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.

Writer's Market 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published
Writer's Market 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published - Yes, you CAN get published! It's not impossible - but only if you're willing to do the work. Writer's Market 2020 offers thousands of opportunities for writers, including listings for book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards and literary agents — and even new playwriting and screenwriting sections.

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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