Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Query Letter Diagnostics-Updated: 3/12/23

I want to respond to every query. If you sent a query and did not receive a response, go through this list to see what went wrong:


1.  Does your salutation include my name?

YES: Go to 2

NO: Resend with a salutation that is close enough to Dear Janet/Dear Ms Reid/Dear Snookums.


Dear Madam, To Whom It May Concern, Hello and Greetings! don't make the cut. 

Neither does leaving off a salutation.


2. Did you include an attachment?

YES: resend it without the attachment. Pages should be pasted into the query itself.

NO: go to 3


3. Did you query for more than one project in the query letter?

YES: revise your query. Query for ONLY one project at a time. 

NO: go to 4



4. Did you send it to

YES: Go to 5

NO: resend it to that address.


5. Did you include the requested 3-5 sample pages in the body of the email?

YES: Go to 6

NO: resend, and this time include the pages in the body of the email.



6. Is your novel finished, polished, ready to send?

YES: Go to 7

NO: I do not respond to queries for novels "almost ready to go" or "nearing completion" or queries that ask "do you think this is a good concept?" Finish your novel, or write your proposal (for NF), then query.


7. Did you query for something that is NOT a book (a screenplay for example)

YES: I don't represent anything but books.

NO: go to 8


8. Are you someone other than the author of the book?

YES: Your query was deleted. It will not help to resend.

NO: go to 9


I do not respond to queries from anyone other than author. Anyone includes publicists, assistants, lawyers, and (yes, this happened) fan clubs.



9. Have you checked your spam filter for my reply?

YES: go to 10

NO: go check.


If you have one of those "please click here to be on my approved sender list" barriers--I didn't.


10. Did you send an actual query, not something "better"?

YES: Go to 11

NO: Resend with an actual query (250 words approx).


Something you think is "better" "improved" or "more helpful" is NOT a query. [Examples so far: an Excel spreadsheet of blog posts that comprise your novel; a published copy of the book you're querying; a video introduction attached to an email; a jpg of your query letter]



11. Have you included things that make me think responding to you will be a mistake?

YES: Don't requery.

NO: Go to 12

Examples: telling me literary agents are a waste of time; challenging me to read your book "if I dare."


12. Did you send something so far afield from an actual query that I don't know how to respond?

NO: Go to 13

YES: Take a look at the 300+ posts at to see what a query should look like.



13. If you've gotten all the way down this list and nothing has been a do-over:

Just resend the query. Stuff happens.



Questions? ...well, I'd tell you to email me, but clearly that's a problem. You might try reaching out via Twitter: @Janet_Reid