Size 14 Query Letters in a Size 8.5 x 11 world

Miss Snark,

I have a nitwitty question about query letter etiquette: does length matter? I'm not suggesting that its permissible to write 3 fully packed pages, but wonder if a closing paragraph and signature can slip onto a second page.

I've been drafting my query letter and in order to make it a single page I'm using 0.5" margins all the way around. I would prefer a one inch margin but that puts me at an even page and half.

My novel description is a 180 words. Am I simply not being concise enough in the rest of letter, or like most of your readers, thinking and worrying too much about minor stuff?

A loyal, devoted, enthralled snarkling,

Let's see how enthralled you remain when I tell you that if you send me a letter with .5 margins I will express mail it to the goat for dinner....and I know people who know goats, don't think I won't.

I really really hate letters that are jampacked onto one page by virtue of oxygen starved margins, anorexic fonts and other forms of query letter abuse that should be banished forever.

Two pages is better than cramming.

That said, one page is better than two. Start trimming.
You don't need to describe the novel I'm about ready to read the first couple pages of. Just some orientation: POV, setting, time and genre work for me.

It's very very hard to write succinctly. In fact it's an art form. It takes me WEEKS sometime to hone my pitches..and I do this each day every day, and have for years.

There's your challenge for the week: rise to it!


Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, can we trim off the "I am enclosing an SASE for your reply" part? I mean, isn't it obvious that the SASE is included, since it was paper-clipped to the letter you're reading, and you had to move it to see the words? In the interest of being concise, I'm just sayin' . . .

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with Miss Snark, why give the agent a headache even before she starts to read the query?

I just sent a three-paragraph email query to Donald Maass, without sample pages. I got a request for a partial a few days later. Choose your words carefully, nake your query sing, and your chances are much higher.

MJFredrick said...

Okay, that is the best blog subject title ever.

archer said...

It takes me WEEKS sometimes to hone my pitches..and I do this each day every day, and have for years.

10/10 for sheer encouraging usefulness. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My mother-in-law has goats - I wondered how she kept them fed!!!

Thanks Miss Snark - there are just so many details to think about that your concise answers make everything that much more - manageable.

One page. Check. 12 Font. Check. NORMAL margins. Check. Challenge. CHECK! Progress. Hell yeah.

Mark said...

Yeah I had a full out to one of Maas's agents. That was the one who wanted me to be Jared Diamond. But it cam about from a three paragraph query.