Poll: How Long Did You Take To Write Your Query Letter?

This is something I’ve been curious about for awhile. How long did you take to write your query? One day? One Month? More? Less?

It’s a really important piece of the submission process and I’m wondering how much effort writers are putting into it. If you spend year(s) on your novel, how much time do you spend on a query to do all that work justice?

I’ll take the results and write a blog post about my findings.

Please share!

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

16 thoughts on “Poll: How Long Did You Take To Write Your Query Letter?

  1. Less than a week and it worked – that query letter (and my synopsis and MS) resulted in a request for a full and then representation (after completing some requested revisions to my manuscript). I should add that I personalised the first paragraph to each of the six agents I approached.


  2. Including all the time spent reading query how-to articles from WD and WM…um…years? :)

    I’m expecting to take at least a month to draft it, farm it out to other sets of eyes, edit it, farm it out again, and then send it.


  3. It’s a bit hard to answer, since I didn’t work on it DIRECTLY for months at a time. Rather, my creative process seems to require “down time” before I can edit effectively. That means I wrote draft 1 in a day, then set it aside for 2 weeks, then wrote draft 2 over the course of a week, then let it age two more weeks, etc.

    Each draft took longer as I got past the big problems and started tweaking words. Most recent draft took… I want to say 3 weeks?

    Bear in mind, though, that I have a day job. “3 weeks” doesn’t mean “120 hours”, more like 25 hours.


  4. This a tricky question because I haven’t exactly been on a straight-line trajectory, but have been zigging and zagging over the course of a long-ish time. I drafted a query in, say, a week, and sent it out to various agents a long time back. But in reality, it wasn’t ready. (Nor was my MS.) I’ve poked at it here and there in the interim but I needed to do more work on my MS, so it was not wholehearted.

    Right now I am in a serious revision of my MS so will be returning to my query letter once more to whip it into shape. So, I answered 3 months +, though I would do it in less if it was a focused effort.


  5. It took me about 2 weeks to draft the query that got me an agent. However, that doesn’t include the other two manuscripts I drafted queries for–which both took longer–or the many MANY hours reading other queries and advice (like Query Shark, Evil Editor, and Slush pile tales), and the years spent critiquing queries on Absolute Write. The more queries you read and write, the more you get the hang of it, and the quicker you can write one for yourself. I can do one now in a day or two.


  6. I chose 1-3 months because I have written so many of them, changed them, enhanced or edited them. It’s difficult to say exactly how much time was spent on one version. All in all I had to go with 1-3 months of editing of one form or the other. Hope this helps you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The longer I work on a story, the easier it is for me to write about it. Queries are great because I go back to the heart of the story to explain it to someone else.


  8. A week to write it, a few weeks more to get feedback on it. A few months of rejections to make me revisit and rethink it and realize that its flaws! I would definitely say 3+months


  9. I started writing my query letter after completing the first draft of the novel, about four years ago. I’m just now sending it out. It was an arduous process, but I wanted to make sure I got it right!


  10. I feel like I have been writing my query letter for what seems like years. This is partly in fear of selling myself short. You just never no..


  11. feel like I have been writing my query letter for what seems like years. This is partly in fear of selling myself short. You just never know..


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