Monday, February 8, 2010

The Beatles on Query Letters

OK, I don't claim to be an expert at writing query letters. But I did do pretty well with mine, so all those hours spent combing the Internet for examples must have paid off. I could have saved myself a lot of time, though, if I'd just listened to one of my favorite songs, Paperback Writer. Turns out Paul McCartney knew a heck of a lot about what not to do when querying agents. Check it out (and my apologies if someone has done this before):

Paperback Writer

Dear Sir or Madam, Will you read my book? (Too general a salutation--personalize!)

It took me years to write, will you take a look? (Not relevant.)

Based on a novel by a man named Lear (This makes the book sound derivative.)

And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer, (Desperation is never attractive)

Paperback writer.

It's a dirty story of a dirty man, (Repetition=poor vocabulary)

And his clinging wife doesn't understand (Vague. Why doesn't she understand? We need plot! What is the basic conflict?)

His son is working for the Daily Mail, (A laundry list of characters. Again, what happens?)

It's a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback writer, (Lack of originality.)

Paperback writer.

It's a thousand pages, give or take a few, (Word count, not pages!)

I'll be writing more in a week or two. (Only query one work at a time.)

I can make it longer if you like the style, (Only query completed works.)

I can change it round, and I want to be a paperback writer, (Find a critique group. Revise. Then Send.)

Paperback writer.

If you really like it you can have the rights (Copyrighting your material = amateur)

It could make a million for you overnight (No room for bragging in a query.)

If you must return it, you can send it here, (Agents need full contact info!)

But I need a break, and I want to be a paperback writer (Let the book speak for itself.)

Paperback writer.

Paperback writer--paperback writer. (Again, repetition=bad.)

So there you have it--the Fab Four on what not to do when writing queries!


  1. LOL! Love that! Now, why can't I use that query letter again? :)

  2. Hahahaha--I don't think I've really, really listened to the words of that song since I started working in publishing. And I've sang it on Beatles Rock Band! I must have been too focused on my pitch for the game or something...

    All valid point, Loretta. Hahaha

  3. LOL, Loretta, you made my morning. Toooo Funny. And right on . . .

  4. This is freaking awesome. You rock, Loretta!

  5. Thanks, gals!

    But now this song will not get out of my head!

  6. WOW. Amazing. I have to say... I feel a little I never heard that song before and now I hear it in a whole new light with a whole new me.

    I love the internet and bloggy friends who are so smart and witty.

  7. Absolutely. Query letters are crucial and once again, the Beatles have the answer to a serious problem. :)

  8. The Beatles can answer in question in life! I'm late, but I have to say that I adore this!