- Have I checked and rechecked my manuscript for grammar and punctuation?
- Have I deleted weedy words such as "really, just, very". (There are lots of them, so make a list and check your manuscript)
- Have I read my submission out loud one more time before I send it? (You'd be amazed at the stumbling blocks I've found when I have read my stories out loud.)
- Do I have the editor's name right?
- Do I have the correct email address? Believe me, it is very easy to send your email submission to the wrong email address. I know because I have done it.
- Do I have exactly what they asked for? Some want a query only, while others want a short synopsis and the first three chapters.
- Is my attachment, if they want an attachment, in the form requested? RTF, DOC, or PDF?
- If they want my synopsis or query in the body of the email, is it in an appropriate format.
Writer, author, editor, and now Acquisition Editor for Leap Books Seek, Kelly Hashway posted the don't's of submitting a query. I am republishing this with her permission, but please check out her blog at http://kellyhashway.blogspot.com/. These are things to check before you hit send.
- Queries that didn't follow submission guidelines I get that every publisher (and agent) tends to have specific submission guidelines and it can be overwhelming for authors, but please take the time to follow them. If you don't, it shows us you don't value our time or our preferences. That's no way to start a relationship with someone.
- Queries that aren't at all what I'm looking for I received queries for young adult books and early readers, yet my submission guidelines specifically say I'm looking for middle grade books. Querying with a book that isn't what an editor is looking for is wasting everyone's time, including your own. Besides, who wants an unnecessary rejection?
- Misspelling the editor's name. I understand Kelly is both a girl's name and a boy's name; however, a simple Google search brings up only one Kelly Hashway—me. And I have my picture all over the place. I'm not Mr. Hashway. I also got a lot of "Dear Ms. Hathaway" queries. I'm not related to Anne Hathaway or any other Hathaways. If you can't take the time to proofread to ensure you're spelling an editor's name correctly, you're telling me you don't care. That doesn't make me care much in return. :(
- Replies asking if the author can revise and resubmit If an editor loves your writing and concept but thinks the book needs work, he/she will tell you to revise and resubmit. Please don't email me and ask if you can—or worse, just assume you can. If I took the time to give you helpful feedback, use it to move forward and get ready for your next submission.
- Forget to include a query I kid you not. I received more than one query that didn't have a query letter. They were simply "here's my attached manuscript" messages. I didn't even know what the books were called. If you can't care enough to describe your book to me or even tell me the title, I'm not going to be the least bit excited to read your pages.
I know this may sound like a lot to go through before you hit send, but don't you want to put your best foot forward. I know I do. So what do you do before you hit send?