Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bad Query

It was at about this time that I was talking to another writer who had completed a mystery thriller. He wished me well in my quest, but bemoaned the fact that even though he had carefully researched how to send submissions to agents, he had gotten nowhere after three years of trying. I asked to see his query letter, and he sent it.

It was addressed to a literary agency, and started out, "Dear Audrey, Bob, Robert, and Adrienne." (Address one and only one agent specifically.) "I have wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. My dream has always been to..." (Mention your few best writing qualifications. Do not go into your hopes and dreams; they don't care.) "You ask for the first ten pages, but to save time I am sending the entire manuscript...." (Send exactly and only what they ask, how they ask.)

I won't go on, but his query didn't get any better. The letter mentioned a title, but never exactly what the novel was. I hope that I never have brain freeze, thinking I have been careful about good advice when I haven't been. I read submission instructions 16 times before sending anything. Thanks for reading. Joan Sween


  1. Out of curiosity, did you send back comments to the writer? If it were me, I'd love to get this feedback.

    I think it just goes to show: even if you think your query is perfect, at least run it by another writer, preferably someone who has sent a query or two. At least then you can hopefully avoid some of these easy errors.