Wednesday, July 16, 2014

5 Mistakes Authors Make When Querying

Today, I'm handing over the blog to Jennifer Novotney, author of YA fantasy novel, Winter in the Soul. 

5 Mistakes Authors Make When Querying

1. Giving up. If the submission is not an exclusive, query widely. If it is and you get a rejection, 

submit again. Never ever, give up! Writing is a subjective field and just because one publisher 

or agent rejects your work, it doesn’t mean another will. Your work might just be exactly what 

another editor or agent is seeking, but if you give up, you’ll never find out. Most successful 

writers were rejected, some a lot, and if they gave up, they’d never have reached their goals of 


2. Being unprofessional. A query is a business letter. Whether you are querying an agent 

or publisher, always be courteous, succinct, and above all professional. Avoid overly friendly 

language and treat your correspondence as a business exchange because that’s exactly what it 

is. If you do happen to get a rejection, don’t reply with a rude reply. Stay professional and move 

on. Remember that the publishing world is not that large and your reputation will stay with you.

3. Not following guidelines. Time and time again, I’ve heard agents and editors complain 

about writers simply not following guidelines. When you are submitting your work, it can be a 

tedious process to search each and every submission guideline, but do it. It’s well worth the 

time and effort. Think of how disappointing it would be to be rejected simply because you failed 

to follow the submission guidelines. Editors and agents are busy people. Keep them happy and 

research their individual requests for submission. It’s one step closer to getting that acceptance.

4. Querying with inappropriate material. This ties in with number three in checking the 

guidelines. Don’t query with something a publisher doesn’t publish or an agent doesn’t 

represent. This can save you a lot of time and heartache simply by doing a little research. Do 

your homework, make a list, and submit to only those agents and editors who work with the 

type of manuscripts you have. For example, if you have a romance, don’t query an editor who is 

only looking for young adult. If you have a non-fiction proposal, don’t query an agent who only 

represents literary fiction.

5. Not waiting long enough to follow up. As writers, we are very impatient sometimes, 

especially when it comes to hearing back about our work. We imagine that our manuscript lands 

on that editor’s desk and they are just waiting to read it. We think, well, surely they are going 

to stay up all night reading my manuscript because it is that good (and it might be!), but editors 

and agents are people too. They have lives outside of work. They have responsibilities to signed 

authors. They have loads and loads of work. Check their website to find if they have a time 

frame for following up and whatever you do, follow this and don’t email or call too early. This 

could be the difference between a rejection simply because they didn’t have time to get to your 

work yet or an acceptance because you didn’t bug them every step of the way.

In a world divided by power and greed, seventeen-year-old Lilika harbors an intense desire to return to Winter in the Soul, the place her family left to escape the darkness that was manifesting from a coldness of the soul.

When she meets Talon, their connection is evident right from the start, and together they travel through the Black Kingdom to recover Lilika’s stolen locket. And in search of an answer to the mystery behind Winter in the Soul.

Lilika holds the key to stopping the darkness from spreading. The fate of their world lies in her hands. Will she stop the Black Kingdom before its darkness overtakes them all, or will they succumb to the darkness that is spreading across the land?

Jennifer Novotney was born in Burbank, California and lived in Los Angeles for most of her life until settling in North Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. She attended California State University, earning a bachelors degree in journalism, and Northern Arizona University, earning a masters degree in English. After college, she spent several years writing and teaching, including at Pennsylvania State University.

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  1. Thank you for hosting Jennifer today!

  2. All good tips, though I think the fourth one is overlooked way too often. I've seen too many agents tweet about getting queries for things they don't represent. >_<

  3. Yes, I agree, Mason. Writers need to do their research before querying.