Saturday, July 17, 2004

Query Letter FAQ

1. Are you accepting queries?
yes. I don't answer emails that ask if I am; just send the query.

2. Do you accept queries from people outside the US?
yes. I don't answer emails that ask if I am; just send the query.

3. Do you accept queries from people who have not been published before?

4. Why did you reply with a form rejection when I just emailed to see if you were interested in reading my novel. It wasn't a query.
Yes, it was. Asking if I want to read, consider, look at, or interact with you and your work in any way is considered a query. I reply with a form letter to those projects that I don't intend to pursue.

5. Can I query more than one person at New Leaf Literary?
Yes. Query one agent at a time.

6. What's the most common problem in query letters?
Bad writing.

7. How will I know if my query is one of those with bad writing?
Ask someone. Critique groups, writers conferences and online resources have valuable information. It is hard to learn to be objective about your writing. You'll do well to assume you are NOT objective about your writing at first and listen to what people tell you.

8. What's the second most common problem in queries?
The query letter does not tell what the book is about.

9. How can I tell if my query is one of those?
Make sure query has the protagonist's name and the pivotal point of the plot in the first paragraph.

10. Does it help to tell you who recommended I query you?

11. Not even if it's one of your colleagues?
No. I only care about what you're writing.

12. Can I query you again on the same project after I revised it?
No, please don't.

13. Can I query you again on another project.

14. I am a published author in need of a new agent. I have several projects I can pursue. Why did you send me a form rejection without reading any of them?
I prefer to hear about projects one at a time, even if you have been published before.

15. I'm going to meet you at a conference. Should I query you first?
No. I'm happy to read your query at the conference and talk to you there.

16. You rejected me. What should I do next?
Query the next agent on your list. If you don't have a list consult the good folks at or about how to find agents.

17. Do you really like reading queries? Doesn't it get boring or frustrating?
Yes. No. Yes.

18. I have just a quick question about something. Can I email you?
Yes. You won't get a reply though. If you need help, go to or watch for the #askagent discussions on Twitter. Writing conferences are also a good place to learn more about publishing.

I'm trying something new based on what I learned trying to assemble a bookshelf.  If you have a quick question about how to query, send an email with Query Question in the subject line.  I will respond, even if only to tell you the question is beyond the scope of this experiment.


Anonymous said...

I'll second the AbsoluteWrite recommendation. I was a total n00b before that place and now I feel a lot more confident. That's the place to ask a lot of questions and get answers.

Better than filling an agent's inbox, I'm sure! Overall their advice is sound.

Unknown said...

Whoa. Seeing the Shark at a conference and speaking to her in person? Scariest prospect I can imagine this early in the morning... Ha

Julie Weathers said...

Phffft The shark is actually a cuddly teddy bear. Some of the most fun I've ever had was groveling on my knees in front of her at Surrey.

jesse said...

12.B. Do you not want to NOT see a second pitch under any circumstances: even if the revisions are substantial, based at least in part by knowledge attained from your query shark site?

Janet Reid said...

jesse, the way you know I want to see revisions is this: "I'd be glad to see this again if you revise."

Absent that phrase, no I don't want to see it again.

I have been known to lose my mind periodically and offer feedback on a project I know isn't right for me. Feedback is not a synonym for 'resubmit'

jesse said...

Thank you for clearing that up.

Jill Thomas said...

Thankful am I

Unknown said...

I have a question about rule number 18. In your blog posts, you usually line something out if you're being snarky/witty. This cross-out doesn't strike me as that. I am wondering if the answer is simply "Yes". (In part I assume it is simply "yes" as long as the subject in the e-mail is "Questions For The Blog")