9 Frequently Asked Questions About Query Letters

PhotobucketGIVEAWAY: I am excited to give away a free copy of either the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents or the 2013 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market to a random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. Good luck to all! (UPDATE: Mark Liebrecht won.)

When contacting agents, the query process isn’t as simple as “Just keep e-mailing until something good happens.” There are ins, outs, strange situations, unclear scenarios, and plenty of what-have-you that block the road to signing with a rep. It’s with that in mind that I have collected 9 of the more interesting questions submitted to me by readers regarding protocol during the query process. (By the way, this post proved so popular that I wrote a sequel: “10 More Query FAQs Answered.”)

1. Can you query multiple agents at the same agency?

Generally, no. A rejection from one literary agent usually means a rejection from the entire agency. If you query one agent and she thinks the work isn’t right for her but still has promise, she will pass it on to fellow agents in the office who can review it themselves. Agents work together like that.

2. Can you re-query an agent after she rejects you?

You can, though I’d say you have about a 50/50 shot of getting your work read. Some agents seem to be more than open to reviewing a query letter if it’s undergone serious editing. Other agents, meanwhile, believe that a no is a no—period. So, in other words, you really don’t know, so you might as well just query away and hope for the best.

3. Do you need to query conservative agent for a conservative book? A liberal agent for a liberal book?

I asked a few agents this question and some said they were willing to take on any political slant if the book was well written and the author had a great writer platform. A few agents, on the other hand, said they needed to be on the same page politically with the author for a political/religious book, and would only take on books they agreed with. Bottom line: Some will be open-minded; some won’t. Look for reps who have taken on books similar to yours, and feel free to query other agents, too. The worst any agent can say is no.

4. Should you mention your age in a query? Do agents have a bias against older writers and teenagers?

I’m not sure any good can come from mentioning your age in a query. Usually the people who ask this question are younger than 20 or older than 70. Concerning an age bias, I would say some literary agents may be hesitant to sign older writers because reps are looking for career clients, not simply individuals with one memoir/book to sell. If you’re older, write multiple books to convince an agent that you have several projects in you … and don’t mention your age in the query to be safe.

5. Can I query an agent for a short story collection?

I’d say 95 percent of agents do not accept short story collection queries. The reason? Collections just don’t sell well. If you have a collection of short stories, you can do one of three things: 1) Repurpose some/all of the stories into a novel, which is much easier to sell. 2) Write a new book—a novel—and sell that first to establish a reader base. That way, you can have a base that will purchase your next project—the collection—ensuring the publisher makes money on your short stories. 3) Query the few agents who do take collections and hope for the best. If you choose this third route, I suggest you get some of the stories published to help the project gain some momentum. A platform and/or media contacts would help your case, as well.

6. When should you query? When is your project ready?

There is no definitive answer, but here’s what I suggest. You want to get other eyes on the material—what are called “beta readers”—people who can give you feedback that is both honest and helpful. These beta readers (usually critique group buddies) will give you feedback and you can take what you want then ditch the rest. What you’re aiming for is no more major concerns. So let’s say you give the book to three friends and they come back with some major concerns, such as “It starts too slow” or “This character is not likeable.” Through revisions, you can address these problems. After rewrites, give it to more beta readers. If they come back with no major concerns, the book is ready, or at least very close.

(When you’re ready to submit, check out these lists of numerous agent interviews: fantasy agents, science fiction agents, general fiction agents, horror agentsnonfiction agents, middle grade fiction agents, and young adult fiction agents.)

7. Should you mention in the query that your work is copyrighted and/or has had book editing?

No. All work is copyrighted the moment you write it down in any medium, so saying something that’s obvious only comes off as amateurish. On the same note, all work should be edited, so saying that the work is edited (even by a professional editor) also comes off as amateurish.

