Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Query Letters

Oh boy, the query letter.

Some authors spend as much time on this page as they do their whole book.

There are whole work shops, websites and books focusing just on the query letter.

I’m going to give a brief list of basic dos and don’t and remind authors that every agent is different and has different tastes. There is no magic query that will appeal to all agents you just want to do the best letter for the agent of your choice.

Do say if you've been referred.
Do mention any previous publications or credentials.
Do target the right publisher or agent,
Do have the right address.
Do address your letter to a specific editor or agent
Do include your name, address, and telephone number.
Do be professional and brief in your query.
Do include a one or two sentence pitch or hook.
Do thank the agent or editor for reviewing your query.
Do include the title.
Do include if the work is fiction or nonfiction

Don't brag about how this book is the next big best seller.
Don't lie. Agents and editors do their homework.
Don't neglect basics of spelling, grammar.
Don't indulge in a long story synopsis.
Don't address your letter "To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Agent".
Don't use tiny font.
Don't immediately send another email query if an agent has just rejected your first.
Don't use elaborate fonts or backgrounds.
Don't query more than one work at a time.

For more info see your dream agent’s website. They usually have tips on there. You can also check out the Query Tracker’s blog at:


  1. This is so interesting, I didn't know about the query site, will certainly look it up asap.


  2. Really? At sometime I guess I do have to get serious.

  3. Excellent list of do's and don'ts!

  4. What an informative and eye opening list!...Thanks...:)JP

  5. Great checklists, both of them! Timely, too. I am sending things out! :-)

  6. is a great site too!

  7. Excellent post! I was going to blog about queries, too, today. Maybe I'll link to you!

    Are you going to Storymakers again?

  8. Great advice for people not going the self-publishing route. Getting an agent, I think, might be even harder than completing the book in the first place!
    Thanks for the post.

  9. With so many authors and aspiring authors in the A-Z challenge Q seems to be the day for "query letter" but yours is the most informative and helpful. Having said that I am neither an author or aspiring to be one, but at least having read your post, I now get what a query letter is !


  10. Kind of unrelated. Thanks for the Award Diedre! It is up in my most recent post. :)

    Charlee Vale

  11. This is fantastic! I'm not at the querying stage yet, but when I am I will definitely keep these tips in mind.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

    p.s. Hello from a fellow Mormon :)

  12. These are excellent tips! Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. Well, if not "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Agent", what would one adress the letter?

  14. @ Muppet the Mophead,

    That is a great question. You are suppose to personalize each letter.

    To Ms. or Mr. (agents name here),


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