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How to Query Browne & Miller Literary Associates

Authors seeking representation can approach Browne & Miller Literary Associates via query letter and SASE directed to:

Browne & Miller Literary Associates
Attn: Submissions
410 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 460
Chicago , IL 60605

or a query letter by email to: mail@browneandmiller.com .

We do not read unsolicited material so we ask to see a query letter/email only at first. If we are interested in the idea presented, we then contact the author and ask to see more material. For novels, we typically ask to see a detailed synopsis plus 3-5 sample chapters. We prefer to see sequential chapters, usually the first chapters from the book. If we like what we read, we would then ask for the full manuscript. For non-fiction, we would ask to see a full proposal plus 1-3 sample chapters. Please note that Snail mail queries without SASEs for reply are discarded.  Also, please do not send unsolicited manuscripts.  All materials must be double-spaced, single-sided pages. We do not represent children's picture books, horror or sci-fi novels, short stories, poetry, original screenplays, articles or software.

Our agency receives hundreds of query letters each month and though all get read, only the most compelling are given serious consideration. It is a daunting exercise for a writer to condense an entire book into just a few short paragraphs. However, as most agents will not look at unsolicited materials, a query letter is the most important tool a new author has for selling his or her book. Below you'll find 10 general tips on query letters from this agency's perspective:

  1. Overall, a query letter must be highly polished – typed, no spelling mistakes, typos or grammatical errors. 1 page long, if possible.

  2. It must clearly identify the genre or category the proposed book fits into and also provide some insight on general market positioning – where does it fit in the marketplace and on the shelf? This means an author must do his or her homework – visit a bookstore, be familiar with other works in the genre, etc.

  3. It must offer a brief overview of the work that is clear, compelling and makes one want to read more – this part should be somewhat reflective of the author's writing style.

  4. We always advise against mentioning other unpublished works in a query – the focus should be on the one book the author is trying to sell. Agents don't necessarily want to know that an author has other unpublished manuscripts sitting on the shelf.

  5. For new fiction authors, a novel is almost always sold on a complete manuscript. Author should indicate what material is available to send to the agent for consideration and the manuscript length (i.e. word count). We advise new authors to write a detailed synopsis of the book – 5 pages or so – too, as we usually ask for a synopsis and 3-5 sample chapters before asking to see an entire manuscript. For non-fiction, an author should have a full proposal plus chapters ready to send. We rarely sell non-fiction on manuscript; almost always on proposal.  In general, we ask for an exclusive – that we are the only agents reviewing the requested material. We make exceptions in certain circumstances, however.

  6. If the author is querying several agents, he should indicate that his is a multiple submission.

  7. The letter should also offer information about the writer: writing and publishing background, associations (i.e. RWA, MWA, etc) or writers groups, awards and prizes, published works (even short stories, articles); academic background, anything notable. This would also include info on the author's PLATFORM – speaking engagements, conferences attended, media coverage, etc.

  8. Author's contact information, including email address and phone number, should be included.

  9. No gimmicks!  We have seen our fair share of the bizarre over the years including a query letter filled with glitter (and little specks of glitter remained on our wood floor for months after…grrr), handwritten queries on scented, colored paper in colored ink, queries containing nude photos, queries on candy bar wrappers, etc. These letters are memorable, but we did not pursue a single one of the books presented. Creativity is appreciated, but authors should present themselves professionally overall.

  10. Author should always enclose an SASE with a mailed query. This agency, for example, does not respond to snail mail queries without return postage.

There is an art to writing a great query, but it is an art that can be mastered. There are several books available that touch upon writing query letters, also a number of author-related websites that provide pointers, as well. When an author is ready to start querying publishers or agents about a book, a review of some of the references mentioned above would be time well spent.