8. How should you start my query? Should you begin with a paragraph from the book?

I would not include a paragraph from the book nor would I write the letter in the “voice” of one your characters—those are gimmicks. If you choose, you can just jump right into the pitch—there’s nothing wrong with that. But what I recommend is laying out the details of your book in one easy sentence: “I have a completed 78,000-word thriller titled Dead Cat Bounce.” I suggest this because jumping into a pitch can be jarring and confusing. Think about it. If you started reading an e-mail and the first sentence was simply “Billy has a problem,” you don’t if Billy is an adult or a child, or if he is being held captive by terrorists vs. being nervous because his turtle is missing. In other words, the agent doesn’t know whether to laugh or be worried. They’re confused. And when an agent gets confused, they may just stop reading.

9. Should you mention that the query is a simultaneous submission?

You can, but you don’t have to. If you say it’s exclusive, they understand no other eyes are on the material — but if you say nothing, they will assume multiple agents must be considering it. Keep in mind to always check each agent’s submission guidelines; a few rare agents will specifically request to be informed if it’s a simultaneous submission.

GIVEAWAY: I am excited to give away a free copy of either the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents or the 2013 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market to a random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. Good luck to all! (UPDATE: Mark Liebrecht won.)

Photo courtesy Flick’s brizzle born and bred

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About Chuck Sambuchino

Chuck Sambuchino is a freelance editor of query letters, synopses, book proposals, and manuscripts. As an editor for Writer's Digest Books, he edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing. His own books include the bestselling humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, which was optioned by Sony Pictures, as well as the writing guide, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM. Connect with Chuck on Twitter or at his website.

Comments

  1. says

    Chuck, a key point for number 9 is not to rush the query out. It’s the first thing writers want to do — they finished the story and and want to get it out there and published. Listen to what the query is telling you. I did query critiques for a while and saw a consistent pattern — there were a lot of queries that did not work. It became apparent after the writer tried multiple revisions that the problem wasn’t the query itself, but a problem in the story. But none of the writers wanted to hear that. They just wanted to send out the story right now, and that was all that mattered. I even found this was true for one of my stories, and I ended up revising the entire novel to fix the query. Sometimes you have to say, What’s better? Getting the story out no matter what, or getting the story right so it has a better chance?

    Linda Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

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  2. says

    Thanks for the great advice Chuck on querying. I’m hoping to feel ready to start querying in 2013. I’d love to win the 2012 Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market.

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  3. says

    Chuck,
    Thanks for the sound advice. I would add for #6 that the writer must be absolutely sure the work has been thoroughly edited, not only for grammar and spelling, but for story and character problems. The revision and editing process is long and tedious, as you know, but a writer cannot submit anything that is not his best work to an agent. Thanks again.

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  4. says

    This is a very helpful post with good reminders. Working through some serious edits to my first MG has helped me remember that when you think the book is ready…you need to WAIT at least a month and look at it once more before querying.

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  5. says

    Thank you for the gems you post with such regularity!

    Regarding #9 – I’ve seen several agents request exclusive submission for a defined period of time. To avoid an automatic ‘delete’, authors should thoroughly review agents’ guidelines before submitting.

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  6. says

    I’ve found query an indicator of a story’s readiness to submit. If I can’t concisely describe the story in terms that are unique or compelling, chances are the problem is in the manuscript. Summarizing the novel is almost as difficult as writing the novel itself!

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  7. says

    Chuck, Your advice is always helpful. Queries are a minefield for writers, and the more information we have, the better.

    I like what J.B. Everett said about a query being a good indicator of a novel’s readiness to be sent out. Sometimes the process of writing the query makes you realize things about your novel that you hadn’t thought about before.

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  8. Evelyn says

    Hi Chuck, Being new to WU, and to novel-writing, I was encouraged by your helpful hints. You make it seem possible to take a risk and maybe be published. Many authors are in the same boat and we all need an objective eye on our work. Do a retake on your point #8.

    Just love the easy sharing in WU.

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  9. says

    Thanks for the great advice. I’d also include that there is so much additional, detailed incredible information out there about how to write a query directly from the best sources, literary agents/editors and even publishers. Writers have to be their own best advocate and that starts by doing your homework. Don’t waste an agent’s time with sloppy, unprofessional submissions. Read their posted guidelines, read their blogs, so that your work reflects your best efforts and you can find your perfect rep match.

