Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Writer Wednesday: How to Land in an Editor's "No Way!" Pile

Today's topic came from Sherry Alexander, who wanted to know what lands and author in an editor's "No Way!" pile. These are things that I've seen that got the author's automatic rejections or caused me to delete their submission without reading it.

Beginning your query with "I know you're not open to unagented submissions, but I'm hoping you'll make an exception for me."
This one really gets me, and here's why. You are making it clear that you believe you're somehow better than all the other authors who want to query me. Grr. Don't ever disrespect another author in front of me. Just don't do it. I hate to see any author putting another author down. And if you think you deserve an exception to the rule but others don't, that's exactly what you're doing. Automatic delete without even reading the query.

Claiming you met me at a conference and that I welcomed you to submit your book.
This was a bad year for me, in that I didn't get to attend any conferences. However, I've gotten queries from people claiming they met me at conferences. Now maybe it's a simple case of mistaken identity. Maybe the editor you met has a similar name. (There are no other Kelly Hashways. I've checked.) But, I'm kind of thinking this person decided to gamble and assume I was at a big SCBWI conference and was busy meeting so many authors I wouldn't remember them all by name. Don't start a relationship off on a lie. Just don't. I don't like liars. Automatic delete without even reading the query.

Forgetting to tell me about your book in your query.
This is your big chance to wow me. You get one page to grab my attention. Why on earth wouldn't you tell me about your book? Editors are very busy. I won't tell you how many books are sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to read them. I'm embarrassed by it. But we are so busy! Your query is what tells me if I'm interested enough in your story to read some of it. Form letter rejection.

Saying your book is better than "Insert Best-seller Title Here"
Again, do NOT put down another author in front of me. I don't care if you're the best writer in the world. Don't do it! Form letter rejection.

I'm sure I'll come across other things the longer I edit, but please for the love of books do not do any of these things when you query. Editors WANT to find books they love in their query inboxes. We do. We want to love you and your book, but our time is very limited. Don't get yourself rejected before we even get to chapter one.

25 comments:

  1. Dear Ms. Hatchet,

    I know you never do this, but I think you'll be happy to see a manuscript that breaks all the rules and so I hope you will appreciate my certitude that you'll forever be happy to have made an exception for me. I know this because of our chat at the LA SCBWI when you whispered that there is a special place in your heart for rule breakers. I knew you were the right editor for my project right then.

    Best
    Me, the one from the elevator whose pitch you adored, and even said was going to be the next Harry Potter Meets Sally Draper.


    P.S.
    Writers actually send your such? Oy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. I swear you can't make this up. I'm blown away by some of the things I see in my inbox.

      Delete
  2. Classic! lol

    Dear Ms. AgentWhoMightReadThis,

    I know you've probably heard this before, so I'll just say it again. I have a novel you will absolutely LOVE. It's better than the last 10 books written by the best selling author, Stephen King. Not sure if you've heard of him, but he writes horror. My novel is a cross hybrid like one of his and another author named Dean Koontz. You might know him for having written Odd Thomas series.

    Anyway, I hope you take a look at my book. I'll close now and make sure I don't tell you about the book or even its title. I want to leave it a mystery. Anyway, please write me back and let me know if I should send it to you.

    I hope you like my book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, that look familiar, Diane. Scary, isn't it?

      Delete
  3. We were discussing fonts on a freelance writing site I'm on. I mentioned that for freelance work, I use Calibri but I have to use Times New Roman for publishers because it's a rule. One of those writers said she would never work for an editor who had such a rule and when she finishes her book, she's going to send it out in whatever font she wants. Any editor who rejects her because of it isn't an editor she wants to work with. She's been published in some major magazine, so I guess she thinks she's all that--I didn't respond at all. I think my non-response said it all! I know not all editors care about font, but why would you eliminate yourself by using some crazy font? I don't get it. If I want to use a different font, I use it and change it back to TNR before submitting. Anyway, the whole discussion made me wonder--do editors care anymore if a manuscript is in TNR/Courier font? Is that something that has gone away in recent years? Because Writer's Digest is still recommending a standard font like TNR or Courier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We use Courier at Leap. Speaking as a writer, I've had editors ask my agent to have me reformat and resubmit. Weird, but it happens. I always write my books in the standard, so I sort of assumed everyone would be good with it, but that's not the case.

      Delete
    2. Oh, I should mention that at Leap we ask the author to change the font to Courier if it's not already AFTER we contract the book. We don't require it upfront.

      Delete
  4. OMG, someone who thinks they are an exception to your rules and a brazen liar .. DEFINITELY not anyone I would want to work with!

    LOVE Mirka and Diane's queries above!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'm not sure why anyone would think this is a good way to start a relationship with an editor. Crazy!

      They were funny, weren't they? ;)

      Delete
  5. I work on the Be Honest At All Cost! That's so much better than winding up caught lying. Very embarrassing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here. Lying doesn't get you anywhere. And if it does, it will come back to get you in the end.

      Delete
  6. Excellent tips. I'm not surprised there are people who'd try the run around on you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to say I was surprised. I just don't understand why anyone would try to get away with this.

      Delete
  7. These are great tips! I can't imagine telling someone we met when we didn't. I would be too worried they would know I wasn't telling the truth (which you did). People are fascinating! Hopefully your tips will prevent another author from making one of those mistakes.
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so too, Jess. Authors just need to write great books and let them speak for themselves.

      Delete
  8. Oh, shew! Never done any of that! =) Now a horrible, bland, generic query? Did that first time out the gate... ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I see those too. At least you learned from it though. I'm sure you don't use that query anymore.

      Delete
  9. Yikes. I think some people use the same query for everybody. I don't know how they can claim they've met you--writers may encounter many people in person and online, but they'd still remember. It's best to stick to a suggested query format instead of including the bragging and unnecessary stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That could be what happened. Obviously parts of a query can be duplicated, but the personalization needs to be...well, personalized. ;)

      Delete
  10. Ooooh, lying and saying you met and told them to submit would be a huge no no for me too. That behavior is definitely not respecting the editor they queried or giving them credit for being smart enough to know if they'd attended that conference or not! Thankfully I've not done any of the things you mentioned but thank you for the advice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear you haven't done any of these.

      Delete
  11. Great tips. Editor etiquette...querying and pitching needs to learned by all aspiring writers.

    ReplyDelete

I love comments, but not spam. All spam will be deleted.