Notes from the Armchair: The Best Query-Writing Trick Ever

By Laura Zats


Queries suck.

I know this.

Agents look at them for somewhere between 5 and 30 seconds and decide immediately if they’re interested in working with you.

Sucks, right?

I’m sorry.

But not that sorry—queries are how I find my next passion project—my next author I will have a long, (hopefully) lucrative career with.

Also, I have to write them too. I get it.

In my tens of thousands of queries I have answered as well as the scores of queries I have written for my own projects, I’ve learned that if you’re following the basic query rules, you’re almost guaranteed requests.

So how do you go from ALMOST guaranteed to DEFINITELY guaranteed? Well, but giving us a true sense of what your book is about. What I mean by that is that you convey the tone, the main character, what they want, and what’s standing in their way.

After you’ve spend hours whittling your book from a hefty 100K or so (depending on your genre) into 150 words, how do you know you’ve done this right? If you’re like me, you have NO IDEA.

That’s where other people come in!

There are people in your life who don’t know anything about your book. These are the people you want for this trick.


Print out your query letter.

Hand it to them.

Have them read it. Once. In front of you is best. That way, you’re able to get their IMMEDIATE feedback without letting them chew on your words.

Then have them tell you, in their own words, what your book is about. Have them answer who your MC is, what they want, what’s standing in their way, and what it’s like to read the book.


If they get it right, sweet! You’ve done it!

If they don’t have it right on the button, you have work to do. Back to the drawing board, and off to another friend!

Happy drafting!