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    • Kevin Bradley says

      Absolutely! I have been working on my query & synopsis for weeks and am not done yet. We must send our best to stand above the crowd.

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  10. says

    Thank you! You always offer helpful advice and the timing is usually uncanny. Your advice on moving forward helped me through a rough patch and lately I’ve been wondering about a specific issue on queries that you’ve answered here.

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  11. AC says

    re #8:

    Check agent preferences regarding title/genre/wordcount. Some will prefer that information at the end. Also, when querying by email, you can put the details up front in the subject line.

    Also, tangent from your example, look for key details that will convey age range/tone/etc. in the text of the query. Something like “Software analyst Billy Jones has just been kidnapped by terrorists” gets you right into the story and provides a foundation for what follows.

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  12. says

    Thank you for your excellent advice, Chuck. As I work on my debut YA novel, I really appreciate all the information I can get. I also liked Linda Adams’ comment about not rushing to get the query out as soon as you’ve finished.

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  13. says

    Thanks for the tips (some of which are reminders for me!). Still not quite at the querying stage, but I’m determined to get there with my current project.

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  14. Michelle L. says

    When my mind even thinks of the word, ‘query’, all of my synapses freak out as if they’re being electrocuted. Query letters are such an involved, important, and overwhelming part of becoming an author and I loved your comprehensive list. I used to think that being able to call a story finished was the hardest part of the book process. Those were simpler times :)

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  15. says

    Chuck, thanks for the fine summary of needed points. I’d echo the pro editing item. Not a great idea to mention it — but it’s often a good idea to have an outside editor for a substantive read. Manuscript groups are important, too. But a pro editor will watch for story structure oversights that might escape all but the best manuscript buddies.

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  16. says

    Great advice! I concur with much of what has already been posted and would only reiterate to make sure you revise and edit your query just as much (or more) than you did your MS. Make sure it shines and fits to the agent’s requirements. No one likes wasting their time or getting rejections.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  17. says

    Great info — I have been wondering about the requery thing after seeing another writer query the same two projects to the same agents over and over.

    Thanks for this!

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  18. xjaeva says

    Query Shark’s query’s end the query with the title and word count.

    Is this an agent by agent preference?

    query.

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  19. Elorise Holstad says

    Thanks for the informative post. Found it especially interesting, since I will be sending out queries for a novel in 2013.

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  20. Lamphone Schueder says

    Thanks so much for the great advice! I learned a lot about little things that I wouldn’t even have considered before.

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  21. Jenny Tavernier says

    Love the Query tips,
    (actually just love Writer Unboxed anyway! lol

    Would also love, cherish, hoard, and use the 2013 Market Guide!!!!!! A gift from the gods to be treasured, even if it is “solid” elixir, Like the Norse mead of the Gods, (poetic or scholarly inspiration), or the cauldron of Cerridwen, it carries within the seeds of greatness, and the known pathways to other worlds.

    And I? I am greedy, and lowly budgeted.
    I would rather not sacrifice paying my phone bill for this tome, if possible, but oh, the sheer groveling!
    Jen

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  22. iola reneau says

    I especially liked the tip on whether to mention simultaneous submissions or not and I am relieved to know it is not necessary for me to mention my age.

    I would really like to win the 2013 Literary Guide to Agents.

    Thanks for the great advice.

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  23. says

    Point 6 about knowing when a project is ready to be sent is a topic I struggle with. I want my project to be the best it can be, but at some point I know I’m suffering from a bit of analysis paralysis.

    Your advice about the project being ready when beta readers no longer have major concerns with it is very helpful.

    Thanks!

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  24. says

    Great tips, thanks! Though I’m not sure I entirely agree with #8. Obviously the email should be titled something like “QUERY” so that the agent knows it’s a query, but personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a little creative with it and doing something different. And the hook is supposed to make the reader question what’s going on, who Billy is and what his problem is.

