QueryDice #5

The following is a query critique–our first non-fiction! Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. I can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours!

Dear Ms. Ruth,

“Mom, how does this old Bible passage relate to me?”

I always say you should never begin your query with a question, but this works for me. Since you’re not asking me a question, I consider it a line from the manuscript, regardless of its punctuation. After reading this sentence, I knew what this was about and what its purpose was. Well done.

Christian parents, grandparents, and youth group leaders know the importance of the Bible, but many lack confidence to answer a question like this.

This is good. You’ve given me your book’s aim right from the get-go. Now, I know exactly what this is and to whom it might be beneficial and marketable.

[title redacted] meets this need by acting as a bridge to help children transition from reading story Bibles to understanding the whole Bible’s story and how it applies to them. [redacted] offers a user-friendly approach for young people ages 10-14 to discover for themselves the fascinating, big-picture message of the Bible as it covers every book of the Bible in bite-sized pieces.

I do not like specific, target age-groups mentioned in queries. Can you guarantee that this is inappropriate for a 9-year-old? A 15-year-old? If you cite an age group that’s too narrow, I’ll be thinking, “Is that market big enough?” If you cite an age-group that’s too broad, I immediately think you stretched it and it’s probably not appropriate for the low or high end. It’s better to express that this is appropriate for middle-grade readers.

That being said, this paragraph was otherwise excellent. You concisely outlined what the book’s purpose is, who it is for, and how it achieves its goal. Very nice.

Parents and pastors like how [redacted] promotes Biblical literacy, Christian worldview, and structure for daily Bible reading. Children like that it is easy to use and that it helps them find out for themselves how the Bible addresses real problems and questions they face.

How do you know? Have you shown the completed manuscript to parents, pastors and children? It is best to replace the word “like” with the words “will benefit from.”

[redacted] works as a stand-alone resource, family read-aloud, or supplement to other Bible study or worldview curricula.

 This paragraph is also a home-run. I like knowing how the book can be read and utilized.

The average chapter is 450 words. Readers can start – or restart – at any point during the year or continue over two or more years.

 This is confusing. Since I don’t see why readers couldn’t begin the book at any time during the year, your pointing this out makes me wonder what I’m missing.

My platform to write this book is based on both the experience of being a cross-cultural missionary with [redacted] for over twenty years, and the online presence I have developed since 2005 through my [redacted] website. Through the numerous Bible studies I have written, as well as my website, ebook, and coaching service, I support people as they navigate complex issues by helping them see the big picture, much as I do with [redacted]. I have also developed relationships with a number of notable pastors, ministry leaders, and churches across the United States who could help promote this book.

Well done with your platform paragraph. But your first words, “My platform to write the book is based on…” seems overly stiff. You can just launch right into your experience and we’ll gather that it serves as a platform. We’re expecting you to tell us this. Also, it is always great to know exactly how developed your web presence is. How many unique visits does your site get? Are you active on social media outlets?

Thank you for your interest in [redacted].

 I haven’t shown interest yet, as far as you know.

I believe this is a resource that will bless and equip future leaders in God’s Kingdom and look forward to learning how you might be involved with this project.

Thank you and blessings upon you,


Great job with this one.



Posted on August 4, 2011, in Advice, Christian publishing, publishing, queries, Query Dice, slush pile, submissions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Oh, I think fiction queries are horrible to write. It’s just so hard to boil all that work down into three good sentences.

  2. I think this was the best of the Query Dice series yet. All of my qualms were minor technicalities that are easily disregarded in the grand scheme of the query itself. I love the precision. My biggest complaint would have to be, “Pastors and parents like… ” which Lauren already mentioned. I think it would have been fine if the paragraph was a lead-in to reviews from real pastors, especially if those pastors have themselves been published. But it went in a different direction and I got confused.

    Anyway, great job!

    A question for all: do you think it’s easier to write a non-fiction query than it is to write a fiction query?

    Personally, I think yes, because fiction is comparatively very tangential. Fiction is less about what it’s “about,” and more about how it goes about it. Non-fiction seems more about, well, what’ it’s about.

  3. Looks like a solid query. Not my thing, but great job. I would request more. Very informative. Nice to see.

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