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

6 Tools for Writing Nonfiction That Breathes

6 Tools for Writing Nonfiction That Breathes

Nonfiction author Liz Heinecke gives her top 6 tips for crafting a nonfiction book that will really capture your subject.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 27

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write something that makes you laugh.

Poetic Forms

Ars Poetica: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at ars poetica and the art of writing poems about poems.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 26

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about an article of clothing.

Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 authors share tips on writing mystery and thriller novels that readers love, covering topics related to building suspense, inserting humor, crafting incredible villains, and figuring out the time of death.

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Debut author Jaclyn Goldis explains how her novel When We Were Young was inspired by her real-life grandmothers and how many times she rewrote her first chapter.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, force a character to make a decision.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 25

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about a cryptid.

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Bestselling author Erika Robuck provides her top 7 tips for creating an engaging historical fiction novel.