Query letter 4B

For those readers who are new to this blog or haven’t stopped by my more active site, The Surly Writer, then you may not know that I am currently going through the submission process for my manuscript, “Our Perfect Thorn.” The process had been a slow one as I perfected my dreaded nemesis: the query letter. I had gone through many drafts and received the standard form letter, or no response at all. Then Query Letter 4B appeared.

I love this letter. Once I switched over to using this one, I’ve gotten responses even from agencies where they have said in their submission guidelines that they don’t respond to queries they have no interest in. I have even read a rejection where although they could not handle my current manuscript, they encouraged me to send them other projects in the future.

Anyway, I am eagerly sending out my query letters. I am still receiving so many encouraging rejection letters . . .

It seems like a paradox. An encouraging rejection letter? It’s like having the dentist say he is going to give you a painless root canal. Yet I believe this is the reason I haven’t gotten upset over the rejections. When I keep getting the same “Although your premise/story/project/idea is fascinating/interesting/fascinating/interesting . . .” or “your work shows promise,” I can’t really get upset over the letter. I believe the best one was, “I found your writing shows promise. Unfortunately, with the state of publishing today, I must concentrate on projects in which I feel deeply passionate about . . . ”

Taste is subjective. I realize this. I would not want an agent who does not feel passionate enough to take on my project. So I nodded my head, understanding her position concerning my manuscript, and moved onto querying the next person.

I have gotten requests for three-chapter partials and for the full manuscript.

This has my nerves in a tizzy, especially when they ask for an exclusive. I never quite know how to respond. Do I give the simple “Thank you - here it is?” Or do I put more into the letter? What should I include that hasn’t already been discussed in the original query? I’ve mainly kept the emails short, hoping they believe jitters have me being unintentionally abrupt. This is half true. I get the shakes when I read, “Thank you for your query. I/We would be happy to look at your project.” My heart starts thumping faster. My mind is running in circles as I read their requirements on submitting. My body wants to drop on all fours as I make low growling noises for no reason at all.

What to do? Does anybody have advice on this? An article? A link? Or maybe share what you have done? I’m kind of lost on this part.


  1. Sorry, can't help you here. You're farther along in the process than I am, but if you do get an answer, please share it with the rest of us uninformed :) And good luck with your queries.

  2. Erik: I'll definitely pass along the info when I get some!

  3. I'm completely useless to you too. I just hope you get good news (gives me hope to see you trying though). Keep at it darling.

  4. Adaora: I will keep at it, but the wait is killing me. 2 and a half weeks now with no word. Aaargggh!

  5. I know, I know. Just think: he or she could be telling the partner at the particular house you're waiting on that THIS author (you), is a must have. And maybe he's been spending the last 2 weeks jumping around in a circle and eating a cake in the shape of MICHELLE HICKMAN.

  6. I don't know. Half my mind says she is so bored with it that she forgot to send a rejection. Another part says they got so busy they never got around to it. A third part thinks spam filters gobbled up the requests. And the last wonders if its been filched by someone and they are using it for their own gain. A wee teeny place says they are loving it and taking their time on getting back because they want to offer helpful fedback.


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