What my query letter would say if I wasn’t a coward

Query letters. 

Bane of the unpublished writer’s existence. They’re supposed to be professional business letters because you’re trying to enter into a business arrangement with the agent. A query must also be entertaining in order to prove that you can actually write. You have to enthuse to prove that you have faith in your book and you can be trusted to self promote. Entertaining and enthusiastic are not words I’d normally associate with a professional business letter.

Then there’s the other consideration which is the sheer investment of time and effort that is a novel. The general advice is to query widely so you could get the idea that each rejection doesn’t mean much but you only get one chance per novel with each agent. There’s a finite number of agents and not all of them are capable of representing any given book. 

Agents are busy and the publishing industry as a whole is in trouble. You may lose the one agent who could have got your book into print because you made a stupid error in the letter and they didn’t have time to read past that error. That’s not the fault of the agent. It still sucks, though.

So here it is, my moment of catharsis, a look at what my query letter would look like if I wasn’t a coward.

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my novel [REDACTED]. It is 110,000 words of supernatural espionage and features sexy spies and celtic gods. Yes I know that’s too long for a thriller but I’m giving you two genres for the price of one and I’m not cutting out the sex scenes. Something’s got to give somewhere and it turned out to be the word count.

 [REDACTED] also contains a strong vein of dark humour that is laugh out loud funny in places. What do you mean people don’t like funny sex scenes? Have you seen sex? It’s hilarious.

Please reply with a standard rejection email at your earliest convenience. I’m sure you are an excellent agent and I’d love to work with you, but experience tells me that you don’t want to represent either me or the novel (possibly both). The last thing you want in the current crisis is a book in Frankenstine’s genre written by a broke idiot from the frozen north/wrong side of the atlantic. 

At this point I’m just querying every agent I can find because, apparently, rejections don’t count until you’ve collected at least 100. It’s also a displacement activity because I can’t afford to hire a professional editor and a cover artist so I can publish it myself and I’m trying to avoid learning anything new about spreadsheets.

I am fat, poor and from an unmarketable bit of Scotland. I’ve done fuck all of interest with my life and I have no connections. I’m also older than you but I somehow have not accumulated enough money to be able to pay in order to have talked to you face to face at a convention, back when conventions were still a thing. I am not even slightly famous.

I look forward to hearing from you soon (in an obvious form reply about how you’re not passionate enough about my novel which doesn’t fit into your agency and isn’t right for your list).


A carefully selected pseudonym that could be any gender because sexism is not dead.

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Older than you think. Swears a lot. Writer. Owner of the Walking-Stick-of-Doom. Has a personal backstory so tragic it could win Britain's got talent on its own.

2 thoughts on “What my query letter would say if I wasn’t a coward”

  1. Haha I love this. Being from a country where agents don’t exist, I find myself still needing to look up query letters to deal directly with publishers. As you can imagine, the odds probably aren’t as great as approaching agents. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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