letters from the query wars 10.21.2011

# of queries reviewed week ending 9.23.2011: 258
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: steampunk

# of queries reviewed week ending 9.30.11: 196
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries reviewed week ending 10.7.11: 152
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: science fiction

# of queries reviewed week ending 10.14.11: 96
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries reviewed week ending 10.21.11: 209
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: steampunk

Oldest query in the queue: October 20th

Catching up the last few weeks. Enough of these submissions show up indicating that the authors haven’t researched enough to follow guidelines and/or aren’t reading this series (or other online agent posts) to realize such things as attachments won’t get opened and it’s querying too soon if manuscripts are barely begun. Also, there’s been a range of wordcounts for “novels” these weeks from 26K to 332K (the latter being the first of a trilogy). Quite the span.

In appreciation of those who exercise due diligence and are looking through these entries for tips and so forth…. What topics has this series not addressed, or not addressed recently, that would be helpful to know? Bring your query-related questions here in comments, and over the next entries in this series, I’ll do my best to provide responses.

And thanks to all who research guidelines and send what is requested. For the record, it’s much appreciated.

10 responses to “letters from the query wars 10.21.2011

  1. Jennifer, I’d love to know a little bit more about striking that balance between letting an agent know that you’ve done your research and read the authors they represent, as well as their blogs, articles, etc. without coming across like a suck-up.
    As an aside: I’m happy to see a new Query Wars post. They give me a perverse kind of motivation. Thanks.

  2. I second R. H. Culp’s question and comment above. Also, would you (and some of your clients) like to put up samples of successful query letters, so we can see what you liked about those?

  3. Hi, Jennifer! I asked you a question about synopses and plot twists a while back, that you didn’t respond to; I hope it’s okay that I repost it here. If you just didn’t like the question – sorry to drag it up again.


    Seeing as you read the synopsis before the full, how do you see twists with fresh eyes?

    Let’s pretend it’s the thirties and you’re reading the synopsis for Lord Edgware Dies/Thirteen at Dinner. “Jolly good,” you think, requesting the full.

    But HOW do you not scream “Obvious!” at the little subtle hints and clues throughout the manuscript when you already know who the killer is? How can you assess the quality of said hints and clues?

    For me, it’s only that one, unspoiled first read of the actual book/ms that can tell me if it’s a clever little clue, a clue the average reader is bound to miss, or if it’s a clunky eyesore of a hint, revealing the twist on page 3.

  4. I’m curious as to when – if ever – it’s acceptable to re-query an agent who has given your query a pass. For instance, if you’ve revised your query letter to be more along the lines of industry standard, revised your synopsis, and have even made another pass through your manuscript (and brought the word count down by 10-20,000 words?) Or is it better to count that agent out for your manuscript and -only- contact them with a different project, once complete?

    Thank you kindly.

    • Also: Do you indicate at all that you’ve made revisions, and are re-querying that agent, or do you treat it as though you never made contact in the first place? Alternatively, do you pursue a different agent in the agency instead – as long as they’re actively seeking the genre you’ve written in? Thanks again.

  5. It seems like you request a full out of every-other batch. Perhaps if I time my query well…


  6. Hello! You mention that you shouldn’t send an attachment as a query. However, I’ve heard some industry professionals say that cutting and pasting from a Word doc creates some funky breaks in the email, even though on the sender’s side it appeared fine. I’ve read that you should type it into the email box to prevent these issues. Do you see that a lot, and do you have a negative reaction if the spacing is off?

    Thank you!

    • There are other word processing programs that don’t have the same formatting issues, Text Edit is one example that comes native on every Mac. It’s not a fancy program, but it works and saves.

  7. Followup questions! Do you like to know if the story is one of a series, or should it be queried as a stand-alone? Also, if you’ve specfically requested additional pages, should that be attached as a Word doc or copy/pasted into the email document?

  8. Hi Jennifer,

    I haven’t commented in a while but I have been lurking. 🙂

    For me, my query got agents interested but there were some other things that were off.

    My question isn’t really query related, but what grabs you in the first 5 pages that you request?

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