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November 24th, 2009

Things to Avoid in your query

So, if you follow my twitter, you might have seen me mention that I am reading slush. Yes, my dear readers, I am interning for a literary agency. It's been a very interesting learning experience for me-- one I hope to build upon and eventually become a literary agent. (If anyone knows of an agency looking to add a new YA-centric agent, CALL ME!).

Anywho, here are a few things that I've seen in queries that y'all should just go ahead and leave out. None of these are auto-rejections, but they do get noticed, and not for the reasons you want to be noticed.


1) Your age. I don't care if your a teen or you're 89. The writing is what matters, and putting in your age could skew a person's opinion one way or another.

2) How long it took you to write this book. Too short, and I am biased toward thinking it's utter drivel. Too long, and I wonder if you'll take another 10 years to write the next one.

3) That you "just" finished your novel. This sounds like you typed THE END yesterday and are querying today, when we all know EVERY NOVEL Requires some revisions.

4) Comparisons to Twilight, for any reason. Don't tell me it will do for Fairies/Werewolves/Witches what Twilight did for Vampires. Also, don't tell me your book is going to have a crossover audience just like Twilight. Don't tell me yours is better written, will be more popular, etc. Let's agree to leave Twilight alone, shall we?

5) Cliched phrases. Try to be original and not use things like, "Everything she'd ever known was a lie."

6) Guarenteeing it will be a bestseller. You're biased. You wrote the thing. You cannot guarentee that you'll get a movie option, it'll hit the bestselling list, etc.

7) Saying your book is like NOTHING else out there. Risks are scary. If your book is that bizarre and out of the box, its not neccessarily a good thing.

8)Trying to be too clever. I mentioned "gimmicky" queries once and people asked for more info. The queries that grate on my nerves a little are the ones that try to be cute and clever and in doing so, make assumptions. I've seen ones that are like, "Good news! This isn't a vampire query! I know you're happy to hear that." Um.... right.

Now, I still read the full query and sample pages regardless of if you put these things in, but why stack the odds?
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