How to Write a Query Letter Part II: Write one with me!

Hands down, the most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog is the one where I shared the actual query letter that landed me my literary agent (the incomparable Shannon Hassan of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency). I completely understand why this post is more popular than, say, reading about what I ate on my book tour in Richmond (har har). Writing a good query is a daunting task. Selling yourself and your work is hard. How can you fit everything about your precious novel in one page? And how do you write a synopsis? What’s the difference between a simple synopsis and a detailed one? How do you decide who to query, and how many agents should you approach at a time? Do you really have to follow the guidelines on their websites? (Spoiler alert: YES.) What’s #MSWL? #Pitmad? What if an agent asks for an exclusive read? How long do you have to wait before nudging them??!!

These were all questions I grappled with as I approached my agent submission process.

I’m here to tell you there was no talent or luck involved in my agent search process. I had the good fortune of having once read queries, hundreds per week, for a Manhattan literary agency. Writing a novel is art, but putting together your submission package is a cold science, and in that field I was well studied.

So, dear reader, onto the news: I will be teaching a six-week online course through Grub Street on how to write a query, craft your synopsis, map out your agent submission strategy and much more! The class is called Get Submission Ready, it begins June 19, and if you’re finished your novel (or still #amwriting) and on the hunt for a literary agent, I’d love to e-meet you there.

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You can sign up for the class here, on Grub Street’s website. Here’s their description of the course:

Congratulations—you’ve finished your novel! Now it’s time to find the agent who can get you the book deal of your dreams. But where to begin? There are hundreds of reputable literary agents in the publishing scene, all of whose inboxes are full of queries. Get Submission Ready will prepare you to make the most polished pitch possible to grab that agent’s interest. You will leave this six week course with (a) a dynamic query letter with a killer hook, (b) a simple synopsis of your work, (c) the best darn first five pages of your novel that we can muster, and (d) a template for creating your agent submission timeline, including who you will query and in what order, and what each agent requests in a submission. We will also discuss query etiquette including when and how to follow up, exclusive read requests, making the most of rejection notes, how to “revise and resubmit,” and more, so that you can dive into your agent search with a confident strategy. This course is best suited for students with a completed or nearly complete fiction manuscript, or those who want to get a head start on strategizing their agent search for a novel-in-progress.

Sounds great, right? I can’t wait to dive in. In the meantime, I’ll be here if you have any questions. And here’s my original post where I share my query letter. We’ll dig into how I crafted that and the actual list of agents I approached (many of whom rejected me) before I landed a good one. No shame here! It’s a lonely and often demoralizing process—I’m here to lend a helping hand.

As always, thanks for visiting and happy writing!