Thursday, May 31, 2012

Query Do's & Don'ts

We hope these query DO's and DON'Ts will help some of you new to querying and for the veterans feel free to add your own at the bottom! I will say, there will always be exceptions to these rules, but sometimes its best to give yourself the best opportunity possible by following the rules.

1) DO write your query in 250 words or less.

2) DO avoid rhetorical questions in the hook. They sound gimmicky.

3) DO NOT write a query from your character's POV.

4) DO show the pivotal story arc. That main action that leads to the climax and the "ultimate decision" moment. This is where many people's stories get lost---give an agent a reason to keep reading.

5) DO focus on what makes your story unique.

6) DO be enticing.

7) DO show the stakes.

8) DON'T create a character soup--limit who you introduce in the query to the bare minimum. If you think you need five, find a way to cut two of them.

9) DON'T compare your book to Twilight, Harry Potter or the Di Vinci Code.

10) DON'T classify your manuscript as a 'fiction novel' or 'fictional novel'.

11) DON'T be inapporapriately stalky in your personalization. (I.E., don't be like, I saw you were working at the bookstore and engrossed in a sci-fi horror steampunk. Here's mine.)

12) DO be knowledgeable about the agent. (This is a fine line, folks. But you can know the agent's preference and dislikes without sounding like a freaky stalker. We've got a post on researching agents that should help.)


14) DO include word count, and brief biography.

15) DON'T say that you've been writing since you picked up a crayon and your mom, brother-in-law and pastor all think your the next J.K. Rowling.

16) DO edit and have a critique partner read through before you send it out.

17) DON'T send it to more than one agent in one email. (This is a hard and fast, NEVER EVER BREAK rule, guys. EVER.)

18) DO ALWAYS check agent guidelines and include whatever pages/synopsis/etc they may ask for.

19) DO spell their name correctly.

20) DO include contact information. A great story is just a random floating idea without a little contact info at the bottom.

21) DO track who you've queried and when.

22) DON'T query more than one project at a time.

23) DON'T. query multiple agents at one agency.

24) DO focus on the protagonist, antagonist, and basic conflict. NO subplots.


~The Writerly Rejects


  1. Great list. *crosses off 'stalk agent in creepy way' from to-do list* :D

  2. You've got it pretty well covered!

  3. Thanks. That was helpful. Do you think having a book blog could help, like the one I have (

  4. Ah, queries. I always hear music with notes of impending doom when I think about them. Is that just me?

  5. Uh-oh. I'm breaking a few of those rules... I hope I don't get into trouble. Great post!