The world’s worst query letter

The good news is that the first draft of my new book “Falstaff Gets Found” is done. The murder rainbow has reached its bloody pot of gold. Soon I will take my editorial hacksaw and mutilate the body until all the bad parts have been lopped off.

But before I launch into the grim process of editing, I am whipping up a query letter. A query letter is the way that you beg…I mean…offer your book to an agent or a publisher.  It’s like a resume for your book and for you as an author, and who doesn’t LOVE working on their resume?

There are expected formats and rules to be followed, so that your query looks professional. Or, you can get frustrated, ignore the rules, and write the world’s worst query letter. That’s what I did! You see, every agent and publisher sees hundreds of these letters a week, if not more, so even a perfectly polished one could accomplish nothing.

Below you will find the letter that should not see the light of day. Soon I will rewrite it to make it more predictable and respectable. Probably. But until then, enjoy!

“Dear Agent/publisher,

I don’t know you, and more importantly, you don’t know me. 

This is a terrible query letter. I want to be honest about that. I’ll explain why in detail further on. But the story is good. It’s a hardboiled detective novel of 90 000 words called “Falstaff Gets Found”, the first book in the “Faded American Empire” series. It’s about a coward named John Falstaff who can read the dirty little secrets written all over the faces of humanity. He can’t shut it off, so he numbs himself to the constant barrage of the awfulness of people, with whatever drugs he can get his hands on. Even when he’s high, he can’t keep his mouth from getting him into trouble. It’s a good thing he can take a beating better than most people. It’s a shame he can’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

He hides from the world until the loneliness and boredom become unbearable, and the money runs out. Back in reality he turns a good run at the casino into a bad end, and is dumped in the desert to die alone. A peculiar head-hunter interrupts his death throes to give him a job offer: bloodhound. Falstaff has to find a killer by sniffing out the secrets of junkies, liars and thieves. All he wants to do is find his next high.

This is the paragraph where I would talk about my previous publications…if I had any. I have self-published 4 books that very few people have read, in a young adult series that I love and will finish with book 5 in the near future.

And to explain my earlier claim: I could either write a serious and professional query, full of emboldened claims and inflated experiences, or I could be honest. I think my odds of having either version of this letter read are almost identical, so I might as well enjoy the process.

You’ve made it this far, so I applaud your kindness and tenacity. I’ll close by assuring you one last time that the book is good, which is in and of itself another of the cardinal sins of query letter writing. I’m happy to send along a sample chapter, more of a plot synopsis, or a poorly executed sketch of what I imagine the protagonist would look like in real life. Whatever works for you.”


Published by Chris

I'm an author, freelance writer, dad, and civic busybody living in London, Ontario

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