Tracy C. Gold


Literary Agent Query Template and Favorite Query Writing Resources

I sent hundreds of queries over the years of my search for a literary agent, and I had a darn good request rate (about 40%, on some projects!). I also read thousands of queries as a literary agent intern. While I didn’t end up actually getting my agent from cold querying (full story here!), I’m a pretty dab hand at writing query letters and helping other writers improve their letters.

So, here is my favorite format for query letters. Caveat: there is no one right way to write a query to a literary agent. You have to do what makes your book sound amazing. This is just what worked for me, and what I loved when I was going through the slush pile as an intern. Looking for info on writing picture book query letters? They’re much shorter! My guide for picture book queries is here.

I’ve also included a whole bunch of resources, including links to successful query letters, at the end of this post.

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How Long it Takes to Traditionally Publish a Book

My editing clients often come to me saying they want to find a traditional publisher for their book and hope it will be published within a few months or a year. Buckle up, I tell them. If you want to publish a book quickly, in the vast majority of cases, self publishing is the way to go. (And most people’s self publishing timelines are far too ambitious, too.)

To educate those who have big dreams of getting a book published, here is a rough sketch of just how long it takes to get a traditional publishing deal (if you’re lucky), and then how long it takes for the book to be published after that. Of course, there are exceptions in both directions. Right now with Covid-19, I am hearing of launch dates getting pushed back left and right. Books can also be rushed, which is called “crashing,” if they are extremely timely (but this would likely not involve a first-time/not-famous author).

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Webinar on Building a Kidlit Career

One of the reasons I was extremely excited about my regional SCBWI conference was because I was going to moderate a panel with Linda Sue Park, Melanie Conklin, and Susan Muaddi Darraj. Sadly, the conference was cancelled due to Covid-19. This was absolutely the right call, but I was bummed not to get to meet these writers and others who were planning to attend.

In happy news, these wonderful authors agreed to hold the panel as a webinar despite new homeschooling responsibilities and Covid-19 chaos.

Join us on Monday, April 13th at 7 pm for a lively conversation about publishing. You’ll have a chance to ask questions if you tune in live, or you can watch the recording later. Susan and I are also offering limited critiques.

Register here: https://mddewv.scbwi.org/events/webinar-building-a-kidlit-career/.

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How to Evaluate Whether a Publisher is Traditional or Vanity

I just got an email from Submittable about a call for full manuscripts from Atmosphere Press. With the recent discussions of financial transparency on publishing Twitter, I thought I’d share thoughts about this call and the spectrum between traditional, self, and vanity publishing.

Disclaimer: I only know what’s on the email from Submittable and Atmosphere’s website and I could be totally wrong, but this is an example of how to analyze publishers based on what I’ve learned after years of my own submissions and my editing clients’ submissions.

To start, I’ll define traditional, self, and vanity publishing.

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