Please limit your query to one page and include the following:

  • Paragraph One – Introduction: Include the title and category of your work (i.e. fiction or nonfiction and topic), an estimated word count and a brief, general introduction.
  • Paragraph Two – Brief overview: This should read similar to back-cover copy.
  • Paragraph Three – Writer’s bio: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background (awards and affiliations, etc.).

Tips:

  • Do not send attachments. Please use text within the body of your e-mail.
  • Please do not submit a full-length manuscript/proposal unless requested.
  • Always let us know if your manuscript/proposal is currently under consideration by other agents/publishers.
  • Please do not query multiple agents at the agency simultaneously – if you receive a query rejection from one agent it means a no from the agency.

PSLA only accepts submissions via email at query(at)psliterary(dot)com

PSLA does not charge reading fees.

**

Writers are truly the heart of the publishing business, and we are grateful for the opportunity to review each query we receive. As you may know, our small staff processes thousands of queries each month. We hope to manage our time in a way that best serves all clients and prospective clients’ needs. We have found that we do this best when we devote more time to manuscripts that may be a fit with our agency. Therefore, in light of the volume of submissions, as of AUGUST 1ST 2015 we have made a change to our response policy to “no response means no.” We will continue to respond within 4-6 weeks to queries for projects we are interested in seeing material from. If you have not heard from us after 4-6 weeks, you may assume we have reviewed your query and determined that your project is not the best fit for our agency. We will send an auto reply upon submission to every query we receive. We thank you very much for your understanding, and for considering P.S. Literary to represent your work.

51 thoughts on “How To Query

      1. Hello, Carly. I queried you on October 10th, and I’m not sure that I put my book title in our the subject heading, but I did address the letter to you. I am looking forward to hearing from you. My first readers are raving about the page-turning quality of my work, the tightly woven plot, and relatable characters with whom you can be fully involved. The title of my novel is Lyin’ Eyes, a work of women’s fiction. I can’t wait to hear from you. Thanks so much for your approachable site. Elizabeth Wafler

        Liked by 1 person

  1. How do you decide which Query to read first? Chronologically? Or do you look for what appear most interesting? Do you print them out or read them on screen?
    Thanks!
    SBerfield

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a poet (please don’t cringe — I also write beautiful prose) who, after publishing two collections with a small press, wrote a memoir that has wide appeal.However, I published the memoir with the very same small press which had just begun publishing prose in addition to poetry. Distribution of the memoir is a huge problem with this small press mainly publishing poetry. I’m hitting a wall, trying to market this book alone. My contract has a clause that terms are to be renegotiated after the first year, which means October 2014. What are the chances of finding an agent for what Edward P. Jones called “a gloriously moving memoir”? I truly believe that this memoir could be a valuable acquisition, given the response I receive at readings and the cards, letters, and emails readers have sent to me. Does this ever happen? A small press book picked up by an agent and sold to a publisher with a larger distribution?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your advice, please: While writing my first book, a memoir, I was lucky enough to sign a contract with a prominent literary agent. Early on, she was extremely helpful with suggestions. However, soon after I completed the manuscript, she stopped communicating with me. After months of failed attempts to establish a line of communication, I terminated our relationship. I published the book with an indie publisher, and it has received great reviews and sold well. Presently, I am completing a second memoir, and I am getting ready to contact agents. My question is this: should I mention the fact that I had been represented by this agent in my queries? On the positive side, since the agent is an icon, and well known throughout the industry, the readers of my queries may be impressed by the fact that she chose to represent me. On the negative side, they may wonder why she failed to sell my book. What do you recommend?

    Like

    1. I don’t recommend mentioning it. You can mention when an agent shows interest, but I recommend not ‘tainting’ yourself by offering negative information no matter what the circumstances.

      Otherwise, you can say you ‘recently mutually parted ways with your previous agent.’

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve got a solid following for my first YA realistic fiction (self-published) book and fans are excited about the sequel. I’ve tested the market on my writing and gauged that I do have followers interested and purchasing my work. My goal is to move toward traditional publishing.

    I would love your thoughts on whether or not I should query the sequel (that could potentially stand alone)?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m indie. I’m currently releasing my fourth book. Is it true that it’s impossible to get an agent if you’ve previously published? It’s hard to know what to believe anymore. I am taking part in #pitmad this Tuesday. I hope its all for naught.
    Best,
    Gina Whitney

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m currently writing a dramatic novel. I’m also editing A LOT but I’m 15. Please don’t ignore just because of my age. I talked to Paul Griffin(Burning Blue and Stay With Me) and he said to look for an agent. Can I send you a summary? I’m hoping to finish before 2015 starts but I’m not sure.
    Thanks,
    Roxane Perret

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carly, just wanted to say thank you for the great tips in your blog, webinar, and in your book. My very first query letter scored a request for a full manuscript read. You don’t work with my genre (inspirational), or I would have queried you. But as you so wisely said in your book, that would be a waste of your time and mine.

