letters from the query wars 12.16.2011

# of queries responded to last week: 153
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 2
genres of partials/manuscripts requested: contemporary fantasy, YA urban fantasy

# of queries responded to this week: 129
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

oldest query currently in the queue: December 14th

Sometimes it can feel like things pick up speed of their own accord. All around there are others who seem like they’re a step ahead. It’s tempting to rush to keep up.


In the last couple of weeks there has been a noticeable increase in what one might call premature submissions. Unfinished manuscripts. Fragmented emails that aren’t really recognizable as query letters and communicate little or nothing at all about the book or author. An upswing in one sentence emails with entire manuscripts attached.

Shortcuts may seem attractive. But following guidelines and sending what’s requested is still the best way to get serious consideration.

6 responses to “letters from the query wars 12.16.2011

  1. Must be the end of year rush, where people decided to submit in 2011, and now the time’s up.

    From an agent’s perspective, is there a good time or rather particularly bad time to submit? For example, over Christmas period when agents would be having a holiday, then coming back to a mountain of work, and if they are anything like us rest of the mortal, returning to work with holiday blues. Does that have an impact on how you view queries or how many you read?

    Or a good query letter excites you, no matter what time of the year it is?

  2. There is a lot of mixed advice on whether to send a query letter on a partial manuscript because of the amount of time it can take to get a response. Are you saying to query only when the manuscript is complete? Thank you.

  3. Michael, only ever query when the manuscript is complete. Totally complete. Multiple-drafts complete. Anyone giving advice as to query while you’re still working on your first draft because agents take time to respond will make you look unprofessional when your query turns out to be a hit and they ask for content you don’t have ready (which can happen).

    If an agent asks for your full manuscript, it should be at such a point that you feel comfortable sending it to him/her without revision. If it’s not at that point, don’t query. Better to spend a few more weeks waiting for a response than to receive a response and lose the opportunity.

  4. In a time of unbelievably high unemployment nine years ago, I found myself, not by choice, searching for a new job. Everything had changed since the last time I had ventured down this path eleven years earlier—in a word, the INTERNET. So after weeks of one sided queries in this new environment, I broke the rules, wrote a new “elevator speech” and within days, the dialog commenced. In one case, just by adding the word “sparkle” in colored type and in the first line, I jumped to the top of a pile of 350 resumes and got two interviews.
    Today, the internet is bringing rapid change to the publishing industry, including how to query. Even the definitions of stayed words like credentials and platform have begun to morph. So what makes a new author rise to the top of the pile? What peaks an agent’s interest enough to seek a partial?

  5. I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas Jennifer !

    • My thought exactly!
      Happy holidays and a prosperous new year. I can’t wait to see what you and your clients have in store 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s