Sunday, November 7, 2010

Template for a Good Query

I most definitely do NOT want a bunch of cookie-cutter query letters, but the below template should help you out if you're trying to figure out just what to say, what to add, and what not to do!

[Dear Mr./Ms. Agent’s Last Name],

[The FIRST line should indicate if this is a referral or if you’ve met the agent at a conference etc.]

[The first PARAGRAPH should show you’ve done your homework. Why this agency? Why this agent? This could be as simple as mentioning that your book is a Romantic Suspense and you read on their website that the agent is interested in this genre.]

[1-2 paragraphs about your book, including word length and hook. Write as if you’re writing the blurb for the back of the book – a quick, catchy paragraph or two to make you pick it up. The synopsis will tell the rest]

[Brief bio - if you have no publishing credentials, something as simple as "I'm a member of SCBWI and live with my cat in San Diego" works just fine.]

[Thank the agent for his/her time and consideration.]

[The LAST line should also show you’ve done your homework – on submission requirements regarding what you've enclosed. EVERY agency is different in what they want. Look it up, put it in the letter, and send it that way]

[Your name, and email]

[your full contact info]


  1. Can I ask for clarification on one point? Is this the format you'd recommend for a snail mail query? Because I've seen in several places that it's a bad idea to lead with your contact info and/or the agency's for an e-query because many read them on portable devices and it's just wasting time.

    Also, any advice about a professional credits paragraph?

  2. I was gonna ask the same thing about leading with contact info in email queries as Lorelie.

  3. Good questions! Yes, this was the template I made for snail-mail only; for e-queries, you're right, leading with all the contact info isn't the best idea.

    I didn't include the bio section because it's really not that important, unless you have something relevant to mention -- but yes, include previous publishing credits in a paragraph at the end.

  4. I write hispanic women's fiction which contains some Spanish phrases, is it important to mention that in the query email or let the agent figure it out as they read the requested chapter?

  5. Hello. I'm not sure how to characterize my novel. It's definitely YA. It has elements of sci-fi but it's too technical. There are two mysteries in it, but the characters don't really try to solve the mysteries until the second half (once they realize there's a problem). It's also a romance. Should I just say YA mystery in my query?