Matt L.'s picture
Matt L. from Texas is reading Tenth of December: Stories February 15, 2013 - 6:08pm

I'll show you yours if you show me mine. Wait, that's not how that goes... Oh well. Here's an example of the query I've been using (only queried around 10 agents so far).

Does it suck? Is it great (doubt it)? Am I close to having a serviceable letter? What should I definitely change or keep the same?

I'd be happy to look at yours too if you're into that quid pro quo business. Maybe I could be of some assistance (maybe being the operative word).


Dear [Agent]:

Mike Campbell’s unremarkable life is kicked into overdrive when two strangers in a dark parking lot assault him. Mike dispatches the aggressors with chilling brutality and—due to a combination of too much booze and a fear of past indiscretions catching up to him—flees the scene without contacting the police. Unbeknownst to Mike, the attack was not random, and his problems began long before this night. If The Manhattan Hunt Club and Fight Club were to have one too many and make some bad decisions, Ferocity just might be their lurid bastard offspring.

Ferocity is a cinematic 63,000-word thriller about an above average man stuck in a mundane life who is thrust into the nefarious underground world of blood sport. Once a promising football prospect, Mike Campbell left the game behind when his family died in a tragic accident. Years later, he is stuck in a dead-end job for which he has little aptitude. Broke, with no prospects, the one thing he has going for him is a loving fiancée. In less than twenty four hours Mike is assaulted, loses his cool at work in a shocking display of violence, provokes the ire of his normally understanding fiancée, and is kidnapped from his home. Mike struggles to stay alive—and hold on to his humanity—as his fiancée, with the aid of a skilled private investigator, works tirelessly to find him.

I hold a Masters degree in Communication Studies from [Redacted] University, where I was recognized as the college’s Most Outstanding Graduate Student. A study that I coauthored was recently published in the scholarly journal [Scholars R Us]. I currently work for the corporate communications division of a [big transportation company] where I write feature articles for the company magazine as well as various content pieces for our community outreach website.

I am querying you because of your interest in thrillers with a literary bent. As info, I am querying multiple agents. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your response and hope that I can send you some sample chapters or the full manuscript.


[contact info]

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce February 15, 2013 - 6:35pm

I'll let lspieller know about this thread. She works as an intern at a literary agency and she's a bit of a brain when it comes to query letters. 

I don't know much, if anything, about the thriller genre, but have you had any feedback about the length of your novel? I've seen agents on twitter say that they will usually pass on adult novels under 70k.

lspieller's picture
lspieller from Los Angeles February 15, 2013 - 6:52pm

Hey Matt! I'm a weirdo who loves this shit, so I took the liberty of editing your query. I hope this is helpful. You're welcome to message me if you have any questions. :)

Matt L.'s picture
Matt L. from Texas is reading Tenth of December: Stories February 15, 2013 - 9:29pm

Wow, thank you Ispieller! You're the most helpful weirdo I've ever come across! I will take you up on that message after I fiddle with the letter a bit : )

Mess_Jess: appreciate you pointing Ispieller this way. I haven't gotten any negative feedback on length. As far as what word count makes an adult book marketable, I have read different numbers all over the internet. I started this thread trying to figure it out definitively. It seems to be one of those things where I could ask ten different people and get ten distinct answers...

lspieller's picture
lspieller from Los Angeles February 16, 2013 - 11:00am

WC will rarely be enough to turn you down especially if you're on the shorter side (as opposed to the longer side.)

Matt L.'s picture
Matt L. from Texas is reading Tenth of December: Stories February 16, 2013 - 2:25pm

Good to know. As I mentioned in the other thread, I could add length to the book but I will not if I believe it will negatively impact the work as a whole. I hate reading books with obvious filler in them.

That makes my number one priority tightening up my query letter which, thanks to you, I have some direction on!