On writing

Improving your query letters

The first of two posts on query letters.

There are hundreds of books and internet sites that tell you what to put into your query letter. Even the manuscript guidelines for most agents cover briefly what they want it it.

I’m a person who likes to see examples. If I can see what other people do, what is wrong and what is right with their queries, then I am a lot better prepared to write my own.

Here are some web sites that can help you with this.

Miss Snark

Marathon effort from literary agent, Miss Snark, with her Crapometer #3. She analysed 110 query letters, along with the first page of the novel being queried. She did this over a period of four days.

If you send query letters it’s a must-read, not just to find how to improve your query letters, but for an insight into how an agent works.

Rachel Vater

Not long after this, over at Live Journal site, Rachel Vater began workshopping queries and first pages, explaining what was wrong with them and how to improve them. The workshopped pieces must then be submitted to ten markets after this, and the writers report back on the results.

It will be fascinating to see what happens.

Jacqueline K. Ogburn

Jacqueline Ogburn shows us a couple of sample query letters for children’s books and outlines what is wrong with them.

Preditors and Editors

Preditors and Editors has a sample query letter.


Lynn Flewelling has put her query for Luck in the Shadows onto the SFWA Writing site.

The second post is here, if you’re interested.

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