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Query Letters


I've been writing children's books for several years. All along, many of the agents and editors to whom I submitted my work have responded to and commented on my queries and manuscripts. I discovered I have a talent that can help kidlitwriters improve their chances of receiving responses on their submissions.

Please note that no one can guarantee you will be offered representation or a book deal. My goal is to help increase your chances of having your manuscript read and receiving a response. The query letter is essentially a teaser to create interest. After all, the goal of the query is to intrigue the reader well enough that your story is read.

Before you draft your query letter, I recommend reviewing following posts:

Query Letters That Worked, Sub It Club
Writing Your Query Letter, Tracy Marchini, Literary Agent


First and foremost, the query letter is a business letter. Publishing is a business, and agents and editors like to be approached respectfully and professionally. It's a small industry, and your first impression needs to be a good one.



  1. Address the agent or editor by name, not To Whom It May Concern or Dear Agent. This sounds so simple, yet I hear it at nearly every agent panel I've attended. 
  2. If you don't have a good way to personalize your opening (e.g. from your research or having met an agent at a conference), go right into your pitch. The point is to intrigue the agent or editor into wanting to read more. A forced attempt at personalization will quickly be recognized for what it is. 
  3. Keep your bio paragraph short and only include what is relevant. For example, if you are submitting a nonfiction picture book and your undergraduate degree demonstrates your expertise on the subject, then mention it. I never shared I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology because it was never directly relevant.
  4. If you don't have writing credentials, just list your writing association membership(s). Paid memberships show you take your writing career seriously. Avoid apologizing for a lack of credentials.
  5. Do not mention how much children, critique partners or teachers love your book. It will mark you as an amateur.
  6. Avoid stating how your book will address an important societal issue. Manuscripts described as didactic will likely not spark interest. 


My Story

When I spoke to a librarian in my community several years ago about the rejections I had been receiving, she said the responses reveal that my work is being read. I had not realized just how inundated agents and editors are with query letters. My stories were making it through the filter.

I then took a course in writing query letters conducted by literary agents. The feedback I received was that my letter did not need any revision at all. After joining my current critique group, one of my critique partners called me the "query letter whisperer." 

I would even hazard a guess that my early query letters were better than my stories. I have over two decades experience in human resources and helping people with their cover letters and resumes. So the dreaded query letter was not a dreary task for me. I have years of honed business letter writing skills to apply to the publishing industry.

With practice and feedback from critique partners, you can learn to write great query letters. I hope this helps you advance in your kidlit writing career.