The Query Letter–What Not to Do

mistakeThis is a reblog of Lindsay Ribar’s excellent post, originally here: http://lindsayribar.tumblr.com/post/103578580193/i-read-120-ish-queries-today-and-then-made-a-poem.

Queries are tricky little things; I’ve spent months in Query Letter Hell (yes, that’s its real name) on Absolute Write trying to improve my query skills, and it’s STILL a work in progress. I’ll blog more about publishing later, but I think it’s helpful to have an idea of what not to write.

I gather the author is a literary agent who actually reads queries on a regular basis, so it would be wise to pay attention to this as phrases to avoid in our own queries.

what he doesn’t know is

a classic tale of good versus evil

just your average teenager

fate of all mankind

but unbeknownst to her

beautiful, intelligent, and independent

defy her destiny

action-packed

you said on your website that

corrupt society ruled by

as their relationship deepens

a lifelong love of literature

propelled into a hidden world of

has a deadly secret

character-driven

will never be the same again

less a memoir than an exploration of

always been drawn to

surefire bestseller

***

Another list of phrases to avoid by the same author is here: http://lindsayribar.tumblr.com/post/128643874468/i-read-a-few-hundred-queries-last-week-made.

***

As far as how to actually write query letters, the best information I know of is here: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/2015/08/wpa.html. Janet Reid is an agent who’s been teaching this process for years. I highly recommend reading the entire blog, but even if you aren’t that dedicated, this post by itself has some valuable information to get you started.

Avid writer and reader, especially of fantasy. Learning about social networking and always interested in honing my writing skills. Contact me at cathleentownsend.com.

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