I was talking to some writerly/publishing-type friends the other night and I mentioned that I’m teaching a workshop in Hofstra University’s Continuing Ed program in the spring about Query Letters: why you need them; who they are sent to; what they should and shouldn’t include; how to write one. And then we got into a discussion about how quickly or slowly I can tell whether I’m going to read someone’s manuscript, based on their query. It kind of goes like this: if the query sucks in any of the myriad usual ways it can suck, I don’t bother with the manuscript. Sorry! I only have oh so much time. If the query comes to my e-mail address but is addressed to anybody but me, I don’t read the manuscript (I made an exception to this rule only once). If the query is too weird or too personal or sucks in myriad UNusual ways, I don’t bother with the manuscript. Folks, queries are business letters, after all. Writers, please take heed! Your query letter is a reflection of you and your work. It is my first introduction to what you’ve written. If you’re too weird, too familiar, too flip, too anything, well I just say “no” and move on to the next one.
So what’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made sending an e-mail or text? How much did you regret hitting that send button?