Letters from the Loveseat – Query Letter Minutiae

By Jennie Goloboy

Sometimes authors worry they’re doing something minor and avoidable in their query letters that may cause me to reject them.  So for the record, the following things will NOT cause me to reject your manuscript:

1. Minor misspellings. Small typos happen to everyone.  I may laugh a little if you call your hero a handsome rouge, but I won’t reject the book because of it.

2. Misspelling my name. My last name’s an unusual one, and it gets misspelled a lot.  It’s okay that you forgot the third “o”! I do collect and share the really unusual ones (current favorites: Gogoboy and Gooboy) but don’t worry– no one will know it was you.  If you misspelled my first name, the email probably bounced.  Whoops.

3. Emailing the letter to me, addressing it to Laura. I’ll just send it to Laura.


However, there are a few avoidable things you might be doing that WILL get your manuscript rejected, sight unseen.

1. Sending the query letter as an attachment. I won’t open it, because I don’t want to get a virus.

2. Any query letter that makes me yell at my computer screen, “JUST TELL ME WHAT THE BOOK’S ABOUT!” is going to be an automatic reject.

3. General unreadability. Tiny fonts, no paragraph breaks, text running off the end of the screen into the sunset.  I used to be less picky about this, but now I’m approaching the bifocal years.

4. Attempting to appeal to my greed. Telling me that you’re going to make me rich.  I don’t like feeling sleazy, and I don’t pick my clients because I think they’re going to be profitable.   I pick them because I think their work is entertaining and important to the field.

5. Comparing yourself to J.K. Rowling. It’s a sign either (a) you need more recent comps or (b) see #4.


As I’ve said before– as long as your query letter tells me what the book is about, and who you are, in an engaging and clearly-written way, you’re doing just fine.