There are a number of things that make me want to drink/mainline Drano. I’ve talked about them over the years…and wouldn’t you know, but I have a new batch of goodies.
- Font color: Write your query letter in light gray, so that my weary eyes strain to the point of crossing.
- Begin your query by admitting your work probably doesn’t fit our guidelines: (actually, this is a benefit of sorts, because I can delete that much faster without having to read the entire query). For crying out loud. If your work doesn’t fit a publisher’s guidelines, then why in the name of all that’s holy are you querying them? Editors are busy folks, and they’ll simply delete without replying – so you’ve wasted not only your time, but the editor’s as well. Not a smart idea.
- Word Count: Make sure your manuscript is miles under the minimum word count. For example, the sweet spot for most mainstream publishers is between 50k – 100k words. They will usually specify that they publish shorts. But if you’ve written something that clocks in at about 30,000 words, it becomes more of a pamphlet than a book. This is especially irritating with nonfiction because, really? A nonfiction pamphlet on how to survive getting laid off/leaving a cult/dealing with falling in love with your best friend’s boyfriend…How much depth can you attain with 30,000 words? Puhleeze.
- Request Help: Ask me for help in directing you to a publisher who does publish your kind of work. Um. Yah. Nothing would excite me more than to do your work for you.
- Query Length: Just today I had a query that went on for six pages. SIX. Deleted without reply.
After thirteen years in this business, I still remain gobsmacked at the ability of authors to shoot themselves in their own feet and guarantee instant, sudden death rejection…especially since it takes so little research to understand how this crazy business works and the most beneficial ways to approach an editor or agent in a professional manner.
Okay, pass me the Drano…