts. They are AWESOME. All I could think is where the fu&% was I in 2006??

I especially liked your Q&A advicey things. Are you still open to questions?

Evil Editor said...

Yes, send questions. Another 60 questions and there might be a Why You Don't Get Published, volume 3.