August 24, 2021– We’ve listed what publishers want, but how about what they don’t want? It’s essential to have clarity, and we can’t have clarity without knowing the opposite. We only know what sadness is when we’ve experienced happiness, and we only know what health is when we’ve experienced sickness; the same goes for publishing; we need to focus on what publishers don’t want just as much as what they want to get the complete picture.
While many things will entice a publisher, let’s focus on query letters specifically and what publishers don’t want.
Do not put this in your query letter:
- Love. We don’t want to hear that your friends and family love your book, that your nieces and nephews loved it, or that your neighbours’ goddaughter’s dog thought it was terrific. Let us be the judge because it’s our job to be objective, and we know what the market demands. Your friends and family love you…we don’t. Publishing is a business, and the bottom line is if your book is saleable or not. We don’t publish books to lose money.
- Rejection. When querying a publisher, don’t put in how many times you’ve been rejected. This doesn’t make us feel sorry for you and is irrelevant. Plus, you might make us second guess ourselves if you’ve been rejected a million times and we want to publish your book after everyone else has passed on it. Rejection is a part of life, and a huge part of publishing, so get used to it and move on.
- Fame. I really hate this one, and I’m not even sure hate is a strong enough word. Despise, detest, loathe? Do NOT put in your query letter that you’re the next NY Times bestseller or insert famous author name here. It makes you sound like an arrogant, out-of-touch, idiot and I guarantee that the publisher will throw your query letter in the virtual trash. You may think that you’re the next James Patterson but never say it. A lion never has to tell us it’s a lion. Get what I mean? We’re the ones who decide whether your manuscript will see the light of day, so don’t anger us right off the bat with a ridiculous query that makes grand claims, ESPECIALLY if you can’t back it up. I’ll get queries like this now and then, and I purposely ask for the manuscript in full to see if the author is reaching. 99.9 percent of the time, they are, and that 0.1% that does make it never puts how amazing they are in their query letter.
We’re wrapping up what publishers want (and don’t want) over the next week, so stay tuned for more tips!