April 2021 Meeting Recap: Curtis C. Chen: All About Query Letters

Curtis C. Chen is a published author who told us the story of how he came to have an agent by writing a correct query letter. He said it must be professional, clear, and describe the story with a good, distinct description that gives the essence of the novel.

Other suggestions:

  • Include your genre, pitch (the hook), word count, and some personal information. The pitch should be concise and not exceed 200-300 words.
  • Don’t give comps of the most famous books around such as Harry Potter.
  • You can reveal up to two-thirds of the book, but never the ending.
  • Personal information should be relevant and give an agent a snapshot of your background.
  • The query should be limited to one page.
  • It is a general rule that an author never query more than one agent at an agency at a time, though other agents at other agencies can be queried at will.
  • It is good practice to do some research before selecting an agent to query in order to make sure that they represent other authors in your genre. Try to make it personal; check out their information pages or websites. Remember that your choice of agent is as important as the letter. If your letter doesn’t get a response try and revise it. Every agent responds differently and what works for one agent may not interest another.
  • And finally, “be patient.” It sometimes takes months to get a positive reply.

Curtis also gave some examples of his own revision process. And he showed samples of the letter that his agent sent out to publishers. Agents have their own query letters to write and rewrite.

Finally, Curtis directed authors to various query sites online that give information on the process of writing a successful query letter.

You can find his PowerPoint presentation online: https://curtiscchen.com/W20.pdf