Query Inquiry

In the decade or so that I’ve been shopping novels around I’ve noticed a strong downward trajectory in agent response rate. I don’t mean passes vs. requests for manuscripts. I mean a high and growing degree of non-response, period.

Yes, the query landscape has changed dramatically from paper to electronic in that time, increasing the amount of communication agents receive (much of it surely unwanted, of poor quality, etc.). In no way do I intend to cast my judgment on the process–or the lack of process–here.

Rather, what I’m looking into is whether or not my most recent query is somehow generating the broader silence from the publishing world. My draft query is below, and I welcome readers’ thoughts on it. I will gladly return the favor and review a query draft from those who wish to engage.


Dear Hammerhead,

If anyone can help the victims of America’s gun violence problem, it’s the smart folks in national intelligence. Set in a D.C. cube farm at the Bureau of Government Intelligence and Execution, commercial novel The Fed Buffet (70,000 words) features a few young interns looking for love in a town where federal workers are easy prey and the right to bear arms is nothing short of sacrosanct.

Gabriel Dunne’s internship with BOGIE tracking the impact of gun violence on American families should be his dream job. But before he can sink his teeth into the work, his boss tasks him with designing wedding invitations, a colleague begs him to help woo their fellow intern, and an overzealous security chief hounds him over an expired password. With congress threatening a government shutdown to score political points and guns loose throughout the nation, Gabe and his colleagues have more at stake than lost paychecks alone: for Manny Teague it’s the safety of his young twins and for Marci Apron her choice of career over family; Chloe Gilchrist can’t plan her wedding without office resources and Bruce Harcourt needs government lawyers to help with his divorce; meanwhile the lonely Miles Miles, one egg shy of heart-attack city, tries to mentor them all, but Gabe and friends can’t concentrate as the shredder guy grinds Top Secret documents all day and the lawyers trick them into betting on federal bowling league matches. When a BOGIE staffer is victimized by exactly the kind of violence their office exists to prevent, Gabe turns to the NRA to help solve the nation’s ills, but first he must survive the next round of violence in the nation’s gun parade.

Concludes with brief bio paragraph and prior publications.

That’s it. Any thoughts on how to make this sing, or agents/indie presses you think might be interested?


2 thoughts on “Query Inquiry

  1. This is really interesting to read – I’m slowly embarking on the dream to write more and seeing you pose this dilemma sends a few shivers through me on the challenges I’ve got ahead.

    The only thing I would call out, and I must stress that my ignorance could nullify whether this is any use to you, but your text doesn’t actually make a request to have a response? I assume it’s inferred by the fact you’re offering an overview of your work – but would you not pointedly say ‘I’d like you to represent this work’?


    • thanks Mundane. I used to lead with that notion a la “I’m looking for an agent to represent my…” but moved off that for a few reasons (its obvious, and best to hook the attention… i’ve seen recommendations that say start with plot, for example). Good luck, and move quickly, not slowly, towards your goal!

      Liked by 1 person

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