Here's what you did today that made it easy to say no:
1. "This book has been printed not published" but of course it has an ISBN number on it.
2. "I'm a nationally known X"...and Google has never heard of you. Well, you'd better tell me why in the first paragraph.
3. "I've just finished the first draft" of A for Anything.
4. Describing your main character as "female protagonist". This is not the Army despite the close order drill by Grandmother Snark's Ladies Sewing Circle. Nor is it the Police academy. Nor is it an autopsy.
5. "I'm looking for help marketing my novel". No you're not. You're looking for an agent.
6. "Querry letter" is an auto-reject. If you sent it, I didn't read it. Try again.
7. "My historical novel is set along the Oregon Trail" -then proceeds to describe North Dakota. Get your facts right. Nothing makes me reject (even good) writing faster than getting basic facts wrong. It's stupid and sloppy and insulting to the reader. I know better. You should too. It's not that hard to google things. If you need a picture of the Oregon Trail it's here
8. "My books were published to regional acclaim" but you list no publisher and I can't find you on Amazon. Maybe the region was Rabbitania. Assume I'm going to fact check your query letter. Make sure everything you tell me will survive a google search.
9. 8pt Times Roman; marbelized puce-colored stationery; right justified margins. I read 100 queries a week. I'm reading them NOW, at 9:19pm. I'm tired, it's been a long (but good) day and when your query letter is physically hard to read, I'd rather reject it than make the effort.
10. Including the table of contents, the dedication page, a title page or anything else between the cover letter and the page with "it was a dark and stormy night".
Here's the tally for just TODAY:
20 queries opened and stacked
Query by referral from an Always Read Old Friend-top of the pile for tomorrow when I'm not tired: 1
That leaves 9 I'll put my eyes on for about five seconds right now.
1. Stupid cover letter, skim the writing, ick, no.
2. Good cover letter, good premise, writing isn't obviously crap-hold on to.
3. Not bad cover letter, good premise, killers on page one-hold on to
4. Query from published author with a website that shows me he's got some muscle-hold for reading.
5. Not bad query letter but the novel's premise is utterly boring and so last century-yuck-no.
6. GREAT query letter, premise about something I usually hate, but this one might over come that-hold for reading.
7. Query letter with all the right stuff, but a topic I don't ever do-no
8. Boring ass query letter about "colorful characters coming of age". Yuck. no.
9. Sucky query letter, and just to make sure, yes, the writing sucks too. Try to keep all your verbs in one tense in the first paragraph unless you are Thomas Pynchon. Not Pynchon-esque. The actual Pynchon.
4 to be read. That's not partials. That's the number of queries I'll actually read with the idea of asking for more. 25% of the day's take (when you factor in the one from the referral).
Don't make it easy to say no to you.