Examples: a Sam Dryden novel; an Avery Cates novel.
When you write a query letter and tell me your book is like a thriller similar to those by Sam Dryden, or crime noir like the talented Avery Cates I laugh so hard I blow coffee out my nose.
Unless you intend to be hilarious, this is NOT the reaction you want to your query.
I thought it was obvious these are the names of characters. You can tell who the author is; that's the OTHER name on the book. When you look on Amazon, the author is the name that's preceded by "by."
If you didn't know that, now you do.
This is a mistake of carelessness. It's a huge warning sign. My goal is to work with writers who err on the other side of care: they slave over every word. I'd rather have authors from whom I have to wrest pages as they wail "it's not done! it's not done!" than authors who throw pages at me saying "here, make sure I didn't confuse The Light Brigade with ConEdison. They're both in New Jersey, right?"
There's a reason for this. When I know you are meticulous, I don't assume the innovative things you do are wrong.
Query letters don't have to be perfect, but they really shouldn't have careless mistakes.
Another version of this blog post appeared in March 2009