YOU KNOW YOUR QUERY LETTER SUCKS WHEN ... "You Don't Grab Them in the First Sentence"

When reading this series of articles from my good friend Jeff Rivera, please substitute "agent" for "publisher" and follow his advice to send us a query letter we'll be excited to read. ~Cheryl Tardif, publisher

YOU KNOW YOUR QUERY LETTER SUCKS WHEN ... "You Don't Grab Them in the First Sentence"

by Jeff Rivera, founder of

Agents are so busy nowadays they won't even give a query letter an entire paragraph to grab them.

If you've passed the first test, what I like to call the scan test (meaning it looks professional at first glance), then you'll be lucky to go on to the next test: the first sentence.

They might be patient enough to even give you the first few sentences but Honey, if you don't have it together by then, you can kiss your chances of landing that agent goodbye. There are so many different ways to grab an agent.

These are 5 of the techniques I use for my clients. I've ghost written over 100 query letters for clients successfully. 100% of them have received at least 10 top agents that have requested to read their manuscript or book proposal. In other words, use these techniques -- they work. There are over 60 different examples here:

You don't need to use all of them, just choose one.


1) Start with a question that makes them ponder?
2) Talk about a dramatic moment in your personal life that connects with the book you've written
3) Tell them immediately about your platform
4) Compliment them on a specific recent sale
5) Tell them who referred you

Use one of the 5 suggestions above and you'll be one step closer to landing an agent.

If you would like to see an example of query letters that worked, visit:

Jeff Rivera is the founder of He and his works have been featured or mentioned in Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, Mediabistro, Los Angeles Times, New York Observer, NPR and many other media outlets.