Saturday, February 16, 2008


It's so easy to tell writers what we DON'T like. But, ugh, that gets boring. So, on this cold February day with a Puccini opera warbling in the background, let us fantasize about the kinds of queries we love to recieve. (OK, there is some stuff here about what we don't like--can't help ourselves.) Understand that our dream queries are specific to US. Not all agents may have the same wish lists, but here are our top 7 features of a winning email query.

  1. Easy to Read: The query is written in a simple font like Times Roman or Arial; type size is 11 or 12.
  2. Everything Important is at the Top: Get to the point! What's your name? What's the name of your book and what's the genre? How many words does it contain?
  3. Unimportant Details are NOT Included: We don't need to know the authors you love to read. At this point, it doesn't matter where you went to school or whether you are married. Don't tell us how impressed you are with the number of books we've sold, cause, well, we just haven't sold that many! Don't tell us how well we will get along. We really don't need to hear how your book is the next Harry Potter or The Road.
  4. The Selling Point Jumps Right Out: We LOVE it when you can tell us why your book is destined for greatness. Yes, this is very hard to do. But take the time now to craft a sentence or two that sums up the essence of your book and makes the project irresistible to us, and eventually to editors.
  5. Information on the Book Supports the Selling Point: Now that we know why your book is the cat's pajamas, give us a bit more information about the main characters and the plot. DO NOT give us a complete synopsis here!
  6. Important Author Details and Marketing Information is Revealed: Now that you've written a drop-dead query, end it up with vital stats on you, your platform, your publishing experience, and how you intend to support the book. Are you in a reader's group? Do you work with an editor? Do you blog? Have you been published in any form? This kind of information is helpful at this point.
  7. End your Query, Please: You've done a fine job. Enough already. We'll get back to you if we want to read some chapters. Don't attach anything, and don't add the synopsis or chapters to the body of the query.

OK, that's it. What we didn't mention is that we adore snail mail queries; Jon actually prefers them. But email queries are just fine, especially if they adhere to our 7 features!--JT & KT

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