Victoria Loder, Agent with The Rights Factory recently started a new series of tweets called Things Not to Include in Your Query. It’s pretty informative and funny, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.
A new series called Things Not to Include in Your Query:
Screenshots of your editor saying your book is really good.
— Victoria Loder, Agent (@VictoriaLoder_) March 22, 2019
That got me thinking: there must be a lot of #TwitterLit advice from agents, publishers, and the like about what things you shouldn’t put in your query.
There doesn’t seem to be a single popular hashtag that specifically addresses query dont’s. #querynonos and #querynono have both been used in the past. You can also search #querytip, #subtip, and #pubtip for general do’s and dont’s about querying.
Let’s get down to it. The list of what you shouldn’t put in your query is virtually endless, but here are the most common mistakes writers seem to be making:
#querynonos: “Hello Mr. Editor-in-chief..” Wrong on so many levels.
— Pande Literary (@agent_ayesha) March 7, 2014
#querytip If you can’t explain why you chose to query an agent, then why do it? Sending out 100 generic letters at random will not get you closer to signing an agent. Hunt for the person who you can partner with for the long game. #writerscommunity
— A.L.Goulden (@A_L_Goulden) March 19, 2019
Like my mom used to say when one of her students treated her poorly, “What am I, chopped liver?”
So fair warning (to ease my guilty conscience)…
If you don’t even call me by some combination of my real name (your choice) in your query, I’m just going to delete it.#pubtip
— Heather Cashman (@HeatherCashman) April 1, 2019
Ignoring submission guidelines:
Folks in search of an agent: do not (I repeat, DO NOT) query without looking at the agent’s guidelines. That shit with attachments when we say no attachments? Rejected automatically. That shit that says “Dear Sir/Madam”? Straight to rejected folder. #querytip #sorrynotsorry
— Ilana Masad (@ilanaslightly) March 18, 2019
Loves, I love you, but please don’t call an agency to pitch your work. Even if your conversation is GREAT, we still have to read your work, which means you’ll end up emailing anyway. Agencies have sub guidelines available online, please use them. Thank you! #subtip #querytip
— Susan, A Graham (@Grahamophones) March 21, 2019
While I have no problem with resources that provide brief info on editors and agents, writers HAVE TO take the time to do their own research. Read submission guidelines. Go to the source. Make sure your story fits #pubtip
— greyhausagency (@greyhausagency) August 20, 2018
Bashing yourself or other writers, genres, agents, etc.
“the paranormal young adult shelf in the bookstore is packed with crap. Mine is good – I hope you will rep me” #queryNoNos
— Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) March 8, 2012
— Jessica Faust (@BookEndsJessica) July 2, 2018
Be polite, professional, and keep your complaints to venting sessions w/ writing groups/critique partners. #querytip (11/12)
— Kaitlyn Johnson (@kaitylynne13) November 3, 2017
Also, if you bash the city I live in in your bio that shows me you have attitude (but not in a good way). #querynono
— Rena *THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD* Rossner (@renarossner) July 30, 2013
Pitching more than one book in a single query:
#querytip seeing a LOT of MS’s pitched as the first in a series today.
Planning series is fine, but as a debut author try to make your MS stand alone as well—publishers less likely to take the risk of a series not selling well w/a debut author than one w/an established fan base!
— Cortney Radocaj 🏳️🌈💖💜💙 (@CortneyRadocaj) March 22, 2019
#PB #QueryTip Please send one query with your most polished picture book project. If I like it, I will ask to see other work, so there’s no need to send multiple queries for different projects. #amquerying
— JenniferMarchSoloway (@marchsoloway) March 20, 2018
#querytip #subtip – Please don’t say that someone at the agency has requested your work if they have not. It’s not an in, it’s you starting a business relationship that can get very personal on a lie. Be honest – it’s a stronger starting point & I have faith in you.
— Susan, A Graham (@Grahamophones) March 20, 2019
Reading queries. Just FYI, when you submit to QueryManager, you’re required to identify your book’s genre. If you don’t see your genre, that means I’m not acquiring it, so don’t call it something it’s not just to get it through the process. I’m just going to reject it. #querytip
— Margaret Bail (@MKDB) March 27, 2019
Writers, this is your friendly reminder not to lie about offers of representation to agents. Publishing is a small business and agents talk. It’s the quickest way to get yourself no offers at all. #querytip
— Penny Moore (@precociouspenny) November 27, 2018
Hot Tip: don’t lie about having an offer from another agent. We will find out, and you will end up with no agent and no credibility. #querytip
— Lauren’s the Worst (preorder now💁🏻♀️) (@laurenspieller) July 19, 2018
Kill rhetorical questions! Don’t end a query with: “Which choice will she make?” or “Can he solve the puzzle in time?”
Instead: “Now, she must make a choice, or __ will happen.”
Or: “If he can’t solve the puzzle in time, __ will happen.” #querytip #writingcommunity #amquerying
— Amanda Woody (@findmeediting) March 20, 2019
— A.M. Rose (@annmrose) February 15, 2019
#querytip Yes/no rhetorical questions are the worst of the worst. It’s a basic sales principle. The second someone says “no,” you’ve lost the sale.
“Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly?”
— ☕Sarah Nicolas🏳️🌈 (@Sarah_Nicolas) April 26, 2018
— Christina Kaye (@xtinakayebooks) January 29, 2017
3) Does the query lay out the stakes of the story & do those stakes feel high enough? Looking for conflict I could care about. #querytip 4/4
— Patricia Nelson (@patricianels) January 13, 2016
#tenqueries 1: MG Animal Story. I would call this a MG fantasy or perhaps MG animal fantasy. The lack of clear stakes and a cliffhanger that makes me think “what happens next?” is giving me pause. Pass.
— Peter Knapp (@petejknapp) March 5, 2018