Query Do’s And Dont’s

imagesVJWWCJKOIf you’re a serious writer, or serious about becoming a serious writer, you probably know what a query letter is. In case you don’t, it’s simply a letter you would send to an agent or publisher requesting representation of your novel.

And while it is just a letter, it’s a very important letter that has to catch the attention of the agent it is addressed to and convince him/her that you have something to offer. It is your foot in the door that will hopefully make all your dreams come true.

When you have finished your masterpiece and are ready to pitch your work to an agent, remember, there are query do’s and don’ts.


  • Check the agent’s or publisher’s website to verify contact information. You want to make sure your query get’s to the right place.
  • Play by the rules. The agency or publisher will be specific about what they want included and how they want it presented.
  • Track your submissions. You don’t want to send queries to the same agents every quarter. They notice.
  • Proof your email on different email services. As a test, you could send it to a friend or significant other to ensure there are no formating issues. I like the way one agent put it. “Your beautiful document could look like a ransom note on the other end.” I never thought about that 🙂


  • Be coy.
  • Teasers don’t belong in queries.
  • Send anything to more than one person at the same agency. They talk and will find out. It makes a bad impression.
  • Send queries out to companies at large. Be specific in who your query is addressed to.
  • Follow up on an unsolicited query unless you think it didn’t arrive. If the agent didn’t respond, they aren’t interested.
  • Use a mass mail service or mass mail your own query. Keep it personal and individualized to each agent you send it out to. They are not looking for a generic letter. We all hate form letters.
  • Offer contrived empathy, such as “I know that you must be overwhelmed by submissions . . .”
  • Describe more than one project at a time.
  • Attach materials to your query unless specified by the agent your are querying.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Query Do’s And Dont’s

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