As you can imagine, we get a lot of queries from potential clients who are hoping to secure an agent. We’ve seen some beautiful queries! And although we usually gain a client through existing relationships or meeting a writer at a conference, we have signed a few people through the query portal on this site.
Before I continue, know this: a query letter is a business letter that shares who you are, what your project entails, and how you believe we will be a fit. Each query should have these elements:
- A succinct summary of the book.
- Your platform numbers.
- A demonstration of your understanding of the agency you’re querying.
- A friendly, open tone.
- Your qualifications for tackling this subject.
- Possibly: quotes from your readers for social proof.
- Typically one page of single spaced type (if you were to paste it in a Word doc).
Not all queries include all these aspects. Some queries are rambling, others are way too short. Nonetheless, here are the 7 WORST practices of queries:
DO NOT DO THESE SEVEN THINGS!
- Fail to read what an agent is taking and what they’re NOT representing. No, I will not acquire a novel about a hallucinogenic protagonist, nor will I sign an author writing about atomic cockroaches taking over the world. I typically don’t represent any fiction, but if I did, it wouldn’t be trippy psychedelic prose or end times shenanigans.
- Assert your over-the-top awesomeness with words like “sure-to-be-a-bestseller” or “literary genius” or “God endorses my work” (accompanied by a typo-filled query).
- Address your query to someone else.
- Fail to proofread your query for spelling and grammar problems. We will automatically delete those queries.
- Demonstrate your naive understanding of the publishing business by saying you’ve written your book, and it’s 8,000 words. Most NF books are 50,000 words.
- Berate the agent for asking for platform numbers. (Platform is a reality of the current publishing environment, and it’s part of our responsibility as authors to find our audience, however that may look.)
- Give up if you get a rejection. This is one no. A rejection is simply a roadblock, not a pervasive declaration of your worth.
I know more queries will come through the portal at the beginning of the year, and I look forward to seeing yours! I hope this little list helped you to do just that.
Mary, I have a conundrum. I believe I meet the qualifications you helpfully list for submitting a book proposal. Except! I self-published my last work, “On The Hunt For God” almost two years ago and started a blog about the Christian principles within it. The blog was http://www.onthehuntforgod.com. When I began writing my current work, I found it difficult to do both. When the renewal time came a few weeks ago, I decided to discontinue that blog due to time restraints with finishing my current writing. I have 5000 Facebook followers and am on Instagram but that is far less than what you are looking for. I assume this disqualifies me from querying. Correct?
I am preparing to start a new blog with my new title, “Overcoming Lost Hope: Sadness, Fear, Depression and Despair, a 60,800 word Non-fiction work about why trials are a great blessing. They give us the opportunity to run into the arms of Christ which is the greatest blessing of all.
I will begin work to work diligently to increase social media presence.
Please let me know if you are interested in reading my book proposal. Thank you so much for your attention. I can tell by researching you that you are someone I would love to meet. I also am a Christian artist. In fact the cover of my book, (hopefully) and the opening poem in the Foreword about lost hope are my works. Best wishes and thanks for the important work you do for our Lord’s kingdom.
It depends on how robust your sales were for your self published book! 🙂