Homme de plume.

/Homme de plume.

I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day. Within 24 hours George had five responses—three manuscript requests and two warm rejections praising his exciting project. For contrast, under my own name, the same letter and pages sent 50 times had netted me a total of two manuscript requests. The responses gave me a little frisson of delight at being called “Mr.” and then I got mad. Three manuscript requests on a Saturday, not even during business hours! The judgments about my work that had seemed as solid as the walls of my house had turned out to be meaningless. My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me—Catherine.

I wanted to know more of how the Georges of the world live, so I sent more. Total data: George sent out 50 queries, and had his manuscript requested 17 times. He is eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book. Fully a third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more, where my numbers never did shift from one in 25.

Catherine Nichols on writing while female.

I won’t lie: I still think about how things would’ve gone if I’d sent the query for Liesmith out as “Al Franklin” rather than Alis. Although, to be fair, that would probably be too easily confused with Al Franken so… hm.

2017-11-16T11:27:27+00:0029th December, 2016|Tags: culture, publishing, query letters|
6 ♥  provostsdog  mythicalmodernity  saathi1013  gileonnen  promisedfall  alphabetizingsins


  1. Vickie 3rd January, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Article and comments of article make me raaaaaage! No no. Let me guess. I’ll be accused of PMSing, which reminded me my father once told me PMS and menopause are just excuses, until I educated him on hormones and their effect on the human body. He had a medical background! Raaaaaaaaage!

    To be fair to him, he didn’t dismiss me and actually listened.

    Ellis Franklin? Or was keeping the A essential?

    • Alis 3rd January, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      I was originally thinking “Alex” but “Ellis” might work better since I get that a lot IRL now anyway (don’t ask me why…).

      But yeah: “PMS” “jokes”. Don’t get me started. >_>

  2. inkteller 26th January, 2017 at 5:56 pm

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