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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:



  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Address your query to someone else.
  4. Fail to proofread your query for spelling and grammar problems. We will automatically delete those queries.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.

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