Today I'm posting about querying mistakes. I queried two books at the same time (it's a long story) and made a few mistakes, although I researched extensively before sending them out so most damage was kept to a minimum. That said, I have a lot of writer friends who have made querying mistakes, and I've talked to agents about them as well.
Here are some things to avoid:
1. Never query prematurely. I know it's tempting to send out emails the moment you finish your book, but don't. Wait a while. Revise. Rewrite. Do this a few times at least before querying.
2. This may be my personal opinion, but I prefer to send out a bunch of queries at one time rather than doing small batches like many writers. Why? Because sometimes agents offer quickly. I know writers who sent out a "test batch" of queries before querying the agents they actually wanted. What if someone from your test batch offers, and you still haven't queried the agents you really want? What if an agent from your first batch offers when the agents from your third batch have just barely received your manuscript? The third batch agents are going to feel like they weren't given a fair chance to review your work.
3. Don't obsess over the query. You should to some extent, but I have writer friends who've spent weeks writing draft after draft of their query letter. These days, most agents ask for sample pages along with a query letter, and if anything you should focus on your first few chapters. Even if your query isn't stellar, odds are an agent will request more based off awesome sample pages (after all, it's the actual writing that counts).
4. Never compare your book to a bestseller.
5. No opinions. For instance, never describe your book as "heartwarming."
6. MAKE SURE you've addressed your query to the right agent. I made this mistake once (I copied and pasted a query into an email but forgot to change the name). Believe me, agents don't like emails titled "Dear Agent."
7. While you're querying, keep writing. Try not to focus on the rejections/requests because there's no way to tell how things will turn out. Just keep working, and if your book doesn't garner an agent you'll have a second project to send out.
8. Never respond to rejections. If you get a personalized letter with editorial suggestions (I got two of these), feel free to send a polite (albeit brief) thank you.
So there you have it. Is anybody out there querying at the moment? If you have tips/tricks to share, feel free to post them in the comments!