It might just be me, but when I see quotes from other works at the beginning of the manuscript or each chapter, my head starts talking, "No! No-no-nooooo. Don't even consider that ms!"
I suppose that any sensible writer would remove the quotes if the prospective publisher indicated that the headache of getting license for each of those gems was a barrier to getting a publishing contract.
There are provisions for short quotes in the US Copyright laws, however my legal advisor says that those do not include uses for profit. News flash: books are published with the hope of making a profit. Besides, I have a personal moral about lifting other people's works without permission. I wouldn't want it done to my stuff, so why do it?
This includes cover art and fonts. We pay for the licence for our cover art and fonts that aren't free use.
Another thing about making a profit. Just because your mother, best friend, lover, teacher, or writers group loves your ms doesn't mean there is a market for it. And just because your mother, best friend, lover, teacher, or writers group edited the ms, it really isn't "book edited" IMO. So if either of those statements are true, don't put them in a query letter to Cactus Rain - or probably anyone else.
I'm not interested in writing awards unless it is the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer, or maybe the Man Booker. Actually, there are two others that might get my attention, but definitely not awards from writing groups. Those can be as much a popularity contest as a writing contest. How am I to know?
Don't pull a James Frey in reverse. Cactus Rain only publishes fiction. Changing the names of the people involved in a real event is not fiction. While I get lots of comments that I'm Kathryn in Kathryn's Beach, it isn't true. That isn't my story. A couple of people wanted in KB, so I let them write themselves into the story, mostly by naming a character -- but it is fiction.
Don't send memoirs, though I will consider a faux memoir. But honestly, memoirs usually don't sell unless they are celebrity memoirs, and if that is the case they won't be coming to Cactus Rain anyway.
I'm being pesky this week, but on the other hand, the query letter is asking me to love the ms enough to put money behind it, so I'm laying some of my cards on the table. It is important to know who you're querying and what they like.
Please don't send letters to Cactus Rain that begin, "Dear Sir." I'm many things, but Sir is not one of them.