The Dos and Don’ts of Writing an Effective Query


When it comes to querying literary agents or publishers, there are certain best practices that writers should follow in order to increase their chances of success. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when crafting your query letter:

The Dos:

Research the Agent or Publisher:

Before sending out your query letter, make sure to research the agent or publisher you are targeting. Familiarize yourself with their submission guidelines and tailor your query to fit their specific preferences.

Keep it Concise:

Your query letter should be no longer than one page. Keep your pitch concise and to the point, highlighting the most compelling aspects of your project.

Showcase your Voice:

Your query letter is your opportunity to showcase your writing style and voice. Make sure your letter reflects the tone and genre of your manuscript.

Include Relevant Credentials:

If you have any relevant writing credentials, such as published works or writing awards, be sure to include them in your query letter. This can help demonstrate your credibility as a writer.

Personalize your Query:

Avoid sending out generic query letters. Take the time to personalize each query with the agent or publisher’s name and any specific reasons why you are interested in working with them.

The Don’ts:

Don’t Exaggerate:

While it’s important to highlight the strengths of your project, avoid exaggerating or making grandiose claims about your writing. Be honest and humble in your pitch.

Avoid Typos and Errors:

Proofread your query letter carefully to avoid typos, grammatical errors, and other mistakes. A well-written and polished query letter can make a strong impression on agents and publishers.

Don’t Attach your Manuscript:

Unless specifically requested, do not attach your full manuscript to your query letter. Agents and publishers will typically request sample pages if they are interested in your project.

Don’t Burn Bridges:

Even if you receive a rejection, always respond politely and professionally. You never know when you may have the opportunity to work with that agent or publisher in the future.

Avoid Clichés:

Avoid using clichés or generic language in your query letter. Be original and authentic in your pitch to stand out from the competition.


By following these dos and don’ts, you can increase your chances of writing an effective query letter that grabs the attention of literary agents and publishers. Remember to do your research, keep your pitch concise and personalized, and always present yourself professionally. With persistence and a polished query letter, you can take the first step towards getting your manuscript published.


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