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What is "Queryfail"?

Categories: Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog.
There’s been a lot of chatter around the net recently about a project called Queryfail, and I had two people in the publishing house here ask me about it yesterday, so I just wanted to explain it and point you in some directions if you want to learn more.

Queryfail was a large (and, frankly, ambitious) operation where about two dozen publishing professionals reviewed incoming slush queries all day long and blogged about their thoughts on the queries in real time using Twitter. 

So agents and editors were looking at queries all day and writing down some thoughts on the Web as to why certain submissions were a “queryfail” versus those that were a “querywin.”  That’s the gist.  Sometimes the comments were very broad – such as “Good query but too close to a project I have now.  Queryfail.”  And some quoted wacky or unusual lines from the actual queries themselves in an effort to show 1) why they’re rejecting it, and 2) what NOT to do.

Well.  The project’s purpose was to educate and inform writers, and it may have helped quite a few people, but it also upset quite a few people because writers’ queries were dissected for all to see.  On a lot of Web sites, such as Query Shark (and formerly Miss Snark), you saw queries analyzed and ripped apart, but they “signed the release form,” you could say – versus with Queryfail, they did not.

To learn about the beginnings of Queryfail, see this link.

News of the project even reached the Guardian overseas.

To see a good discussion on all this and how writers were a bit upset, look at this agent blog.

It’s a little late now, but you can see Queryfail posts here on Twitter.

Once again, it just goes to show
you that Twitter is the technological
advancement that will somehow
bring about the end of the world.

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3 Responses to What is "Queryfail"?

  1. Tara Maya says:

    I enjoyed it. I’m really sorry some people felt hurt.

  2. Ian D Smith says:

    I thought queryfail was mean-minded agents with little to laugh about. It’s made me seek an assurance from agents that my mad ravings won’t be divulged before I contact them.

  3. Cameo says:

    How is wasting time all day twittering "ambitious"? I have no problem with people wasting time, I do it all day long – I just think it’s a little silly to try to pretend like it was some great feat.

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