I've been slurping up queries like an orca at a salmon buffet.
As of 9/1/17 I've requested 72 adult manuscripts and another 40 or so juvenile projects (up from 59 for all of 2016.)
I mention this because I want to show, not just tell, that I am ACTIVELY looking for good material. In other words, you have to try harder to get a rejection right now.
And some of you are finding some really innovative ways to do it.
For example, today I got a query from a writer who sent (in order of appearance in my email): a query, a synopsis, an author bio (not part of the query, a separate section), the cover page/title page, the table of contents listing all 30+ chapters; a prologue; an epigraph, and then the pages. Of course I had only asked for the pages.
It was the table of contents that just did me in.
It's a simple thing right? The casual observer might be tempted to say "it's just a TOC, get over yourself. Drag the mouse down the page and get to the good stuff."
And that's true, as far as the query goes.
But remember the second purpose of a query? The second purpose of a query is to demonstrate you are someone I want to work with.
This isn't the way to show that.
My guess is this writer simply cut and pasted the first X pages from his novel, and in the copying, sucked up the TOC and the epigraph and the prologue.
And that means the writer both didn't think about what s/he was sending, and didn't proof the email. Those are big red flags for someone who is not meticulous.
Cause it's very clear you do NOT need a TOC if you literally have only the first three chapters. (Or in my case, the first three-five PAGES)
And you really don't need an epigraph to set the tone of the entire book because again: I'm only reading the first couple pages.
And the prologue. I'm not keen on prologues in books unless the serve a clear purpose like we talked about here. A savvy writer asks "does the prologue show the story?" and decides based on the answer whether to include it.
My guess is that you're most often better off sending pages one-five of chapter one.
But back to the TOC.
Sending the TOC isn't a problem, but it's a red flag for a writer who isn't paying attention.
Thinking about what you're sending rather than just cutting and pasting demonstrates you are paying attention.
It's the same thing when I hear "but you told me to put a stamp on this letter" when this particular letter is going to Carkoon, not Chicago. When you look at the address, you realize that one stamp isn't going to do it. Which means you looked at the address, rather than just rotely stamping envelopes.
I like people who are paying attention. A lot of publishing is weird and arcane, and I want to work with people who know that, understand it, and realize rote doesn't really work for ANYTHING.