The Study: Issue #30 — 5 Resources for Writing the Perfect Query Letter

Plus Headlines, the Scrivener Tip of the Week, and Submissions

5 Great Resources for Writing the Perfect Query Letter

Publishing traditionally means composing a query letter—a short, succinct, and catchy email to a literary agent that will entice them enough to request sample pages—or hopefully the full manuscript.

I’ve written dozens of query letters over the years with the help of other writers, some agent friends, and the following resources:

1. Print Run Podcast

Print Run Podcast, hosted by Headwater literary agents Erik Hane and Laura Zats, is an industry-focused podcast about what’s going on in publishing. However, for the price of $3 per month, Patreon subscribers get access to a special monthly Query episode where Erik and Laura analyze real query letters submitted by real authors looking for guidance.

A must-listen.

2. Query Shark

The Query Shark blog has been running for years now and is a treasure trove of information on how not to write a query letter. Real query letters are submitted to the website and are edited inline by literary agent Janet Reid with her own suggestions and changes. The archives are extensive, so dig deep.

3. Query Tracker

I used Query Tracker for my last two books and I plan on using it for all the rest. It’s a fantastic tool for tracking which agents you query, what you’ve sent them, and whether they’ve requested any materials. Query Tracker has an extensive database of agents, as well as links to their websites and social media profiles, and a helpful comment section under each agent so writers can post about their query experiences with them.

There’s a free tier that will allow you to track your queries for one project, but to unlock advanced search features and multiple projects, it’ll cost $25 per year.

4. Manuscript Wishlist

Jessica Sinsheimer’s Manuscript Wishlist website is a database for writers by agents. Agents publish profiles of what they’re looking for in their slush piles—genres, demographics like YA or MG, and comparative titles.

Query Tip: Quote a specific item from an agent’s MSWL profile in your query to demonstrate your attention to detail, like, “I noticed you were looking for the next THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB meets TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and I believe my MG novel WISCONSIN MACHETE CAMP COUNSELORS would be a perfect fit because…”

5. The Community

Writing is as much a team sport as it is a solo endeavor, maybe more-so. Start building a community on social media. Follow agents and publishing professionals on Twitter. Follow hashtags like #querytip#WritingCommunity, and #TenQueries. Talk to people and build relationships.

Join writing groups on Facebook — 10 Minute Novelists is a helpful group for authors of all kinds (traditional and self-published) and it’s heavily moderated to prevent self-promo spam.

Most of all: talk to other writers, find query critique partners, and learn from those who are in or have been in the query trenches. You’d be surprised how willing people can be to help those just starting out.

Good luck, don’t give up, and most importantly: Keep writing!


Publishing Industry Resources for Writers/Readers/Trade Professionals

Planning Your Platform & Marketing Campaign for Your Novel in Scrivener” | Literature & Latte Blog

The Beginning is a Terrible Place to Start” | Publishing is Hard Newsletter

Simple Observations Confidant Notebook” | Baron Fig (use this link to get $10 off your order of $25 or more)


A section devoted to current submission opportunities without submission fees.

House Blackwood Weird Short Fiction Anthology: “Tales from OmniPark” | Deadline: June 30

Red Planet Magazine — Fiction, poetry, non-fiction, visual arts | Deadling: Rolling

Borrowed Solace: Fall 2020 Issue (Theme: Mysticism) — fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, art & photography | Deadline: July 31

About Place Journal — creative non-fiction, poetry, fiction, hybrid work, video and artwork | Open for Submissions: June 1 | Deadline: August 1

inQluded — Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, music, visual art, comics, interviews, MG/YA short stories from queer, trans & intersex Black, Indigenous & persons of color youthDeadline: May 29

Northwest Review — Translation, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essay, graphic narrative | Deadline: Unclear

Little Something Press — flash memoir and fiction, poetry, visual art | Deadline: June 15

Gold Man Review — Nonfiction, Poetry, and Fiction (only from residents of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii | Deadline: June 3

Volney Road Review — poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction | Deadline: August 1st

33 1/3 — Short books about music and COVID-19 | Deadline: July 1

Scrivener Tip of the Week: Quick Reference

Need to edit two Scrivener documents side-by-side? Or maybe you have a PDF you need to reference as you write?

Select the document in the Binder on the left, then click the “Quick Ref” button in the toolbar (or click Navigate > Quick Reference > select the document) to open it up in a smaller window onscreen.

Changes you make in the Quick Reference window will be reflected back in the main project.

In Case You Missed It…

Check out last week’s newsletter, where I described five great features that will let you supercharge your writing workflow in Scrivener!


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