Query Letter Issues to Avoid

Making First Contact

Getting your Book Published I’ve given you a list of things to strive for. Now here’s some things to avoid.

Typos and Grammatical Errors
This query letter represents, to the publishing house or agent, how skilled you’ll be in dealing with reporters and social media. If you make typos in this critical document, they’re going to assume you’ll do the same in other venues as well, embarrassing them. They’ll toss your letter for typos. Really. Make sure you go through your letter with a fine-toothed comb and then enlist some helpers to read it over for you. It’s worth the extra effort.

Over a Page
You might be a world class researcher who has lived around the world and won five Olympic medals in a row – but if you drone on about it for page after page, they’re going to assume you’re unable to communicate concisely. And that skill is absolutely critical in so many interviews and social media situations.

Find a way to consolidate your content down. Give it punch. It’s like writing a haiku. Every word matters. The more you can hone this skill, the better it’ll serve you in a variety of areas of life.

If your book is a no-holds-barred expose of how the Pharmaceutical industry has been hiding the connections between soda and Alzheimer’s disease, strive to avoid anything controversial or inflammatory in this letter. You never know the bent of the person reading this letter. If you have issues with someone in government or a religion, leave it out of your letter, even if it seems as if it might tangentially relate. Keep your query letter as neutral, in that sense, as you can. That way you are more likely to get to the next step.

Study after study finds that people react to negative words like “no” or “unfortunately” or so on in quite strong subconscious ways. Again, in college I had an entire course on negotiation and one of the keys was to always start a sales conversation with a question you knew the person would answer “yes” to. You want to build a “yes” mindset in their mind.

So think about the specific words you use in your letter. Use positive-themed words. Phrase things so the person is saying “yes” to them. The more they are thinking positive, yes thoughts as they read, the more likely they are feeling “yes” in their head when they reach the end.

Traditional Publishing - main page
Overview of Traditional Publishing
How Copyright Works
Working With A Literary Agent
... My Concerns about Agents
Finding a Publisher
... Writer's Market
Writing a Query Letter
... Query Letter Tips
... Query Letter Issues to Avoid
Getting To a Contract Offer
Negotiating the Contract
Working With the Publisher or Agent
... Publishers and Editing

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