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What Not to Say in a Query

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a huge fan of candy corn.” Okay, I know you’d never put that in your query (unless your book is about candy corn). It tells me something about you, yes, but it’s not actually relevant to the project you’re pitching me. You know better than to do…
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Rejection

Decoding Query Rejections

If you’ve ever queried agents, you’ve probably received pass letters with unhelpful lines such as, “this project is not a good fit for me.” Do you ever wonder what that really means? Many writers spend a lot of time trying to read between the lines of rejection letters and glean a hidden meaning. Well, just…
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sigh

Query Lines to Make an Agent Sigh

I was going through my current batch of query letters, and while many of them are very good, it reminded me how difficult it is to write a strong pitch. You have to accomplish so many things in a concise format: introduce your book in a way that the agent wants to read it; give…
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Taking the Mystery Out of Query Letters

One of the most common complaints writers have these days is how hard it is to write a query letter. I agree, it’s a difficult task. You may not realize that agents have to write query letters (“pitch letters”) too. Whenever we send a manuscript to an editor for consideration, what do you think accompanies…
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broken heart

Decoding Query Rejections

In yesterday’s blog comments, Marielena wrote about the responses she was getting to her query letter. She said: I know it’s probably individual to each agent, but what makes a book “not a good fit” — is that a polite way of saying the book still needs work? That’s a good question, Marielena. Yes, it’s…
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stack of letters

When to Re-Query an Agent

One of the most common questions I receive is, “When is is okay to send another query to an agent who previously passed?” Sometimes people are talking about re-sending a query for the same book that was already queried; the writer has either improved the query or improved the book and wants another shot. Other times,…
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How To Write A Query Letter

*The Definitive Guide* Query letters are a recurring theme here since every writer needs one, and there are hundreds of posts online full of query advice. But I wanted to give you a simple, straightforward set of instructions. Queries should include the following three elements: Something about the book – enough to make the agent want more  Something…
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Paranoia

Query Paranoia

Writers often get freaked out by all our blogs and twitter posts about “bad” queries and big mistakes people make that can make them look…less than professional. But here’s the thing. If you’re reading blogs and books and getting yourself educated about how to get published, then I’m sure you’re going to be fine. You…
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How to Write a Query Letter

A surprising percentage of queres fail to give me any sense of the book being pitched, or the author's qualifications, so here's a simple, straightforward set of instructions for queries.
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Query Critique: Franklin’s Ladder

The QueryFRANKLIN’S LADDER is supernatural fiction, complete at 82,000 words. It is the women’s fiction version of a Mike Dellosso or a Brian Keene novel. I am querying you because of your desire for well-written women’s fiction that incorporates a Christian world view. Husbands are troublesome creatures, especially when they’re dead. Anna’s husband, a journalist…
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Query Critique: Carey On

The Query:Katie Carey’s husband has a mistress and her name is heroin. From the moment she met British guitar god Jay Carey, Katie lived a fantasy life. They were one of the superstar rock and roll couples of London in the 1970s with the big houses, the cars, phenomenal success and a love that seemed…
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Query Critique: Halfway to Anywhere

The query: After three days of lying in bed with her life crumbling around her, college freshman Stephanie Miller needs to get out of her room before she goes insane. She decides to go to the One Force House; a guy she’d met recently had told her she could come there if she ever needed…
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Query Critique: Dealers of Light

The Query Dear Ms. Gardner: Moira is a nurse practitioner with a hidden talent, one she knows little about- the ability to send healing energy she calls “Light” into others to augment healing. When one of her patients dies in her arms passing along not only a powerful gift, but a dire warning of doom,…
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Query Critique: Circle of Reasoning

The Query: Hello, Ms. Gardner, I am seeking representation for A Circle of Reasoning, a 77,000 word women’s mainstream novel. Catrine Teddi and Austin Sanchez have been separated for over four years because of a misunderstanding. They are reunited by the disappearance of their child because of someone’s mistake. Between the anger and blame, romance…
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