I have to admit I’m guilty of a few query don’ts. Okay, maybe a lot 🙂 I didn’t know any better. Like many of you, I just thought I did. You don’t know what you don’t know. I hope you are researching and doing your homework at every stage of the process. You don’t want to send out queries with the following blunders.
- Queries with typos in the first sentence.
- Queries that start with a nugget of wisdom: the submitter trying to be cute or philosophical. “Every step we take in life moves us in a direction.” Really!
- Queries that use very small type or brilliant colors in the background. Maybe if you add a fancy font it will jump off the page. Remember-the agent probably suffers from eyestrain. They live on the computer. Keep it simple-follow the rules.
- Queries with overcomplicated directions for replying. It’s great that you are confident you will receive a response, but the agent/publisher doesn’t want your travel plans. A simple street or email address will do.
- Queries longer than one page. Remember – concise, clear, straight to the point. If you waste words and wonder all over the place during the query, the agent/publisher will think you do the same in your novel.
- Queries with more than one agent in the “To” line. Each query has to be individualized to the agent you are querying.
- Queries that start, “I know you receive hundreds of queries a week.” or “I know how busy you are so I’ll get straight to the point.” By writing this, you have already taken up a full sentence of their valuable time. Don’t state the obvious.
- Queries that make grandiose claims. My writing is comparative to Nicholas Sparks, or I would expect my novel to sell 150 million copies since that’s how many women live in the United States.
- Queries that state, “I worked very hard on this novel.” So! That doesn’t necessarily make it good.
Something to think about.