This post is brought to you by
the one and only, Lisha Cauthen.
Agents/editors are busy people.
And they read fast. Very, very fast.
You might even say he/she skims a query letter to see if it merits the engagement of her/his whole brain. And if he/she sees any one of a set of toxic phrases….
…then it’s the DELETE button. What are these toxic phrases? I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED.
RED FLAG PHRASES TO AVOID IN YOUR QUERY
- “My fiction Novel…” (Is there any other kind of novel?)
- “To Whom it May Concern, (as well as Dear Agent, Dear Sir, etc.)…” (Do your homework and target a specific agent.)
- “My advance…” (Discussing remuneration or other demands before an agent has even read your work is…cray-cray.)
- “Query attached…” (Huh? You do not need a cover letter for a query. There should be NO attachments at this point, except for the very small minority of agents who ask for the sample to be attached.)
- “My manuscript is not finished…” (You are wasting the agent’s/editor’s time until you have a salable product.)
- “My children (friends, mother) love it…” (Nobody cares. The end.)
- “What would you do if…” (You’re supposed to tell him/her what your character would do, not lead an encounter weekend.)
- “My story is better than (insert famous book here). In fact, it is the best story you will ever read…” (Diagnosis: Narcissist.)
- “My story will appeal to everyone of all tastes, ages, gender and income level…” (Diagnosis: Delusional.)
- “I guarantee success…” (Diagnosis: Delusional Narcissist.)
- “Answer me right away…” (The editor/agent will make sure all her/his doors are locked.)
Avoid the delete button! And if you have any more phrases to add, please chime in, in the comments.