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Monday, March 29, 2010

The 10 Sins of Query Writing

As many, I have been working on my query letter for my YA Fantasy novel and I must admit that I am quite happy with it. I have tweaks and little changes that I need to make but it is almost there. From my old query which I was actually brave enough to send to 13 agents I love my new one. Since I was foolish with my first novel I rewrote it and it turned out completely different so thankfully I get to require those agents with my new query since the last time I queried was last summer. Anyways back to the topic of queries. They practically decide the faith of your manuscript, yes, and the one you have been slaving over for months or even years for some. So why send off a query that isn't as great as the manuscript only to come back to rejections?

When I was reading the 'Guide to Query letters' I discovered quite a bit of useful information. Now, there is nothing you won't find on the internet but it is all sort of condensed into one book so you don't have to search different sources. So here are the 10 Sins of Query writing...

1. Addressing the wrong agent. (You may think this is so hard to do but when you are sending off a lot of queries, you are tired, it's nearly 12 and you happen to mess up.)

2. Soliciting a manuscript idea that has been done to death or one that has already been covered. (Dear Agent, my novel is about a young wizard named Garry Blotter. Apparently this happens. Beats me how though, particularly with best sellers.)

3. Ignoring submission guidelines.

4. Spelling or Grammatical Errors.

5. Talking about how your friends and your mom loved your novel to death and told you that it is going to be a best seller.

6. Discussing money, contracts, TV and movie deals.

7. Threatening to take your book elsewhere.

8. Not enough info about your book.

9. The manuscript is incomplete but I though you would want to

10. My novel is better in quality than Lord of the Rings combined with Shakespeare. (That was random because that would be a very weird combination)

So there you go...The 10 Sins of Querying. If you have committed any of them or have more to add, comment! If not comment anyways!


  1. Those are the easy things to avoid.

    I'm still stumbling on how to get the emotion across. (Maybe I'm having problems because I'm not emotional.)

  2. I did find emotions are hard to convey in a query. To be truthful Kay I think that emotions are hard to convey in words, sometimes feelings are so indescribable.

  3. I think one of the biggest challenges in the query letter -- and you mention it in point #2 -- is how to convey to an agent that your idea doesn't sound like it's been done to death, even though we know it's impossible to come up with a completely original story. But how do you create the perception that somehow your story is different from all the others out there? Why should the agent pick your story?

    I think that's difficult to convey in such a short query letter. How have you approached that area?


  4. Steven - Thats a very good question. I tried to focus on the very different things in my plot (which tend to be combinations of done things) like for example the fact that my MC is not a human but a race which I made up. So that's already something more new. Not that it hasn't been done of course but mized with the other little differences it makes a very spicy soup! I mean speaking of soup how many variations can you make out of the same ingredients right? Same goes to novel writing! Good Luck! If my query works for me I am going to post it here.

  5. It makes me so, so happy to see this on a non agent/publisher blog! :)
    Do you read any, by the way? I'm kind of obsessed with Editorial Ass and INTERN.

  6. Thanks lale! I do take a peek once in a while! Editorial Ass is a great blog and Intern! I should link them to mine :)