Comic courtesy of

Andrea Brown, president of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency won the award at the Big Sur in the Rockies workshop for giving the funniest advice on queries:

“It should be like a skirt.  Long enough to cover everything, but short enough to be exciting.”

As we writers know, sending a great query letter is every bit as important as sending a great manuscript.  Maybe even more, since the query letter often dictates whether your manuscript will even be read.

Here are a few other tips I picked up on queries over the weekend besides the obvious ones like avoiding grammatical errors and typos.

  1. State the genre, length and targeted age range of your story immediately after the salutation.  Then go straight to your story pitch.
  2. Keep queries short and to the point. Andrea advised taking all the adjectives and adverbs out of your letter.  They should be action-oriented.
  3. Don’t editorialize. Making a statement like, “this is sure to appeal to…” does not belong in a query letter.  HOWEVER,
  4. It’s okay to compare your book to other popular books on the market. Just MAKE SURE THAT STATEMENT IS ACCURATE.
  5. Don’t state the obvious. If you’re submitting to them, they know you’re looking for representation.  If you included a SASE, they’ll see it.  They’re smart people.
  6. If you are submitting to multiple agents, let them know. If they like your submission, the fact that you have sent it to others might move yours higher in the priority list.
  7. You can say that you have other manuscripts, but only query/pitch one.

These tips are just a tiny slice of the advice we received on queries, so rich was the workshop on all aspects of the craft and the business.  I’ll post more about the workshop as the week progresses, so keep checking back.

In the meantime, consider this piece of advice from Andrea on how to improve your writing:

  1. Read
  2. Read More
  3. Keep Reading
  4. Write
  5. Write More
  6. Keep Revising

Categories: Publishing, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,



  1. Thanks for sharing this, Julie. Just enough info— my brain can absorb it!

  2. I love that quote! I never would have thought to compare queries to skirts. Brilliant!

  3. Great analogy, Julie. Crikey though – I’m realising I’ve double-blipped on one of those 7 ‘don’ts’ in my time. Like stating the obvious… blip blip. :-

    Now I’ll know… 🙂

    • I know. Just when you think you’ve read/absorbed everything there is to read/absorb about query letters, someone pulls another rabbit out of the hat. I’ve done it too. I’m sure we all have.

  4. Glad you had a good time and learned some good tips.

  5. Read and write! Seems simple enough! 🙂

  6. I love a concise list. I’m bookmarking this post for future reference, and sharing with everyone I know. Thanks!

  7. That quote is great!

    So confusing though, as different agents have opposing views on certain issues. I suppose that’s why we must research each of them!

    Thanks for the information.

  8. I’ve written a lot of bad query letters, I see. I’m saving the good one for the thing that’s meant to be published.

    I hope.

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