Friday, August 26, 2005

How to send me an electronic query for a novel

1. Subject line should say "Query for TITLE"
TITLE means the title of your book. Yes, I have gotten queries from people who didn't understand that.

2. The salutation should be Dear Janet, Dear Ms. Reid, Dear Snookums; or some variation of that. It should not be To Whom It May Concern, or Dear Agent.

3. The first paragraph should be what your book is about. It helps if you start with the main character's name, then tell me what choices he must make, or why things are going to change for him soon.

There are examples, both good and bad, of how to do this at

4. Include the word count. The novel must be finished before you query.

5. Tell me which ONE category suits your novel. Here are the categories:
Women's fiction
Literary Fiction
Science Fiction
I've lined out the categories that I don't normally take on.

6. Include the first 3-5 pages of the novel in the body of the email.
The first 3-5 pages are not the preface or prologue. They are the first 3-5 pages from chapter 1.

7. Include your contact information

8. Do not attach anything.

9. Do not use any color font other than black. Do not use any background color other than white.

10. Use Times New Roman or Courier font

11.. For a lot more posts on the subject of queries, read the posts labelled "Query Pitfalls" here on the blog. You can find them by looking at the very bottom of the blog roll on the right side of the blog under "Blog Posts Sorted by Category"

12. Quit fretting. If you've gotten this far, you're fine. I'm not playing "gotcha" with queries. I'm actively looking for good work, and if you're paying attention to this hints, you're going to be ok.


Jack Barrow said...

Am I being a bit dim here? I've read your conditions, looked for other links and ended back on the same page. However, I can't see an address or link to send the query too. I'm guessing that you are still accepting queries because I saw a tweet from you on the subject.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Dear Janet,

Will you be accepting queries for commercial non fiction after the Chum Bucket experiment? I see that this post, dating from 2005, does not include this genre.

Do all the above rules fore querying you still apply?

Unknown said...

Can't resist:)
Dear Ms. Agent,
I read your submission things very carefully. I've wrote a book that I think you'll like, and I no Americans will to! It's Young Adult (I think)...

Jed Cullan said...

I've just sent you a query for a Women's Fiction Science Fiction Fantasy Fiction Romance Fiction fiction novel that is fiction. I've a good feeling about this one.

Unknown said...

I read only once that a query letter should be "double spaced between paragraphs". This doesn't make much sense to me, and thus leads me to my question: How should an emailed query letter be formatted?