Query Letter Critique

  • Do you have a completed (fiction) manuscript and are ready to start sending it out into the world?
  • Have you received countless rejections and/or no responses from literary agents or independent presses?
  • Having trouble figuring out what to include in your query letter and what to leave out?
  • Are you frustrated?

If you answered "yes" to any of the scenarios above, read on. I might be able to help.

How Can I Help?

I'm no different than you. I've queried hundreds of literary agents and dozens of small and mid-sized publishers, and I've made all the mistakes you've read about. I've done countless hours of research on query letters and what attracts agents' attention. I've been rejected hundreds of times. I know what it feels like. I know the frustration. I've been there. And I've learned a lot.

 

Don't give up.

 

I didn't, and I eventually sold a manuscript to a mid-size press (Solstice Publishing, then Moonshine Cove Publishing, and Black Rose Writing) without the assistance of a literary agent. More recently, I signed with one of the most successful literary agents in one of the largest literary agencies in New York (Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group). I didn't have an in with any of the publishers or Trident, and each manuscript was picked out of the slush pile. I'm proof it can be done. I'm also an acquisition reviewer for Black Rose Writing, so I know what to look for, what's good and what isn't, and what's marketable—I make recommendations for manuscripts to be published, or not.

 

UPDATE JUNE 2019: I've been notified by one of the authors I've helped that he signed a two-book deal recently, which includes an advance paid by the publisher. 

 

UPDATE MAY 2020: I've been notified by one of the authors I've helped that he received a contract offer from his dream publisher.

 

Still not convinced? Here are the details of my querying experience:

 

Book #1: DECEPTION

Query letters sent: 117 over 4 months

Materials requested: 1 (full from a literary agent)

Positive Initial Responses: <1%

Final result: Self-published; published June 2015

 

Book #2: OPERATION SALAZAR

Query letters sent: 168 over 4 months

Materials requested: 3 (all from publishers: 1 partial, 2 fulls; led to 1 offer of publication, which I rejected) 

Positive Initial Responses: 2%

Final result: Self-published; published January 2016

 

Book #3: AMBER ALERT

Query letters sent: 137 over 10 months

Materials requested: 11 (literary agents: 6 partials, 5 fulls; publishers: 1 full; 1 offer of publication, which I accepted)

Positive Initial Responses: 8%

Final result: Sold the manuscript Solstice Publishing in August 2016; published November 2016

 

Book #4: PLUM SPRINGS

Query letters sent: 20 over 5 days

Materials requested: 3 (all from literary agents: 1 partial, 2 fulls; led to 1 offer of representation, which I accepted)

Positive Initial Responses: 15%

Final result: Signed with Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group in February 2017 (I later terminated the agreement); sold the manuscript to Moonshine Cove Publishing; published May 2018

 

Book #5: THE GREEN HOUSE

Query letters sent: 174 over 8 months

Materials requested: 9 (literary agents: 1 partial, 3 fulls; publishers: 1 partial, 4 fulls; led to 3 offers, one I accepted)

Positive Initial Responses: 5% (71% from publishers: 7 submissions, 1 partial, 4 fulls, 3 offers; 43% of submissions resulted in an offer)

Final result: Sold the manuscript Black Rose Writing in October 2019; to be published 7/30/20.

 

Check out my blog post on Query Letter Basics.

What Are My Credentials?

I'm the author of five novels and am an active member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) Organization. My first two novels, DECEPTION and OPERATION SALAZAR, were self-published. I know what the experience is like. My third novel, AMBER ALERT, was published by a mid-size press named Solstice Publishing, as was my fourth, PLUM SPRINGS (Moonshine Cove Publishing), and my fifth, THE GREEN HOUSE (Black Rose Writing) I worked hands-on with editors to get the book ready for publication. I was most recently represented by Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group in New York. PLUM SPRINGS won the 2019 New Hampshire Writers' Project Readers' Choice Award for FictionTHE GREEN HOUSE was a Bronze Medalist in the Adult Fiction E-Book category for the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY Awards), was a finalist in the Fiction category for the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and was a finalist in the Mystery category for the 2020 Book Excellence AwardsI'm also an acquisition reviewer for Black Rose Writing, so I know what to look for, what's good and what isn't, and what's marketable—I make recommendations for manuscripts to be published, or not.

