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July 1st, 2003, 08:20 AM
Hi, everyone! Could you give me a tip how to write a good query letter. I'd be grateful if you recommend me some web sites where I could find useful information.

July 1st, 2003, 08:40 AM
Hi Lena,

Welcome to SFFWORLD.COM and the Writing forum.

I am sure you will get many hints and tips from experienced members here at SFFWORLD.

I think it depends on what you wish to query, is it a novel or a shorter piece of fiction (is it even fiction)? Also is it to an agent or to a publisher?

July 1st, 2003, 08:53 AM
Hi! Thanks for your reply. I'd like to write a query for a fantasy novel for an agent. Could you give me some tips how to do it? Thanks.

July 1st, 2003, 09:12 AM
This is my opinion only, and someone like KATG who has experience in the industry will qualify it or confirm it as rubbish.

First of all, many publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts, which can mean that they will only accept submissions from an agent, and a well respected one at that. I would always suggest authors approach agents first however, some writers have approached publishers direct and been successful. I know Holbrook sends off submissions to a blend of agents and publishers direct.

Of course if you send a query letter which interests a publisher and they ask for your manuscript, it has been solicited so who knows.

I would also suggest you review a publisher's submission guidelines carefully before submitting, they may want a query letter, an outline of your entire ms AND sample chapters from you.

Always be polite and thank them for taking the time to read your letter and any enclosures.

Tell them what genre your ms is in, the title of your novel, the main premise of the story and why it should be considered.

Whilst you want to be unique, of course we all do, let the publisher know who you liken your writing to. This simply helps them ascertain immediately if it is something they have experience and success in publishing and if they are the right person to look at it. Make sure you add that whilst you liken your writing to x,y and z, you would like to think that you add your own flavour to the genre.

Let them know a bit about your writing credits, have you appeared in magazines, already been published and so on.

Let them know what your aspirations are for your book, is it a series, are you working on the sequel, do you have many more ideas (KATG can step in here, I fear as a writer myself I probably talk too much in query letters).

Let them know how to contact you and whether or not your enclosures can be destroyed, if you want them returned, enclose SASE (not very likely even if you do!!!)

DO NOT sign your letter like this:


Hope that helps and that others with experience chip in.

September 23rd, 2003, 11:26 AM

As um... I would hate someone to go away with only my opinion :eek:

September 24th, 2003, 03:07 AM
Originally posted by juzzza

As um... I would hate someone to go away with only my opinion :eek:


Well, I've got experience on this road. I can list things you are NOT supposed to do, from a handy-dandy book called The Writers Market.

1.Don't try cute attention getting devices.

2.Don't talk about fees.

3.Keep your opinions to yourself.

4.Don't tell the editors what others think of your idea.

5.Don't make a list of people whom you know, whom you think are important.

6.Don't kiss up or overly flatter the editor.

7.Don't send in unnessecary enclosures(like a pic of yourself, or your dog or something...hehe)

8.Don't offer irrelevant info about yourself.

9.Don't sound uninformed about the company you're writing.

10. Don't ask for a meeting.

11. Don't ask for advice.

12.Don't offer to rewrite.

13. Don't make threats.

14. Don't include a multiple-choice reply card. (haha)


September 24th, 2003, 12:04 PM
First off, are you actually in the Ukraine or some other country? Are you trying to send a query letter to a U.S. agent or to a literary agent in your home country, or in another country?

Most agents in the English speaking market are located in the U.S. There are also English literary agents in Britain, Australia and a smattering of agents in Canada. Most literary agents are not set up to take electronic email queries, which means that you have to send the query letters by mail. To get a response, you usually have to enclose a self-addressed envelope with adequate postage for it to be returned to you. If you are sending a query letter to an American agent from outside the U.S., your return self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) will have to have U.S. postage.

Obviously, this makes it difficult for writers outside of the big English language markets to acquire an English market agent. Most English market agents representing foreign writers do so either because they also represent the translater who is turning foreign works into English, or because they are working with an agent in the writer's country who represents the writer in his home country.

If, for instance, you are in the Ukraine and you've written a novel in English, you might be able to secure a Ukrainian agent who could then possibly get an English language agent to rep the work in the desired country's market. Or you could probably go straight to English language publishers in the Ukraine. Or you could publish it simply with a Ukranian publisher in your native language and hope to sell the English language rights to a publisher in another English market country. It depends on what your home court looks like. My limited understanding of the Ukraine, Russia, and such, is that their publishing industries are dealing with the same problems as the rest of the economies and are still very much in the development stage, though a number of excellent writers have come from those regions.

Therefore, you might want to go outside your country for publication, especially English language publication, but you'd have to pick which market and which language would be best.
If you are seeking an English language market, then Britain might be your best bet.

Fantasy writers are further hampered by the fact that only a limited number of publishers publish fantasy fiction and proportionately, only a small percentage of literary agents represent fantasy writers. If you seek publication outside of the fantasy genre as a literary-contemporary writer, you might fare better if it's the sort of fantasy story that would work as that type of fiction, which is not always the case.

As for actual query letters, clarity is the big thing. A couple of paragraphs about the project, a couple of paragraphs about yourself as the author and mention any publication credits you might have, fiction or non-fiction. You can attach a plot synopsis of the work, preferrably 1-2 single-spaced pages, which describes all major plot points including the ending of the work. Written query letters need to be accompanied by an SASE.

September 25th, 2003, 03:27 AM
Now, what would you suggest for a hardly experienced, but very aspirational writer who has finished my book and is halfway through the sequel? You probably already covered the explanation but I have a tendancy to be dense at times...plus im half awake

September 25th, 2003, 12:18 PM
Suggest about what specifically, T?

September 25th, 2003, 08:31 PM
Honestly I'm not quite sure. I jsut would like a solid guidleline on a query letter, and how abouts to write it. What comes first? What goes last? Are there certain things that make my chances better?