Please consider a donation to help fund Vision: A Resource for Writers

Lazette Gifford,
Publisher and Editor

Margaret McGaffey Fisk,
Senior Associate Editor

J.A. Marlow,
Assoicate Editor

Issue # 57
May/June 2010

Table of Contents

Query Queasy?
Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy!

By Hèléne Boudreau

Copyright © 2010, Hèléne Boudreau, All Rights Reserved

Well, maybe not easy peasy, but you've written a whole novel, right? A super awesome unputdownable, potential to rival the greats novel, right? You are not going to let a one-page query come between you and getting it published, are you?

I know, I know . . . queries are super hard. I've written about a kajillion of them and have had to tinker with them endlessly before coming up with my final copy.

For those wondering what a query actually is, it's a letter from an author to an editor or an agent, querying (or asking) whether they would like to read your novel (and fall in love with it, help you publish it and offer you a trillion dollars for it).

Okay, maybe not the last part!

I think it's helpful to think of the query as the tease. You want to give just enough information to entice an agent or editor to read on and request your work, but not too much or you'll bury your pitch.

Keep it short! If you are taking more than about 250 words to get your point across, it's probably too much. Agents and editors are scanning and are probably spending about 20 seconds on your query (if that!), so make it EASY for them to pull out the salient points of what you're proposing.

THE PITCH: First 125 words or so:

Here are my 4 C's & a V to a hooky pitch

  • CHARACTER: who is your main character?
  • Why should we CARE? What's at stake?
  • CONFLICT: what is your main character up against? what are the obstacles standing in her/his way?
  • CONSEQUENCES: Give a hint of the outcome: …but not the ending (keep that for the synopsis)
  • VOICE: As much as possible, try to match your pitch's voice to your manuscript's voice. This will give an agent a sense of your writing style.
  • THE MARKET: Next 50 words or so:

  • TITLE (in caps so it's easy to spot on the page), genre, word count, target audience, why this agent might be a good fit
  • ALL ABOUT YOU: Next 50 words or so:

  • Writing credits, etc. keep it short, keep it relevant to writing
  • ADDITIONAL INFO: Last 25 words:

  • Mention whether you've attached a bio below your signature (I always did) and re: sample pages (add them if you're allowed)

  • Just remember, you're not trying to tell your life story in a query, just enough to hook an editor/agent so they'll read on to your sample pages and hopefully request your manuscript.

    But don't take my word for it! Check out Pub Rants for great (successful!) query examples in the sidebar about 2/3 down the page:

    Plus, you never know, part of your query might just end up as the quote on the cover of your upcoming novel.

    Just saying. . .

    Good luck, everyone!

    You can find Hèléne Boudreau's website at:

    The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
    ~Sylvia Plath