Posts Tagged ‘query’


Pitch Checklist

October 21, 2013

I’m soon sending agents queries for my YA manuscript. It’s a daunting process. Am I ready? Is it good enough? Will someone like it? My answer to all of the above is YES. Of course, that hasn’t stopped me from wishing upon a star.

Here’s a checklist for the query letter:

-catchy (but not corny) opening

-simple yet sophisticated sentence structure

-strong voice

-brief synopsis

-book comparison and word count

-correct spelling and grammar

-professional credentials

-thank you

As for my manuscript, my checklist included:

-unique voice

-character growth

-plot development

-mystery and intrigue

-opening hook

-strong climax

-developed subplots

-edit and revision (like 200 times!)

Wish me luck!



March 2, 2013


If you’ve attended a writer’s conference, you’ve no doubt heard the word, platform, tossed around like popcorn at a movie theater.

So, what is a platform?

In short, a platform is your resume. It is a concise and powerful stand about you. What makes you worthy of writing this particular book? In addition to a list of accomplishments and credentials, a platform can include passion. Why gives you the drive to write this book?

It’s best to include your platform in the last paragraph of your query. However, be careful that your platform does not include too much information. For example, do not mention the fact that you are a parent and your kids loved your book, or that your mother thought it would become the next Newberry. On the other hand, if you are writing a story about animals and happen to be a vet, that would be worth mentioning. If you volunteer at a zoo, include that information as well. If you’ve won a contest or been published, certainly include those credentials.

How are you an expert in this topic or genre and what writing experience do you have? Answer that, and you’ll have your platform.



Writing A Query: part three

October 23, 2011

This is the final blog on query writing. I hope the last post didn’t worry you. ‘Do Not’ lists tend to take on a negative tone. When someone tells me not to do something, I often do it anyway, but hopefully, you took note.

Here’s a brief rundown on what should be in a query.


  1. Be professional, in every way. This includes spelling, salutations, and structure.
  2. Begin your query with a direct connection. If you’ve met the agent before, remind her or him. If not, mention why you are writing to them specifically. Do you like another author they represent? Did you hear them speak at a conference?
  3. Give them the reason you are writing: such as, you want them to consider representing you and your book (give the title of your book here and now).
  4. Add the word-count to your manuscript.
  5. What’s the genre and who will read it? Say so.
  6. The second or third paragraph should be a summary of your entire book, complete with a compelling hook. Hard to do? Yes.
  7. In the next paragraph do a brief marketing piece and compare your book to another book or two.  If another novel with a similar voice or structure was hugely popular, that might help your book find success with the same audience. This paragraph should also prove that you’ve done your homework and know the industry. However, do not (okay, so I snuck one ‘do not’ in here) say that you will become the next JK Rowling.
  8. Give your professional credentials that relate to the book.
  9. Thank the agent for considering your work.
  10. After you sign your name, let them know what you are including (remember, only include what is asked in the submission guidelines!).

Good luck!



Writing A Query: part two

October 15, 2011

If you missed my last submission, back up and read it.


Now, follow my top ten suggestions of what NOT to do when pitching work to an agent. In your query…

Do not use anything but a basic font. Old English scroll might look pretty, but

it won’t get you published.

  1. Do not spell the agent’s name incorrectly
  2. Be professional, and do not begin your letter with “Dear Carrie, What’s up?” Begin, “Dear Ms. Brown-Wolf,”.  Also, don’t call me Mr..
  3. Do not go over one page. As much as you have to say, limit your words in a query.
  4. Do not tell the agent that your kids love the book. Maybe they do, but the agent is looking for a broader audience.
  5. Do not double space. It’s the only place you don’t need to double space.
  6. Do not use a .3 margin or a 3.3 margin. I know you want to get attention, but use your words to do it.
  7. Do not use the wrong date.
  8. Do not use an address or agency name that does not match the agent you’re writing.
  9. Do not forget to end professionally (no begging either).

It’s hard stuff, but you can do it. My next post will present a top ten to-do list and walk you through the madness. But lest I forget, make sure you have someone review your query. Sleep on it. Rewrite it again. And again.


Writing A Query: part one

October 8, 2011

What is a query, besides a word that’s hard for me to spell? A query, which my troubled brain believes should be spelled with two r’s, is a letter. It’s that simple, and yet, it’s anything but.

To be effective a query must grab an agent’s attention immediately. If it doesn’t, no one will read your manuscript. Writing a query is so not simple, that I’m splitting this post into three different blogs. Today, I’ll only explain, and hopefully, get you started. Next, I’ll post both a do and don’t list that you can follow when writing your query.

In the industry, an author begins the publishing process by finding an agent. This is done by following the submission guidelines on the agent’s website. Exactly. There are guidelines that ask for synopsis, sample chapters, or a singular page of work. However, I have yet to find a set of submission guidelines that doesn’t involve a query.

Is there one right way to write a query? Yes and no. I’ll focus on writing a query for publishing manuscripts, but a query for magazine writing, on-line pitches, or for any editor, follows a very similar method.

First, get started. Research agents before you query so that your letter can be written specifically to them. They will know if you are mass mailing, so don’t. Create an outline using three components: a reason to pitch, a summary of your book, and your credentials. All of this must be done on one page. You can do it, but it will take some work. Get started!