Pub Rants

#NLAquerytip #2

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Fact: Literary Agents rarely read the entire query letter.

It’s simply not possible given the sheer volume most of us receive. I average about 100 email queries a day and these days, I actually do read the letters myself. If I’m buried, Angie will jump in and help out on my request (as I don’t want writers to have to wait too long for a reply), but it’s pretty much me doing the reading.

And I have maybe 30 minutes a day to give it. Which means getting through 100 queries or so in that time frame. You can do the math. That means approximately 30 seconds for each letter.

So most agents I know, me included, skip down to the pitch paragraph and read that portion first. If it grabs us, then we read the entire query letter.

In long query letters, sometimes it’s hard to actually find the novel pitch! Yet another reason why shorter query letters get better response from agents….

4 Responses

  1. Elissa said:

    This is why I’ve taken Janet Reid’s (A.K.A. The Query Shark) advice to heart. I start my queries with the pitch and put all the “housekeeping” (Title, word count, contact info, etc.) at the end.

    I try to remember that agents squeeze their query reading in between more important stuff, and more than likely they’re skimming. The bait has to dazzle or they’ll never bite!

  2. Bill said:

    Note to self: Put the pitch for Kristin Nelson queries first.

    Other agents may want things arranged differently.

  3. Lynn said:

    Elissa, I’m another follower of Janet Reid/Query Shark and reading what Kristin wrote is more evidence that less is more. Start with the story and keep it brief. I haven’t started querying yet, but thanks to QS, my whole query is under 250 words.

    Kristin, I’m amazed by the number of queries you receive a day and even more amazed that you read them all yourself.