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.

Intermediate Developmental Editing for Fiction starts February 6, 2023

how to become a developmental editor

Editing for Character Development starts February 8, 2023

how to edit for character development

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