Part of Suzanne Hartmann‘s Top Ten Query Mistakes Blog Series

Query Letter Mistakes to Avoid

by Suzanne Hartmann

Sending out letters scattershot

There are so many literary agencies out there that it can be tempting to send a generic letter out to bunches of agencies at the same time to see who shows interest in your book. The problem is that not every agency represents each subject and genre, so sending out a generic query letter to every agency under the sun is the best way to guarantee a load of rejection letters.

Agents receive so many queries each week that they can afford to be selective. As they scan over your letter, they will stop reading any time they hit a reason to reject a query: your manuscript has too many words, they don’t represent your genre, you’re not published and they only represent published authors.

You can save yourself a great deal of heartache from rejections if you simply check the website of each agency before your query them, then only send to those agencies for which your book is a good fit.

Sending the query to an agency that doesn’t accept your genre

One of the most common reasons for a rejection is that the agency doesn’t represent the subject or genre of the book. If the agency doesn’t represent what you’ve got to sell, then it’s a guaranteed rejection.

Agencies state on their website what they represent, so make sure you check the their submissions guidelines. Sometimes they also specify what they don’t represent as well. Some agencies give a broad statement that applies to the entire agency. Often, however, the individual agents will represent different subjects and genres. You may need to check each agent’s individual page on the agency’s website.

See eight more tips on query letters, and several other “top ten series,” at Suzanne’s blog


Suzanne HartmanSuzanne Hartmann is the author of the novels Peril and Conspiracy, Christian suspense she calls fiction with a twist of the unexpected. For the last several years, she has also stepped into the editorial side of writing, with her work at Port Yonder Press and now Castle Gate Press. She offers a plethora of easy-to-understand writing advice on her blog, Write This Way, which she has compiled into a book of the same name (available at her blog). When not writing, editing, or homeschooling, she enjoys scrapbooking, Bible study, and scouring local library sales for good deals. She loves to encourage fellow authors, so stop by her Facebook Page and drop her a note.

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Twitter – @SuzInIL

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