The query

My novel has been rejected again by yet another publisher. Maybe it’s my query letter…


Dear publisher:

Please find enclosed the manuscript for my debut novel of fiction, entitled The Scrubbing!!! As you can see, there are three exclamation marks at the end of that last sentence, two of which are part of the title, The Scrubbing!!, and one because I’m so excited, and I know you are too. I bet you spilled coffee just now because of the excitement. “WHOOOO!!!!” you shouted, with four exclamation marks. Risky business, publishing, and hard on the dry-cleaning bills, but who can resist the romance? Not you, that’s for sure.

Now that you’ve put on a clean shirt, you’re probably asking yourself, “What is The Scrubbing!!?” I’ll get to that shortly, but first let’s answer the question, “Why is The Scrubbing!!?”

I think you’ll agree that the world – and Canada in particular, because of cultural metabolism – needs more novels by unknown authors with little experience writing fiction. There just aren’t enough novels being published – period, and the ones that are published are by authors everybody wants to read. How bourgeois, or as they say in French, bourgeois. What we need are fresh voices, voices that capture the passion of the now and the here and the that-thing and the this-thing-over-here and the I-don’t-even-know-what-that-thing-is.

But we also want wisdom and perspective. And beavers. We can’t forget the beavers. As I don’t need to tell you, every Canadian novel must have beaver-related content if it is to qualify for the federal Let’s Get This Published Whether Anyone Wants It Or Not grant. See? I’ve done my homework, much in the same way that I have briefly skimmed your submission guidelines.

In short – but really not very short – I am that writer. A voice of experience with no experience. And The Scrubbing!! captures that essence, or as they say in French, le stationnement.

So what is The Scrubbing!!? What sets it apart from other beaver-inclusive Canadian novels? Well, as I’ve explained to the 11 other publishers who have mulled over my manuscript meanderingly (with each rejection sending me into a spiral of Oreo-cookie-fuelled doubt, mitigated solely by the encouraging remarks about my bold choice of 18-point comic sans or how surprised they were by all the glitter), as I’ve explained to those short-sighted IMBECILES, The Scrubbing!! isn’t just a novel. It’s an experience!

As you know, there have been countless dystopian fantasies in recent years – The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, the Harper government. Well, my novel is set in a bleak but bubbly future in the years following the Great Palmolive disaster of 2035 – yes, it’s a dish-soapian fantasy! And only our middle-aged but still rakishly handsome hero, Ssor Yarrum, holds the key to the Scouring Pad of Destiny. Will he vanquish the Greasoids of Bakonnia? Or will he be devoured by his own irresistibleness to women and, for some reason, very small toads?

The Scrubbing!! It’s part epic, part memoir, part graphic novel, part pop-up book, part scratch ticket, part absorbent pad. I think the 300-page sample I’ve enclosed will give you a small taste of the brilliance of my debut novel. Oh, and it’s Part One of a seven-book series.

Look at you already reading it! You know what? I’m so confident that The Scrubbing!! is going to ripple your butterscotch that you should just hang onto my self-addressed stamped envelope. Go ahead and use it to mail me bundles of cash, because everyone knows getting a novel published makes you rich, rich, rich!

I await your positive reply within the next three working days!!!

Best regards,

Ross “Give Me That Giller Now” Murray


 You can listen to the original here.  A version of this post originally appeared on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway.  You can listen to the original here


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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51 Responses to The query

  1. You might submit to German publishers, they really like exclamation points. For me, I’m just hoping for fame after I die, that seems easier than getting published these days.

  2. Paul says:

    I am so looking forward to reading “The Scrubbing!!” . My loofah is worn and I am hoping that by reading your book, I will eventually end up with a cleaner back. That being said, I suspect that your book is really about how doctors get into their scrubs – a fascinating study if ever there was one – especially women doctors. Some of them are so smart I bet they pull their scrub pants on both legs at once.

    Anyway, best of luck on the publishing front – we are all eagerly awaiting.

  3. I’d read it… actually I haven’t read a book in years but yours has pop-ups so maybe right up my alley. Maybe it even has pop-up beavers. You can’t lose with pop-up beavers.

