10. Forget to use the subject line of your e-mail to label
your query or submission as such, and omit a catchy title. In other words,
avoid subject lines such as “Query: 5 ways to please an editor” or “Submission:
Ode to my editor.”
9. Ignore the word count listed in the submission
guidelines, and leave out the word count of your submission, especially if
you’ve copied and pasted it into the body of an e-mail.
8. Send a follow-up message a week after you sent your query
or submission when the submission guidelines indicate that responses may
require a month or more time.
7. Fail to include the specifics of the article you want to
write (e.g., the 7 tips in your proposed piece titled “7 tricks for the perfect
6. Be vague in your bio paragraph (e.g., “I have written
numerous articles in many publications”) instead of including a few of your
5. Resend your submission five minutes after you first sent
it because you caught a small typo.
4. Avoid reviewing a recent issue of the magazine you’re
3. Omit the editor’s name in your message, or misspell his
2. Send the exact same query four times in two days to two
editors at the same publication.
1. Forget to include your full name and contact information.
Bonus tip: One more reason we like electronic submissions
more than hard copies: They do not give paper cuts.
If you prefer your query tips minus the snarkiness, be sure
to read Susan Shapiro’s “7 tricks for the perfect pitch” and Kelly
James-Enger’s “The two-part query test,” both from our December issue.
OK, fair’s fair. It’s your turn. What annoys
you about the submission process?
—Sarah C. Lange,