How To Write A Query Letter

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Tag: Queries

Michael discusses the basics of writing a query letter.

What follows is by no means dictating the only method a writer should use to query us or any other agent. There are as many ways to write such an introduction as there are writers. As with any advice, use whatever seems useful, discard whatever is not, and try to find a way to make the letter you send as vivid with your own voice and style as you can make it.

I see the cover letter as a way for me to get context about the book, sure—but also about the writer: who she is, where she comes from, and why this manuscript matters to her.

Download: HowToQueryLetter

Address

Address it however you address letters. Obviously, email requires different treatments. What you see here is … [more]

paper-stackA few months ago, when we Crows were newly hatched, I wrote a post about how our submission guidelines ask for 20 pages with your queries. At the time, I was unsure whether or not this was the best way to go, more because of how long it would take me to read through them than what it meant for you. What can I say, I’m selfish.

Now that we’ve been at this for a little while, I’ve come to find 20 pages plus a synopsis is perfect for my needs. The query gives me a general idea of who you are and what the book is about, and the 20 pages is just enough for me to decide I’m either not feeling it or I absolutely have to read on. Granted, sometimes I like … [more]

mixedSo I am at last turning to queries. (Sorry to those who have been waiting; I haven’t been idle, honest!) And, perhaps because I am reading tons of queries, my thoughts turned back to when I started in children’s books, as an assistant at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

The slush at Harcourt was read by a sweet, gracious writer named Joan Bowden, who came in once a week, plowed through the hundreds of submissions, and returned them to the authors, 99% of the time with a form reject. When she found a particularly funny sentence in a query, she’d cut it out and tape it to a scroll at the entrance to her cubicle. I photocopied that scroll but have somehow lost the other pages in my many moves; I have only one sheet. I offer … [more]

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Before I got into publishing, maintaining my social network pages was easy. I joined Facebook in 2005, a bygone era where the most I had to worry about was whether or not my profile picture made me look chubby.

When I was lucky enough to land a job in publishing, I suddenly realized that my Facebook profile was filled with material I didn’t exactly want every writer out there to see: three years worth of immature jokes shared with college friends, photos of me in silly costumes from various Halloween parties, and links to off-color material that made me laugh. I decided the day I became an agent that I was going to maintain Facebook only for my personal use. If I didn’t know you or want every piece of information on my profile to … [more]