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Query Letters that Worked - How to Write an Agent Query

Which Query Letters Worked Best?

Photo of Authors - Worked the Best - Query LettersQuery Letters that Worked – Why do some agent queries get the attention of top literary agents, while others fail–resulting in only rejection letters? This section of our agent query website is devoted exclusively to author success stories. These author case studies are part of our free training about How to Write a Successful Query Letter and Query Letter Blog written by a former literary agent, former AAR member, and former Marketing & Licensing Manager for a well-known book publisher.


Query Letters that Worked – All Genres

The success stories below about query letters that worked were provided by authors of all book genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books). They will inspire you, but they will also give you insight to help you write a more effective agent query. Who knows? You might be our next author to get a top literary agent, publisher, and book deal. If you are, let us know and we’ll add your success story to our website. For more information and support to help you write your agent query, click here now to:


Query Letters that Worked – Success Stories

The excerpts below are simply short excerpts from the much more detailed author success stories about query letters that worked for authors who used the query letter writing strategies on this website. Click on the following link to see the complete Mark Malatesta Reviews and scroll below to read the excerpts.

“After getting offers from three literary agencies, I’m now represented by The Seymour Agency. I have a great agent who’s also a great editor. She’s helping me clean up the entire manuscript. I am really happy! ????

~ Suzanne Adams

“Mark, I just signed a contract with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates! It’s very exciting because they’re one of my favorite agencies and I get along with my agent very well. She gets everything about my writing and, although she’s a new agent, she has more than 30 years of experience in children’s publishing—and she’s helping me flesh out the manuscript. I really do feel that I owe this all to you.”

~ Jeri-Anne Agee

“After getting many requests for my thriller/horror novel, I now have an agent! Working with you is totally worth it, and a pleasure. Thank you for EVERYTHING!”

~ Becca Besser

“I promised myself I’d never write another book unless I got an agent. I’ve never watched so much TV in my life! The other night, however, after you helped me get represented by Al Longden, I had a spark for what might be my next novel!!!

~ Claude Brickell

“After working with Mark, I had nearly a dozen agents ask for more material. I talked to different agents on the phone and Mark helped me figure out which one would do the best job for me. I then signed with Susan Schulman in New York City!”

~ Melissa Burch

“After sending out the query Mark revised for me, I had the opportunity 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 and, a short time later I had a publishing contract with Berkley Books, which recently published my book in hardcover. Before that, I sent my query letter out on my own to 30 or 40 agents and got a lot of rejections. Having Mark on your side is incredibly valuable.”

~ Daniel Cohen

“As a writer searching for an agent, you read your emails every day and think, okay, probably nothing there… or just more rejections. So one day I looked at my computer, expecting the worst, and instead saw an email from an agent who said she loved my book and wanted to represent me! I had another agent interested as well, but the agent I signed with said all the right things and it felt like we were a good fit.”

~ Darlene Dihel

“I’m psyched to have this be official. After getting 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!”

~ Amy Jo Goddard

“Mark, your advice really works! I signed with the Marianne Strong Literary Agency. I’ve talked to two agents there and they’re good people, they’re excited about my book, and they’re raring to go. My agent said my proposal is great and I’m having trouble believing this is real! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!”

~ Maija Harrington

“Mark helped me to get a top literary agent a while back, and now my novel, ‘The Wrong Hand’ (a psychological thriller) is published with an imprint/division of Penguin Books called Michael Joseph that is ‘principally interested in publishing Top Ten Bestsellers’. I have learned that hard work, struggle, disappointments and perseverance are all important, as is following the advice of industry experts like Mark.”

~ Jane Jago

“When I first got an offer for representation from Regina Ryan, who runs a Manhattan-based boutique literary agency, I was just starting my day checking my email. The first thought that came to me was, dreams do happen! If you have a dream to be published, there is a reason you have that dream. And the pull of that dream won’t leave you alone. It won’t quiet down until you try!”

~ Libby Kiszner

“Mark, finding you has been both a treat and a treasure—I just signed a contract with my new literary agent! As you know, my career has spanned publishing, TV, and feature film. You just can’t do it alone today as an author. You know how to gain access to the publishing world so authors can be respectfully represented. Investing in your program helped me find a literary agent who’s enthusiastic about my work and treats me with respect. I finally have my happy ending. Thank you.”

~ Nathaniel Lande

“I just signed a contract with a top literary agent and film producer who represents many bestselling authors. WOW! Mark, I can’t tell you exactly how many query letters I sent out before we worked together, but it was a lot. The query and book proposal you helped me create were perfect. Everything was worded so nicely, and it worked! I just wish I’d heard about you earlier.”

~ Birgit Langhammer

“AHHH! OMG, it happened! My literary agent got offers from multiple publishers and my book deal was announced this week on Publishers Weekly! I can hardly believe it. Mark came into my life at the right point in time, when I was stuck and not moving. For several months I didn’t do anything but my dream wouldn’t let go. It was nagging me and I couldn’t just continue to do nothing. Thank you so much Mark for everything!”

~ Miri Leshem-Pelly

“It was a pretty good day to begin with when I got the news that a top agent, Bill Contardi with Brandt & Hochman, wanted to represent me. I had just gotten home from a long bike ride. I was hoping to have good news when I got back—and I did! I was on cloud 9 when it happened because I had tried to get an agent and book deal before, and nothing came through. There are a lot of things you can do to perfect your submission and work, and put yourself in the best position to make it happen.”

