A Funny Thing Happened While I Was Reading Queries

I’ve been assigned to go through a batch of queries at my day job. One of the companies I freelance for asked me to take a look at them. They are just swamped and they trust my judgment.

Thought you might like to see some of the no-no’s I’ve encountered while doing this. While I’ve reworded them to hide identities, all of these “types” of mistakes showed up in more than one query. (Keep in mind, these were submitted to a mainstream LDS publisher with clear submission guidelines posted on their website.)

I queried you last year and you rejected me, but here’s a great story I think you’ll love.

Right. You’ve already pre-conditioned me not to like it by reminding me that I didn’t like your previous stuff. Don’t do that. Write your query as if you’ve never sent me anything before. Let it be a fresh start for both of us.

Please consider my xxx word YA paranormal fantasy about XX, the daughter of the bishop, Laurel class president—and a vampire.

No. First, while I might entertain a novel about a bishop’s daughter/Laurel prez who SLAYS vampires, I’m not going to look at one that IS a vampire. And vampires in general? Yawn. You better have a really original take on that.

I served an LDS proselyting mission in Guatemala, then returned there for another two years work with a charitable organization establishing health care in poorer areas…[followed by a rather lengthy description of what he did there]

Okay. That’s nice. But what does it have to do with your book? Your query is to sell your manuscript. I’ll get to know you as a person after I accept it.

In lieu of the usual query (which I’m sure you get tired of reading), I’m sending you the first 500 words of my novel. After reading, could you give me some advice on whether I should craft this more as a YA adventure? Or as a more literary coming-of-age novel?

What?! No. I never tire of well-written queries. They are the highlight of my day. What I do get tired of are people who, for whatever reason, have decided to break the requested submission guidelines and who think that’s a good thing. Never is. And no, YOU decide what your book is before you send in the query. If you need help, find a critique group or take a writing class.

Now I’m off to go through a few more Book of Mormon stories with a fine-toothed comb.

8 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened While I Was Reading Queries”

  1. Thanks for the chuckle. These make me feel a little better about the query letters I have written (which I always hope are up to snuff).

  2. I agree with the last comment. It gives me confience that the ones I have written are not half bad. Perhaps you could do a feature sometime on the things that stood out to you in a positive light, like good examples from actual queries. Thanks!

  3. But I WANT to read that book about the bishop's daughter/Laurel president who is also…a vampire! (Wait! Is there a MIa Maid werewolf in the story?)

  4. Joyce, me too (shhh) but remember, I was reading queries for a MAINSTREAM LDS publisher.

  5. That's funny because I was thinking I wanted to read that vampire one, just to see if she I'm assuming a female wrote it) could actually pull it off.

  6. Well, I think we've all at least thought about doing something similar, but thank goodness our muses hadn't left town that day. đŸ™‚

  7. On the first one it makes you wonder why you would remind them of past rejection.

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