    I’m hoping to need the sections I’ve read about making an agent’s life easier. In the meantime I’ll read up on “How to Avoid the Rejection Blues” in case the agent says, “Meh.”

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Carly, regarding the estimated word count you mention, is it true that agents want to see manuscripts that don’t go over 100k words, especially when it comes to new and previously unpublished writers? Is there a maximum allowed word limit per genre, so to speak, and if so could you provide us with a link?

    Thank you very much for all the advice you share.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Carly,
    Though I’m not at the querying stage yet (more revisions to do) I read a lot of agent blogs and I just wanted to say yours is terrific. I always find incredibly useful information here–posts, links etc. I know how busy agents are and really appreciate that you take the time to do this. Thanks!!

    Like

  10. Hello again Carly . . . I signed up for your webinar this morning. For the query critique you are doing as part of the webinar, should I use the format you outlined above with the three paragraphs or do you simply want to see a book overview of 250 words? Do you recommend sending the query in for critique after the webinar? Apologies if you will be covering all of this in your session and I am jumping the gun.

    Also, I don’t know if you remember, but I commented on your blog that I discovered that you are Paulette Lambert’s agent the same day I took her cooking class in Westlake Village. It was an eerie coincidence!

    Thanks so much. Looking forward to May 14th!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Robin. It’s probably better to wait until after the webinar. You can send it in before, but lots of people do that and then take the webinar and immediately see what they should change. Up to you though! Thanks for attending :)

      Like

  11. Carly,
    You graciously requested a sample of my manuscript recently. Not nudging, I promise. But I have to questions which I couldn’t find answers to on your page: 1) What is your typical turnaround on partial requests, and 2) Do you respond to every partial request you review? I keep a spreadsheet of all my agent requests (including what I submitted, their response time and their ultimate response) and I just wanted to fill in that column on your row.
    Thanks!
    Happy New Year!

    Like

  12. I have just come across your wonderful blog! Thank you so much for all of your helpful information. Do you accept picture book submissions? Many thanks.

    Like

  13. Hi Carly, I love your blog, and I read Getting Published in the 20th Century, twice. I also pitched for you at the desert Rose conference, but I’m not sure if you remember me. I don’t know how else to get in contact with you except for the email on the card you had given me that day, which is mainly for querying.
    I did send you a query email some weeks ago, following all the rules you supplied in your book, careful not to overlook anything.
    However, I have a different issue here.
    It’s a question on the status of my query and sample pages. Normally, I would wait the full six weeks to get an answer. But I’m kind of desperate here, because as I’d love to work with you, I have also been asked to submit my full manuscript to a senior editor of another company. I’d love to know where I stand with your company before I go any further with them.
    I sent an email to psliterary.com regarding this issue, but got an automated email back, that they will review my query. I Just wanted to let you know that it wasn’t a query letter, it was just a follow up on my manuscript status.
    Your advice has been so far, immensely valuable.
    Warmest regards, as always,
    Christina

    Like

  14. I am listening to your podcast with Writer’s Weekly and have a question. My fiction wins contests and gets me really nice rejection letters from agents who say that it is “well-written,” “fascinating,” and ” accomplished,” but not suited to their tastes. At first I thought that really meant that I needed to improve my social media presence, because that is what one of the other rejection letters said.
    One of the top 5 agents in sci fi requested a 2 week exclusive, but they have not got around to reading it yet (8 months later).
    Now I am thinking that it is my genre. I think that it could fit in several popular genres, but is atypical, and probably best described as “magical realism.” The problem is, how can I tell if that’s the problem? I am driven to write in this genre and believe that a certain fan base is starving for it, and not much interested in writing anything else. What to do?

    Like

    1. Work with writing workshops, beta readers, and trusted opinions. However, at the end of the day, it’s you that has to have the conviction to keep going. You have to be able to communicate your vision via pitch and then deliver. It’s not easy. Have you done a Writer’s Digest webinar that offers a critique? That might help. Find a SFF focused one.

      Like

  15. Another way to ask that question might be, “When all of the contest judges, beta readers, and writer’s groups say that your work is ready, but all of the agents say it’s just not right for them, how do you find out what would make it right for them?”

    Like

  16. ….I’m just running out of agents, almost 150 so far. I hate to self-pub, but if “magical realism” prehistoric fiction is just not seen as marketable by the industry at present, I may have no other choice, since it’s all I want to write and I think that fantasy fans are starving for it.

    Like

  17. “If you want it to be a career and not a hobby you need to invest in it.” Thank you. I hope I’m not over-asking but the thing is- how do I know the manuscript needs work if nobody will read it?
    I think I am going to purchase the Query and Synopsis critique first because they are much cheaper, only $40 a piece.

    Like

  18. Hi Carly, what is the process for submitting a cookbook query? Would there be any difference or would it be the same as outlined above?

    Like

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