Sunday, September 8, 2013

Agent Query

Greetings!  I'm approaching my blog post a little differently this time.  I took two weeks off so that I could deal with rush season at work, as well as think about querying agents.  I've been procrastinating on that task, so I needed to cut out the excuses that were keeping me from overhauling my letter.

The result is that I now have something I'm pretty happy with.  However, as with all things that one writes, it's hard to be unbiased.  I thought I could submit the letter to my blog post and see what any readers think.  Feel free to be as critical as you like.  I want it to be a very good letter.

If anyone does feel like giving critique, I'd be delighted if you'd look at style and structure.  I want the story summary to be quite gripping.  The content of it can't be changed, though (the story is what it is, after all!), so I'd love for you to look not at what it says, but how it's said.

Thank you in advance for any feedback which kind internet visitors may wish to give!


Dear Agent Name,

On a 1996 April evening in Fort Worth, Texas, young sculptor Charles Eliot was blindsided by a drunk driver.  He awoke from his injuries into darkness: he had lost his eyes.  The crippling loss recalled the many catastrophes endured by his family during the twentieth century, awakening a perfect despair over his fate.  His life seemed finished; his only option was death.

Challenged by those closest to him, however, he was driven toward a new mastery of sculpture and of himself.  Tragedy, vulnerability, suffering – these elements became the basis of a rich artistry.  The loss which first crushed him led to a life he never imagined.  Every interaction with his subjects contributed to a vision of the world which needed no eyes. 

In 143,000 words, The Art of Dying tells a story of humanity, mortality, and their painful but definitive coexistence.  Since [your website] mentioned literary fiction as an interest of yours, I hope you will find my novel intriguing.

Under my pen name, Chiara Solari, I post poetry and prose at  I blog at with weekly posts, and have gained 4,500 views in a year.  I have also submitted short fiction and poems to several competitions and journals. I won first place in the 2007 Writers Competition at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library; as of March 2013, five of my poems have been published in The Lost Country: a Literary Journal of the Exiles.  Besides The Art of Dying, I have completed another novel which I am currently editing.

As stated in your guidelines, I am including [insert guideline here], along with an SASE for your convenience.  [The complete manuscript is available upon request.] Thank you for your time in considering The Art of Dying.

Cordially, etc.


  1. Personally I think going with how many chapters you have might be less daunting than how many words. Though perhaps the word count is what Agents want? Because if they are interested they will then get the manuscript and as per guidelines I am going to guess an actual word count would be needed. But the word count would also need to include Title Pages, Dedication Page etc. As well as the actual count of other things like the titles of chapters and numerals printed on the page and any other symbols? Take this though from someone who has never submitted a book manuscript. :)

    I remember 1996 - it was a very good year...
    Cheers, Jules

    1. Hi Jules! Thanks for the comment. I agree that chapter number would be a big improvement over word count (13 sounds much less daunting than 143,000!). Unfortunately, though, word count is required for agent queries, so I've got to leave it in. Daunting as it may sound, though, it's at least better than 193,000 which was where the novel was when I finished the first draft! Hooray for editing.

  2. this reads concisely and positively - I can't think of anything else to add and I wouldn't take anything out - all the best Chiara! (by the way, don't worry that your blogsite has disappeared from my front page of Clippings, I had to edit the list as it was too long. you are now permanently on my Chainmail page!)

    1. Thanks Freya! I have a couple wording things I may change (overuse of word 'lose' and forms in the first few sentences) but otherwise I think I'll take your advice :-)