  4. I don’t see how anyone can possibly say no to something which will “ripple your butterscotch”. And now I have a thousand food-related phrases running through my head which will positively “press your garlic”. No. That sounds wrong. “Twist your lemon”. No, Ross, I think you win.

  5. List of X says:

    I know someone at that publishing house, and he told me the reason your manuscript was rejected was that it didn’t have enough beavers.
    Also, Palmolive threatened to sue them for defamation – but mainly, it was the lack of beavers.

  6. ksbeth says:

    for the life of me, i cannot understand the turndowns!

  7. Shame. I’m really intrigued by anything that combines popups with scratching AND has beavers. I’m more of an otter fan myself, but beavers are pretty funny because beavers. Keep at it, sir. Eventually, you’ll wear somebody down enough to give in.

  8. [speechless] or as they say en français, “…”

  9. Les Francais sont plus “hoity toity” avec leurs italiques fantasie parlent. Or, as my plain American English phone would say “Let Francis sent plus ‘hot to it’ Avenue lemurs italics fantasy parent.”

  10. Elyse says:

    Dish-soapian. Brilliant.

  11. markbialczak says:

    Did your self-publisher turn you down already, too, Ross?

  12. And Mounties! Don’t forget about the Mounties! Couldn’t they do Ssor Yarrum back-up scrubbing? Or maybe they just have ssor butts from all that musical riding. Do I know what I’m talking about? Um, not sure.

    Good luck, though. 🙂

  13. Karen says:

    Wow, I had to click all the links in this post before I commented. Now I’m tired.

    I’m there with you. I have a (mostly) completed manuscript, and a (sort of) completed query, and I guess now is a good time to read

    Do you follow #MSWL on Twitter? I’m not suggesting it; it will make you slit your wrists. I’m just a bit of a masochist, so I’m compulsive about reading it every Wednesday.

    Anyway, I can’t decide if I want to be rejected by agents first, or just cut out the middleman and get rejected by publishers straight away.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I’ve tried publishers so now I’m waiting to be rejected by an agent. I think I will take an agent rejection far less personally because I already suspect they will be higher on the asshole scale. Wait, did I say that out loud? #MSWL is new to me. They read like the weirdest personal ads.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      P.S. Congrats on your link hunt. I wish there were a prize.

      • Karen says:

        Now that I’m looking back on the post, I guess there weren’t that many (only 3), but now I know what a “Giller” is, and I read your excerpt, so it was time well spent 🙂

  14. I know you wrote “metabolism” but I swear my mind saw “metastasis.” That’s weird, right?

    Have you thought about film rights yet? I see Bill Murray as Ssor. And you need to partner with an artist to get the graphic novel version out there as soon as you can.

  15. If that doesn’t grab ’em by the throat and say, “This person is just crazy enough to start stalking me if I don’t accede to his demands,” well, by gum, nothing will.

  16. pinklightsabre says:

    I did a full-on chortle/snort/half-guffaw on my sofa at the dish-soapian passage. Good god. You’ve got the funk brother. On a side-note, been thinking about you and hoping things are going alright. Heading out to a cabin several hours away in the eastern Washingtons with friend Loren this weekend. Still going through boxes in my garage, finding unused condoms, concert stubs, tacks, Euros, Word A Day desktop calendar pages saved for some prophetic purpose. Katzenjammer.

  17. Now I know. Now I know how to write my query letter. As the final draft of my own novel nears completion, I was dreading the query letter, but now, with this prime example, I know how to do it and have nothing to fear.
    Except for the part where my story isn’t a dish-soapian novel, that might be a huge setback for me, but I’m sure that, gleaning off of your brilliance, I can still pull through.

  18. Ned's Blog says:

    Dear Mr. Murray:
    While the premise of “The Scrubbing!!” has me enticed in a way I haven’t been since the release of Ajax 9-1-1, I am concerned with the potential lawsuits that could arise should one of the pop-up pages fling glitter into someone’s eye. Fix that, and I think we may have a publication deal, depending on whether we can get a Palmolive sponsorship.


    — Ima Broke
    Desperation Publishing

  19. Perhaps a video query next time will work with a song and dance to No Scrubs by TLC. Just a suggestion… (P.S. To hell with them, I think it sounds splendid!)

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