Queries, and The Artist Formerly Known as Danette Haworth

I've drafted the perfect query letter. Strong hook, interesting characters, good synopsis. The query is professional, and I believe I can hear the voice and tone of the novel coming out in the letter. Several rounds of critiques have chiseled the letter to perfection. I'm pleased with it.

I print the letter and inspect it—any ink smudges? Any of those black dots that are really dead bugs from when the paper was being pressed? Strands of hair? Dust? Particles of any kind? Did the letter print at a straight angle on the paper? I exhale. Everything has come through perfectly.

I whip out my pen and sign my name. Oh no! My letters are too skinny! The editor or agent will think I'm narrow-minded, closed-up, filled with inhibitions. I print a new letter and sign with a flourish. Too fancy—who do I think I am? I hit print and sign again, taking my time. This one's no good either; it's a schoolgirl signature—too loopy. I'm getting hot, now. Literally. I feel moist all over and my face is full of heat. It must be SSS—signature stress syndrome. I print one more letter and try for a signature somewhere between skinny and schoolgirl; I hope my signature says I'm serious and intelligent but kicky and fun, too.

Recently, I discovered something that could potentially take care of the whole SSS business for me. Here's my name in Japanese:

I'm thinking about signing all my queries with it.


Danette Haworth said...

Want to see what your name looks like in Japanese? Here's the website:


Church Lady said...

Great Post! I'll do that today!
Good luck with your query process.

courtney said...

Best post ever! Signature Stress Syndrome, I love it. Heh. I once bought a book about what your signature says about you and I couldn't get over how much our handwriting supposedly gives away. It's enough to make me want to block letter everything!

& Good luck with the querying!! I've got fingers crossed for you!

Danette Haworth said...

Church Lady and Courtney,

Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the post and for your well wishes on the querying.


I've read articles like that, too. I think what I'll do is pick the personality type I like and practice writing like that!

jennifer said...

That's hilarious, Danette. I've suffered SSS myself so I know exactly what you're talking about.

There's also the Crooked Stamp Syndrome where you go through many envelopes and stamps trying to make it all look just right. It becomes a rather expensive syndrome.

I'm glad you pointed us to your post at Verla's.


elysabeth said...


A nice posting indeed. I did my name in Japanese and had to come up with the following (of course being an odd name, it didn't like it so I went with the first spelling/pronunciation of Elysabeth) - but here is what mine looks like -

http://www.japanesetranslator.co.uk/your-name-in-japanese/?forename=Elisabeth&style=0 - you have to go to the web page to see it - the blog won't let me copy the picture - so not sure how you got it on your blog - but great posting - E :)

Christy Lenzi said...

Ha! And all this time I have been suffering in secret silence, not knowing there were others. Shall we form a SSS support group?

Linda D. (sbk) said...

I'll likely start subbing in January ... I'll be sure to stock up on my paper and ink supplies before I start signing things.

Thanks for the warning.

Lilfix said...

Doctor Danette...

I'm an old southpaw (left hander) so I have always had SSS...I just didn't know it until you informed me of it today...grin...

My handwriting/signature is so bad, that I can't even read it...I figure that means that my signature is full of creativity...because when you make it yourself...it is not suppose to be perfect...Hugs...Brenda

Stella said...

Very funny, Danette!

Great to hear you're having two books published. I know you don't know me but I kind of follow the trials and tribulations of Verla's struggling authors. I'm one myself.

Danette Haworth said...


Thank you for your kind words.

Can you believe there are two Danettes on the VK board. Yes, Danette Vigilante is the Danette who landed the two-book deal with Putnam. And you can read all about it here on this blog! I interviewed her and she has a great, inspirational story.

Thanks for stopping by!

Danette Haworth said...


You are so right about the crooked stamp syndrome! I try to line them up geometrically, but they always end slanting up, slightly to the right.

Thanks! Don't our names look pretty in Japanese?

Suffering in secret silence--another SSS syndrome! Indeed, we must form a support group or we will continue to secretly suffer silently while stressing about our signatures.

Good luck during subbing, Linda!

I think I read that messy, illegible handwriting signifies genius. That must be true, right?

Shari said...

SSS is a disease that afflicts thousands of writers across the nation. Help stop this crippling syndrome by donating now to SSSS (Stop Signature Stress Syndrome). All donations will be used to distribute Valium to writers in need. Help fight SSS. Donate today.

But seriously, thanks for the entertaining post. Too funny! :)

Danette Haworth said...


Haha! To bad we can't do superscript because then we could just write S3 or S4. Yes, donate today! Make the check out to . . .

Danette Haworth said...

Too bad

Okay, that's better! Typos are so embarrassing.