Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, April 26, 2007

You Know All Those Rules About How to Write a Query Letter? Yeah, About That...

There are quite a few agent blogs out there now, and the millions of query transgressions are well-documented and, of course, well-mocked. It's a wonderful time to be an aspiring author since it is now easier than ever to figure out how to send a query letter using proper protocol and to network with publishing types. But. There is a downside to all this information: agent blogs have created authors who are so scared about messing up one of the millions of query rules that they're more nervous than a bachelorette at a rose ceremony.

So I have a new recommendation to add to the pile of query letter advice: don't sweat it.

I mean, you should definitely sweat some things. You should work really hard to write a query letter that is an appropriate length, is gripping and amazing and makes me want to read more, and it should be personalized.

But beyond that? I'm not going to throw out your query if there's a typo, or even if you spell my name wrong. I'm not going to laugh at you if I ask for a three page synopsis and you send me a four page synopsis. Heck, if your material is good enough, feel free to send me a query letter that begins with a rhetorical question, smells like it's been sitting in a trashcan for three weeks, is addressed to the wrong agent, and even insults reality television and the Sacramento Kings. If it's good, you can get away with quite a few mistakes.

What you should be worried about: writing a good letter. Agonize over that. Don't worry about breaking a byzantine rule.

Remember these three C's: use Common sense, be Courteous, and don't be Crazy. If you follow the three C's (and, um, write a brilliant letter), it's gonna be ok.






8 comments:

original bran fan said...

Thanks for that, Nathan. Truthfully, I was going to query you next week, and I'm nervous. (Yes, we get nervous querying agents!) But now at least I'm nervous about the right stuff.

Liz said...

Refreshing to see the words 'common sense.' Seems all too often, most folks are missing that personality trait these days.

Happy Days said...

Thanks, Nathan. I'll share this with my special friends -- the ones with whom I exchange "dumbest mistakes on the way to publication" posts. It will assuage some of the pain.

Off topic, but very important for all Entourage fans

http://weblogs.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/cable/blog/

Happy Days said...

A better link:

Laurel Amberdine said...

Thanks. It helps to hear that.

My stress over querying is deeply ingrained now. A friend asked to see my query letter, so pulled it up and addressed it. Then laughed when I realized I was all nervous and compulsively checking that I got her name right and the address right, and hadn't messed anything up.

sex scenes at starbucks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sex scenes at starbucks said...

See, this was why I was so sad when you rejected me. You're just so nice.

Len said...

So, now you tell me.

Related Posts with Thumbnails