The Worst Query Letter Ever Written: How NOT to Get a Literary Agent to Represent Your Book


For anyone who’s tried to get a book published and been rejected, this one’s for you. I hope it gives you a good cleansing laugh so that you can continue striving to share the message that God has laid on your heart.

Dear Mr./Mrs./Miss/Dr. Agent Person, whoever you are,

I have a book that I want to publish, and I know you’re the perfect literary agent to help me do it. Actually, I’m not exactly sure what kinds of books you’ve represented in the past or what your interests are, but your agency popped up in my Google search results, so I figured it’s a match made in heaven!

Anyway, you are ABSOLUTELY going to love this book. It’s a sci-fi / fantasy / action / thriller / romance / murder mystery / epic poetry / narrative nonfiction novel, and my husband says it’s the best thing he’s ever read (though yes, I was pointing a very “sharp object” at him at the time, but I’m sure that in no way influenced his professed opinion of my book).

This book is truly inspired. My dead dog, Sparky, came to me in a dream to give me the idea. Sparky was run over by a car last year, and there was lots of blood. We had to bury him in the backyard, but he’s such a good dog that he came back to tell me to write this book. It’s that amazing?

And you know what’s the best part about this book? It’s a book for EVERYBODY! And I mean everybody. Even the aliens living in the cornfield out behind my house will enjoy this novel, and then maybe they’ll stop eating the cat’s food and leaving the garage door open at night for no apparent reason…

In the interests of full disclosure, you should know that this is my first book. I don’t currently have any kind of following or platform to speak of, but I’m sure the book will sell over a million copies, guaranteed. It’s just that spectacular, and that’s also why I’m sure the publisher won’t need my help in any way to publicize this book. The book will practically sell itself, which is a good thing since I have a phobia of public speaking, public places, bookstores, cameras, radios, small children, and the color blue.

As for the details, the manuscript currently stands at just over 1,000,000 words. I haven’t yet learned how to attach documents to emails, so I’ve just copied and pasted the whole thing right into the body of this email. Unfortunately, it seems all the formatting was lost, including the paragraph returns, but I’m sure you’ll manage. By the way, I’ve also included ideas for books from my mom, my sister, my second cousin, my neighbor down the street, and that guy who holds a cardboard sign on the street corner (something about the end of the world being near. It sounds like an absolutely gripping book idea and I’m sure you’ll want to check into it).

Oh! And I haven’t told you the title of my book yet! You’re going to love it. My working title is: “I Haven’t Won the Lottery Yet: I Am Writing in Order to Make a Million Dollars and Blow It All in Vegas.” I might be open to making some minor changes to the title, but you should know that a lot of hard work and thought went into this one, so I’d really rather leave it as is.

So as you can see, this book is going to be a big hit, which is why I’d also like to discuss the movie rights to this book. You can negotiate that sort of thing, right?

Anyway, please contact me within the next 24 hours. If I don’t hear from you by then, I will start calling and emailing your agency nonstop until you agree to represent my book. If I don’t hear from you, I should warn you, I may just become so despondent that I’ll slit my wrists…. okay, I admit, I wouldn’t do that, but if you don’t move quickly and snatch this book up, you’ll be sorry. So seriously, get back to me by tomorrow (or by yesterday if you can manage it) and we’ll talk business.

And by the way, you don’t have to thank me for contacting you. I know you’ll love this book and make lots of money off of it, so I know you’re grateful.

Lots of love,

Me

P.S. – I don’t want the government to find me, so I can’t send my complete contact information over the internet. You’ll just have to look me up in the phone book in order to give me a call. I look forward to talking with you soon.

P.P.S. – I’ve sent this to everyone else in your agency (except the office goldfish. I didn’t have his email address…). On the very remote chance that you’re not interested in my book, I figured it would save you the trouble of having to pass on my information to your colleagues. You’re welcome. 🙂


Thanks for reading. For more cathartic humor, I recommend you visit The Bitchy Editor. Her post, How Your B.A. in English Prepared You for Failure, helped to inspire this farce of a query letter. Have a good laugh, cleanse those negative emotions, and embrace the inevitable failure that comes with sharing your words with the world. Then, most importantly, get back to writing. No one else can tell your story. No one has your voice. I believe God has placed us all on this Earth for a purpose. You are truly unique and gifted, and He has great plans for you (see Jeremiah 29:11). So don’t give up. Keep writing. As Maya Angelou was famous for saying, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

God bless you,

Audrey Cunningham

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7 thoughts on “The Worst Query Letter Ever Written: How NOT to Get a Literary Agent to Represent Your Book

  1. Good heavens, this sounds so familiar. I received a similar email recently from a man who thought his “writing skills were a perfect fit” for our tourism publications, and submitted a dozen writing samples—all sports analyses. His confident effort in connecting the two via cover letter was print-worthy. Perhaps I should publish some of these gems. Thanks for the laugh! Oh, and the mention! I’m so glad it served you some purpose 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, JD. I hope it encourages you to “Keep risking rejection because it’s not about us. It’s about others and giving them whatever good thing we can give them by being us,” as you put it yourself in your ebook “The Giver’s Manifesto.” If anyone is interested in more encouraging words to help them keep writing, you can visit JD’s amazing blog http://junidesiree.com/ She’s currently offering the ebook for free to new email subscribers!

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