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.