We always stress that the blurb is the most important piece of your query, which is true, but there are still times when an author kills her chances of me even reading the blurb before I get there.
1. Word count rules are there for a number of reasons and they do still make a difference. Know the general perimeters for word counts in your genre and try to stick close to them. If you run over by a couple thousand words (in adult fiction) you’re probably fine. If you run over by hundreds of thousands, expect a reject. I have no interest in reading a 300,000 word book.
2. You lie about the genre. I do NOT accept SFF. There are others in the agency who do (Beth and http://bookendsliterary.com/about-us/#Ferrara). It’s easy to see this when you log into my query form because SFF isn’t an option for you to choose from. So don’t choose another genre (aka thriller) and then submit your query which clearly says your book is SFF.
3. Starting your query by telling me how bad the genre is. I have no interest in working with an author who thinks she’s going to save the romance genre because she realizes all other books are horrible, but it was easy for her to write.
4. You state that you have no need to follow the guidelines. Emailing your query because you don’t like my form or telling me that you’ve done it your way because you see no reason to follow my guidelines is a huge red flag for me. I don’t want to deal with an author who has no interest in working with me (or with an editor).