    Of course, this is coming from an aspiring author with absolutely no experience with agents as of yet, so I probably shouldn’t be commenting. :D I just think if I were an agent, I’d get really tired of the dull, lackluster, business-like description of novels. Then again, I suppose that depends on the personality of the agent.

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  25. Irene says

    Thanks Chuck,
    I’ve been sending out queries and have gotten some response. I’ve pondered redoing my letter and you have given me some ideas of how to make it better.
    Thanks for that and I always enjoy your columns.
    Good luck to all.

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  26. says

    Thanks for the tips. I’m an English teacher, and often have students asking about publishing after they find out I’ve published. Love this, and thanks!

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  27. Jennifer Rueff says

    Thanks for the helpful list. Now I’ll get back to writing so that I can eventually put it to use.

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  28. Bri says

    Great advice. You’re right, it’s hard sometimes to take the time to nurture your project before releasing it on the world, but definitely worth the discipline in the long run.

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  29. Melissa Pickett says

    Thanks for the great information. I’m glad I read it before submitting my query – definitely saved me from doing a “don’t.”

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  30. Sharon says

    I’m glad you included mentioning–or not mentioning–if you’ve had your manuscript professionally edited. I wondered about that. Thanks!

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  31. Katrina says

    Thanks! This is great information. A part of me wants to start sending out queries, just so I feel as though I’m making some strides and have something quantifiable to connect with the project. However, I know the project isn’t ready for that step. Thanks again!

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  32. Rachel says

    Thank you for the tips in this artivle. I have just sent my first novel to my first beta reader! I am excited to receive my feedback and move on to the next step. Anxious to submit my query to an agent!

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  33. says

    Thanks for the good advice, Chuck. I have some questions, however. How many beta readers should an author ask to read his or her novel? Is it possible to have too many beta readers?

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  34. says

    Wow, a copy of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents would be awesome!

    Thanks for the query tips. I’m nearing that point myslef, and both the query copy and the synopsis are … daunting, to say the least.

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  35. Matthew says

    Having read a ton of info about query letters, I’m surprised and thrilled to see some new information! Thanks for the great post, Chuck!

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  36. Mrs. Hill says

    I’m never taken aback by the influence of the world. We have come to expect instant gratification in lieu of hard work and anticipation. I am writing my first novel and only beginning to seriously construct and build a platform outside of family and friends, but I hear over and over again people who want to publish a book yet don’t want to have to put in the time like any other career option.

    This being said, thank you for your points and leadership. It seems to be sound, even logical advice.

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  37. says

    Great advice and tips. Plus, it’s a good idea to have someone proofread your query letter. There’s no need to make a bad first impression.

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    • says

      Because they generally have a hard time selling, which means there is little money involved. It’s best to try and sell a novel first and establish a fan base. THEN publish the story collection.

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  38. Duane Suarez says

    With all the books of decent short stories out there, I don’t know why there is not more of a call for these submissions .

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  39. Kris Mehigan says

    Found this blog through #querytip on Twitter. So glad! Very timely for me as I’ve been mulling over Question #2 recently. Thanks!

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  40. says

    Hi. I think that with Query Letters that they should be concise and that they should be directed at the agent/literary agent and have a readable copy of your manuscript. But also I think the tips given in here about repurposing your manuscript is a good idea. I had heard that before about another story I wrote. It was from a webpage that didn’t accept my story. It will hopefully be accepted elsewhere.

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  41. says

    Informative post. I can’t wait to share it with other authors, writers and bloggers. This post will come in handy as a great checklist when I reassess my query next weekend. Thanks for sharing.

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  42. says

    I really enjoyed this post, as I am coming up on my (hopefully) final draft of my first novel. I feel that besides excellent writing alongside excellent characters and plot, that submitting to agents is almost a numbers game. How many simultaneous submissions would you suggest?

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  43. says

    Thanks for the advice. I am ready to start querying and was glad to know about the age suggestion. I have read and found many of your articles very helpful.

