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Old 02-04-2013, 08:09 AM   #1
Al Davis
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Submission vs Query

I'm looking for an agent for my first manuscript. Most agents have submission guidelines and I understand them reasonably well. Forum members frequently mention "queries". Would someone please explain this term and how it differs from a submission
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:17 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Al Davis View Post
I'm looking for an agent for my first manuscript. Most agents have submission guidelines and I understand them reasonably well. Forum members frequently mention "queries". Would someone please explain this term and how it differs from a submission
Most agents require a "query" letter as the initial stage of the submission process. If the query sounds interesting, they will request a partial/full manuscript and possibly the synopsis. The manuscript is considered the "submission" while the query letter is just that, a query. (And not to be confused with a cover letter - which is usually something along the lines of "Here is that thing you wanted to see. My contact info is blahblahblah. Thank you for your time.")
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:17 AM   #3
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A query is a short letter or e-mail pitching your book. Most submissions to agents and publishers are queries, and what they contain depends on what the agent wants to see.

Some queries have a synopsis. Some don't. Many agents want to see a sample of your manuscript, like the first chapter, first ten pages, or whatever is in their guidelines. I've submitted queries to a few that wanted me to upload the whole manuscript online (rare).

The key point to remember is to deliver what they want to see, according to their guidelines. And guidelines differ.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:23 AM   #4
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Thanks Aggy and Tom. I think I get it. I'll just prepare a submission according to the agent's guidelines.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:59 AM   #5
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Al, writing a query letter is a very specific skill. Before you start, go to our Query Letter Hell room and read the sticky threads there, and seek out the QueryShark blog which will give you more information.
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:14 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Al Davis View Post
Thanks Aggy and Tom. I think I get it. I'll just prepare a submission according to the agent's guidelines.
I'm not sure about this, being Australian and all, but just in case - as I understand it Al, I think most agents are assuming a query letter along with the submission, even if they don't specify.

Am I right about that, people?

Thought I'm mention it, just in case. Tell me if I'm wrong - I can delete this post.

Good luck with your subs, Al.


ETA: Oh - I see Aggy B. said it earlier.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:50 PM   #7
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I'm looking for an agent for my first manuscript. Most agents have submission guidelines and I understand them reasonably well. Forum members frequently mention "queries". Would someone please explain this term and how it differs from a submission
Where are you based, Al? The term query is only widely used in the US -- in the UK, for example, "covering letters" serve a similar purpose to queries.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:13 PM   #8
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I'm in Toronto Canada so maybe we use the UK term "cover letter". Indeed most agents and publishers do seem to ask for this. I was thinking of, "Please find enclosed my submission ...", but I now understand there's more to it than that. I guess I'd better go to Query Letter Hell....scary!
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:19 PM   #9
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I'm in Toronto Canada so maybe we use the UK term "cover letter". Indeed most agents and publishers do seem to ask for this. I was thinking of, "Please find enclosed my submission ...", but I now understand there's more to it than that. I guess I'd better go to Query Letter Hell....scary!
Scary doesn't even begin to describe it...
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:46 PM   #10
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Scary doesn't even begin to describe it...
Ah, we're not that bad...

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Old 02-04-2013, 10:47 PM   #11
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Oops! I just remembered that Aggy said Queries are not to be confused with cover letters.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:21 AM   #12
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Oops! I just remembered that Aggy said Queries are not to be confused with cover letters.
I did say that. In the US a query is kind of a pitch for the novel (catchy but brief synopsis, publishing/biographical info, salutation and contact info) and a cover letter is just what you said. "For your consideration, here is my novel The Big Cheese, of approximately 1 million words. Thank you for your time."

But I don't know if that terminology is different in Canada. (Since EMaree is saying that covering letter/query letter in the UK are the same thing.)

Some agents link to articles about how to format the materials they want, perhaps that could help you figure out which type of letter they want?
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:22 AM   #13
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Interestingly enough (maybe not) I originally came here from queryshark looking for help brushing up my own query and submissions. I've been spending the past week trying to build up my post count until I'm allowed to post a new thread. I've been trying my hand (new as it is) at helping people with their queries, and it really is a new skill set. Nearly every time I go line edit someone's query I open up my own and fix a similar mistake.

I would really advise sticking your head in and seeing what it's all about and letting them (us?) take a whack at it. Maybe even helping out other people.


Hopefully when I finally post mine in QLH, it'll be "pretty close" and not "disembowel yourself with your pen now, you bring shame upon the name of Writer!"
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aggy B. View Post
I did say that. In the US a query is kind of a pitch for the novel (catchy but brief synopsis, publishing/biographical info, salutation and contact info) and a cover letter is just what you said. "For your consideration, here is my novel The Big Cheese, of approximately 1 million words. Thank you for your time."

But I don't know if that terminology is different in Canada. (Since EMaree is saying that covering letter/query letter in the UK are the same thing.)

Some agents link to articles about how to format the materials they want, perhaps that could help you figure out which type of letter they want?
Nicola Morgan has a series of books (especially "Dear Agent") that cover the UK style of covering letters much better than I can, including a break down of what all goes into the letter.

A UK covering/cover letter also contains a pitch sentence (or pitch paragraph) that serves the same purpose as the plot summary in a US query. It's also more focussed on formalities than a US query letter is.

I've had a good experience submitting in the UK using a modified version of a US query -- slimmed down plot (2 short paragraphs), and more formalities. I went against the standard 1 paragraph pitch that's recommended, but the UK agents I spoke to were easy-going about the letter formatting and just wanted something short (1 page max), interesting, and clear to read.

In my experience the biggest difference between UK and US is: UK agents are known for making their decision based on the sample chapters rather than the letter, but in the US you can be rejected on the query alone.
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