Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Brevity is the Soul Of

Too many long queries lately.



heather simmons said...


How long is too long, exactly?

Nathan Bransford said...


The more important thing isn't length per se, but whether it's concise. A query should only contain what is absolutely necessary.

heather simmons said...

Can I take my query back and switch it out then? (and include 30 pages in the body?)Kidding, kinda

Margaret Yang said...


Chro said...

It could be worse. You could be getting the disturbing, short queries:

"Dear Mr. Bransford,

I left my manuscript under your pillow.

Read it.

Or else."

Dave F. said...

Most queries should be no longer than a one page letter. That's less than 500 words with the salutations and stuff.

There are reasons to go longer. A non-fiction book may be longer. But generally, one page.

I regularly blog over at the "Evil Editor" and help get queries in good order for people to submit to agents. It's well worth the effort to ask for some advice.

benwah said...


Your headline was too long.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bransford

Is a query ever so antagonizing to you that the writer gets no answer at all - not even the no-thanks form-letter?

Nathan Bransford said...


Let's put it this way -- if I know it's a query, I'll respond.

And no, believe it or not I don't always know if it's a query.

Pete said...


Sam Hranac said...


Anonymous said...

The best responses from queries I ever received were based on one page, with a three line description of the plot.

It's harder to do this than it is to write a short story, but it works. And that's why it's important to actually practice writing queries.

Queries are all about fast, smooth landings; not circling the airport.

heather simmons said...

That information is very helpful. It would have been even more helpful on July 3, before sending out my queries. Maybe I can change my name.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

My Query Haiku:

words, immortal character
plus Ann Arbor types


actually, correct
description of my novel -
try yourself, it's fun!


will stop now, before
wear out haiku welcome at
Nathan Bransford's blog

Anonymous said...


But good is good, right? You're not going to pass on a well-written query just because it's too long...

Nathan Bransford said...


If it's good it means it's not too long.

Anonymous said...


Julia said...


Anonymous said...


AstonWest said...


Sign me.

(Short enough? :-D )

Nikki Duncan said...

LOL. I love this blog.

I'm going to have to go back through your past posts to see how you feel about synopsis lengths.

Anonymous said...

I know this is slightly off-topic, but still pertaining to queries...Nathan, how do you feel about references in a query to editors having requested a manuscript at a conference? In the very first letter on Query Shark's site, she says that she basically disregards such references, because editors at conferences tend to request everything. What if they only request about one-third, or less, of the manuscripts that are pitched? In your opinion, does referring to an editor's request do more harm than good in a query?

Nathan Bransford said...

I don't mind the line, but it's not really going to sway me either way. I would like to know at where it's been at some point, but it doesn't have to be a the query stage.

So there you have it. Neutral.

Ruth said...

Wanda - "actually" is 4 syllables, which makes that line 6 not 5 syllables. ;-)

Unless you pronounce "actually" like "aktcherly", which most people do. In which case, you're fine.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Meredith, whatta ya mean by "cheatin'"?


Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Hi Ruth,

Actually, I am
An "aktcherly" kind of gal
Myself, in haiku


Ruth said...

Nice reply, Wanda!
I'm hopeless at haiku - and
say "aktcherly" too. :)

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