It’s that time of the year again, with the sudden resurgence of many queries from aspiring writers. Even with the best resources available (in print and online), many people still make mistakes that can be easily avoided. Here’s my kind “nudge” on what NOT to do.
What NOT to do during the query process:
1. Send attachments with an initial email query – Only send electronic files when they have been requested.
2. Address an agent or editor by a generic term, ex: Sir/Madam/Literary Agent – Take the time to greet the agent/editor by name.
3. Use Facebook at the method in which the agent/editor is queried – Instead use our websites, professional emails, and/or the post office.
4. Do a phone (message) query – Please no book pitches over the phone (see above)
5. Ignore agency submission guidelines – Be specific, always follow each agent’s submission standards down to the last period.
6. Confuse nonfiction with the category of “memoir/biography” – If an agent isn’t accepting books in that category and your book is technically a biography, don’t present the book as a work of nonfiction within the query. Only query agents who are actively seeking biography/memoir books.
7. Ignore the need to spellcheck/grammar check the query – do I even need to explain?
With many agents, we love seeing a good query that is representative of our agency categories. Receiving appropriate queries, that are equally well-written is always appreciated. For Red Sofa Literary, it means at least it’ll be a more personal reply, be it a rejection or a request for materials.