How to Write a Query Letter to Publishers – Fiction Manuscript

My writer friend sent this query letter to ten publishers, and all ten asked to see his fiction manuscript. You can’t beat a 100% return rate!

Why did every publisher ask to see his book? Because the author told an interesting story in an entertaining way.

Here’s how one famous writer describes it:

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.” ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs.

If you’re hammering out your own fiction query letter or novel, read Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (8th Edition).

And, here’s an example of a query letter for a fiction manuscript…

A Query Letter to Publishers – Fiction Manuscript

Dear Fiction Publishing House,

Lies can ruin a perfectly good day.  For Mars Monroe, the worst days came when he found himself the target of lies – nothing like being an unwitting dupe to put you off your lunch.

He could spot a liar, that wasn’t the problem.  Twenty years as a detective had left him certain of that.  The difficulty was in spotting them soon enough.  By the time he realized that nearly everyone involved in the case of the stolen statue was lying to him, he was on the run, wanted for murder, and with only one option left – to involve his friends.

That could spell even more trouble because he was never certain when one of them might spot an advantage and turn on him.  Mars often told himself that his friends were a product of his environment – when you dealt with the stranger side of society, some of the strangeness stuck to you – but another voice told him that he had strange friends because he was strange.  That’s the voice he hoped was lying.

The Missing Horseman is a completed detective novel of 76,000 words set in the city of Vancouver.  The second in the proposed series, Chinatown Payback, is nearing completion.

I have been writing fiction for twenty five years, having studied the craft while being mentored by professional novelists and editors as well as gaining knowledge while obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in English.

If I have gained your interest I would be pleased to forward the manuscript for your consideration.  Thank you for your time and attention.


Derrick Demmons

An interesting fact about this fiction query letter and its author:

Though the author was asked for the fiction manuscript from all ten publishers, he only sent it to one. That publisher said the introduction needed to be reworked…and the novel sits in a drawer.

Have you sent query letters to publishers for your fiction manuscript? How did it go?

Here’s the letter I sent to a couple dozen literary agents: Example of a Query Letter to Literary Agents for a Nonfiction Book.

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5 thoughts on “How to Write a Query Letter to Publishers – Fiction Manuscript”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I think my writer friend doesn’t want to write this series of books. He didn’t think they’d be that good, so he decided to work on something else instead. He’s very confident that his next novel – and his next query letter to publishers – will be the one that sells!

  2. Sometimes novelists get sick of their books. I suspect Derrick got tired of writing it after the publisher asked him to rework the beginning.

    Or maybe he liked it the way it was and didn’t want to rewrite it.

    This writer hasn’t been published by a traditional house, according to his own query letter (or he would have stated it). Maybe that’s not where he wants his writing career to go. Maybe he just likes writing for the sake of writing.

  3. Hmm. Tell an interesting story in an entertaining way. Simple in principle, not so simple in fact. But this query letter is definitely eye-catching! How tragic that the manuscript sits in a drawer instead of on store shelves! I wonder what happened?


  4. Fiction writers have it easy – all they have to do is type up a one-page query letter a one-page synopsis and perhaps and four- or five-paragraph author biography and ship it off to the literary agent of their choice.

    Non-fiction writers, on the other hand, must compile a professional book proposal if they want to get it published.The one thing that many non-fiction writers overlook is the query letter. Your book proposal should always be supplemented with a clear concise and attention-getting query letter to capture the agents or publishers interest. Since most non-fiction books are not even written until after a book proposal is accepted, your query letter must be stellar!.

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hmmmm….maybe my query letter for my nonfiction Quips and Tips series shouldn’t be as long as it is! This query is very short and succinct…perhaps my rambles a bit too much.