    Janys Mikel

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  44. says

    Great post. I think the key point here is to make sure you are following the guidelines on an agent’s website. We hear all the time that 50% of what agents get in their slush is something they don’t represent or doesn’t come close to following guidelines.

    Tailoring each query email to the specific guidelines of each agent can be a pain. But not doing so can almost guarantee an auto-reject, no matter how good your project is.

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  45. says

    I find it interesting that you suggest not starting with the pitch. I agree that it seems jarring, but I also feel like starting with the lowdown on the book is a little non-creative for a fiction writer. :) I suppose queries aren’t meant to be creative.

    Miranda

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  46. says

    Helpful advice indeed!

    I wonder how long a query should be?

    On a couple of Writer’s Digest blog posts, successful queries have been posted/analyzed and what they seem to have in common is brevity.

    Thanks for this great post and for the book giveaway.

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  47. Kerstin March says

    Thanks for the tips! I sent out my first query this morning — and I’m sure there will be more in my future. :-)

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  48. Sheila Brodhead says

    Very valuable suggestions. I’m going to save this list and also share it with my writing groups.

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  49. says

    Re: #5

    You’re exactly right about short story collections being among the toughest of sells to an agent. Even lousy novels tend to do better and make more money than the best of short story collections. It’s a hard truth to accept, but it’s still truth nonetheless.

    Something to consider, though, is the indie press world. Places like DZANC, Press 53, and C&R Press (disclaimer–I co-own this one!) all regularly take on short story collections without an agent’s representation. The good news is that we typically can sell them about as well as the big boys. Better yet, we don’t let them go out of print once they’ve peaked after three months.

    The competition is still incredibly rough at the indie press level, though at least you know your submissions are going to the decision makers directly. Some writers like that direct access a good deal.

    Good tips here, Chuck. Thanks!

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  50. says

    Excellent! I just submitted to a publisher and almost the min it left my hands, several ideas to expand and update came to me, and while I pray for a YES, if I get a NO, I had been wondering if with the added details, if I could work an overhaul and resubmit since this publisher is on my highly coveted list. Lol. Thanks for addressing that!

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  51. MP MacDonald says

    When I’m ready to send my first query letter, I know I will have to work as hard on it as I have on my novel. Then there’s the whole social platform piece. And I thought I was just writing a novel. Who knew? Glad you did Chuck, and have the advice I need.

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  52. says

    Great tips — a keeper of a post!
    I’m happy to say I also shared on my LinkedIn group “Marvelous Memoirs”, and two of my Facebook pages as well.

    Thanks!
    *´¨)
    ¸.· ´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
    (¸.·´ (¸.·’*~ Lee*

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  53. Jules-M says

    Thanks
    I found #8. (How should you start my query) particularly interesting. AS a new writer you want to stand out and think that you need the gimmick to get you noticed. Simple truth I like. :-)

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  54. June says

    This was a great list of tips. I just queried a publisher and didn’t make clear that it was an exclusive query. Drat. Now I know to use the word “exclusive” What should I do now? Anything? I’m worried that they will dismiss my submission altogether. Help!

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  55. says

    Thanks for answering these questions. I’ve always wondered about if I should re-query or query multiple agents in the same agency.

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  56. LaTonya Samuels says

    Hello,
    I’m an unpublished writer looking to publish a children’s picture book. This article was very helpful.
    Thank you!

    LaTonya

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  57. Syd Warburton Jr. says

    Your 9 questions turned out to be negative, negative for me, that is referencing #5. I have written a book of short stories (SS’s)having read somewhere else earlier that SS’s sold like hotcakes. Well, 5% is not exctly hotcakes. And, I did find your statement to be true to date. I have queried several agents and those that have responded said they do not accept SS’s.

