Common query mistakes

At my new internship, I got to see what was in the bottom drawer: rejected queries. For over an hour, I read query after query.

The rejected queries all had repeated mistakes. Here’s some of the most common ones:


One writer wrote aknolegments instead of acknowledgements. Spelling, especially in the writing career, is essential. If you misspell something in your query, who’s to say you won’t have grammar errors all over your manuscript?

Sending IN their manuscripts

Some writers sent their manuscripts up front, which is dangerous. Every literary agent and publisher has their own specifications. Some want the first chapter or the first few chapters. But few usually ask for a full-length manuscript first.

Word count missing

Having a word count is important. If you forget it, some professionals will ask for the word count in an email. But they would rather have the word count up front. Now, a word count is not 55 pages and a bibliography. Write a rounded number of words. For example, 50,000 words or 75,000 words.

Wrong reasons/genre

Some writers believe anyone will publish them, which is not true. Every literary agent or publisher has their own genre(s) they specialize in. Even if you published with them before, it doesn’t mean your next book will be a good match.

Too many words

One author said their manuscript had 200,000 words. That’s a series, not a novel. Bigger novels publish at about 100,000 words, and that’s still pushing it. Not everyone can publish a book with a high word count. They’re hard to sell and could cost the publisher a lot of money to print. It also depends on your genre. Some have a higher word count range than others.

Downgrade self

One author wrote, “I am not a professional writer” in their query. Even if you don’t think you’re worthy, you have to sell yourself. Don’t write something that will make the agent or publisher think less of you.

Hope this helps!

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