Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Query Letter Diagnostics-Updated: 11/15/22


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. Neither does leaving off a salutation.



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  without the attachment. Pages should be 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; 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 or at least your pen 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. Did you send something so far afield from an actual query that I don't know how to respond?

NO: Go to 18.

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



18. 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