Q is for Query


Number 17 in The A to Z of the Writer’s Affliction, part of the A to Z blogging challenge.

This is another affliction – endless torment over that query letter. But actually it’s very simple: out of the 93,202 letters an agent receives every day, make yours the one that knocks them sideways, stunned by your brilliance and creativity. And who better than our dear friend, Arnold Pogostik, to show us how it’s done?

Dear Literary Agent,

I’ve written this fantastic book. It’s about an incredibly cruel creepy-crawly that kidnaps the Duchess of Cambridge and takes her to the planet of Xychbaaal (similar to Xychbaal but with three ‘a’s), where she has lots of adventures. I won’t tell you the ending because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but you’ll be relieved to know she does get safely back. Wouldn’t do to kill off the Duchess of Cambridge, would it? The title, by the way, is The Incredibly Cruel Creepy-Crawly that Kidnapped Kate – I just love that alliteration, don’t you?

I’m sure you’ll adore this book because it’s full of suspense and my neighbour’s son says it’s brilliant. It includes a 200 page dictionary of the Xychbaaalian language so readers can understand the dialogues. I kept them in Xychbaaalian to make it more authentic. I think this is a good idea. George Orwell added a Newspeak Appendix to 1984, and that sold millions of copies.

I enclose my bank details so you can send me an advance on royalties. Or if you prefer, just pop a cheque in the post.

Have a great day!


After reading his letter, I was very hopeful for Arnold, but the next day he received this reply.

Dear Arnold,

Thank you for sending me The Incredibly Cruel etc., which I have now considered. Regretfully, I am going to pass on this. I wish you all success in finding suitable representation with another agent.


Sydney Lushpile, Literary Agent.

Just goes to show how difficult it is to write a good query letter. Perhaps Arnold should have read the Query Shark first.


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  1. I love this! How did this book not sell?! LOL. Thanks for the chuckle. Querying is hard. I haven’t had much practice, but I’ll certainly be on Query Shark once I’m ready – solid advice!

    • Amazing that it wasn’t accepted,isn’t it? Perhaps one day it’ll feature alongside the JK Rowling rejections. But yes, querying is diabolically hard!

  2. I think most agents get as far as: “Dear Mr. Slushpile; I am seeking representation for a novel called “The Last Algorithm of S. Valdemar”… crumple, crumble… ‘Nope. No commercial appeal.” Reject.

    • Well, it’s often said that a good book will always come to light, but I’ll wager there are more than a few stuffed despairingly into drawers.

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