View Full Version : Email Query Letter

09-18-2005, 10:33 AM

I have written a query letter to submit to an agency. I will be sending it through email. Do I have to write my street address also in the mail? Does it matter if I write my pen-name in brackets? As my former English teacher is correcting my manuscript for language errors and I will be discussing some more ideas with a mentor, my book may undergo some changes. I don't know what to say about the word count.

Thank you.

09-18-2005, 03:38 PM
Word count is a rounded number to the nearest 10000. Have 95000 words round up or down. Your book shouldn't change by 10000 words. Your e mail query should look just like your snail mail query, business like and professional and yes all contact info should be on it. As far as your pen name, I don't put my real name on the query. It's on my manuscript in parentheses Jane Writer (Suzy Homemaker) You could do either. Since the query is just to hook and agent, you can worry about letting them know you write under another name if you get a bit. Ie: your smaple capters. This could be wrong though.

09-18-2005, 06:02 PM

Thank you for that valuable information. My manuscript is quite short, and currently stands at 43, 000. What should I round it upto? I don't think there will be a substantial change during revision.

Thank you.

Cathy C
09-18-2005, 07:44 PM
Yes, you should definitely include your mailing address in the email query. Basically, it's presented in pretty much the same way as any other query, except it's all left justified and full-block format.

Here's a format for a query that I posted on another thread:


I will warn you that 43,000 is an extremely low number of words for the general fiction market, so it will be a tough sell in any event. With the exception of category romance, westerns and horror, most large and small press publishers of general fiction will be looking for a minimum of 70,000 (and for genre fiction, they will probably want 90,000-100,000).

What's your genre?

09-18-2005, 07:50 PM
With concerns to pen names, you're going to want your real name on the query letter. The reason, which I've picked up from Uncle Jim: the checks will come to you, not your alias.

So, if you want to include your pen name, the best way to do it is on the manuscript. Format everything correctly, with your (real) name, address, phone number, etc. in the top left-hand corner. Then, drop down for your title and the byline. The byline is where you can fit in your pen name. So, if your real name is Dorothy...



The Wicked Witch of the West

As for your query, again it's probably best to keep your real address in the letter. Since it's an email query, it's not the end of the world if you don't, but it gives the agent an extra way to reach you if they get unorganized (which can happen a lot).

I'd be warned about sending out the query before your manuscript is finished. You mentioned it's still being edited, and therefore some portions may change. Until those changes are made and the book is done, don't send the query. If they ask to see a full manuscript and you're not finished yet, it's bad form to tell them so. Agents and editors see queries and expect that the work is finished, and will be ready when they want to read it, not in another two months.

Your word count does seem to fall on the short side. Most first novels, differing a little depending on genre, fall around 90,000-120,000 words. The farther away your word count is from the range (on either side) will make the book that much harder to sell, unless as Uncle Jim says, it's brilliant. Maybe through the rewrites you'll discover secondary plots and themes which you can focus on, maybe not. With your current count, I'd round to 50,000.

09-18-2005, 09:19 PM

Thank you for your replies. I am really happy to be a part of the Cooler. Lots of kind and helpful people here.

My story could be best described a "children's book". It is a fantasy tale set in an imaginary land. It might appeal to the readers of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland though it runs on deeper wavelenghts at times. Yes, I'll round it to 50, 000. That's a good idea and also a solution in some way.

The reason why I want to send the query letter right now is because it is written on their website that they reply within 6-8 weeks. At the moment, I only have to send a sample chapter. My first chapter is one of the best so I'll send that. If you think that I should send it later (when I've polished my story), kindly tell me.


Cathy C
09-18-2005, 09:34 PM
Please make ABSOLUTELY certain that you've checked out the agent you've selected on the Bewares and Backgrounds forum on this site. Here's the link to an alphabetical listing of most of the agents and publishers that have been queried:


"Children's" books are broken down into a couple of categories, so you should know which one you have before you query. Here are the definitions:

1. Picture books that have illustrations to tell the story.

2. Early reader geared toward ages 4-8 with short sentences.

3. Early chapter books geared toward children of 7-9,

4. Middle grade books from 9-12.

In any category, there are situations that include overcoming loneliness, working together as a team, friendship adventure where there is no actual risk of loss of life, and if death is included at all, it’s handled briefly with a satisfactory ending (Charlotte’s Web or Babe) There may also be moral values, light romance and humor. There are often talking animals in fantasy settings.

Finally, there's Young Adult, which is the 12-18 range. Hope that helps!

09-18-2005, 09:56 PM

Thank you.

No, it isn't in the Bewares and Background list. I've already made the mistake of trusting a scamming agency once :) . The name of the agency is Jane Dystel and Goderich Literary Management (www.dystel.com (http://www.dystel.com/)). I inquired about it the day before in the Beware section, and people told me it was legit.

My story is a friendship adventure and there's talking to animals all through it. I would classify it in the Young Adult Group now that I know what it is! Is 43, 000 words alright for this category?