do and don't · query problems

Query length

I realize we expect writers to know how to write a query letter. But if you haven’t attended a workshop or conference, or do not have a writers’ group, finding good information is tough.

Tip number one: a query should be about one page.

Since queries come as emails, we don’t know exactly how long your query is. But when I received a 5-page query, I could tell. There’s no way I would read the whole thing, either.

Under half a page tends toward too short. Much over a page is too much information — even a two-page query is on the long side.

It may feel infuriating, but paring down the essentials of your book into a simple pitch is an important skill.

Forget world-building: pretend the agent knows the basics. Tell us what the main character wants, what obstacle stops her, and what she must sacrifice to get past them. Show me her hard choice: “She must sacrifice her best friend’s soul to the demon, or let her lover perish at its immortal hands.”

If you can pick out these core elements, you can write a one-page query.


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