Easy peasy Subject squeezy. And Send-To squeezy, too.

Why am I capitalizing Subject and Send-To? Because they are important. (Not because I don’t understand basic grammar. Don’t even start with me.)

But I’m going to start with you. With the basic of basics, I mean: the Subject Heading and the Send-To Heading, the two smallest, but most potentially annoying parts of a Query. Imagine your little brother at five years old with a frog in one hand and mud in the other. That’s you and your Subject and Send-To.

The Subject Heading is the subject of your e-mail Query. It is the very first thing the agent sees. What should it say? If the agent doesn’t have guidelines for what they want to see, then the easy fallback is this: Write “Query: Title of my Book.” Don’t bother with subtitles either—our inboxes are no wider than yours, and it’s a stronger first impression if your Subject doesn’t end with three little dots. I’d rather read the powerful “Query: The Brother, the Frog and the Mud” than “Query: The Brother, the Frog and the Mud: An extended look into the relationship between a five-year-old and the sister who nearly threw him out the window.” (Can you tell I have brother issues?)

As for the Send-To Heading, here’s a simple, and enormously important, rule of thumb: It should only have one e-mail address in it: the agent you are querying. There is no agent alive who appreciates being one in a sea of fifteen people who get your mass Query. Because clearly, you aren’t even trying.

– Frustrated Intern

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