The Dreaded Query Letter

9492597487_3dc77c1d94_bQuery letters. If you’re familiar with query letters, you probably cringe at the thought of writing one. The query letter is a no-more-than one page document that writers send to literary agents, in an attempt to grab an agent’s interest.

In essence, a query letter distills an 80,000-some word novel into its barest components. The query isn’t even a full synopsis! And with agents being swamped with query letters, making yours stand out is a challenge.

That’s why some individuals decide to write their query letters in first person, especially if their novels are first person, rather than third person. Third person queries are recommended.

Yes, the protagonist’s personality comes across easier in first person point of view. When you’ve got such a limited amount of space to grab a person’s interest, you really want personality to come across. However, first person point of view in a query letter is not something you want to be doing.


Because first person query letters lead to confusion. Is your query a memoir? Are you threating the agent? Are you insane?

Agents read so many queries that they will not take the time to figure out whether your novel is a fantasy, science fiction, non-fiction, etc. Your query will be deleted the second an agent is unclear with what’s going on.

Here’s a great article explaining why first person queries are a big, fat NO: The First-Person Query Letter.

(Photo courtesy of Freaktography.)

2 thoughts on “The Dreaded Query Letter

  1. quintessentialeditor

    Well written and informative post. Love the attached example of what not to do. Thanks for touching on query letters. Not a lot of people do. “Are you insane?” – classic.


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