What’s a good subject line for a query email?

A basic but important question: what do you put in your query subject line?

I’m sure there are plenty of possible creative answers to this, but I’m going to err on the simple side. I like a subject line that includes the word “Query” along with your book title, and possibly the genre.

Some examples:

Query: The Best Novel Ever (fiction)

Query: How to Write a Book (NF, self-help)

Query: My Life as a Novelist (memoir)

*You may be tempted to use a click-bait subject line, but it usually backfires. (Ex: “Stephen King endorsed my writing.”)

*If you were legitimately referred to me by a client or publishing colleague of mine, you can use that in your subject line. (i.e. “Query — referred by Susie Editor.”)

*Avoid the temptation to include your book’s entire title and subtitle because it’s probably too long.

*You don’t need to include your name, i.e. The Best Novel Ever by Jane Jones, because your name is already visible on the email.

*Avoid the generic subject line, i.e. “Looking for an agent,” since the gut-level response to that is, “Hello Captain Obvious.” If we end up corresponding back and forth, your subject line with your book’s title is a helpful reminder to me.

Did I miss anything? Hope this helps!

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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!