Thursday, April 30, 2009


    Why? Because I use mac "smart mailboxes" and if you don't write QUERY in the subject line your query will be marooned in my general biz inbox.

    Maybe it is just me, but I find it a bit rude when someone writes:

    'Here is my manuscript. Want it?'

    OK, only a few people actually put it that way but I do get a lot of:

    Dear Jill,
    I hope you want to read the full manuscript.

    Yes, I sell books but I represent authors.
Added Feb 1, 2010: I no longer send form declines. If you do not receive an email response to your query + 10 pages within a month, I am sorry but I am not the right agent for your work.


  1. Some useful information, but how much personal information did you want? Many people want you to get to the point.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Any examples of great queries from a debut author??

    Appreciate the info!

  3. Duly noted lol
    Appreciate the tips :)

  4. Darkened Jade & PurpleClover,

    Here's what I included as the last two paragraphs of my query when I was searching for an agent.

    A little about me:
    Lee Bennett Hopkins will be including my poem, PIRATES, in his upcoming Holiday House middle grade collection, I AM THE BOOK. My poem will be one of only l4 in this collection which will be illustrated as a picture/poetry book. 
    I have a BA in English from Stanford University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from The University of Chicago. After years of marketing and advertising, I gave up the glamour of cereal boxes and sneakers for family life with my husband, 3 kids and 3 dogs. I now take writing classes at UCLA, write children’s books, and teach writing workshops in Palos Verdes, California. In fact, an article about me and my workshops has been syndicated in parenting magazines nationwide by Kathy Sena ( In 2004,  my YA novel TWIN SISTER:I AM NOT YOU won a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Work-in-Progress Letter of Merit, and in 2003 I won the SCBWI Los Angeles Writer's Day Poetry Award for my humorous picture book collection, SINK YOUR TEETH INTO POETRY.

  5. Thanks for the info, Jill.

  6. really people do that?

    I think a query letter should be like an introduction when you meet someone at a conference

    hi my name is this. i heard you like this. here is what i have and here is what ive done. Thanks for taking your time to consider this.

    anything less than that seems like bad social manners. Its kinda sad that agents have to now add "pls be polite to us" in their sub guidelines.

    grrrrrr ;)

  7. Shelli,

    I'd say 75% are: here is my idea, want it?

    Your thoughts on queries match up perfectly with mine.

    Thanks for adding it to the comments on this post:)

  8. There's too many rules and too many variables. If you don't say I've had 6 books published in the first sentence, you are perceived as a wannabe by some. If you say it, others wanted to know your dog's name and that they eat berries off the bush. Be professional. Be warm. Be light. Be serious. The goalposts just keep being moved. And the response is either nothing at all or "This didn't sweep me away."



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