What I’ve Learned About Querying

Querying tips

I’ve been as invisible as a ghost over the last month because I entered the maze of querying agents for my manuscript, Hello Hell. Let me tell you, it can be a scary place if you don’t know what you’re doing or follow the process as outlined by every, single, agent. So, here’s a few tips, I’ve learned aloong the way. Feel free to share your own.

  1. Pick your resources: Writer’s Digest, MSWL, Querytracker, or Writer’s Market.
  2. Identify those agents open for submissions and who are requesting manuscripts in your genre.
  3. Publications don’t always tell the whole story related to a specific agent, so do your reasearch.
  4. Make a list. Note siginifcant specifics about each agent.
  5. Read the agents profile, website, Twitter account and any other site they provide to get a good feel for whether he/she might be a good fit. For example, a profile may list they are interested in womne’s fiction but when you did deeper, there is a very specific type of women’s fiction they are interested in. Unless your manuscipt fits within that narrow scope, mark them off your list.
  6. Read through the agency, research all the agents listed, the books they have published, and their submission guidelines. 
  7. Perfect your query again and again. Don’t write one and think it will serve all. Some agents are very particular regarding what they want to see in a querying and the layout. So, be prepared to have numerous versions as you gothrough the process.
  8. Keep track of each query sent to each agent. This is important because you can’t querying more than one agent within an agency. So, pay attention to your list. I use Query Tracker which provides valuable insight into an agent:  response times, genre reports, percentage of responses, and the number of negative and positive responses. 
  9. Setup reminders to followup (nudge an agent) or to mark a query as closed. Some agents specify that after x number of weeks, “assume we have reviewed your work and are going to pass on it.”
  10. Understand querying is a process. It’s takes time, patience, and a thick skin. Whether an agent likes your work or not is often subjective. So keep things in perspective and don’t take a rejection personally.

Hope these tips help and if you have a tip, please share with us in the comment section. Good luck.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook Page  at SheilaMcIntyreGood, PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Formatting and Sending Queries

When I began this process I had no idea there were so many options for submitting a query to an agent. Call me naive. So, I’m here to give you all a heads up and a few tips.

Sending Queries:

There are a number of ways agents and publishers receive queries, synopsis, and manuscript samples.

  1. Snail mail with or without SASE (self-addressed & stamped envelope)
  2. email (the majority)
  3. Online form specific to the agent and/or publisher

We’ll Cover the Snail Mail or Postal /mail Query in this Post.


  • Paper:
    • Use better paper than average. Recommendations: a minimum of 20-22 weight and 90 plus brightness.  White or cream color only.
  • Margins:
    • standard margins of 1′ for the top and bottom margins and 1-14″ for left and right margins.
  • Fonts, and Font Size:
    • Standard is 12 – point Times New Roman or New Courier.
  • The header for the postal mail query:
    • On the header portion of your sheet and centered is your contact information.

Your Full Name
Your Business Address if Applicable
Your Street Address
Your City, State, and Postal Zip Code
Phone:(xxx) – xxx-xxx

  • Addresses:
    • Normally you would include a recipient’s complete address after your contact information in a business letter. However, when your query letter is limited to 1 page, it is better to skip it.
  • Date:
    • After your contact information, skip a line and add the date; align to the right.

September, 19, 2018

  • Salutation:
    • This is where the research on each agent pays off. Include each literary agent’s name in your query letter and spell it correctly. Use a colon after the name, not a comma.

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent Name:

  • Body of the letter:
    • You may indent your paragraphs but it is not necessary
    • left justify all text in body.
    • Add a space between paragraphs
    • When talking about your book either ALL CAPS or Italicize it.
  • Closing:
    • A simple and time-honored closing is best.
    • “Thank you for your consideration,” or “Thank you for your kind consideration.”
  • SASE (self-addressed & stamped envelope) –
    • It is standard practice when submitting agent queries that you include a return envelope with your query. The agents use it to respond with either a rejection letter, invitation to submit additional material, or better.
    • Requires a #10 business size envelope.
    • When you include your SASE fold it into thirds so it fits.
    • The SASE is addressed to you.
    • Include sufficient pre-paid postage to cover the cost of
      • a rejection letter
      • rejection letter with original material returned (if requested).
      • acceptance letter or request for additional material.
    • another option is to enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard instead of a SASE.  Imprinted with something similar to the following:
      • ____Please send the completed manuscript
      • ____Please send the first five chapters
      • ____Thank you for your interest but this is not quite right for us.

There you have it. How to send out a snail mail query. I hope you found it helpful. a word of caution, always follow the agencies guidelines, regardless of the method you are sending.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook Page  at SheilaMcIntyreGood, PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.