~ Matt Levine

“The day I found Mark’s website, I was ready to quit. Now I’m represented by Italia Gandolfo, the CEO/Founder of Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management. That’s a full-service literary and dramatic rights agency with a presence in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. They work in publishing but also film and TV with many bestselling and award-winning authors. After I signed the contract, I emailed the other agents who still had my manuscript to thank them and say I’d accepted another offer. Two of them apologized for their delay in responding and asked me to consider them for future manuscripts!”

~ C. Lee McKenzie

“I now have an agent… the president of a New York boutique agency with many bestsellers and award-winning titles! If you can’t afford to pay Mark, you’ll have to try and do it on your own. But if you can afford it and hold back, it implies a lack of seriousness getting to your happy ending. I was glad to put myself in the hands of someone who knew what to do. Mark is smart and honest and knows what he’s talking about.”

~ Carolyn Miller

“Adams Media / F+W / Merit Press is publishing my book this year in hardcover! Before I started working with Mark, I sent out my own horribly written query letters (about three dozen), and I got only rejections. When I sent out my revised query, I was only able to send it to five agents before I started getting multiple requests (one of them in just a few hours) to send sample chapters or the complete manuscript.”

~ Laura Moe

“Mark, I wouldn’t be here without you! As you know, I recently got two offers for representation and signed with the agent who represents the TV star Cindy Williams of Laverne and Shirley. Her memoir came out earlier this year. My agent also represents April Ryan, journalist and White House Correspondent, among others. What you say is what you do, and you really deliver. Actually, you over deliver. It’s not smoke and mirrors—it’s real, quantifiable, and truly helpful. Thank you for your help!”

~ Cynthia Nooney

“Making a decision to work with someone like Mark is sort of a come to Jesus moment. Some people don’t really want to know the truth. You have to make a decision about that and have a conversation with yourself. How badly do you want to get published, and why? Are you really committed? If the answer is yes, then you should do it. Talk to the man. I have an agent! I’m in shock, frankly.”

~ Janis Pryor

“Two days after I told you that I was giving up on literary agents, I got an envelope in the post from Richard Lawrence with Eaton Literary Agency. I couldn’t understand why he sent me a letter, so I called to ask him what it was about. He said that he was sending me a contract offering representation. I couldn’t believe it! I’d recommend you to anybody.”

~ Nwanganga Shields

“After sending out the query letter Mark revised for me, twelve literary agencies expressed interest in my novel, including big literary agencies such as Writer’s House. I’m so glad I decided to give it one more try and give Mark a chance. If you want to find out what’s possible for you and your book, schedule an introductory coaching call with Mark. He’s a professional and the best at what he does. He also has excellent taste because he thought my book was really good!”

~ Joseph Sidari

“Several years ago I tried to get an agent, but nothing came of it. This time, with your help, I got many requests for my manuscript or partial manuscript… and now I have an agent!”

~ Elaine Slater

“Your guidance and coaching were invaluable. The best analogy I have is that you’re like a combination of a personal trainer and Oprah’s chef, continuously adjusting every move and feeding me only what’s good for me. If you’re an author reading this who thinks you can do this on your own, don’t. Mark helped me get more than a dozen agents reading my complete manuscript, including many agents who’d already rejected me. Other agents who asked to read my book were currently CLOSED to submissions. My agent was one of them! Three days later she offered to represent me.”

~ Paul Stawski

“Five agents asked to represent me. I went with Victoria Sanders of Victoria Sanders & Associates and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better fit. Everything is roses here… and champagne. There were two bottles involved on the first day alone. I’m not a big drinker but different people kept coming over and I had to celebrate with them! One of the queries that I submitted via email got a positive response just 13 minutes after I hit the send button. And, this will blow your mind. I still had positive requests tricking in months after I signed with an agent.”

~ Virginia Tell

“Successful authors are good at writing books but they’re not usually good at marketing themselves, especially when it comes to getting an agent. Before I worked with you I sent out queries, but no one ever requested my complete manuscript. Then, after you helped me get a well-known agent with Hartline Literary Agency (for my previously self-published murder mystery), he got me a deal with an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) approved publisher.”

~ Michael Thompson

“You probably already have some of things that you need to be successful, but working with Mark is an opportunity to be sure about what’s working, and see what needs to improve. I now have an agent with Hartline Literary Agency!”

~ Joel Townsend

“About half a dozen agents requested my full manuscript and half a dozen or so more requested a partial manuscript before I signed with an agent. I am really surprised and really pleased! If I hadn’t found Mark, I’d probably still be where I was before I contacted him. In other words, I wouldn’t be anywhere.”

~ Carl Watson

* * *

Mark Malatesta is the president and founder of The Bestselling Author and Literary Agent Undercover, devoted to helping authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s book) write, publish, and market their books. Mark is a former literary agent with years of experience about query letters that worked. Mark is a former member of the AAR and the former Marketing & Licensing Manager of the publisher Blue Mountain Arts. Mark’s query letters that worked have resulted in book deals for his authors with prominent publishers including Harcourt, Scholastic, Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins, and Penguin Books, resulting in millions of books sold. Click on the following link to  learn more about Mark Malatesta and click here to see all Reviews of Mark Malatesta, the founder and owner of this Query Letter website.


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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)   

About Mark Malatesta

Photo of Mark Malatesta - Former Literary Agent 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.
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