Query Yourself First

After beta readers have helped you fine tune your query, the first person you should send it to is yourself.

That’s right. Send the query to yourself. And I don’t just mean read the version you typed up in Word (or wherever you typed it). I mean actually paste it into an email and email it to yourself.

When you’re trying to distinguish yourself from hundreds, maybe thousands, of queries, first impressions matter. Inevitably, one of the first things I see when I open up a query letter is the formatting of the email (indenting for paragraphs can get real messy, real fast).

How much white space is there? Did the line breaks do something weird? Is the font actually the right size? Were there weird symbols inserted where punctuation is supposed to be? Excerpts in particular tend to have the formatting messed up when transferred from a word processor to an email.

While I’ve never rejected a query just because the formatting was goofy, it never makes a good first impression. I look at it and my brain goes, “That looks like more work to read than a nice clean email. You’re probably not going to like it.”

But, if you send the email to yourself first, you see what it’s going to look like when it gets to the agent. You’ll be able to tell if anything is goofy looking.

Also, I think you’re more likely to notice mistakes within the query itself (whether it’s misspellings or grammar, or just things you wish you worded better). When we reread something we wrote, our brain tends to fill in gaps and overlook things. But putting it in a different format (an email, or printing it, or even just changing the font) forces the brain to pay more attention to what’s written. I don’t actually have research to back that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.

So send the query email to yourself first, because it won’t hurt to double check one last time.

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2 thoughts on “Query Yourself First

  1. I’m clearly archive binging on these, but this was perhaps the single greatest bit of querying advice I’ve read yet! Thank you!

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