Query #1: Writer spends six paragraph telling me about his previously published book, not the one he's querying about. Reject.
Query #2: 1st paragraph talks only about the multiple themes in the book. There is no second paragraph. Reject.
Query #3: Great opening paragraph, strong hook. Unfortunately, writer didn't follow sub guidelines. Ask her to re-query with pages & synop.
Query #4: Also did not follow sub guidelines. First paragraph talks about writer's self-published book. No pitch at all. Reject.
Query #5: Followed sub guidelines. Good first paragraph. Writing sample badly over-written. Reject.
Query #6: Didn't follow sub guidelines. Misspelled my name. No pages. Reject.
Query #7: Followed sub guidelines. Good pitch, great hook. Not a genre I'm interested in, however. Refer to colleague at FinePrint.
Query #8: Great query, but book is too similar to something I already represent. Personalized rejection, ask to see other work.
Query #9: Didn't follow sub guidelines, doesn't tell me what the book is about, spends four paragraphs on his Army career. Reject.
Query #10: No salutation. Two paragraphs about theme and philosophy of book. No actual plot, however. And no pages. Reject.
Query #11: One meandering paragraph, each sentence separated by ellipses. Reject.
Query #12: No salutation (again). No actual query, either. Just the first three pages from the book. Reject.
Query #13: YA fantasy, 175,000 words. Reject with educational note about word counts.
Query #14: Query for illustrated children's book, which I don't handle. Submission guidelines would have told him this. Reject.
Query #15: Query for Christian fiction, which I don't handle. Again, my submission guidelines would have saved her the trouble. Reject.
Query #16: This query was cc'd to multiple agents. Reject. You just shot yourself in the foot, dude.
Query #17: Unsolicited attachment. Delete without reading further. This one won't event get the courtesy of a rejection.
Query #18: No salutation. (Sensing a theme here.) Text is formatted in multiple colors and font sizes. Hurt my eyes. Reject.
Query #19: Another unsolicited attachment. Another query deleted without being read.
Query #20: Loves me. Loves my blog. Has MFA. Won contest I've never heard of. Three paragraphs in and it's still not a query letter. Reject.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
This afternoon, in an effort to educate some of the folks who follow me on Twitter about what it is that causes an agent to stop reading a query and reject it, I did a series of 20 live-Twittered query reads. In essence, I talked about what went wrong as I was reading that ultimately caused me to reject a particular query. A lot of folks asked me to compile them in one place. Here you go. I hope that some of you find this helpful: