1. Fourth novel in a series.
Further scouting revealed the series is self-published and has fewer than ten reviews on each of the other books.
How you will avoid this: Generally agents aren't going to take on a novel that's not the first in a series. When they do, it's usually because the previous books sold well. Selling well means more than 10 reviews on Amazon. If you intend to self-publish, you are also signing up to self-promote and self-market and a lot of writers either don't know, don't care or just plain don't do it.
2. Identifying something as a hot topic that isn't.
How you will avoid this: Know what people are talking about, and by people I don't mean your friends and family. You have to watch the news, see what's trending on Twitter, take a look around at what people are holding protest marches about. Something that was a hot topic 40 years ago probably isn't today. (Although, honest to godiva, this election season is making me rethink that position.)
3. Previously published
How you will avoid this: I don't take on novels that have already been published. You just have to know this by osmosis, since I don't think it's in any of the guidelines I've posted.
4. So so query letter, really kind of a mess, but I read pages. Writing not compelling enough for me to ask for more pages to figure out where the story really starts.
How you will avoid this: If you query talks about an event, it's really helpful if that event is near the start of the book. Avoid all the stuff of moving the characters into place, explaining why they are there. They're here, you tell me, I go along for the ride.
5. Novel is a thinly disguised revenge memoir.
How you will avoid this: If you're writing a novel to showcase a grievous wrong done to you, you're better off writing something else. Writing novels to make a point leads to very bad novels.
6. A: Overlooking the "Dear Mr. Reid" salutation
I don't get my fins in a frenzy about that stuff but I should warn you, a lot of agents do.
How you will avoid this: If you don't know if the agent is Mr/Ms/SnookieBaby, then Dear Janet Reid is your safest bet.
6 B: A ho-hum plot that stinks of repetition. In other words, a book I don't want to read cause I've already read 700+ versions of it, and there's nothing new here to catch my interest.
How you will avoid this: you have to bring your own particular spin to a plot, something that elevates it beyond the books I've seen before. What is NEW about your book? What are contributing to the genre? How are you adding on to the work of the others that came before you?
7. Absurd plot, categories that don't make any sense (honestly cowboy porn haiku is a damn JOKE!)
How you will avoid this: pick one category. Stick with it. As for absurd plot, I really don't know. If you don't recognize it when you see it, maybe I'm just the wrong agent for you.
8. A To: Undisclosed Recipients. In other words: spam.
How you will avoid this: address your email to the agent you want to read your work
8. B. The first four paragraphs were about the author's writing journey.
How you will avoid this: Talk about your book, not your writing journey. I care about the former, not a fig about the latter.
9. Not enough about the plot to entice me to read the pages or the full.
How you will avoid this: Get the plot on the page. Set up and background, and rhetorical questions to "entice" the reader are a waste of space. Tell me what happens in the first act that will change the characters for good or ill. Without that your query is boring. Boring queries get a pass.
10. NOTHING about the plot in the query. Literally NOTHING.
How you will avoid this: get the plot on the fucking page. It's not like there isn't an entire blog with 260 query letter examples to show you how to do this! This kind of stuff just kills me cause rejection SUCKETH for writers but what the hell am I going to do if you don't tell me what the fucking book is about!!!!!!!!!!!! (yes, I need a vacation)
11. A collection of short stories. Generally short stories need to have been published before they're collected into one volume.
How you will avoid this: If you want to do a collection of short fiction, get some of them published first and mention that in the query letter.
No requests on this round, which is probably just as well since I clearly need a vacation, a drink, and review of what kind of language is appropriate for public forums.
I have just enough photos for the month now. If you didn't get a chance to send, don't worry.
I'm SURE there will be another chance later in the year!