Dear Ms. Perkins,
Below are a series of six
questions involving your industry including one that
involves a hypothetical novel.
Teacher at XU
1. What kind of novels/books do you normally choose
I represent all kinds of horror, social science fiction, dark fantasy and dark fiction, as well as erotica. In nonfiction, I represent pop culture titles - both high and low-brow. Books about TV, music, art, literature.
2. Approximately how many query letters do you receive
in a given week?
Between 200 and 500.
3. What about an author's query letter pique's your
Voice and subject matter.
4. If you find an query letter interesting and ask
for the author to send you the manuscript, what are
you looking for in the first 50 pages that will tell
you whether or not this is a marketable book?
If the author can write, if the book has voice, if the story is well-told and the pacing of information is structurally sound.
5. I will now offer you a brief synopsis of a
hypothetical work and, if you don't mind, could you
explain how you would try to market this book to a
publisher? if it is even marketable in the first
place? and, if it isn't, why not?
This hypothetical work is a character driven revenge
tale set in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Two
former lovers, Kieth, a public relations expert
working for an expanding university in the South Carolina
mountains and Caitlin, a woman in the middle
of an ugly divorce and struggling to hold onto her
children, decide to make a new start for each other.
The still married Caitlin secretly travels to the
mountains so they can be together for a weekend and
rekindle their romance. However, during their time
together, they become the victims of a violent home
invasion in which they are beaten, raped and robbed.
Unable to go to the police for fear of losing her
children in the upcoming divorce hearings, she
convinces Keith to stay silent and repress the violent
memory and humiliation. What follows is an
examination of guilt, repression, anger and eventually
revenge as the story follows Keith, trying to survive
in a world whose violence and brutality he cannot
comprehend and Caitlin as she struggles to stay
strong, despite an emotionally crippling experience,
through her divorce and the beginning of her new life.
It is a look at the effects of violence, not only on
the victims, but on the perpetrators, the police,
whose job it is to administer justice, and the town
that has allowed for the creation of such violent and
flawed individuals. Eventually, though, secrets are
revealed and justice, in one way or another, will be
This is an interesting novel, and dark in places, but it's just not the kind of thing I handle, so I would reject it with a note saying it is interesting and that I wish the author luck in placing it with the right agent.
6. Does an author in today's publishing market, stand
much of a chance without an agent?
Not in any one of the major New York houses.
7. What is your take on self-publishing companies
like booksurge.com, etc.?
They have their place for local memoirs and history, family cookbooks, and poetry and over-anxious authors who can't wait to go through the agent/editor process and/or do the editing that is necessary to get published by one of the major players.