Query Letter Tips - How to Write an Agent Query

Tips for Writing a Query Letter – How to Write an Agent Query

Authors and Literary Agents Writing Tips for Query LetterQuery Letter Tips – What do you need to know about submitting your query letter to literary agents using online submission forms? This article explains, and it’s part of our free 15-part guidelines about How to Write a Compelling Query Letter by Mark Malatesta, a former publishing agent and former Marketing & Licensing Manager of a well-known book publisher.

This free training with query letter tips addresses the most popular questions asked by authors about query letters. For instance: What is a query letter? What is a query letter hook? What is the best query letter length? What is the difference between an agent query and a book synopsis? What do successful query letters look like? What is the best query format? Where can you go to see a sample query letter or query letter examples? And how can you get a query letter critique?

This article has query letter tips
for using online submission forms.

Here’s an example literary agent online submission form:

Online form sample to submit query - query letter tips

* * *

Query Letter Tips – Online Submission Forms

Some literary agencies don’t accept query letters by email or postal mail. The only way you can submit an agent query is by using an online submission form through their website. In other words, all the information that’s in your agent query has to be divided up into smaller sections and entered on the literary agency’s website.

This can be very easy,
or complicated.

It all depends
on the literary agency.

The annoying part of using these forms is the fact that they’re all so different. And, for some reason, many of the agents that use online submission forms, ask for information that other agents don’t ask for. That means more work for you, so I visited every online submission form that I could find on literary agent websites. And I created a list below of all the things you might be asked.

That way, if you decide to do so, you can collect all that information BEFORE you come across a literary agency online submission form… so you don’t get bogged down in finding information when you’re trying to get a lot of queries out quickly.

* * *

Query Letter Tips – What Types of Information Are Required?

Be prepared to provide any/all of the following information when querying book agents through online submission forms:

  • Your name, email address, phone number, website address, and postal address
  • The name of the literary agent that you’d like to have review your work
  • How you found the literary agent (referral, writers’ conference, etc.)?
  • Whether your query submission is exclusive
  • Your book title (and subtitle if you have one)
  • Your genre and/or sub-genre
  • A one-sentence description
  • Target market age group
  • The word count or expected word count
  • The number of chapters
  • Illustration information if you’re planning on having illustrations
  • Estimated time to complete the book if it’s not already written
  • Your submission history (amount of detail wanted varies)
  • A table of contents (nonfiction)
  • Book synopsis and/or chapter summaries
  • Related and competing book titles
  • Author biography
  • Previous publications and publisher information
  • Marketing and promotional opportunities
  • A favorite sentence from the manuscript you are submitting
  • The name and author of the last book you’ve read
  • Which writer has most influenced you?
  • Any questions or comments
  • Book proposal and/or sample pages or chapters

If you want to know which literary agencies have online submission forms, you can access all book agencies in our free Directory of Literary Agents here on our Literary Agencies website. There you’ll find every literary agency, along with their preferred query letter method (or methods). And you’ll be able to submit your query letter to them.

Now that you’ve seen my best query letter tips for online forms
click here to see how you can get a Query Letter Critique.

