Category Archives: query

TODAY! Your chance to win “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters”


I’m the author of the day on Christina Katz’s “Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway”

Swing by for your chance to win a copy of my book, “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters”:

FREE query letter contest


Write On Online’s September Challenge: A Query Letter Contest!

Deadline is 9/30/2010; limit 1 page; 3 prizes; queries for short fiction, nonfiction and essays; Details about contest and how to submit are HERE:

WriteOnOnline’s FREE query letter contest



In our continuing effort to help writers jump-start their careers, we are pleased to launch the 2nd Annual Write On! Query Contest. The winner in each category—Fiction and Non-Fiction—will have their query letter read by Los Angeles-based literary agent Betsy Amster. They will also receive a gift certificate from iScript.

Authors Amy Friedman (Syndicated Columnist, “Tell Me A Story”) and Dennis Danziger (A Short History of a Tall Jew) will select the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners from the finalists!

A query is the letter sent to a literary agent, editor, or publisher, used to promote the project, as well as the writer. For tips on writing a good query, read the Write On! Online Author Q&A with The Query Queen Wendy Burt-Thomas. Non-Fiction writers, also read author Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s “Seven Rules for Writing Your Book Proposal.”

Screenwriters, your turn is coming. The Write On! Online – June Challenge will beQuery Contest: “Screenplays.”


First Prize
– Betsy Amster, president of Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, will read the 1st place fiction and non-fiction queries. Before opening her agency, Betsy spent ten years as an editor at Pantheon and Vintage and two years as editorial director of the Globe Pequot Press. She has run publishing workshops at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and UCLA Extension and has been profiled in Poets and Writers, the Los Angeles Times, and the ASJA newsletter.
– The 1st place queries will also win a $200 iScript gift certificate (an iScript is a digital recording of a manuscript, read by an actor)

Second Prize
– Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2010, courtesy of The Writers Store
– Autographed copy of Child of Fire from author Harry Connolly (Harry’s novel was published because of a query letter)

Third Prize, eBooks, courtesy of VBT: Writers on the Move
– Fiction: Miami Snow by Mystery/Suspense Author Darcía Helle (QuietFury Books) and the Celebration Poetry Series—Cherished Pulse: Unconventional Love Poetry,She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future—by Magdalena BallCarolyn Howard-Johnson.
– Non-Fiction: Writing, Publishing, and Marketing – You Can Do It! by Karen Cioffi and The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard-Johnson (author of the acclaimedHowToDoItFrugally series).

Submission Guidelines:
– There is no fee to enter this contest
– Email your query to by Monday, May 31
– Queries should be 1 page
– No attachments; paste text in the body of the email
– Include name, email address, address, phone number, and category at the top of your submission
– By submitting, you are agreeing to join the Write On! email list

Winners will be announced on Monday, June 7, on Write On! Online, and in theJune Write On! Newsletter.

Submit your query today!

To your success!

Question for Ask Wendy


Q: “What happens when a publisher with a submission guideline of’query only’ receives a query letter that accompanies a manuscript? I would think that way if they’re interested in reading the ms. it’s right there, and if not they can chuck it. Is it viewed as such an affront such that there are audible gasps in the room when the envelope is opened or is the envelope not even opened, based on its weight? Or could it just be that too many mss. clutter the office? Seems after reading countless times that editors just want a good manuscript, that it’s anathema to this perspective that a query letter that doesn’t dazzle can’t keep them from reading a book that does. And by not accepting mss. they are hurting the economy due to the lower cost of postage. Thanks – G”

A: From everything I’ve read, the agent’s guidelines (such as “query only”) are in place for a reason: it’s just too time-consuming to read manuscripts. I do not recommend sending a complete manuscript (or for that matter, a synopsis or proposal) if the guidelines specifically say “query only.” If anything, it will likely make the agent think that either A) you didn’t bother to read their guidelines before submitting or B) you read their guidelines and completely ignored them. If you read articles on agents’ biggest ‘pet peeves,’ almost all mention “writers not following our guidelines for submission.” My suggestion is to write a great query letter that makes them WANT to request the full manuscript. Thanks for the question!

Need help with your query letter?


Yes, I offer query letter consulting. For $50, you receive:

1. A review of your first-draft, one-page query letter with suggestions/edits

2. A review of a second draft with suggestions/edits

3. Five suggestions for agents/agencies that represent your type of manuscript

I also do consulting on proposals for $40/hour. (checks and PayPal accepted)