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Sarashay
08-26-2005, 04:44 AM
Thanks to a post in the NEPAT I came across an agent's suggestions for query letters, and this got me wondering.

This is probably a really stupid question, but--are there any publishers or agents who would penalize you for not sending any part of the manuscript? In other words, could one just default to sending a query only and only shipping sample chapters/manuscript when asked for them?

'Cos I'm thinking that it'd save me a bundle on postage to just stick to a query letter when I've got a novel hashed out. Thoughts? Suggestions?

StoryG27
08-26-2005, 05:27 AM
Acquisition editors and agents alike usually have very specific guidlines on what they want you to send posted on a web site or in a guide. Many of the agents I've queried have requested ONLY sending a query, and often they've requested work after they read the query. If they specify that they want sample chapters sent, you could include the first few pages if you really don't want to spring for the postage. Usually, they decided in the first five pages or so if they DON'T like it, but if they're still unsure or completely intrigued, they'll probably request more.

But hey, I'm not an agent, an editor, or even a published author (yet) so what do I know? It would just be my guess that it is ok to opt for sending only the first five to ten pages, even if they request more in their general guidelines. It's when they personally request a partial or the full MS that you follow their specifications to the T.

Cathy C
08-26-2005, 05:38 AM
storygirl is right. Everything depends on the agent or publisher's guidelines. Many of them request a query prior to sending any material, and they'll tell you how much to send if they're interested.


Good luck!

HapiSofi
08-26-2005, 10:01 AM
... are there any publishers or agents who would penalize you for not sending any part of the manuscript? In other words, could one just default to sending a query only and only shipping sample chapters/manuscript when asked for them?I know of at least one trade fiction publisher where the submission guidelines say to never send query letters, period.

James D. Macdonald
08-26-2005, 10:17 AM
The guidelines trump everything. Always follow them to the letter.

If someplace doesn't post guidelines on the web, it isn't inappropriate to send 'em a SASE and request guidelines.

dawinsor
08-26-2005, 08:01 PM
Postage really isn't a big deal. I just shipped off a letter, synopsis, and 50 pages and it cost me $2.44. Think of all the time you put in on your book. Isn't it worth $2.44 to send the sample pages?

Andrew Jameson
08-27-2005, 08:24 PM
OK, then, I have a really stupid question. I read somewhere (maybe it was even on this board, maybe it was somewhere else) that a "query" is shorthand for query letter + three or four manuscript pages (to give the agent a flavor for one's writing). "Ah," I think. "I'm glad to learn that."

But, see, I haven't seen that particular statement made anywhere else. So. Question: Does "query" automatically imply both query letter and sample pages? Or just query letter? If the former, then do agent's guidelines requesting a "query letter" mean only the query letter, while guidelines requesting a "query" mean query letter plus sample pages?

StoryG27
08-27-2005, 08:45 PM
From what I've learned, when they request only a query, they are just wanting a one page letter (usually to include genre, word count, title, and a short synopsis of your MS, short author bio, and such)

PattiTheWicked
08-27-2005, 09:08 PM
If an agent says query only, I send a letter. The first parargraph introduces my manuscript (title, genre and length) and says why I picked that agent to write to. The second paragraph summarizes the ms in about eight sentences, and then the third paragraph tells a bit about me and what publishing credits I have. Finally, I thank them for their consideration. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Irysangel
08-27-2005, 09:09 PM
Actually, it depends. A 'query package' is whatever the agent has requested. A query letter is one piece of paper that says "Would you like to see more?"

If the agent doesn't want anything but a query letter and you're sending them more, they're not going to be happy.

If it makes you feel any better, I sent off to a couple agents that requested just a query. I sent them my one page letter and my SASE and got 2 requests for more materials. One requested my full ms, one requested a partial/synopsis/bio.

Just go by the guidelines, like Uncle Jim says.

katdad
08-27-2005, 09:18 PM
I think you can get by just fine with just sending a query up front, to save postage and copying. If they are at all amenable to receiving a submission, they will then respond with their tip sheet or some other request, specifying what they want (first 3 chapters, first 50 pages, etc.).

Be sure that your query is neat and precise, to the point, and businesslike. Always include self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for the reply, of course.

Never address the query letter to "Dear Publisher" or "Dear Agent". If you don't know the person's name (sometimes it will be listed, mostly not), then simply begin your letter without a salutation:
________

August 29, 2005

Submissions Editor
Big Dog Literary Agency
1001 Executive Suites
New York NY 10012

I have written an historic romance novel, "Gone With the Wind", about a love affair during the Civil War. (und so weiter)....

I can submit the complete novel, or excerpts, for your consideration.

Regards,

Margaret Mitchell
Atlanta Jawgia

maestrowork
08-27-2005, 09:19 PM
Please, please, please follow the guidelines and if you're not sure, ask or consult their websites or something like writer's market. Some agents/publishers specifically say "query only" -- that's when you should send a query letter. Some say "query with sample chapters" -- usually in those cases, I would include a brief (one-page) synopsis as well. But do read and follow submission guidelines.

batgirl
08-28-2005, 12:01 PM
Here's my dumb question. Regarding the difference between publishers and agents - obviously a submission to a publisher is for a specific book, but if you're querying an agent, and you've completed, say, a half-dozen books (this isn't what I've done, by the way!) do you only send them proper information on the one, and mention the others in passing?
-Barbara

HapiSofi
08-28-2005, 12:13 PM
Here's my dumb question. Regarding the difference between publishers and agents - obviously a submission to a publisher is for a specific book, but if you're querying an agent, and you've completed, say, a half-dozen books (this isn't what I've done, by the way!) do you only send them proper information on the one, and mention the others in passing?There's no hard-and-fast rule, but if I were you, I'd send them one, my best one, and glancingly mention the existence of more of them in the cover letter. If they like the first book you send, ask whether they want to see more.

Nobody likes getting submissions that leave them feeling like the author has sent them the entire contents of their trunk.

scarletpeaches
08-29-2005, 12:05 AM
I've always thought that mentioning other books you've written would make them think, "She's written other books and they're not published yet, so they can't be very good." Wouldn't they look at it that way? I usually just make out I have detailed notes prepared for further novels...

alleycat
08-29-2005, 12:27 AM
There's no hard-and-fast rule, but if I were you, I'd send them one, my best one, and glancingly mention the existence of more of them in the cover letter. If they like the first book you send, ask whether they want to see more.

Nobody likes getting submissions that leave them feeling like the author has sent them the entire contents of their trunk.

Or you could just say that you're currently working on your next book, and perhaps mention how far along on it you are.

ac

batgirl
08-29-2005, 12:27 AM
Thanks, Hapi! I'd been a bit puzzled because I understand it's good to show that you aren't a one-book-wonder, but at the same time, there's scarletpeaches' point, the question of why are all these books sitting around unpublished? (because the writer dislikes the submission process, in this case, and would rather just write - as I said, this isn't me)
If one writes in more than one genre, I guess 'best' could also be interpreted as 'in the genre that the agent prefers'?
thanks,
-Barbara