Frequently Asked Questions
What services does QueryLetter.com offer?
We create query letter packages, which authors use to pitch their manuscripts to literary agents or publishers. Our query letter packages include (1) a query letter, (2) a manuscript synopsis, (3) an outline of major plot or informational points, and (4) contact information for 10 targeted agents or publishers. We also provide contact information for any number of targeted agents or publishers as a separate service.
In addition to a query letter, what else do I need to send to publishers and agents?
Agents and publishers typically expect to receive three documents. These are (1) a query letter, (2) a manuscript synopsis, and (3) an outline of major plot or informational points. Some will also ask that you send a specific number of chapters or pages from your manuscript. Agents and publishers typically post their submission requirements on their websites, so be sure to check that you follow them carefully.
What does a QueryLetter.com query letter look like?
A query letter is formatted much like a business letter, and it includes a brief description of your manuscript as well as some information on your target audience and how your book should fit into the market. Basically, it tells the agent or publisher why your book stands out from all the others they receive. Here is an example of one of our query letters.
Who will write my query letter?
Our query letter writers are all professionals with years of experience in the publishing industry. Some have worked at literary agencies, some have worked at publishing houses, and some are even published authors themselves. We know what kinds of information agents and publishers are looking for, and we'll match you with a query letter writer who specializes in pitching your material.
Will you read my entire manuscript before creating my query letter package?
Yes. We believe your query letter writer must know your manuscript inside out so he or she can understand the best way to pitch it to agents or publishers. Reading your manuscript from cover to cover allows us to create a strategy based on your genre and target audience as well as the unique themes of your material.
Can you write a query letter for my nonfiction manuscript, or do you work only with fiction authors?
We work with authors of all types of manuscripts, both fiction and nonfiction. If you've written a nonfiction manuscript and are looking to pitch to academic presses or even traditional publishers, we can match you with a query letter writer experienced with material from your field.
Can you give me some examples of past clients who have landed publishing deals?
Our order pages display some testimonials from past clients who've granted us permission to include them, but because we value the privacy and trust of the authors we work with, we don't give out their names or the details of which agencies or publishers represent them. If you have any questions about how we determine which agents or publishers to recommend in part four of our query letter package (the agent/publisher info spreadsheet), please don't hesitate to reach out.
About Traditional Publishing
What is the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing?
This infographic illustrates the differences. In traditional publishing, the publisher owns the rights to your manuscript and earns money from each sale, out of which you as the author are paid a percentage in royalties. In return, the publisher supports you by paying an advance, editing and laying out your manuscript professionally, and marketing the published book to readers. With self-publishing, you as the author are responsible for arranging all aspects of the publishing process, including editing, layout, and marketing, but you keep the proceeds of each sale.
Should I self-publish or publish traditionally?
Publishers wield an immense amount of influence when it comes to actually getting your book in front of readers. For this reason, before you go it alone and self-publish, we recommend trying to publish traditionally for at least three months—and don't let rejection discourage you! Many renowned authors have been rejected. For example, J. K. Rowling, the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series, was turned down by 12 publishers before eventually landing a deal with Bloomsbury.
What is a query letter?
A query letter is the most important factor when pitching your book to a literary agent or publisher. A typical one will include a brief description of your manuscript and will identify your genre and target audience. The agent or publisher will use this information to assess how your book might perform on the market and to decide whether to request more material from you.
What are royalty rates like when publishing traditionally?
This infographic provides data on royalty rates. Depending on whether the book is sold as a paperback or a hardcover, royalty rates range between 5% and 15%. If you're represented by a literary agent, he or she will take a percentage of your royalties, as well.
Should I query agents or publishers?
The standard is for publishers to accept queries only from literary agents, not from authors, so if you wish to seek publication with a larger publishing house such as one of the Big 5, you will likely have to secure representation from an agent first. However, some smaller publishers and independent presses do accept queries directly from authors.
What does an agent do?
A literary agent gets your book in front of publishers. Many of the top publishing houses don't accept queries directly from authors, as they would receive thousands per day. Instead, they rely on a network of professional agents to weed out the best material and pass it along. A literary agent will represent you in contract negotiations and ensure you land the best deal possible, and if the opportunity arises, he or she will also handle other deals concerning your manuscript, such as foreign rights and audio or film adaptations. Agents operate on commission, meaning they don't get paid unless your book gets published. Reputable agents never ask for payment up front.
Can I use the same query letter for all my submissions?
If you plan to submit to multiple agents or publishers, we recommend customizing your query letter at least slightly to make each submission unique. Some agents and publishers look specifically for certain types of material, so emphasizing how your manuscript matches those preferences can help you stand out. If you plan to submit to a specific agent or publishing house and need a letter that matches their preferences exactly, or if you would prefer a more generic letter that you can customize later with specific details, just let us know.
Should I pitch my book as the first in a series?
If you're working on a series, our recommendation is to pitch your first book as a standalone novel with the potential to be expanded into a series. Most agents aren’t willing to take on new authors based on hypothetical future books, so the key to getting your series published is to focus your query letter on the strengths of your first manuscript. We discuss why in more detail at our blog.