Oh, and About That Cover Letter
Posted on April 5, 2011 Posted by John Scalzi 24 Comments
You remember the one. Here’s the story on that. It’s the work of a friend of mine, and was specifically designed to terrify an editor. Which it did. So well done him.
I realize that some of you will be disappointed that Violet Thunder is no more real than TSWOTNDBOTDC, but now all the editors dreading the arrival of that particular cover letter and four sample pages can breathe easier.
And no, I never believed (nor said) it was an actual cover letter. I did say that those who doubted its veracity should ask editors they know if they’ve ever had a cover letter like it. I suspect most editors can tell you about cover letters they’ve received which were just as bad or worse. In other words, it’s not funny because it’s a parody; it’s funny because it’s all too true. It’s also terrifying for that reason, albeit mostly only to editors.
However, the admonition I gave you about that cover letter — i.e., don’t do this, ever — still holds true. Oh so very true.
So how do I convey a proper sense of the revolutionary, transformative nature of my yet-to-be-completed novel such that a prospective agent can appreciate the inevitable bidding war it will touch off that will change the face of publishing forever?
When I was slush reading, I saw some bad cover letters, but I usually ignored the cover letters until I had a look at the story.
@1 – look here for tips: http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/
SO not fair to start the foolin’ early, sir! ;-)
Man. That sucks. I believed it. I mean, after the author blow-up, anything is possible.
Hmmm… he says he’ll write that story for the right price. Maybe we should pass the hat around, or even better, get it written up as part of a sequel to Clash of The Geeks.
Well played, Scalzi — if that is your real name.
Does this mean I can steal the idea and write a novel based on that letter now?
Can I? Please please please?
So all the people who noticed a dissonance between the content of the letter and the actual writing with which that content was conveyed, actually were right. In other words, yes, it was too well-written to be what it seemed.
I never thought it was supposed to be a trick. If you read Jon’s comments, he makes clear it is a parody/homage to a bad cover letter.
*John’s. No disrespect.
Greg, if Scalzi is not his real name, that’s even more awesomely played.
Hah! I knew it!
(Actually, I thought you wrote the cover letter. It’s got unicorns farting glitter.)
And the title of TSWOTNDBOTDC was obviously from the Publisher’s Lunch (or Tor.com, or Galleycat, I forget which) common-words-in-SFF-titles article.
Still, 2 wonderful April jokes. Salud!
@14 – Don’t you mean “salut?” I think “salud” is French for bastard.
You’re thinking sal#ud. Salud is Spanish.
Some room for cross language puns maybe, though I always thought “burro” was ripe for that.
You’re shattering my world, Scalzi.
Next thing you’ll be telling us is that Ghlaghghee isn’t real!
Rik’s splatted word is “salaud” for those who don’t speak French.
I have a gutter mouth in several languages–calisse de tabernac!
Is nothing sacred? Next you’re going to tell me unicorns don’t exist either, aren’t you? Can’t a girl still have her fantasies??? Because that letter was nothing short of magical. I wanted to believe… and now… now I have to question every long-cherished hope of a world within our world… .
But seriously? Your friend is clearly a kick-ass writer, because that letter rocked. Parody, cautionary tale, who cares? It takes real talent to write shit so bad that it’s actually good. I gave it a 10 for shrewd skewering and entertainment value, not to mention that it made me laugh out loud and smile long afterwards.
Julia, Ghlaghghee is real, but his (uh, her?) name is actually pronounced “Phluhphphie”.
Alan @20 – you’re right but I think you mispelled it a wee bit; it is Phaluhphpheee — triple “e” being a phonetic feline homage to meeeow.
My brother’s (French) wife tells me that English is full of unintentional obscenity. Take cul-de-sac: “that’s not very nice, is it?” – huh? – ” ‘arse of the bag’ “…
why, in fantasy is there never an industrial revolution? come on, elves in tanks! one CAN simply blitzkrieg into mordor.
@ Dan – try Ian Mcleod: The Light Ages