Using a Query Letter to Identify Developmental Problems in a Manuscript

One of the first things that acquisitions editors and literary agents learn in their jobs is to use the query letter to evaluate a manuscript. AEs and lit agents are looking for cues that a project is or isn’t right for them. In my career, I’ve worked as both an AE and a lit agent. I quickly learned that queries also show the developmental weaknesses in a ms. Now, as a dev editor, I find that by reading an author’s query letter, I can frequently spot potential ms problems. Having these cues before I start work editing the ms makes my job a lot easier.

And that’s what I want to show you how to do—spot developmental problems as they appear in a query so that you have an easier time of identifying them in the ms itself.

Download the document to see my commentary on several different query letters: Using Queries for DE Purposes

And don’t forget, my class on using clues like this to help you edit–DE Detective–starts April 1, 2019. For more information, click here.

Oh, and The Club Ed Guide to Starting and Running a (Profitable!) Freelance Editing Business is now out! Find it here.

More from Club Ed

New! Seminar in Conflict (for fiction DEs)! For information on this and other classes (including self-paced), click here.

Join the (free) forum to talk about developmental editing. This is where Club Ed book club and the SFF book club are being hosted, too. (Where we talk about published books from a developmental editing perspective.) Just send an email with your full name and preferred email address to, and she’ll register you.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Club Ed newsletter to learn about new classes, opportunities, and special deals.

Plus: The Club Ed Guide to Starting and Running a Profitable Freelance Editing Business is now available!

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