These Querying Mistakes Can Sink You

If your manuscript seems to be getting rejected time and again, here is a list of 5 common mistakes you may be guilty of doing when submitting your manuscript:

You Didn’t Obey The Submission Guidelines

Agents and publishers receive submissions all the time where the submitter does not follow directions at all. They include the whole manuscript when only the first 30 pages are asked for. They don’t include a cover letter at all. They submit a marketing packet instead of a manuscript or cover letter. The variety of mistakes are wide ranging, but the fact remains the same – the author did not follow that agent or publisher’s submission guidelines at all.

Submission guidelines exist for a reason. Ignore them at your peril. Most of the editors I have talked to either automatically reject submissions that do not follow guidelines, or they refuse to respond to them entirely.

You Didn’t Submit to the Right Agent or Publisher

There is no way to predict which agent or publisher will be the right fit for you or your novel. But it is pretty easy to eliminate ones that won’t fit at all, based on genre and interest.

If you have written a young adult (YA) book, don’t submit it to a publisher that does not publish YA. They will not accept your book. If you submit your work of fantasy to an agent that only focuses on literary fiction, they will not accept it.

You Sent A Mass Submission

If you submit mass or blanket submissions (submitting the same manuscript and the same cover letter to as many publishers at the same time as they can usually via email), most publishers can spot these submissions right away. Sometimes they do not even open or read these submissions, because they are so used to receiving them. When you submit this way many of the publishers don’t even publish the work you are submitting.

You Included Rhetorical Questions

What would you do if your parents were killed by pirates? What would you do if you could breathe underwater? What would you do if your boyfriend became a werewolf?

These and many other rhetorical questions are something that agents are so used to seeing in cover letters, that some agencies just toss them into a pile together and leave it at that.

You Were Not Polite 

Starting your query letter with “You are so very lucky to receive my wonderful manuscript.” or ending with “I can’t wait to receive the acceptance letter you will send me” is NEVER ok.

It is also particularly important to respond politely, or not at all, if they decline your submission. Sending them an email imploring them to give your work a second look or calling them out for rejecting your work, will only do you harm. Remember agents, agencies, and publishers talk to each other. If you behave badly it could hurt your reputation at a much larger scale than you might be thinking.


Don’t fall victim to these mistakes.  Review your queries carefully and you’ll find success!



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