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What NOT to include in your query letter

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What NOT to include in your query letter

Post by writerinthenorth » Wed June 6th, 2012, 1:15 pm

I've been amusing myself this morning writing 25 sentences NOT to include in your query letter. Here's a selection - please feel free to join in.

‘What’s that smell coming off the ms you’re holding? - that’s the smell of serious money.’

‘Friends who I have shown my book to all say things like: ‘the best story I ever read’, ‘definite best seller’, ‘it’ll make a great movie’ etc.’

‘This book will change the face of publishing forever.’

'I didn’t see any historical fiction on your list, so this is a great opportunity for you to publish in a popular genre.’

‘I have not included a synopsis as that would spoil the surprise at the end of the story.’

‘I know you asked for only three chapters, but my book is finished and anyway I’m confident you’ll want to read on after the first three chapters so I’ve enclosed the whole thing.’

‘Excuse the handwritten ms - my typewriter is on the blink.’

‘You asked for submissions by post, but these days people find that email is quicker, cheaper, and gets right to your computer - please click the attachment above and start reading straightaway.’

‘Please ignore the spelling mistaks - never my strong point at school.’

‘As you’ll see from my pic enclosed, I have all the attributes your publicity people need for setting up celebrity interviews etc.’

‘More than twenty agents and publishers have rejected this already - please do not add your name to the list of the stupid.’

‘Please get back to me not later than the 17th - I have given the same deadline to everyone I’ve sent to so I can assess all offers and make a decision.’

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Post by wendy » Wed June 6th, 2012, 1:40 pm

More suggestions?
"I know you've already rejected this but I thought you'd like to reconsider as it's so much better now my mother has read it."
Wendy K. Perriman
Fire on Dark Water (Penguin, 2011)

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Double whammy

Post by writerinthenorth » Wed June 6th, 2012, 1:46 pm

Love it, Wendy. I wanted to include a 'mother' reference and you've done it nicely for me, as well as combining it with the 'second bite' common mistake. Great.

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Post by lauragill » Wed June 6th, 2012, 4:49 pm

LOL at "More than twenty agents and publishers have rejected this already - please do not add your name to the list of the stupid.’"

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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Thu June 7th, 2012, 8:44 pm

This is gold. Thanks for making me snicker.

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Post by DianeL » Fri June 8th, 2012, 12:14 am

It's pretty funny, but seems sort of dated with all the references to hand- or typewritten hard copies (not even printed ones?). I must've sent out 80 electronic queries for every hard copy when I was actively querying. Some of the advice is still useful, but some of it doesn't translate to an awful lot of agents' current requirements.

That said, how about: "I made sure; your agency does do foreign and media rights - Colin Farrell would be ideal to play my MC in the film."
"To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!"


The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
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Post by LoveHistory » Fri June 8th, 2012, 12:56 am

Diane, I thought the references to handwriting and typing made it even funnier.

Good stuff!

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Post by writerinthenorth » Fri June 8th, 2012, 8:29 am

I did specifically include the reference to the old-fashioned typewriter for comic effect but as I mention in my blogthe sentence stems from my experience many years ago working for an arts organisation that was also a publisher in a small way. Every six months or so I would get a package of scrawled 'poems' from an address in Cumbria, and always with a covering note from the woman who sent them with the note 'Excuse the handwritten ms - my typewriter is on the blink', or sometimes with the variation 'my typewriter is still on the blink'. For about four years the woman kept on coming, apparently undaunted by our regular rejections. I wonder if we were the only publisher on her list, or whether she circulated her efforts more widely. Perhaps she's still doing it - why not? I am.

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Post by writerinthenorth » Sat June 16th, 2012, 9:56 am

Here's a couple more, for fun:

'I hadn't heard of you till now, but sign me up and soon everyone will know who you are too.'

'I note that you are not taking on new authors, but I'm sure you'll make an exception in my case.'

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Post by parthianbow » Sat June 16th, 2012, 8:24 pm

It's probably been mentioned before, but this video about wanting to write a novel is hysterically funny!
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

Twitter: @benkaneauthor

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