… When you ask the agent or editor to meet too many characters in the space of one page. It’s like getting introduced to a dozen people at a party and trying to remember their names, what they do for a living, and how they relate to the host. Stick to your POV characters for using their names. Everyone else, refer to in the manner they relate to the POV character; i.e.: husband, daughter, boss, etc.
… When you’re addressing the letter, it’s like writing those nametags everyone has to wear. First, be sure you spell the names right. Oh, and for pity sake give the right one to the right guest. Slapping Nora Roberts on J.K Rowling’s chest is just wrong on so many levels. If you use the same query email, make darn sure you’ve replaced the previous agent or editor’s name. Sending Chip MacGregor a query with Steve Laube’s name on it will guaranty your email is deleted before it’s read … or forwarded to Steve.
… When the guests don’t know when to leave, the host can only turn the lights out and go to bed. The query synopsis should be short, like a back cover copy. Save the 3-page one for when the agent or editor asks for it. The query is a teaser, a hook. Pique their interest but don’t put her to sleep.
Now, make sure you have the directions to the party. Go to the editor or agent’s website and know what they’re looking for. If they only want romance and suspense, don’t send your YA sci-fi. That’s the shortest route to the delete key.
Oh, and finally check the dress code. Showing up for a dressy dinner party in jeans shows class. Unfortunately, it’s third class. Read the guidelines and follow them. It’ll save you a lot of embarrassment.
If you follow the party rules, you’ll get an invitation to the next event or at least invited to send your proposal and sample chapters.