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

Dinty W. Moore: Poking Fun at Hell and Dante's Inferno

Dinty W. Moore: Poking Fun at Hell and Dante's Inferno

In this post, Dinty W. Moore shares what inspired his most recent book To Hell With It, what lesson it taught him, why writers should have fun with their writing, and more!

Arisa White: Putting the Pieces Together

Arisa White: Putting the Pieces Together

In this post, Arisa White shares how she was able to piece together her past with her present, how some works freed her to write, and more!

Adapt vs. Adept vs. Adopt (Grammar Rules)

Adapt vs. Adept vs. Adopt (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use adapt vs. adept vs. adopt with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

wow no thank you

Nuggets of Humor

Bestselling humor author Samantha Irby talks about her writing process and finding funny topics for essays.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

Announcing the 14th annual April Poem-A-Day Challenge on Poetic Asides. Here are the guidelines for this fun annual poeming challenge that starts on April 1.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Call for Submissions, Free Downloads, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce a call for submissions to the WD Self-Published Book Awards, free resources for writers, and more!

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 28

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 a story using only dialogue.

Nicole Galland: On Returning to Familiar Characters

Nicole Galland: On Returning to Familiar Characters

Bestselling author Nicole Galland explains what it was like to dive into writing a series and how speculative fiction allows her to explore her interests.