Query letters should be one to two pages long and can be accompanied by the first ten pages of your manuscript. We strongly prefer email queries and can reply faster to email. Email queries should be addressed to the specific agent you are interested in considering your work. Please view our AGENTS page link to read our agents' bios.
We receive a very large volume of queries and cannot always reply as quickly as we would want. If four weeks have passed and you have not received a reply to your query, please email us with a reminder for a status update on your query. It's faster and easier to include the original query with your reminder.
What should an ideal query include?
Your fiction query should include your genre, such as mystery, science fiction or mainstream, whether the project is for adults or for children, and the length of the complete project in number of words (for example, 86,000 words), not pages. The query should give us a brief overview of the book's plot and main characters, but does not have to include a complete synopsis. For first-time authors, we do prefer that the project be complete before you query us.
Your nonfiction query should include your subject area, such as history, biography or business, the main concept of the book, the word count you project the book will be when completed, and your credentials to write the work. Unlike many first novels, many first nonfiction projects do not require that the book be finished before it can be marketed successfully, and we'll be looking to see that the book proposal and a sample chapter is available here instead. Let us know how long you feel you will take to complete the book. Be realistic with your estimations. It doesn't matter if you give us an estimate that sounds good if you cannot deliver the book on that date.
Things that Make a Query Stand Out
Hook us in your first paragraph. What's the most outstanding aspect of your book? Is it your characters' conflict? Is it your protagonist's background? Is it the completely surprising revelation you uncovered in your research for your new health book? Don't assume that you have your entire query to get to your point. If you don't hook your reader with your opening, your query could get pushed aside.
Show you know your market. Nothing says you haven't given this a thought better than saying your book is for readers 8-80. But if you say your book is YA and would appeal to readers of two specific writers (particularly if they simply aren't the two best-known at the moment!) and can even list reasons why, then you're getting warm.
Don't forget your ten pages. We ask specifically for the first ten pages of the manuscript and without those, we have to make a decision based solely on the query. Perhaps your query letter isn't your strongest point, and your voice in your manuscript is amazing? Don't lose out on the chance to convince us! Just be sure to paste those into the body of the email rather than add them as an attachment.
Things to Avoid In a Query
Don't stress the fact you are a new writer if you are. Stress your qualifications to write the project and your ability to promote it successfully.
Don't suggest a book length that is simply not marketable. Research the publishers' websites, author guidelines and new releases to know what they're publishing right now.
Don't quote nice things other people told you when they were turning down your query or book. It might seem like a good idea to tell us that Fabulous Editor X or Amazing Agent Y told you your writing was compelling or your characters were complex, but the next person reading this is going to wonder why that editor or agent didn't sign the book. In fact, by giving us the quotes from rejections, you're making the book less appealing, not more.
Avoid insisting the book is going to be a bestseller, even if you feel certain it will be! Let your story and your writing speak for itself.