writing for children

On How to Write a Query Letter that doesn’t Stink

Here are some things you shoud NOT do when writing a query letter:

1. Start out with a sob story.

2. Write with an overly friendly or familiar tone.

3. Talk about how beautiful your kids are.

4. End the letter by saying, “I have sent you my best work, but can I have a second chance if you don’t like it?”


I found a copy of a query letter I sent to a lit agent about seven years ago.And now I feel the need to openly apologize to the agent, but I’m not sure she would want to re-live my atrocious use of emal.

WHY didn’t someone stop me??

Because at the time, I wasn’t part of any critique groups. I didn’t know any better. And I didn’t have enough sense to know that I could find fabulous examples online.

So, in a couple of days, I will post the aforementioned query letter in all it’s “how-not-to-land-an-agent” glory. I would love to include y’alls horrible examples, too. If our pain can prevent someone else from experiencing the same, it’s worth all the ensuing giggles, moans and groans… right?

So how ’bout it? Anyone game? Email me at: wordwranglernc @ hotmail . com (take out all the spaces)



4 thoughts on “On How to Write a Query Letter that doesn’t Stink

  1. I did make some newbie mistakes, but somehow managed to avoid the ones you listed. I can see how the one about the kidlings would be tempting…
    I have no record of those early queries, so none to share. When I noticed something that I realized was a faux-pas, I not only changed it but did not save the original or track those changes. I’ve done my best to forget them, and so my first paragraph may be unreliable. Had I kept the ‘sillies,’ I’d be crushed by the embarrassment into possible paralysis. Onwards!
    What I’d say to anyone who realizes they wrote an unprofessional query- IT’S NO BIGGY. Everyone and their cousin have done it. It’s called ‘Tuition.’


  2. I cringe, too, Donna, when I think about some of the things I sent out in my early days as a writer. Like you, they were the days before I was part of a writers group or knew of all the resources online. Oh well, we were trying, right?! 🙂


  3. It’s OK.
    1. Live and learn.
    2. You are growing in your craft/talent.
    3. The best lessons in life are usually learned the hard way.
    4. The point of all of our life mess-up is, your learned and now, you will do better (hopefully). I love you.

    PS: You’ve just gotta laugh. I’m sure you weren’t the first, nor will you be the last.


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