10 Query Letter No-Nos

Here are 10 common query letter mistakes that could get your idea rejected. by Ann Rittenberg
Author:
Publish date:

10. Letters that have typos in the first sentence.

9. Letters that start with a nugget of wisdom: “Every step we take in life moves us in a direction.”

8. Letters with faint or very small type. You can assume that just about everyone in publishing suffers from eyestrain.

7. Letters longer than one page.

6. Letters with overcomplicated directions for replying: “I’m going to Tortola for the next three weeks. If you need to reach me, please call my cell number. Don’t leave a message at my home number because I won’t get it until I return.” A simple street or e-mail address will do.

5. Photocopied letters with no salutation.

4. Letters that start, “I know how busy you are, so I’ll get straight to the point and not take up too much of your valuable time.” By writing this, you’ve already taken up a full sentence of my valuable time.

3. Letters with grandiose claims: “My novel will appeal to women, and because there are 150 million women in the United States, it will sell 150 million copies.”

2. Letters that say, “I’ve worked very hard on this novel.” Does that fact alone make it a good novel?

1. And the No. 1 query letter no-no: “I have written a fiction novel.” When an agent sees this sentence in a query letter, he quickly draws the conclusion that a writer who doesn’t know that a novel is, by definition, a work of fiction is a writer who isn’t ready to be published.

Excerpted from Your First Novel © 2006 by ANN RITTENBERG AND LAURA WHITCOMB, with permission from Writer’s Digest Books.

Buy Now:
Your First Novel

Image placeholder title

WD Online Course:
Improve your query letter in just 4-weeks:

Writing The Query Letter

From Script

A Fond Farewell to Netflix’s Lucifer, Writing Video Games, and Do Experts Stand in the Way of Your Writing Goals?: From Script

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, exclusive interviews with Lucifer TV writer Chris Rafferty and video game writer Ian Ryan. Plus, learn about screenwriting trailblazer France Goodrich Hacket, who co-wrote It’s a Wonderful Life, and advice on when and when not to approach a writing expert to reach your writing goals.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is misusing dialogue tags.

Poetic Forms

Boketto: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, Walter J. Wojtanik shares his relatively new form, the boketto.

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

In this article, author Paul Neilan explains how he came up with the idea for his mystery and dark comedy novel The Hollywood Spiral.

WD-Poetry-2020-WinnerGraphic

Deborah Hall, 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winner

The winner of the 2020 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards discusses the inspiration behind her first-place poem, “The Loneliest Whale."

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters split up.

Kerry Winfrey: On Writing a Romance that's Cozy and Comforting

Kerry Winfrey: On Writing a Romance that's Cozy and Comforting

Author Kerry Winfrey wrote her latest romance, Very Sincerely Yours, during the 2020 pandemic to comfort herself. Here, she's explaining why that tone is important for readers.

WD-Poetry-2020-WinnerGraphic

The 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 WD Poetry Awards!

GettyImages-163437242

Your Story #113

Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.