Top 10 Query Problems & the Tutorials That Solve Them

gradutation capOver the past year, we’ve run a lot of excellent tutorials here at Indies Unlimited. Many times, when dealing with queries, I’ll provide links to these tutorials to help authors who aren’t quite certain how to do things. It seemed to me that New Year’s Eve would be a good time to recap the tutorials which I seem to reference the most.

1. Resizing Pictures. i.e. BOOK COVERS, author head shots, etc. This is for your own good, honestly. If you’re sending out press releases, you’re wasting your time emailing them with an 8 MEGABYTE photo attached. Yes, you look gorgeous, but many servers will reject them. Here at IU, we’re volunteers, folks, and we have free mailboxes that have size limits. PLEASE read this tutorial and make that photo 500kb or smaller before sending it our way.

2. Amazon Book Descriptions. I vet a lot of books each week. And each week, I run into books which have a bunch of “stuff” at the top of the book description, forcing potential readers/buyers to click “read more” if they want to know about the book. The book description is NOT the right place to put review quotes. That stuff should go under “Editorial Reviews” and leave the book description area available to wow the reader with your amazing story.

3. Rewrite that Book Description. The most common flaw in book descriptions I’ve seen this year is that someone goes to an awful lot of trouble to craft the mood of the book without actually explaining what it’s about. Setting the tone through cryptic imagery is not going to make me want to read your book. Knowing what the conflict is and what it will cost the main character if he/she fails – that is what readers want to know.

4. Bad Formatting. This is usually manifested by inconsistent paragraph indentation, font size, and/or line spacing. Often times I have to provide a screen capture of the preview for people to understand what I’m talking about. People do not understand that I DO NOT buy the book to vet it. We use what a normal reader would use to determine if you’re book is right for us – the “Look Inside” preview. For goodness sakes.

5. eBook Table of Contents. Quite often the table of contents in an eBook will not be clickable. There’s really no point in having it there if it doesn’t contain live links.

6. Convoluted or Disjointed Guest Post. Many times authors will write guest posts that dive right in – no introductory paragraph, and sometimes they will just abruptly end. Other times, authors will meander away from the topic they wish to cover, leading me on a journey which makes my eyes roll back in my head. Just recently, the Evil Mastermind wrote an excellent post on how to structure an article. I’ve now added this to the guest post guidelines and hopefully it will help folks stay on target and reach their goal.

7. No Purchase Link. No, I’m not kidding. People send in queries stating that their book is “available on Amazon.com.” Really? You’re going to make me look, in the world’s largest bookstore, for your book? Yeah, no.

8. No Salutation. Sorry, there’s no tutorial for common sense or courtesy. If you’re asking someone to do something for you – for free – how about a please or thank you? (Let me add to this one providing a bad email address. Quite often I take the time to respond to the query only to receive the email back undelivered.)

9. Amazon Author Central Page. This is a list in and of itself. No Author Central page, book versions not linked together, missing books, no author biography, no author photo…yadda yadda yadda. The Author Central page should be updated before running any features, especially a guest post. People will (hopefully) want to know more about you, and if there’s nothing there – or the information is hokey – well, that’s a formula for losing sales right there.

10. Patience. Okay, so there’s no tutorial for this one, either. Please keep in mind, we’re volunteers, we work for free, we’re trying to help YOU, and we have our own projects. If we say it might take two weeks to get back to you and it takes three – sorry, but we can’t always get through the large volume of queries as quickly as we’d like. If we don’t get to yours as quickly as you’d like, please don’t be rude about it. Voodoo dolls are easy to make, and I write spy novels, so I know how to get your DNA. ‘Nuff said.

So, don’t be that guy. Please take a look at these tutorials and make a habit of using them. Not only does it help us help you – it helps you look good to the other places you query. That’s a win-win, right?

Now go on and have a Happy New Year.

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director (AKA Fearless Leader) of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is a staff photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two eastern Washington newspapers. She currently teaches writing and self-publishing for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and has served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page

5 thoughts on “Top 10 Query Problems & the Tutorials That Solve Them”

  1. Hi K. S. Brooks
    How do I access many of the excellent previous posts of Indies Unlimited? Let’s say I want to find the answer to a specific question. Is there an Index somewhere?

    1. Hi Ed, We have the knowledge base page (you can click through to it using the black menu bar up top) where you can click on keywords and find posts under those subjects.
      We also have a handy search window up at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Please let me know if there’s something specific you need and I’ll be glad to help.

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