Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson

The Art of the Query Letter


Is there anyone reading who really likes writing query letters? If so, can I swap brains with you for a few days?

At this point I’ve read so much advice on writing a good query letter that my brain is swimming. I’ve also read so much jacket copy that I’m starting to know how it feels to be faced with a description of a book that tells me nothing and does absolutely nothing for me, as far as selling the story goes. Live and learn, right?

(I’m serious about the first question, though. If you have any hints, I’ll take them.)


Author: G.L. Jackson

Writer, reader, amateur photographer. Mostly, I just like pretending to be a different person each day of the week.

4 thoughts on “The Art of the Query Letter

  1. Hello, I am in a similar situation. I am researching and working on query letters, and the advice sometimes feels like it is generated by a tornado with swirling winds blow around us. I can’t say that I enjoy writing queries, but I hope I am improving.


    • I wrote one (with help) and it was actually pretty good. At least once I braved the waters, I got a partial request from the first agent I tried. But man, that was the most intense editing I’ve ever done. Distilling a novel into a few paragraphs wasn’t easy. Everyone’s got their own idea on what makes a great query letter and while there are some standards, ultimately I suppose it’s a question of personal taste. Here’s to it, good luck.


  2. I hate writing them (any sort of proposal letter, for that matter). Actually, the clearest and easiest to follow examples are from the writer’s market (I’m sure you can find a copy at the library). As an editor, I also receive query letters and cold pitches. The most effective ones have my interest piqued right away. They’re not too long but clearly outline the authors intent for their article and I do like a pinch of the personal. Giving a few clips or citing other places the author has been published is also a big plus! The successful pitches I receive as an editor also incidentally help with my own queries.


    • Thank you!

      I actually think it would be easier if I were trying to query articles and nonfiction. It’s the novel query letters that get my stomach tied up in knots. If it took 350 pages to tell the story, distilling it into just a few highly intriguing paragraphs is crazy difficult. The rest — intro, bio, and a pinch of the personal — are much easier for me.


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