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Author Success Story: Nonfiction/Self-Help  
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"Mark helped me get five different offers for representation from top literary agents. I signed with Stephanie Tade who got me a 6-figure book deal with Penguin Books, which published my book in hardcover! When Stephanie first contacted me, she was very excited and said, ‘I can’t get your book proposal out of my head. It’s brilliant – I mean, really, it’s fantastic. Editors should be salivating by the time they get to the chapter outline.’ Working with Mark was completely worth it." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of the self-help book Woman on Fire (Penguin Random House / Penguin Books)   
Author Success Story: Fiction  
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"It has been an awfully long and bloody road towards publication but I’m finally on my way. Hard work, struggle, disappointments, and perseverance are important. So is following the advice of publishing industry experts like Mark. He helped me get a top literary agent and now my novel, The Wrong Hand is being published by Penguin Books and their prestigious Michael Joseph imprint, which is ‘principally interested in publishing Top Ten Bestsellers’. It’s hard not to be excited." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of the novel The Wrong Hand (Penguin / Michael Joseph)   
Author Success Story: Fiction  
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"Before I revised my query letter with Mark, I got no responses. When I sent out my new query, I got four requests for more material within 24 hours The support Mark provides is fantastic. His suggestions changed my original query significantly, but they also helped me see that I had something to offer. Now I have a top agent! Mark is smart and reliable and working with him has made all the difference." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of novels including The Wings That Fly Us Home (Penguin Random House / Ballantine Books)   
Author Success Story: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller  
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"Ballantine Books published my first two novels in hardcover and paperback after Mark Malatesta helped create an auction and bidding war for my books, resulting in a six-figure offer. Mark is one of the rare and genuine good guys, but he also has incredible information (even his ideas have ideas). One of the most important keys to success as an author is good information and support." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of the mystery thrillers 24/7 and Black Valley (Penguin Random House / Ballantine Books)   
Author Success Story: Nonfiction/Narrative Nonfiction  
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"Berkley Books recently published my book in hardcover after Mark helped me get multiple agents interested in my work. I was able to speak with literary agents from top agencies such as Janklow & Nesbit, Trident Media, Anderson Lit, and Folio. I signed with Don Fehr at Trident Media and a short time later I had a publishing contract! Having Mark on your side is incredibly valuable." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of the narrative nonfiction book Single Handed (Penguin Random House / Berkley Books)   
Author Success Story: Nonfiction/Business  
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"Not long after Mark helped me land a top literary agent, I got a call from my agent letting me know that I had three different publishing offers from well-known publishers: Amacom, Palgrave Macmillan, and McGraw-Hill who recently published my book in hardcover! It was a fantastic feeling and a huge smile came over my face. For a moment I felt like life was perfect and the angels were singing." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of the business book Customer Focused Process Innovation (McGraw-Hill)   
Author Success Story: Eleven Fiction and Nonfiction Titles  
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"Finding Mark has been both a treat and a treasure. I now have two different agents for my work, and a book deal with Sky Horse Publishing. I’ve served as Creative Director of the TIME Incorporated Magazine Group; Director of Time World News Service, a Founding Director of TIME-Life Films; Executive Producer for both the CBS and NBC Television Networks; and Producer/ Director: Movies of the Week: CBS Cinema Center Films and Universal MCA. You just can’t do it alone today as an author." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of eleven fiction and nonfiction books (Harper Collins and many others)   
Author Success Story: Fiction/Young Adult  
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"When I got the phone call about my publishing offer with Harcourt, I was in my office with three other people. I slammed down the phone, ran into the secretary’s office, threw myself down on the floor and said, ‘I got a deal!’ They sat there and held my hand. I was speechless. I’ve never ever been that happy in my life. On my wedding day I wasn’t that happy! Getting married and having children are wonderful experiences, but I didn’t ‘work’ to get my children!" [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of many YA novels including The Body of Christopher Creed (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)   
Author Success Story: Memoir/Christian  
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"Before I decided to work with Mark, I submitted my book to literary agents but didn’t get any interest. After I revised my query letter and book proposal, I got several agencies interested and decided to sign with Fine Print Lit, a top literary agency in New York. They got publishers bidding against each other and I ended up signing a contract with Thomas Nelson (an imprint of Harper Collins) for what I’ve been told by several people is a very large advance. What cloud is higher than 9?" [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of the memoir The Unbreakable Boy (Harper Collins / Thomas Nelson)   
Author Success Story: Memoir  
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"I got the number one agent on my wish list thanks to Mark. He’s done more than 100 deals in just two year and has a long list of accolades, including being talked about in the New York Times. Within 4 minutes of sending out my revised query letter, my literary agent called me on the phone. Less than 30 days later I had three major publishers making offers. And, a few days after that, I signed a deal with Random House. Mark’s query letter did that." [Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews]

Author of the memoir Lights Out (Penguin Random House)   

About Mark Malatesta

MARK MALATESTA is a former literary agent turned author coach. Mark now helps authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children's books) get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals through his company Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author. Mark's authors have gotten six-figure book deals, been on the NYT bestseller list, and published with houses such as Random House, Scholastic, and Thomas Nelson. Click here to learn more about Mark Malatesta and click here for Reviews of Mark Malatesta.