Some people will think this is unprofessional of me. I don’t care. This is done to illustrate why it is i don’t read cover letters until last. Granted, this is about as extreme an example of why as is possible, but still this is informative. More below.

Begin letter:

I am going to be as clear as possible and not feed you a bunch of garbage.
Instead of telling you why my book is worth publishing, I am going to tell
you why it isn't. For starters, I am only twenty years old and I have
already taken crap from a lot in this industry. I published a book through
Publish America called "[title removed to protect privacy]" and ended up with an
undermarketed/overpriced product that my own parents wouldn't buy. I have
paid agencies to sit on their asses and I am about two steps away from
blowing my brains out from the pressure. I have no money, no job, and a
girlfriend with a brain tumor. I chose an industry where you are nobody
until somebody kills you. So naturally I am praying to god that somebody
puts a few bullets in me right after the book I wrote is finally released.
But I am only 20 years old and I know nobody in the industry. So there are
no false hopes of being heard.

I would like to tell you that the book has a market open and ready for it.
But... if you even take the time to look at it... you would message me back
and scold me for lying. Maybe spank me and take away my birthday. There has
never been a book like it before. It is not a story so much as it is a
circumstance. The world is going to end in five days. There is no mission to
save the planet. The asteroid is just going to hit Earth and it is all going
to be over. Every day is a stage. The stages are based around the five
stages of death. Everybody moves at their own pace. And if you don't accept
your fate by that fifth day, you never will. I would give you a genre but
there is no real genre. It is a philosophical agnostic masterpiece. The
message is simple. There are no absolute truths.

I use a lot of obsceneties in my work. Why? Because there are a lot of
extreme circumstances. And anything else is a lie. If you told me to tone
them down, I could. If you told me to erase them all, I wouldn't. Because I
take great pride in what I do and how I do it. The world is ending and there
is enough chaos to go around to make everybody happy. I have always
maintained that a book without an eye gouging isn't even trying to be
entertaining. The book is written for a mature and intellectual audience.

Well... I think I included everything your guidelines were asking for. Hit
me back and hopefully we will be able to do business. If not, I will take
your copy and paste rejection letter with a grain of salt. We all get
rejections. Hopefully the brutal honesty is more refreshing than
insulting. If you are curious as to how I write or what I look like, here is
my myspace just for the hell of it:


End letter

Yup, this was sent with no greeting, not even a generic “dear agent, and it was signed with a myspace url, no name, attached.

The reason for posting this is to remind people of how much a cover letter can hurt your chances of successful contact with an agent or editor. Granted, good writing is more important, but cover letters can only hurt you or have a null effect.

The work attached to this submission was rejected on the grounds of not being a sf/f novel.

  • Wow.

  • self-imolation….

  • Reverse psychology rarely works.

    • I'm not sure this was this um, candidates intent.

  • I'm going to echo that "Wow," above.

  • I'm speechless. What an….amazing letter.

  • Geez, poor kid. I want to send him straight to therapy.

  • I think that was really an experiment in extremity, to see if the exact opposite of correct business protocol would get a hit. Or perhaps it was a petulant outpouring of self-entitlement. You know. Whatever.

    • I went to the submitters myspace, i'm still confused.

      • You, sir, are one hell of human being for putting in that level of due diligence. I would have called him crazy and called it a day.

        • Ha. I'm just painfully curious.

          • Painful is right. I don't believe I would ever be capable of writing a query letter that bad, even in the worst chapters of my life.

            • I've written letters that bad
              But through sheer ignorance, back when making contact with an editor/agent was far more difficult. But — at least I hope — I never developed that level of… uh… maladjustment. My letters just tended to be blunt, clumsy and say nothing about the book and too much about myself. Like what book I first read when I started reading sf/f type of too much.
              OTOH I have got letters from agents and small press mag editors — never novel editors, weirdly — that were as bad. My favorite, from a well regarded agent in the field, was ten pages long and took issue with EVERYTHING from my word choice to my plotting to my characters… AND was deliberately insulting, including my very favorite sentence in a rejection ever: "You flip povs like a cook flipping pancakes in a cheap greasy spoon." (and no, it wasn't one of my diner novels.)
              So, is that what made it so bad? Hell, no, the man is entitled to his opinion. No. What absolutely took the cake was the closing line: "This is almost good enough for me to represent. Do send me your next one."
              Needless to say, I never followed through on that kind invitation, hired an agent far "above" him on the ladder and, oh, yah, the novel sold. 😉