The best strategy for sending query letters

The wunderbar author of the Jacob Wonderbar series of books tells us something we all need to know -how to write a query letter that actually piques its reader’s interest enough to be answered.

by Nathan Bransford

Once you’ve written a fantastic query letter and compiled a list of reputable literary agents who specialize in your genre: it’s go time, baby. Here’s my best strategy for sending out query letters.

What not to do

Let’s talk for a second about what not to do when sending out a query letter.

One of the more mystifying ways some aspiring authors go about the query process is to blast an e-mail to every single agent in the publishing industry with a “To My Future Literary Agent” subject line.

When I was an agent, what made me slap my head wasn’t just that it’s poor e-mail etiquette or knowing that 1,000 of my closest colleagues were also considering the project at exactly the same time. It’s just not a good strategy.

What if you didn’t get the pitch right and everyone rejects (or ignores) you all at once? Well, you blew your chance to tweak it a bit and try again with another round. (And no, you can’t just tweak it and re-send it to those 1,000 agents again, that’s a good way to get blocked forever.)

If you rush the submission process you lose the ability to evaluate and adjust as you go.

Send query letters in batches

It’s much smarter and more effective to send out the query in batches of seven to ten at a time. When you get a rejection, send a new one out. If a few months go by and you haven’t heard from an agent, consider it a rejection and send a new one out.

Take your time. See what the response is like. If you’re not getting any requests, you might take another hard look at your query and opening and think about making adjustments.

As time goes by you might notice something you could do better or receive a valuable piece of feedback. If, on the other hand, you’re getting manuscript requests but not an offer, you will know you’re at least on the right track but maybe just haven’t found the right fit….

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