    However, one positive note is that I did write a few of the 27 as fodder for novel chapters (The Marmalade Burrito) which I have begun (50 to 100 pages, thus far) playing on my life’s experience which has been long and varied having lived in 14 states and in a few foreign countries – it may well have to be a series. I also have a book of 100 or so poems, but I think poetry is a lost art, selling worse than SS’s. I did place the book of SS’s on Kindle as an interim measure. They are mostly psychological suspense, entitled Mind Shadows.

    And, “The Beat Goes On….,

    Syd Warburton jr.

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  58. says

    Thanks. As an older writer with over 80 chapters going I found your comments very helpful. I hope to handing a manuscript over to beta readers in a few months — although I am in first draft and will probably feel compelled to do at least one editorial pass prior to handing to anyone else. I am following others’ advice to complete the first draft before going back to do any serious editing. That has helped me with my progress so far. Thanks again.

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  59. Sheila Lewis says

    Chuck,
    Thanks for your helpful comments. Like a lawyer would say, you tell us not to give too much information, like age. I had several writing colleagues and a critique group “approve” my children’s novel query letter, but got lukewarm or no responses from agents. I am now revisiting the hook and will simplify the letter. Having “beta readers” is essential, and I am also revising my mss. accordingly.
    Looking forward to your new children’s marketing book.
    All best wishes,
    Sheila Lewis

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  60. says

    Thanks for the post, there were several points I didn’t know about. Point 8 on how to start a query, you recommend not jumping right in. The Query Shark disagrees. I think the two of you should duke it out.

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  61. Bob Mandel says

    Thanks Chuck for the VERY timely advice.
    I’ve spent the past few of years of my life on my recently completed manuscript; writing, rewriting, editing and polishing, combing over content to make sure the scenarios, characters and information within jibe and fit as meticulously as a custom made pair of shoes. Writing fiction is like telling the penultimate lie – make sure your story works! Until now, I purposely chose to stay away from looking at literary agents and publishers websites lest I succumb to the temptation of sending out any feelers until I was sure my novel was REALLY REALLY ready. It is, so winning a copy of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents would be really sweet. Thanks
    Bob mandel

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  62. says

    Thanks Chuck! I found this website by pure chance several months ago. I was really LOST without it. Truth….I am still lost, but now I feel that I am not alone. You have no idea…scratch that…maybe you do…but what I am attempting to say is this….without writer’s digest….I would still be talking about writing a book. With writer’s digest, I am talking about selling my book! THANK-YOU!!!!

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  63. StaHerm says

    Thanks so much for the tips! I’m new to all of this as I am currently working on my first book. It can all be very confusing…but I am thankful for any tips I can get! I would love to receive the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents (again, all the help I can get :-)

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  64. says

    Chuck, I have a question. I’m wondering if an author already has a novel on ebook if it’s acceptable to look for an agent to represent the same book, or will most agents not want to touch it? A novel already on ebook would be an easy way for an agent to read the entire book to see if he/she feels it would be saleable under standard publishing.
    I enjoyed your tips. They are all helpful

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    • says

      Essentially, your book is self-published. An agent will consider it, sure, but you really need some nice sales numbers or accolades to get their attention. You need to give them a reason as to why it deserves another life via traditional publishing.

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  65. says

    Thanks, Chuck, for the excellent advice since my manuscript has now been professionally edited and I begin the journey searching for an agent. Perfect timing for the publication of the 2013 Guide To Literary Agents. I expect number 13 to be magical:)

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  66. Jeanie Mebane says

    Thanks so much. As per usual, your words are helpful and thought provoking.
    Again, thank you.

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  67. Jeanine says

    Great advice on query letters. It especially answered my questions about simultaneous submissions.

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  68. Susan says

    Excellent Advice. After reading your suggestions, I truly feel I am ready to start sending off query letters!

