View Full Version : Need help doing a Query

09-17-2005, 10:54 AM
Hi--I fianlly finished my first romance novel and now need to do a query which I have no idea on how to do. Is there anyone out there that can walk me through this?

Also--the company I want to send my manuscript to states I send a query and two chapters. Do I send any two chapters or the first two chapters and would it be wrong to simply send the whole manuscript?

Never did this before, can use some help. If you would please email me at
writing_diva2004ATyahoodotcom or on this board. Thank you. Stephania

09-17-2005, 08:32 PM

First of all--CONGRATULATIONS! Finishing a manuscript is hard work, so don't forget to reward yourself.

For the query letter, I've copied an article that currently resides on my website, which I wrote regarding formats etc, and it isn't all that hard. Hope it helps a bit.

Query Letters—Love ‘Em Or Leave ‘Em?—©Jennifer Lynn

Query letters. Just the thought of having to write one has authors cowering at their keyboards. Honestly, who really likes to write one? As frustrating as they may be, a well-written query letter is a must for anyone pursuing a writing career.

Why are they so important? Simple. Agents and editors don’t have time to read through reams of material to decide if they wish to pursue the subject. They’re busy people, with mile-high in boxes. A query letter gives them an idea of your writing style, your publishing background and whets their whistle on the piece you’ve produced. This is where you have to dazzle them.

Query letters should be brief, ideally on page in length. They should be complete, persuasive and if possible, as charming as you can make it. (Dazzle baby, dazzle!) Remember, keep it short. This is only to introduce you and your manuscript. Impress them here and they will want to see more.

Like a press release, query letters come in droves over an editor’s desk. Make yours stand out. How do you do that? First, never send a hand written letter. It doesn’t look professional, and if you’ve ever tried to decipher Aunt May’s handwriting, imagine what yours could look like to an editor with tired eyes. Handwritten letters get filed under ‘T’ for trash almost immediately.

Okay, so you’ve got your word processing package open on your computer, and you’re staring with dread at the hated white page. What next? Format your page so that your letter is centred, preferably with one-inch borders. That’s easy. You breathe a sigh of relief and move on.

Next, you want neatness and clarity of thought. This is where your writing talent will show through. If you can make it funny or amusing, go for it. You want to hold the editor’s attention now that you’ve got it. The whole idea is to persuade the editor to ask for the rest of your manuscript.

Some writers like to include a bit about themselves and their background. Keep it publishing related. They don’t want to know that you can check the oil on your car unless your novel is about a female mechanic!

The general format of a query letter should be as follows, but by all means, let your personality shine through. You don’t have to stick to formula so long as you cover all the required elements.

Dear (name of editor if possible)

The first section should state what category of romance you have written (contemporary, historical, paranormal, suspense, regency, etc). Give the approximate word count. State your manuscript’s title and if it means something odd, explain the title briefly.

In the second section, take about a hundred words to describe the general storyline. Think of the back blurby of a book for this part.

In the third section, quickly outline your main characters.

In the final section, include your writing resume. Give details of your experience as a writer, any specialized experiences you may have (such as you are a mechanic and can totally understand how your heroine doesn’t like the grease from the garage under her fingernails) that qualifies you for writing about this subject. Also throw in the fact that you’ve been to the area in your book, so research is based on personal experience, if this is so.

The final paragraph should be:

If you are interested in seeing the book, I can send sample chapters or the complete manuscript, whichever you prefer. I enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope for your reply.


Your name here.

(do not use a pen name if you’ve never been published)

Follow these guidelines, and you’ll come up with a winning query everytime!

09-17-2005, 08:37 PM
Look around this forum for query letter advice. There's a whole thread in "Share Your Work" where you can polish your query letter.

Send the first two chapters. Agents and editors want to see how the story starts, and whether it grabs their attention. And yes, it's VERY wrong to send the entire manuscript if they haven't asked for it. Guidelines are there for a reason and they expect you to follow them. If you send other than the requested work, they're going to think you can't follow simple instructions and they probably won't even look at the manuscript.

Research, research, research. Check the "Preditors and Editors" (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/)to make sure the publisher you want is legitimate, and check the Bewares and Background checks here in this forum.

Good luck.

09-18-2005, 04:43 AM

Yes, you must send the first two chapters.

Writers Digest has a great article this month on proposals, B&N should have it! Good luck!

09-23-2005, 06:59 AM
My first two chapters are pretty long. 1=34 pages and 2=47 would that be acceptable? I was told yesterday that I shouldn't send more the 30 pages. Doesn't make sense to me, but then again, I'm a beginner.

Susan Pevensie
10-18-2005, 09:58 AM
A good link I use is http://www.charlottedillon.com/query.htmlRegarding length, I'd refer to each agent/publisher's set of guidelines. Make sure you've edited first before you submit! I always lose a few pages here.

Good luck.

Cathy C
10-18-2005, 08:08 PM
If they ask for the first two chapters, don't worry about the length, diva. The first chapter being long is pretty normal, since you need a good solid break in the action to drive the reader to chapter two. The second chapter being 47 pages might be a little long, so you might see if there's a better place to break the action. Sometimes, it's necessary for the chapters to be long, but romances usually have chapters from 10-35 pages long. That's not a rule by any means, but think about it. If you're already a quarter of the way into the book in the first two chapters (single title romance normally running 300-350 pages), the publisher might get a little nervous about the overall size based on the two chapters they will see. Good luck!