How to Write a Query Letter (and Not Piss Off the Intern Reading It)

A blunt, unprofessional guide to how to be a fucking professional and send query letters that don’t upset the interns who are in control of your slush pile destiny.

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1. Follow the agency rules. Follow the agent rules.

I don’t know how to make this clearer to many of the authors who are querying: the interns (aka the ones who read your queries) know the rules. We know how our agents like their queries formatted, we know how many pages they request. Deviation from the rules can sometimes work out––but more often than not, if you ignore agency rules, if you don’t listen to what our agents want, you come across as rude and disrespectful and hard to work with.

What is says to me is that you looked up a list of agents somewhere and you’re sending out your queries based on that, not based on actual knowledge of the agent. Every agent has their submissions guidelines posted on their websites: it’s not inaccessible or hard to find, so when you send in a query that does not care about the agency guidelines, what it means is that you don’t value our time or care about what we want.

Your writing might be good enough to make me overlook this, but TBH I wouldn’t count on it.

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