Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Not Your Query Letter, It Is Your Story That Gets The Rejections

I do believe there is a huge myth circulating among writers about the reasons why they get rejection letters. I do believe this myth has come about from the frequent blog posts, articles and workshops that proclaim the amazing qualities of the query letter. Authors stand up and scream loudly about how their query letter sold their book!

This myth is so strong that I frequently hear from authors, that they know their rejections have come about because of a poorly written query letter. Now, while this might be the reason for the story not making it past the receptionist at the publisher or agency, this is not the case for most books.

I do work outside of the agency reviewing and critiquing query letters with Writer's Digest. My job here is to just evaluate the query letters, but I have to tell you, I just scream half of the time knowing that all the work I do with the letter isn't going to save the person. Why? The story is not going to work!

I think writers need to remember that it doesn't matter how many rounds of editing you go through. How much money you spend on contest critiques, auction critique, book doctors or editing services, in the end, it is the story that will sell.

Your story has to be something people will buy. You can write the story of your dreams, but if your story is not something the public would buy, due to characters, bad plots, screwy scenes and so forth, you will continue to find those rejections piling up.

Remember to place the blame where it really is. Sometimes you have to simply admit your story is not good. Of course, if you planned ahead of time, learned the business and learned the craft, the odds are you wouldn't be sitting there with that complete story that will never sell. You would have seen it before you got too far into it.


  1. Hey...that's for writing about this. My query letters suck, like...Hoover's got NOTHIN' on me...but I know my story is good. I'm just getting ready to really hit the ground running with submissions and your post made me feel a lot better about it.

  2. I have sometimes wondered about the emphasis placed on query letters. It seems an entirely different kind of writing. Sure, the basics like grammar and punctuation
    are the same but there is no story line and no characters.