What I hear: "I am a self-published author"
What I do: look for your name on Amazon
Your takeaway from this: tell me who published your book. Self-publishing isn't a crime. Don't hide it.
What you say: "I am a published author" with title and publisher
What I hear: "I'm dumping the agent who got me that deal"
What I do: search out the name of your previous agent
Your takeaway from this: if you're parting with your agent, just say so.
What you say: This novel has elements of sci-fi/thriller/YA/romance
What I hear: "My novel will appeal to EVERYBODY!"
What I do: skim the first page to verify you don't know what you're writing.
Your take away from this: Your book will not appeal to everyone. Get over it. Pick one category.
What you say: "my main character is besotted/beguiled/helped/whatever by a gorgeous woman who is a secret nudist/stripper/former stripper/prostitute/former prostitute/schoolmarm by day-high end call girl by night."
What I hear: "female characters in this book are caricatures and described only in sexual terms."
What I do: Try very hard not to respond with "are you fucking kidding me, this is 2016, get a clue" by hitting the rejection key very very quickly.
Your take away: all characters should be three dimensional. Describing a man only in terms of his sexuality is just as loathsome as doing that to a woman.
What you say: "I am resubmitting my query."
What I hear: "I don't understand what a form rejection is"
What I do: Look up your previous query and my reply. If my reply is anything but a specific instruction to requery, I will reply it's still a pass. In other words, I don't read it again.
Your take away: if I want to hear from you again, I'll say so. Requerying after a form rejection is generally a waste of your time, and unless you have unlimited time, you might want to spend it doing things that will help you move forward, not repeating things that have already proven fruitless.
What you say: "There are no books on this topic"
What I hear: "I couldn't find any books on this topic"
What I do: Search Amazon. If I find books on the topic, I almost always send a form rejection. This is just sloppy research and wishful thinking. I can live with wishful thinking, but I don't want to work with writers who are sloppy. Mistakes are one thing (god knows I've made my share and more) but making a mistake on "books like this" means missing one or two, not ALL of them.
Your take away: Look till you find a book in your category. Even if you are writing about something fresh and new (discovery of alien life forms on Mars for real) you need to know what the other books about Mars are about. There's always a book. Don't fall in to the trap of thinking you've invented something new. If you can't find it, ask your librarian for help. If you don't have a librarian, you haven't read enough books to even think about writing one, let alone querying.
What you say: "I'm querying you because you represent [an author I do not rep]
What I hear: "I am doing cursory research cause I read that you have to personalize and it's a total waste of time."
What I do: write back to tell you I don't represent that author. And then discard the query. I don't want to work with someone whose idea of research is reading only the headlines on a google search.
I agree that personalization is a terrible waste of your time. How about we solve that by just not doing it? I don't care if you've EVER read a client's book**, or know what I sell. I'm interested in what you write. Tell me about that. Leave all that other
**ok, that's a lie. I think everyone querying me should read my entire list but that's not cause it improves your query it's cause it improve my clients' sales figures. Fortunately I am not yet QOTKU so your wallet is not in danger.....YET.