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stargazer11
07-24-2012, 05:00 PM
Hello everyone,

After reading through various sources, I know agents always say a query is a one page pitch of your work; but how strict is that policy? Most of the agent website simply say, just send a query letter; but is it okay to go over 1 page?

I am writing a new query and right now, and it is 1.5 pages long. I plan on sending that query to agencies who say 1 or 2 pages is okay; but if I send that to an agency who says they want 1 page, will they simply reject me because I went over a little. Please keep in mind, my 1.5 page query includes the agencies address at top, and my address at the bottom. My query is really 1.25 pages long.

Thanks...

quicklime
07-24-2012, 05:11 PM
I've rarely seen page limits, usually (here in the US anyway) it is 250 words for the pitch (body of the query). Limits are never fixed in stone, but here's the thing: I'm not sure I've EVER seen a query that couldn't come down to 200 (yes, 200, not 250) words. So, the next question is "what do all those extra words mean?"

Usually they mean you aren't confident enough in your voice, you aren't editing as well as you should be, etc......things that aren't good, so if you have a 400-word pitch, for example, then you leave the agent with reservations about if you're unable to edit, unWILLING to edit (even worse), just really new, etc....

what is your word count?

Edit: and where are you querying? US? UK?

Terie
07-24-2012, 05:36 PM
One page means one page. In business letter format (that is, single-spaced), including space for the address at that top and your salutation/signature at the bottom, even though you don't actually include those in an e-mail query. That's the amount of letter an agent/editor wants. Anything more tells them that you're probably too wordy. (You might not be, but that's what a too-long letter suggests.)

Violate the standards at your peril.

Learning how to write a proper query is a necessary part of becoming a professional writer.

Also, writing a good query can be as hard as writing the whole darn book. :)

jclarkdawe
07-24-2012, 05:56 PM
Repeat Quick's answer.

Rules are created by their exceptions. People have gotten two page queries accepted. Then again, people have won PowerBall. The rule at the horse track is to bet the favorites. You won't win much, but you'll do better then betting the long shots.

You're four posts away from being able to post in Share Your Work (SYW). Now the normal advice would be to wait until you get those four more posts and post in the query letter section of SYW (query letter hell). But in a rare desire to be nice, I'd suggest you post the first 1,500 words of your manuscript in either in the mainstream or Christian section of SYW.

Like Quick, I'm also wondering about your word count and your ability to edit. There's no use having a killer query if the first 1,500 words aren't also a killer opening. And the people there are nicer then the ones in QLH, where way too many people go to way too early in their careers.

By and large, the successful queries are the shorter ones.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

sheadakota
07-24-2012, 06:01 PM
at the risk of sounding snarky, you can send them anything you like. If you want them to request material, then I would suggest a query 250 words or less (yes it's possible) for the body of the letter.

Terie
07-24-2012, 06:02 PM
By and large, the successful queries are the shorter ones.

Didn't Ciya have a successful one that was something like 50 words?

Also, the synopsis for my four-book series is 399 words. While a synopsis isn't a query letter, I hold firmly to the idea that if I can write a 399-word synopsis for a four-book series, a one-page can query can be written for any book -- ANY book.

quicklime
07-24-2012, 06:35 PM
Didn't Ciya have a successful one that was something like 50 words?

Also, the synopsis for my four-book series is 399 words. While a synopsis isn't a query letter, I hold firmly to the idea that if I can write a 399-word synopsis for a four-book series, a one-page can query can be written for any book -- ANY book.


i believe idiotsRus clocked in just about 200 words as well...so did a good number of the queries stickied in QLH in the "successful queries" thread.

(I mention idiots in the anticipation of "my story has so much going on..." ; hers was pretty dense fantasy.)

WeaselFire
07-24-2012, 06:51 PM
I know agents always say a query is a one page pitch of your work; but how strict is that policy?
In general, if you're asking this question, your query is too long. :)

Jeff

Katrina S. Forest
07-24-2012, 07:02 PM
Over a page is over a page. If you find yourself checking the font or the margins to see if you're a half page over or only a quarter page over, chances are your query is too long. 250 words can fit very comfortably on a single page. And again, this is what people usually consider the upper limit of a query's word count.

As others have suggested, get four more posts and go over to SYW. If your query works as is, people there will tell you. But I don't think I've ever seen a 250-word+ query that went through there and didn't get trimmed at least a bit.

Personally, my longer queries have never been quite as good as my shorter ones.

Jamesaritchie
07-24-2012, 07:15 PM
The one page query rule is as strict as a particular agent says it is. If an agent says one page, then it means one page.

Any novel can be successfully queried with one page, or even less. Length and complexity of the novel does not mean the query has to be more than one page.

The best query letter I've ever read hooked an agent, and then an editor, with one short sentence of just eight words.

If you can't describe your novel, can't grab an agent's interest, or an editor's, for that matter, with no more than two short paragraphs, you probably can't do it with two hundred.

Sage
07-24-2012, 07:27 PM
JCD talked about posting your stuff in SYW and QLH when you have a few more posts, but my suggestion for right now is to go into Query Letter Hell and read the threads there. Read queries people have posted. Notice how many first attempts are too long and how they manage to whip those into a good query. Read the successful query thread. Read Katiemac's three questions to help you focus your query.

Maryn
07-24-2012, 07:33 PM
FWIW, a woman in my critique group didn't know the one-page 'rule' and wrote about a page and a third. Two big-name agents requested the full ms.

Not that her query could not have been further condensed to fit on a single page, but she broke the so-called rule with a query which was okay but not brilliant, and it did what a query is supposed to do regardless of the length.

Maryn, just sayin'

jclarkdawe
07-24-2012, 10:35 PM
FWIW, a woman in my critique group didn't know the one-page 'rule' and wrote about a page and a third. Two big-name agents requested the full ms.

Not that her query could not have been further condensed to fit on a single page, but she broke the so-called rule with a query which was okay but not brilliant, and it did what a query is supposed to do regardless of the length.

Maryn, just sayin'

The exception that proves the rule. How many people do you know that succeeded with a one page query?

By the way, my shortest query, to a magazine editor that I knew, was an attached article, and a one word query. "Want?"

One word reply. "Yes."

The more you know who you're selling to and exactly what you're selling, the less you need to say it.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

stargazer11
07-25-2012, 04:25 AM
Thanks for the help, everyone...

Cyia
07-25-2012, 05:09 AM
Didn't Ciya have a successful one that was something like 50 words?

Also, the synopsis for my four-book series is 399 words. While a synopsis isn't a query letter, I hold firmly to the idea that if I can write a 399-word synopsis for a four-book series, a one-page can query can be written for any book -- ANY book.


69 ;)

But 350 seems to be the sweet spot for query length. A page is far too long, a page and a half even more so. A lot of agents read in a minimized window, where about 8 lines of text show at a time, so that's really all the space you have to grab someone's attention and get them to read to the next line.

No matter how long your book is, you do NOT need a page and a half to convey the plot. You really don't. All you need is a few sentences.