Why do I request a query? Why might I pass?

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

I have been asked, “What is the one thing that makes you request a project based on a query and what is the one thing in a query that makes you decide a book isn’t the right fit?”

I’m sure the answer to this question varies agent to agent, but I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

First off, there’s not a magical item to include in a query letter that will make an agent request the project. There are many things that will cause an agent to request a project. For example, platform size–if you are an author with a large following, an agent is very likely to request your project. Also, if your idea is something an agent knows a publisher is looking for, you are likely to get a request. For me, I think the topic or plot of a book is still most important. If your book is about something I’m interested in and the query grabs my attention, I am very likely to request more even if I don’t have a publisher in mind yet and even if your platform isn’t huge. I still allow the content to speak for itself and then determine after taking a look at the proposal or manuscript if I think I could have a good chance to sell the project. I’m not against taking a few risky projects on, but I mostly like to feel confident that there are publishing houses looking for the type of books I’m representing.

There are also many things that could make an agent say no to a query, but the one thing (two things?) that causes me not to request a project from a query letter is poor spelling and grammar. A query letter should be very clean. It’s only a page long and it represents you and your project. You want it to sparkle! If I can tell a person hasn’t spent any time on their query, I can be pretty sure that that project isn’t ready for representation yet. It’s easy to make silly mistakes when writing anything, so I encourage each of you to have a critique partner read your query letter for you. Query letters are often the gateway to publishing, so spend time putting yours together.

What is the hardest part for you when you write a query? Bio? Summary? Hook? Something else?

Also, please take a minute to pray today for Texas (hurricane), Mexico (earthquake), Florida (hurricane), surrounding states (hurricane), Oregon (fires), California (fires), Montana (fires), and the whole world (need for peace)! Lots going on and lots to pray about!

Have a lovely weekend!

10 Responses

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  1. Lara Hosselton says:

    Thanks for sharing, Rachel. I’m sending prayers to all those in the path of these horrific natural disasters.

  2. Carol says:

    Gess I beter werk on mie speling. It isn’t tha beast sumtimes.

  3. The summary is the hardest for me. I can write a whole novel, but condensing it down into two paragraphs or so is a challenge. I can do it, but I don’t really like to. 🙂 *Praying today. We travel almost every year to Florida … so they are especially on my heart.

  4. L.J. Quinlan says:

    Thank you for this! I am in the midst of writing (and rewriting) my query and I came upon your very timely post. While the query has been tough, I find that writing a synopsis is tougher. It makes me feel like I’m writing a fifth grade book report! Thank you for the encouragement, I’m going to get back at my query. Prayers are continually on my mind for those ravaged by the natural disasters. My parents live in Central Florida and are riding out the storm. I’m praying for them.

  5. Angela Arndt says:

    Commenting from South Carolina: praying for Georgia, Florida and everyone else. We’re just covered in disasters. Yes, lots to pray about.

    The hardest part of a query for me is the bio. Should I include being a finalist in a contest (2nd, 3rd place)? Should I include my team blog which has higher numbers than my personal blog? Lots of questions to pray about as I write my query, too. Thanks so much for the advice today!

    • Liinda Elliott Long says:

      Angela, I just now clicked on your blog and received, from the Lord, some great encouragement, for which I had prayed only moments ago! I am, indeed, grateful.

      • Angie Arndt says:

        Oh, Linda, I’m so humbled that the Lord would use my small words to help. Thank you so much for telling me. You’ve encouraged me, too!

        Let’s keep encouraging each other, okay?


  6. First, great blog with helpful thoughts. Second, thank you for asking for prayer, including for the fires in the west.

  7. Thanks for an informative post. The synopsis is the hardest. I hate leaving out so much like setting a table for guests with only the vegetables and protein. But, then again, it could be like spreading a beautifully prepared table with small bites of sweets and savories which beg the diner to ask for more.

    I am continuing in prayer with my husband and many others. We have loved ones in Sarasota and Tampa Bay. Praying for all.

  8. kent Gant jr says:

    Yes! This an awesome post! I think I might know a author that fit this criteria.