    Thanks for that :)

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  69. says

    As a new writer learning as much as I can about the industry, I always find your advice is just what I need. I am currently in the query process and found this timely as usual.
    Thank you

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  70. Sherry Adams says

    Chuck,
    Thanks for all the well seasoned advice. I’m starting a writer’s group called “Wordsmiths.” The participating authors will be critiquing each other’s work. We will also be discussing submissions, queries and how to get an agent to sit up and take notice of our work.
    I am going to print off your advice for our first meeting.
    Blessings,
    Sherry

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  71. Laura says

    I find the whole idea of writing a query letter for a novel daunting! It seems everybody has their own idea of what constitutes the “ideal” and that can vary so much from agent to agent! No wonder it plants so much fear in the hearts of writers! Trying to figure out how you will structure, what you will put in or leave out of a query is risky business. A query that one agent will like is one another will reject. All you can do is your best, do your homework, and hope it’s right. I admit this is not the part of writing I enjoy! No wonder so many are self-publishing, though I don’t see how that offers maximum success either! HELP! lol

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  72. says

    This is my first time on your site and I’m now a fan! Thank you so much for all the information. Even though, I’ve done my homework and read everything I can on the publishing business and the art of the query letter, proposal, etc.; it’s so refreshing to read your blog. It has either validated what I already know or has given me another perspective. I’ve completed my book and have queried, edited and re-worked my manuscript, only to query again. The responses have been good but it’s my platform that needs more work.
    I look forward to following your blog, as I try to become published.

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  73. Joshua Whitham says

    This was some great advice. I was wondering if you have any advice for someone wanting to write a query letter trying to get a collection of poetry, or individual poems, published.

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  74. Tiffany Turpin Johnson says

    Thanks for this post Chuck, I am doing my first round of querying now and the process is nerve-wracking, so all this info is comforting! Looking forward to the new editions.

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  75. Kristina says

    Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for writing such an informative post.

    I do have a question regarding number four: Should you mention your age in a query. I am sixteen years old and have written a young-adult novel. Although I realize mentioning my age could put me at a disadvantage, as some agents may not take a teenage writer seriously, I wonder if it could help me to stand out from the slush pile.

    Would you recommend leaving my age out of the letter or including it?

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  76. Tammie Gutierrez says

    This article was extremely helpful! I find that even though I didn’t have the same questions they were questions that needed to be asked! Thank you for the advice.

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  77. says

    This has been so helpful. When I started writing learning the dos and don’ts take the fun out of it. But, thanks to people like you who are willing to help it becomes an easier process.

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  78. Tammy Stephens says

    This is very helpful. I am frozen by the query letter and I have allowed it to interfere with creativity….thank you

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  79. Carole Caprice says

    Thank you for all the tips. Your writing style is so clear and easy to read. I have your book on how to write screenplays and have read pages randomly ~ I just know it will go easy when I’m ready to read cover to cover. Thanks!

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  80. says

    Chuck, I see in your links of agents’ interviews that there’s no link for women’s fiction. Does that now come under “general fiction agents”? I follow and read a lot of agent interviews and I see very little mention of any specifically seeking “women’s fiction” in the past couple of years. I’m not talking about chick lit or romance, but fiction that has been described as having “strong female characters” and “exploring their relationships.” ???

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  81. says

    Dear Chuck,
    Is it absolutely necessary to have a literary agent? In this technological era of E-books, it appears that the artist is in a more ideal situation if he or she self-publishes and promotes his or her work. A few years ago, I spent quite a large amount of cash to query several agents regarding a triple genre manuscript- romance, inspiration, mystery – only to find that my query had been transferred from one envelope to the self-addressed envelope and returned. There was never any evidence that the letter had been read and the required thirty to fifty pages had not been touched. Therefore, because I had faith in my work, I self-published it. No, I did not sell very many copies because I did not take time to promote it due to other commitments which were taking my time. The royalties were very little, and the novel was sold only on line. FYI, the title of the book is “Love of a Stranger.” However, comments about the book were very positive. Thanks very much for listening. Gretchen Mavis Turney

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  82. Rebecca Anderson says

    Thank you for sharing valuable insights. After avoiding thoughts of a synopsis and procrastinating on query letters, I’m ready to be sure the first draft is as ready as can be before getting personal insights. I had not realized how important that coaching could turn out to be. I’ll be in touch soon with my writing that wants help!

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