Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When submission guidelines don't ask for a query letter

Janet, I want to ask you a question but I don't know where to ask you this question. I don't want to email you because I am sure your inbox is flooded with emails. So I was wondering... whenever I visit an agent's (or agency's) website, and the submission guidelines go something like, "we accept email queries. please send your synopsis and the first chapter blah blah..."this drives me crazy because I am not sure if they mean a proper query letter OR if they want a 1-2 page synopsis? I am soooo confused. I'd appreciate a helpful answer from you. Thanks.

Always send a proper query letter AND then the other materials asked for (pages, synopsis, twenty dollar bill.)

A query letter has valuable info we need: an overview of the project, what it is (novel, memoir, NF category), word count, your credentials, or writing credits.

Never skip the query letter even if an agent's website doesn't say query letter plus the other things asked for.

And my email inbox was at 92 till I made the mistake of actually going to bed last night at 4am. Get up this morning and 92 is just a fond memory!


H. L. Dyer said...

A proper query includes, to my understanding, the title and wordcount, a brief "synopsis" of the work, a brief "author bio" and your personalized reasons for submitting to the agent or editor in question.

I think the questioner is asking whether "synopsis" means the pitch blurb from a standard query or a separate 2-page summary of the full plot of the novel.

And, for me, when I'm not sure, I include the separate synopsis (or "author bio," which is sometimes also ambiguous) at the end of the materials I'm sure they want.

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

I guess your answer makes sense. It's just that most agents don't accept attachments in e-mails and I hate the thought of filling up an e-mail with a query, a 1 page synopsis, AND the first chapter (or first 10 pages or whatever). but I guess I'll go with whatever agents ask for on their websites.

jwhit said...

Re the attachment or embedded, most guidelines I've read state that requirement as well. If they say they want a Word document, by definition that is an attachment. To be very safe, be sure to scan the document with your antivirus just to be certain it's clean.

But some do ask for the additional text pasted into the email. In my original document, I do a search and replace to make double paragraph returns because plain text removes the paragraph indents, at least in my email program. Your mileage may vary. Then I copy that text and paste it into the message.