Pefecting the Query Letter Part 4

This is the last post in the series about what not to do when writing query letters. If you missed the first one, go here.

Let’s look at some more things to avoid when writing that dreaded query letter.

-DON’T pretend to have a connection with an agent if you don’t. Never assume the agent was so busy at the conference she won’t remember that she didn’t actually meet you.

-DON’T say one of the agent’s clients referred you if they didn’t. Don’t think the agent won’t first talk to her client. She will. The same goes for recommendations. If you say the agent’s client recommended her, but what you really meant was that he mentioned who represented him on his website… Yeah, not good.

-DON’T intentionally go against the agent’s guidelines. If she says she doesn’t represent your genre, don’t query her. You’re wasting her time and yours. Besides, why would you want an agent who doesn’t represent your genre? This means she either doesn’t like it or doesn’t have the industry connections for it. Or both. Move on to someone who’ll be as passionate about your writing as you are.

-DON’T talk the agent out of loving your work before she has the chance to read it. Don’t say, “I know you’re awfully busy and probably won’t like my story, but here it is anyway.” Or, “My writing isn’t very good yet, but maybe you’ll like it.” Or, “You’d have to be crazy to like my story, but maybe you’re a little crazy.”

-DON’T come across as having a weak personality. Don’t say, “I hope I’m not bothering you, but if you ever have a free moment, could you please take a look at my query?” Or, “I know you’re extremely busy, and I don’t want to take you away from your clients’ work, so when you get a chance, could you take a quick peek at my query?” More and more, writers are expected to self-promote. The more confident you are, the more confident the agent will be in your ability to self-promote.

-DON’T reply to the agent after receiving a rejection. This means you shouldn’t thank her, or worse, call her names and tell her she doesn’t know a good thing when she sees it. And don’t ask for feedback on what you can do to improve your query. Agents are very busy people. She passed on your work, now move on.

Can you think of other things to avoid when writing a query?

If you’re struggling with your query letter or synopsis, I’m a freelance editor/writing coach and can help. Check out my query and synopsis critique packages.

Lynnette Labelle