These stats are drawn from the last week or so of queries.
The number one reason for a pass was the query was for a book in a category I don't take on.
I'm glad to get queries for whatever category you want to send. I'm not all caught up in the "make sure you know what I'm looking for" stuff. I know what I'm looking for, and I'm happy to sort it out myself.
Not enough plot to interest me.
Writers often confuse set up and back story for plot. They're not the same thing. Plot is about choices and stakes. If I don't know what's at stake, that's a lack of plot problem.
Either too little or too much. 14,000 word novels are an instant pass. So are those with 200K.
A badly written query means a badly written book.
I don't mean your query is structured poorly, or you don't have plot on the page, or your comps are outlandish. I mean the writing itself is not up to par.
I know this strikes fear in every querying writer's heart. All of you think "oh she's talking about ME!"
(I'm probably not.)
Being able to assess your own work is very difficult. That's why writers groups can be helpful. Beta readers too.
But the best way to build your confidence is to keep writing. Look at the stuff you wrote a year ago. Are you better now?
(I look at some of my earliest blog posts and cringe.)
A lot of people query before they're ready to be published. But a pass now doesn't mean you've been sent down forevermore. Keep writing. Daily if you can.
And this makes me want to revitalize the flash fiction contests; a lot of you said those were very helpful for building your skills.