The Month of Letters Challenge

On the 23rd of January, Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Shades of Milk and Honey, suggested The Month of Letters Challenge.

In support of this endeavour, I am offering a special query letter #LetterMo. Due to the nature of this proposal, the kind and beneficent Mary Robinette Kowal has given me a variance on rule #2 (see official site here and sign up to participate in the challenge). I will only be responding to the queries received once and not engaging in additional correspondence (unless, of course, I request your manuscript).

So, here’s the restructured challenge to allow for my participation:

1. Mail your query via post to this address:
Jennifer Jackson / #lettermo
Donald Maass Literary Agency
121 West 27th Street, Suite 801
New York, NY 10001

2. The query MUST follow my guidelines, which means it MUST include a one-page query letter, the first five pages of the novel manuscript, and a 1-5 page synopsis. It must also include an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for reply.

3. I encourage the submission of new projects. If the project has been previously queried to me, it must be significantly revised and have been more than six months previous.

4. Submissions must fall into genres normally represented by me. Novel-length fiction ONLY. The novel being queried must be completed and polished and ready for submission. Query for one project only.

5. From among these queries, I will randomly choose at least one (1) query per business day in the month of February which will receive a personal response, mailed back via post. This response will include some feedback on either the query itself or the concept of the novel.

6. Any queries not receiving a personal reply will still receive the standard response as per my usual policy of replying to all queries that follow my guidelines.

Please leave any questions in comments.

17 responses to “The Month of Letters Challenge

  1. Wow, this sounds awesome. What a great idea.

  2. I entered my novel in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. One of the conditions is: “Manuscripts submitted as entries to the Contest cannot be actively shopped by agents during the contest period…,” Does that mean I cannot participate in your letter challenge? Seems like an obvious answer but I’m confused by the term “shopped by agents.”

  3. Jearl: I believe that means that if you have an agent, the agent can’t send your manuscript to publishing houses for consideration. It doesn’t mean that you can’t send queries to agents. Once the contest period ends, your agent can then pursue a home for your manuscript.

    You can still participate in the contest 🙂

  4. Er…challenge rather.

    My brain is currently muddled by cold & flu medication, so please forgive misused words. I think I’m going to go back to bed now.

    Good luck all.

  5. Just reading this post in my email had me all excited 🙂

    I live in UK, so would you need International Reply Coupons? (I think that’s what they are called, never used them before).

    • International submissions are acceptable, though note that if chosen for response, they may not make it back by the end of the month due to longer transit time.

      As for IRCs, if there’s a way to get US stamps that’s much preferred but if IRC is the only option then use them.

  6. Thanks B and Jennifer. Should be in the mail tomorrow.

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  10. Excellent change-up and great opportunity for us aspiring folk out there. As tempting as it is to rush my query package to you, I’m still putting the finishing touches on its edit, so begrudgingly I will resist the awesome temptation. I’ll follow the blog in the hope that this, or something similar is repeated. All the best.

  11. Cool idea. Thank you for doing this!

  12. This is an awesome offer, thank you ver much Jennifer and Mary Robinette both. My YA Novel has been marinating long enough that I should be able to read it with fresh eyes… I had some “less than stellar” feedback from a workshop host, and shelved it. Now I think I’ll take it up again. Not sending it to you, though, Jenn. Perhaps, as Farmer Kidd said, the offer will be repeated at some time in the future and I’ll be ready then.
    Cheers, All !

  13. Just wanted to give a quick thank you for your thoughts on my query letter, it’s much appreciated.

  14. Ms Jackson, I thought this challenge was fun, but can’t help wondering how it affected YOU. Most agents have switched to email submissions for two reasons, time and mess. If your schedule permits, I think we would all be interested in how much extra time it took and whether it trashed up your office.

  15. Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to respond to my query. Even though we won’t be doing business (for now), your comments were helpful and will help me reshape my character.

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