There are certain things that you do not want to do when you write a query letter as well. Like the post on the “Do’s” this is the same whether or not you are talking about sending a query letter to an agent or directly to a publisher. These are definitely things that you want to avoid at all costs because it can kill your query letter and your chances of getting your book seriously considered. Let’s brew up some coffee and take a look at them one by one.
DON’T Be Arrogant
You definitely don’t want to be arrogant when you’re writing your letter. You may think that you have written the best book in the world and that you are the best author in the world; but on both counts you are almost certainly mistaken. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. If you have not been writing very long, then it is likely you fall somewhere in the early middle. Whether you think your book is terrific or terrible, be humble and kind in your query letter
DON’T Include Book Covers, Blurbs or Mock-Ups
If you are sending a query letter, then you should have no book covers or advertisements or any other visual information. The only exception might be that if you are sending a picture book for kids that you have illustrated yourself. In that case though, you can simply mention that you’ve done illustrations yourself and that you are happy to send part or all of the book with the illustrations included.
DON’T Discuss Other Books
Even if you have other books planned, then you should avoid discussing them in your query letter. The only time when this is not the case is when you have written the book that you are currently trying to sell as a cliffhanger for you already have written additional books that are SQL are part of a trilogy with the one you are trying to sell. Publishers and agents definitely want to work with writers who have more books in them, but they want to make sure that your first book is going to sell before discussing any of that.
DON’T Get Too Creative
Try to avoid the temptation of being too creative. Don’t try to use paper that is going to stand out from other query letters – although most queries are done by email these days – and don’t try to write your query letter from the perspective of the character in your book. You want the agent or publisher to know that this came from a professional writer. The fact that you have written a book lets them know that you are creative.
DON’T Waste Agent’s Time Telling Them You Won’t Waste Their Time
One thing that a surprisingly large number of people do is waste an agent’s time by telling them how they won’t waste their time. For example, they will begin each letter with several sentences that look like: “I will keep this short so that I don’t waste your time. I know how busy you must be, especially around the Christmas Season.” All of that can be left out.
For more information on How to Write a Query Letter, check out Reedsy’s post on the topic.