What To Have Before You Query (a checklist)

Dear Authors – I want to read your book.

Not just as a fellow author, or editor, or someone in publishing. I want to read your book because I’m a reader first and foremost and, by golly!, I need more books in my life! The good news is, I’m not the only one who wants to read your book. There are agents and editors who want the book you’re writing. To get to them, you need to write a query and put together a submission packet.

Now, I know that somewhere in my website I’ve published this list before. I’ve talked about queries, synopsis writing, and your packet, but I can’t find that today, so here it is again! This submission packet checklist works well whether you’re querying a ‘zine, a major media outlet for an essay, a small press, or an agent.

1. A researched list of names to query written down in a document with relevant contact and query information. Verify the agent/publisher is open to queries before sending anything. 


2. A finished and polished manuscript or non-fiction proposal. Not almost done. Not unedited. Not “still tweaking”. Make sure the manuscript is complete and edited before you send any of of the following. Why? Because there is always a chance that, five minutes after sending the query, the agent will ask for a full and you do not want to say, “Oh, I need to write the ending real quick…”

3. A polished query

4. A folder on your computer where you keep all of the following data so that sending a submission out is a matter of a copy/paste/attach and you can respond quickly to all requests.

Proper Formatting… (Note –  This is the industry standard, but doesn’t make or break anything. Check the submission guidelines before sending. Also, this doesn’t mean you have to write like this. Use any font you want while typing, just format the final document before querying.)
Manuscripts: 12pt TNR font, double-space, page numbers and TITLE/author name at top
Synopsis: 12pt TNR font, double space between paragraphs only, ALL CAPS the first time a new name is mentioned, TITLE/synopsis/author name and page number at top
Query: 12pt TNR, double space between paragraphs

In the folder saved as separate files for ease of attachment to an email…
Short Synopsis
Long Synopsis
Author Bio
First 5 Pages
First 10 Pages
First 50 Pages
First 3 Chapters
Partial Manuscript
Full Manuscript
Sample Art (if you are an author/illustrator)