Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Query Letter Diagnostics

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. Have you waited thirty days?
YES: Go to 2
NO: Simmer down and wait.
2. Did you send it to

YES: Go to 3
NO: resend it to that address
3. Does your salutation include my name?
YES: Go to 4
NO: Resend with a salutation that is close enough to  Dear Janet/Dear Ms Reid/Dear Snookums.
Dear Madam and To Whom It May Concern don't make the cut.
4. Is your novel finished, polished, ready to send?
YES: Go to 5
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.
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. Did you include an attachment?

YES: resend it to me without any attachments. Pages are pasted into the query itself
NO: go to 7
7. Did you send the email to more than one person; a cc or a bcc or on the TO line?
YES: resend it to me, and do not include anyone else, including yourself in any address line
NO: go to 8
8. 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 9
9. 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 10
10. Are you someone other than the author of the book?
YES: Your query was deleted. It will not help to resend
NO: go to 11
I do not respond to queries from anyone other than author. Anyone includes publicists, assistants, lawyers, and (yes, this happened) fan clubs.
11. Did you include your name in the query?
YES: go to 12
NO: Query again, but include your name. Not just your initials or a nickname.
12. Have you checked your spam filter for my reply?
YES: go to 13
NO: go check
If you have one of those "please click here to be on my approved sender list" barriers--I didn't
13. Did you send an actual query, not something "better"?
YES: Go to 14
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]
14. Did you send an actual query not just pages from your novel?
YES: Go to 15
NO: Resend with a query and the first 3-5 pages of your novel

15. Have you previously included me in an email blast touting publication of a book, or asking me to buy your book?
YES: You'll need to query from a different email. I block email addresses that spam me.
NO: Got to 16
16. Have you included things that make me think responding to you will be a mistake?
YES: Don't requery.
NO: Go to 17
Examples: telling me literary agents are a waste of time; challenging me to read your book "if I dare"
17. 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
Updated: 6/25/22