Apr 20, 2009


A revision of this query has been posted. Click here to read it.

Dear Agent:

I graduated from The University of Texas in May of 1997 with a degree in journalism. While at the university, several of my articles received The Almay Award for Excellence in Journalism.

I chose to submit my novel for your consideration after seeing that you had interest in this particular genre, especially after you pointed out that Robert Pierce's novel, The Escape, was one of your favorite reads. Did I not only read the book, but also found it similar to mine in that it shows the struggles of a young man trying to escape the horrors of an abusive past.

The Release

While spending seven years in a Texas sanatorium for re-enacting the physical abuse he received as a child on a peer of fifteen years of age, John Michaels finds his escape. John realized that inner strength, his mind, would convince the good Dr. Holt to okay his release.

John, a ruggedly handsome man with smooth black hair, fashionable stubble, and a chiseled six foot three inch frame is not out of the sanatorium for twenty-four hours before his life becomes extremely complicated. He finds himself tightly wrapped in lust, having dinner given by the beautiful Karen Weeks, being accused of murder, befriending a court appointed defense attorney, rescued from the Texas death penalty by witty Richard, a private detective extraordinaire, and falling in love with Delaney, a bookstore clerk.

John's inner release does not become final until he visits the graves of his alcoholic father and drug addicted mother. John is able to get the answers and let go pent up feelings that need their escape. John's will to seek a better life comes to fruition.

Upon request, I am prepared to send the completed manuscript.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.


Joshua Kearns


The Screaming Guppy said...


You start in the wrong place. You should begin with the book itself, not information about yourself. Also, it is debatable if you need to include this information about yourself at all.

I know the second paragraph is an agent specific thing - some like this type of thing, while others do not. But it sounds like this paragraph is custom tailored, so kudos for doing research about your agent.

As for the pitch of the book - the title stuck out alone is strange. You should integrate it into a sentence. Also, you have no genre or word count listed. These things are a must.

As for the meat of the query - your novel - I have no idea what the first paragraph means. It's very hard to follow, and the phrasing is strange (like, a peer of fifteen years of age.)

No need to waste time on describing the physical features of your character. Cut it. And the next sentence feels like on long run on and is, again, hard to follow. Queries need to tight and concise, or the agent will assume the whole book is written like this, and reply with a form letter.

The last paragraph is very vanilla. As in, nothing catchy or original. To me, this doesn't even sound like a strong climax or resolution. After the long list of drama in the paragraph before, this falls extremely flat to me.

No need to say you have the completed manuscript ready. It is assumed - because if it's not complete, you have no reason to be sending queries for fiction.

I think you can just use Thank you for your consideration. Clean and simple is sometimes better.

Good luck.

pulp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pulp said...

just to add:

The Screaming Guppy has given you very good suggestions.

As for proofreading, a query letter isn't a casual email or blog posting. We don't usually have to be perfectionists in conversational writing. A business letter, however, needs to use standard English. Again, at least read some query letters.

Rick Daley said...

NOTE- I am re-posting a comment, and I am editing out a few comments that I feel are borderline as constructive criticism. I agree that there are issues with the writing as displayed in this query, but let's be careful how we point that out:

Format is long and strange; sentence construction [REDACTED] is sometimes bizarre.

[REDACTED- The original comment infers that there are likely issues with the manuscript based on the syntax and rhetoric used in the query letter]

One place to start would be to read twenty-five or fifty queries and model yours on them. Then do a lot proofreading.

Robert A Meacham said...

I am the guy who did this query and here are my comments:

The Screaming Guppy:
Thank you for pointing out my opportunities. I agree that I should condense, re-format, and be more clear.
I tried to cram too much in the query. I took great notes and will improve thanks to your suggestions.


I am a listener and have the will to learn. I read your post several times and extracted what was useful to me. Thank you for your comments.

Rick Daley:

I want to work hard and become a better writer. No statements here have broken my spirit.
Thank you for your concern.

May I redo the query and resubmit?

Rick Daley said...

Hi Robert,

You are certainly welcome to resubmit your query. Please do so on the same post that you submitted the first query, and please include a note that it is a revision, e.g. the first line could read:

I will include a link to the original query, and on the original query I will link to the revision.

You have the right attitude for this site- to learn, revise, and become a better writer. I'm glad you were able to take all the comments constructively. I was torn with wether or not I should edit or delete the comment.

My goal for this site is for the feedback to be polite and professional.