View Full Version : Always send sample pages with query?

11-27-2013, 10:14 PM
My query is up for crit here: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8532882#post8532882

But I have a question about something Nathan Bransford has said about sending out queries: "Always include a sample of your work (5 pages is a good rule of thumb), even if the agent doesn't ask for it" (http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08/how-to-write-query-letter.html). Really? What do you think? Have any of you successfully done this?

11-27-2013, 10:35 PM
When I was querying my standard package included the first 5 pages. However I would say you should read the agent's requirements. If they specifically say "send a query letter only" then do that. If they are less specific and say "send a query" then I would go with letter + 5 pages.

11-27-2013, 10:37 PM
Yeah, stick to the requirements. If it's not specified then send 5 pages, but if they specifically say no sample pages then obey the guidelines. Some agencies request much more than five -- 3 chapters + synopsis is relatively common, though I think that's more in the UK than the US.

Siri Kirpal
11-27-2013, 10:49 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

One lady here had good luck querying with 25 pages in every query, but in general, follow what the agent says. If they don't specify, send query with first 5 pages or first chapter (if it's short).


Siri Kirpal

11-27-2013, 11:21 PM
Yeah, what everyone else said. If there's any ambiguity in the guidelines, go ahead and send the first five to ten pages or first chapter (included in the email, not attached to it). If the guidelines specifically say "NO PAGES," then don't send pages.

I have three packages: 1) naked query, 2) query plus first chapter and query plus first chapter and 3) a four-page synopsis. Occasionally I'll modify the second or third to add two more chapters, if the agent wants the first three (or fifty pages), but I don't see that very often.

Once I have those three basic packages all set to paste into the email, which covers most guidelines, it leaves minimal work to personalize the query. I refuse to fuss over variations of five pages versus 10 pages versus first chapter, and just combine all those guidelines into one version.

11-28-2013, 01:44 AM
I always figured that if an agent didn't specifically ask for anything more than a query, then I should only send the query. But what all of you are saying sounds like good advice. If they don't specifically say not to send anything more, then I'll include the first 5 pages. I like that because it will give them a chance to see my writing and, hopefully, start to get involved in the book.

11-28-2013, 01:49 AM
If the agent didn't specify, I always sent query + first ten pages in the body of the e-mail. I got a good response rate with that.

11-28-2013, 02:48 AM
You want the agent to read your work. The fewer obstacles you can put in the way of having that happen, the better.

If they say they absolutely, positively don't want pages, I guess you shouldn't send pages. But if they leave the door open even a little? Send the pages! If I were reading submissions and wasn't sure about a query, I probably wouldn't ask for more pages. But if the pages just happened to be there anyway, I'd probably have a look.

11-29-2013, 05:27 PM
I'd say it won't hurt unless the agent specifically discourages it. And, obviously, if your fiction writing pops, it could make the diff between a request for more and a form rejection.

After all, just because you send along five pages doesn't mean the agent has to read them.

11-29-2013, 08:30 PM
I had my query letter critiqued by an agent at a recent conference, and she also said to always send your first ten pages with your electronic query. It's counter to everything I've ever heard about not presuming with agents, but she said it was more likely to return better results.

11-29-2013, 08:44 PM
The only time I didn't send five pages was if they said "query will be deleted unread if it includes pages." Or I suppose if there was big flashing signs around "only" the query."

It made a big difference for me. The first time, most of my queries didn't get pages because most people didn't ask for them. They generally said send a query and that was it, so that's what I sent.

Janet Reid is the one I read the advice from to send 5 pages each time, and so the second book I queried I sent pages with EVERYTHING. My request rate went way up. My opening pages were pretty rocking, so I was pretty sure I could get anyone who was on the fence on board if they read any of the pages. And that's the point. Someone who is "meh" about the query will just say no without pages. If they look down and your pages are really good, though, they might be willing to take a look.

You have to make sure your pages are amazing, though. No mistakes, clunky writing, etc. But yes, I would recommend doing it. The first time I followed the "rules" to the letter each time. The second time I broke them all over the place. I wouldn't have an agent if I hadn't. You just have to be smart about how you do it. Sending fantasy to an agent who doesn't accept it is a bad idea, and sending three chapters to someone who says to send a query only is flauntingly disobeying instructions, and not sending synopses when requested is silly, etc.

It's your book and I can understand wanting to follow the letter of the law, but in my experience the letter of the law is a little more like guidelines, and as long as you aren't stupid, bending rules sometimes is very worth it.