 

Outside of my fiction, I work as a proofreader/copy editor and copywriter for an advertising agency. Everything the client's see comes through me first, and I edit the hell out of it. Educationally, I hold a bachelor's degree in Communications, and the degree was a specialized curriculum that heavily consisted of both professional and creative writing. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the program. Bottom line, writing, editing, and revising is what I do. It's in my blood. It's my passion. It's what I'm good at.

What Does This All Mean?

That's a good question. Maybe nothing. Or more likely, it shows that I've gone through the process of being a querying writer, and I've suffered, like you (do the math—that's A LOT of rejections!). But I've also persevered and came out on top, and have signed with a literary agent. That's the ultimate goal of querying an agent, right?

 

I want to help you. I want you to achieve success too. I want to share what I've learned.

 

By no means am I guaranteeing my advice will get you a literary agent or a publisher, because I cannot do that, nor would I ever. All it means is I can help you make your query letter as good as it can be to help grab an agent or acquisitions editor's attention, and hopefully, get them reading your material. I can't even guarantee my advice will get you that far, but it's worth a shot, isn't it?  

What's the Offer?

Let's make this as simple as possible, shall we? I want to help your query letter shine, but at the same time, writing is my business, so I can't offer up my services for nothing. You understand that, don't you? On the other hand, if you're considering my help, you're likely a beginning writer or are trying to determine if you should pursue your dream further, right? With that said, I know author services can be expensive, and it's difficult to determine if it's worth it or not. Again, I've been there, so I know what you're dealing with.

 

I've seen similar services run from $30 to hundreds of dollars, but I'm not going to do that. It seems ridiculous to pay that kind of money for something that may not even work, am I right? No one can guarantee you success with querying—writing, after all, is a subjective business. What one person loves, another may not, so it is impossible to write a query letter that will appeal to everyone.

 

As a writer, you're still responsible for doing the research and finding target agents and/or publishers that may be right for your work. There are no short cuts with that. What I'm offering to do is help you revise and refine your query letter, so it presents you and your manuscript in the best light possible. A well-written query letter can get you in the door, but your writing will speak for itself. The rest is up to you.

 

There are two packages available:

One-Time Query Letter Critique

One-Time Query Letter Critique

 

Upon payment being received, I will read and review your completed query letter (fiction only). It can be at any stage—before you begin querying, during the querying process, or anywhere in between.

 

I will not write the query letter for you, but I will provide an honest assessment of it and share my thoughts.

 

In this package, I will review your query letter one time and provide feedback. This applies for one manuscript only. If you have more than one project you're querying, multiple packages will have to be purchased.

 

Upon receipt of the payment, I'll send you an email and request your query letter. Note, I do accept international payment—please contact me directly for invoicing procedure.

$10.00

Unlimited Revisions Query Letter Critique

Unlimited Revisions Query Letter Critique

 

Upon payment being received, I will read and review your completed query letter (fiction only). It can be at any stage—before you begin querying, during the querying process, or anywhere in between.

 

I will not write the query letter for you, but I will provide an honest assessment of it and share my thoughts.

 

In this package, I will review your query letter as many times as you'd like and provide feedback. In other words, you can send me your query letter, take my feedback and re-write, then resend it to me for more feedback. This can be done as many times as you'd like, hence the word "unlimited." This applies for one manuscript only; if you have more than one project you're querying, multiple packages will have to be purchased.

 

Upon receipt of the payment, I'll send you an email and request your query letter. Note, I do accept international payment—please contact me directly for invoicing procedure.

$25.00

One-Time Synopsis Critique

One-Time Synopsis Critique

 

Upon payment being received, I will read and review your completed synopsis (fiction only).

 

I will not write the synopsis for you, but I will provide an honest assessment of it and share my thoughts.

 

In this package, I will review your synopsis one time and provide feedback. This applies for one manuscript only. If you have more than one project you're querying, multiple packages will have to be purchased.

 

Upon receipt of the payment, I'll send you an email and request your synopsis. Note, I do accept international payment—please contact me directly for invoicing procedure.

$20.00