Here is a new querying commandment which you should commit to memory: Thou shalt not dis other books in your query letter.
You may laugh, but I’ve received a lot of queries that say something to the effect of “You should rep my book because it’s so much better than all the other garbage being published today.”
Yikes. Just yikes.
First of all, I don’t think everything being published today is garbage. There are a lot of recently published books that I’ve loved. And who declared you the critic in charge of deciding what’s garbage and what isn’t anyway?
Furthermore, this sort of attitude suggests that you either don’t read enough or you are an unpleasant person who is too difficult to please (in other words, somebody I don’t want to work with).
I often see this book dissing show up with YA authors who say something to the effect of “Are you tired of vampire novels and ready for something new and actually good?” Okay, they usually don’t say “actually good” but it’s implied by the tone.
Again, this shows that you aren’t that familiar with the genre because there are tons of YA books that are not about vampires. And it’s been some years since anything with vampires was published. This is usually verified when I start reading the synopsis which is usually not original at all.
Besides, maybe the agent isn’t tired of vampire books. Or maybe they aren’t interested in any more vampire books but they may have a client who wrote a vampire book. As it turns out, insulting the work of an author’s client isn’t endearing. Ever.
This is a good rule not just for query but for your online correspondence in general. Of course, we all have our personal likes and dislikes. But trashing books on Goodreads or Twitter or wherever online won’t make you any friends. And this is a business where friends can make a lot of difference. Publishing is a small world.
So keep your unfavorable comments to yourself and close friends. And if you do have to say something negative about a book, be as polite as possible and acknowledge the personal bias involved in your comments.