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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Judges Query Pet Peeves

We asked our guest judges what their top two pet peeves were when it came to the queries they receive. Here's what they told us in their own words.

Donna O'Brien

1. GRAMMAR!! I don't expect your manuscript to be grammatically perfect, but your query should reflect a basic command of the English language.

2. Misrepresenting the actual manuscript -- While it is important to have a great hook and interesting query, they should reflect the heart of the novel and not just be a gimmick to get attention.

Andrew Buckley


1. I dislike when query letters are ‘form’ query letters.  And I’m not saying don’t use a form query but at least have the good grace to personalize it to the publisher/lit agency you’re querying.

2. I hate with a fiery passion when query letters only contain a synopsis.  We want to hear who you are, whether you’re planning more books in the same vein, how long the piece is, and why do you believe it’s a good fit for our catalog, etc., etc.  Read submission guidelines…or forever be damned to the 64th circle of hell reserved for talented aspiring writers who constantly bugger up their query letters.

Nancy Bell


1. Failure to read and follow the submission guidelines.  For example sending in docx format when the guidelines specifically state .rtf or .doc  Failing to put contact information on the top of the manuscript. Or sending a genre we don't handle.

2. Queries that claim to be the next....insert here Harry Potter, Dean Koontz etc, or telling me that this book/series will set the publishing world on its ear etc. It is fine to be confident and proud of your work, but most of the queries with wild claims are followed by a manuscript which in no way lives up to its billing.

Krystal Wade

I don't have major peeves but when people don't follow our submission guidelines (don't launch into a I've done this and that and am a member of this and that etc, and don't send the entire ms when we ask only for first five pages) it kind of annoys me. ;-)

Amy Lichtenhan

1. Definitely when authors do not follow our submission guidelines.  It tells us immediately they are not willing to put the time and effort into their submission with us.

2. When we receive the first three chapters and they are unedited and filled with typos. We don't expect perfection, but we definitely want to see authors who have taken the time to be sure their submission is in the best shape it can be.

Notice how four out of five mentioned submission guidelines? Come back tomorrow evening for a post dedicated to submission guidelines and how to abide by them.

7 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

You would think this was all common sense, but of course it happens all the time.

mshatch said...

hmm, are they saying we have to follow submission guidelines?

just kidding. Luckily, that's one of the few things I've done correctly throughout :)

Ink in the Book said...

Research is definitely the key:) Knowing what the agent/publisher wants in a query is most important in following the guidelines.
Thank you for posting this information. It will come in handy in the next few days:)

Elizabeth Poole said...

But I am a special snowflake! Sending my 200K vampire zombie bondage love story on pink construction paper and glitter pen will make me stand out from the slush!

.....

:D

farawayeyes said...

Guidelines, guidelines, guidelines and research, research, research. Got it. Oh, and polish, polish, polish. Guess I better figure out where the commas go. Thanks.

Aldrea Alien said...

This section had me worried when I first saw it listed.
But I see I'm already doing my best to avoid hitting these ones.

abuckley23 said...

I'm a sucker for glitter pens so I would likely accept such a query :)