2.25.2006

Resending Query Letters

Miss Snark,

I had a question. I wrote a query letter that, frankly, stunk. I re-wrote it, and now it sounds a ton better. Can I re-send it to agents who sent a form rejection before, or should I just chalk it up to a learning experience and save them for the next novel?

Thanks. I really enjoy your blog.


You're welcome, I'm glad you enjoy it; me too!

Yes, you can re-send queries after they've been hosed off and serially scrubbed. Make sure enough time has gone by so that agents aren't reading two letters from you in 90 days but re-sending is ok. Are you including sample pages? More than anything else, your writing is what gets our attention. Include pages.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's great to know.

You bring up another point about sending sample pages. Before I sent queries out, I'd check the agents guidelines if available (either in print or web site) and many request you don't sent anything but the query letter. Wouldn't it appear I wasn't capable of following directions if I sent a page or two sample along with the query in those instances?

Dave Kuzminski said...

When in doubt, ALWAYS follow the guidelines.

Elektra said...

My word veri is nwerd, so now I have to comment.

Anon, Miss Snark has said something in the past along the lines of 'sample pages are part of the query letter.'

Anonymous said...

I'm working my way up to my second (ever) round of queries, and have also been wondering about slipping in sample pages that haven't been asked for.

My (possibly nitwittish - would anyone like to make the call?) logic is that five pages is a small enough number (and industry-standard enough), that they won't tick the agent off too much by their presence. If the agent really didn't want to see those pages, she can stick them in the recycle bag - and hopefully she'll still read my query letter. If my query peaks her interest, then maybe those five pages will get winkled back out of the recycling bin for a second look.

Of course, what I'm really hoping for is that even agents who didn't ask for the sample pages will give them a quick skim, because hey, it's only five pages.

The mantra "good writing trumps all" has really got me determined to send sample pages wherever possible. I have some confidence about my writing - but not so much about my query letters.

Anonymous said...

Remember-it may only be five pages, but that adds up; if an agent gets 300 subs a week, that's 1500 pages to read (if they read everybody's whole five, which I'm assuming they don't).

Anonymous said...

My mentor, a NYT best selling author, told me that when he began his query process, he first sent whatever they asked for and got lots of rejections.

Then he decided to send partials (first three chapters) to every agent, no matter what they asked for. Not only did he get a lot more requests for fulls (which led to representation for him), but not a single agent rejected him for not following the guidelines or sending them too much.

Of course, he still got rejected for other reasons...

I've been following his advice and haven't had any problems either.

Anonymous said...

If the guidelines are very specific they only want to see a query letter, then I'd really hesitate to send even two sample pages. Instead, I'd be tempted to open the query letter with the first 50 to 100 words of the novel I'd like them to consider and then put the other information they want per their guidelines.

Annie said...

Most folks will always tell you FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.

Here's my take. If your query garners the agent's interest and you have included a few sample pages, do you really think the agent won't be curious enough to read the first few paragraphs? And if they like what they see, they'll keep reading and if they still like it, they'll ask for more.

I only queried about ten agents and sent a few sample pages with every one. Six weeks later I had three offers and signed on the dotted line shortly thereafter.

My chosen agent said the combination of a terrific query and the "taste" I included was what made him ask for more. And his webpage specifically states ... Send only a query. Later we may ask for a sample of your writing. (paraphrased)

For what it's worth...
Annie

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Yes, well, follow the guidelines - BUT, I always included a sample of my writing. With snail mail, it was the first chapter. With email, it was the first 2-3 paragraphs in the body of the email. (Of course, I was always darn sure those first paragraphs were kick-ass.) Personally, I always felt it was more important to respect HOW an agent wanted to be queried, than exactly WHAT they specified they wanted. Look at it this way - if they hate your query letter it doesn't matter what else you include because it's all going to be tossed, unread; if they love it, it's only going to be a good thing if they get to read part of the book right then, while they're interested.

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dink said...

"hosed off and serially scrubbed"

ha! that's such a perfect description of revision.

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kaytie said...

If one does include sample pages, I think it's important to find the place within those pages that leaves the reader wanting to read more. Don't just include the first five pages if the first two-and-a-half make a stronger impression. The right place to stop depends on each story.

Quality over quantity, doncha know.

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