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Why Queries Matter

The most common complaint I hear from authors is how unfair it is to be judged on a query. I heard this again on the video James and Kim did on The 10 Reasons Your Query was Rejected.

It’s understandable authors become frustrated by the query process. The feeling and fear are that a query cannot fully represent your book. It puts the author at an unfair advantage.

A good query does just the opposite, it hooks an agent in, it’s representative of your voice, and it tells a story. All readers, agents and editors are readers first, judge a book on the cover copy. Your query is the first step to that cover copy.

The query is what an agent uses to determine if she wants to buy the book. The same way you as a reader base your judgement on the cover copy. At the bookstore, you will first look at a book’s cover. Next, you’ll read the copy and, if it still holds your interest, you might read a few pages. If it’s still holding up you’ll finally make that purchase. In an agent’s case, that request for more.

Learning to write a strong query is just one of the many skills you need to hone and strengthen as a writer. It’s essential to find an agent and necessary later when your editor asks for help and input on the cover copy.

Category: Blog


  1. Hi Jessica,
    I’ve been watching your videos and have found them very informative and entertaining too. You are really doing a great service for all of us authors out there and I wanted to thank you. On queries — I too have been frustrated about the mysterious query and getting it just right. It took me about 200 revisions but I finally figured out the right blend of fiction and effective business writing that a query needs. Because in the end— as you have said —we are trying to get an agent to buy our book. Anyway, just wanted to tell you that people are listening to you and it is a huge help. Side note – my debut novel – I am Quinn —published by Bloodhound Books is out on May 22. So excited.

  2. We can complain all we want but the author has to accept that the query is part of the process. It’s no different than a job interview. If you’re highly qualified but you show up in your underwear you probably won’t get the job.

    Put full effort in the query and your chances will improve.

  3. At least everyone is in the same boat. And if you don’t “follow the rules” you are probably telling an agent you are going to be difficult to work with.

  4. The most unfair thing, in my opinion, is to formulate a personal query letter just to get a form rejection in response.

  5. Hi Jessica,
    You have constantly taught and informed us more than we could ever learn.
    After all that has been watched and read from BookEnds, I can clearly see why i got a number of standard rejections.
    Thank you guys for the terrific job. However, would it be pushing it to request that some examples of query letters be posted sometimes? I remember reading one about a Fantasy, and it really inspired me- (note that i don’t even write in that genre). Plus I remember forwarding that query letter to a couple of people, who loved the voice.
    Maybe, getting familiar with it will ease the fear from a lot of people, e.g. me!
    Thank you

    1. Sadie: We have posted some in the past, but it has been awhile. Search the site for “how I pitched” or “query letter.”

      This is something I’ll put on my list for the future. Keep an eye out and thank you!


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