Query Letter Master Class with Critique

Query Letter Master Class

Learn the best practices of query writing (in any genre), get personalized feedback, and submit your work with confidence.

The query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: to seduce the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work. The query letter is so much of a sales piece that it’s possible to write one without having written a word of the manuscript. All it requires is a firm grasp of the story premise (in the case of a narrative) or the sales hook (for nonfiction).

Every query has two components that affect agent or editor response:

  1. The book’s premise/hook and the appeal of that premise/hook in the current market (which is ever changing).
  2. How compellingly you have packaged or described that premise/hook in about 200-400 words.

This critique and master class will directly help you with the second issue, as well as offer methods of determining whether the first issue might be a problem. Jane has edited more than 5,000 query letters during her career and has literally seen it all. Her industry experience gives her exceptional insight into what agents and editors see all the time, and what will or will not be memorable.

What’s included in this master class

Query Letter Critique — SOLD OUT

Limited to 100 registrants

Students may submit one query letter (up to 600 words) for a guaranteed edit and feedback. This opportunity is limited to 100 writers (now sold out).

A live, 2-hour class on query letters

Available to all registrants

Jane will hold a live workshop on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 (1 p.m. Eastern) on writing and editing a query that gets manuscript requests. No question goes unanswered.

Recorded lecture: how to write a synopsis

Available immediately upon registration

You’ll receive access to Jane’s 90-minute class (video recording) on how to write and edit an effective synopsis. Sometimes agents ask for a synopsis in addition to the query.

Recorded lecture: how to research agents and editors

Available immediately upon registration

You’ll also receive access to Jane’s recorded class on how to research agents and editors for your project.

Examples of strong query letters

Available immediately upon registration

You’ll be provided with multiple examples of strong queries, some of which have secured agents and publishing deals.

Access to a private Facebook group

Available on January 14, 2021

After the live class, you’ll be invited to join other students to discuss your submissions and assist each other. Jane is an active moderator.

How the query critique works

After you register for the class, you are welcome to submit your query letter for critique. You can submit up to one letter (600-word maximum), either in a Word or Pages document.

Only 100 critique enrollments will be accepted—now SOLD OUT.

  • If you choose to submit your query before the live class: Jane may use your query as an example during the session. (Author names remain anonymous.) If you prefer your letter not be used as part of this session, you’ll have a chance to let us know when you submit the query.
  • If you choose to submit your query after the live class: You must submit the query no later than Jan. 20, 2021, one week after the live class ends. Critiques are not guaranteed if your query is received after this date.
  • When and how you will receive feedback: Within one month of the live class, all students will receive edits and feedback on their query using Track Changes in Word or Pages. This critique will arrive directly and privately via email.
  • If you don’t want a critique: You can register for the class at a reduced rate of $79.

Important terms and conditions about the critique

  • Only one query version can be submitted for critique, and it can only be submitted once. (You cannot replace/resubmit it, or send a revision.)
  • Queries must be submitted no later than Jan. 20, 2021, to receive a critique.
  • This critique opportunity does not include second or additional rounds of feedback. If you need further assistance with your query, Jane offers a resource list of trusted editors you can hire.
  • Information and advice about how to handle comparable titles, how to open the query, how to close the query, what author bio information to include (and more) will be covered during the live class. In her critique, Jane will reference additional resource materials so you understand how to further revise or improve the query.

The reality check: Even the best critique cannot remedy a lackluster or problematic story premise. But a good query edit can help emphasize a work’s strengths and attempt to minimize its weaknesses. The agent or editor has to be intrigued by the story idea and characters, and that comes from you, the writer.

Who should register for this course

  • Anyone preparing to pitch their work to agents or editors
  • Novelists in any genre
  • Memoirists
  • Nonfiction authors (any category)
  • Creative writing students and graduates of MFA programs

Do I have to attend the live class?

No. Everyone who registers will get access to the class recording, receive a guaranteed query letter critique (at the $149 level) if they submit their query within a week of the live class, and also gain access to all self-study materials.

However, if you’d like to attend the live class, keep reading.

How do I attend the live class?

The live class uses Zoom webinar technology. You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. About one week before the live event date, you will receive a unique link to join.

  • Live class date: Wednesday, January 13, 2021
  • Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Time / 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific Time
  • Fee: $149 with critique (capped at 100); $79 without critique

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Rev’s automated closed caption service, which is about 80%+ accurate. For students joining the class through the Zoom app on a mobile device, you can disable the closed captions by going to your settings and turning off closed captions.

Jane Friedman

About the instructor

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest and has presented query letter workshops at conferences nationwide.

Jane is the author of The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers”; it also received a starred review from Library Journal.

In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at JaneFriedman.com; her expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, PBS, CBS, the National Press Club and many other outlets.

The query you edited earned me a request for a full read last week which resulted in an offer this week! I’ve secured representation with Trident Media Group.

Gale Massey


I can’t thank you enough. Of all the critiques and edits I’ve had in the past—and there have been tons—your methods are the most impressive. Your work is professional and excellent.

Marlene Bell


Your input and experienced eye has been enormously helpful in getting me out of the storyteller mode and into a pitch mode.

Stephen Foehr


Every registered student receives the following:

  • Access to the January 13, 2021 interactive class on query letters. In addition to the lecture, Jane will take questions using in-class chat/text.
  • A recording of the live class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. You’ll have access to these materials indefinitely, and you’re also welcome to download them.
  • Rough transcript of the live class. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Presentation slides. All students can download a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Additional answers to questions, if needed. If there isn’t time for Jane to answer all the questions during the live class, she will answer them in writing afterward and distribute the answers to all students through the course website.
  • Query letter critique ($149 level) within one month of the live class. Whether you attend the live class or not, you will receive query letter edits if you submit a query within one week of the live class. Jane uses Track Changes in Word (or Pages) to make suggested edits, with comments as needed on how to improve the query. Jane will fix as much as she can on her own, but she isn’t always able to edit a query so that it’s submission ready. She will offer a clear verdict on whether the query is ready to be submitted, or if more work needs to be done.
  • Supplemental lectures on synopsis writing and agent/editor research. You’ll immediately receive access to self-study lectures to help you write and edit a synopsis, and how to perform agent or editor research.
  • Strong query letter examples. You’ll have access to a library of query letters that demonstrate best practices and serve as models to follow.
  • Access to a private Facebook group. After the live class, you’ll be granted access to a private Facebook group to discuss your query letter and submissions journey and help each other. Jane moderates and checks in regularly.

Refund policy

Sorry, but refunds are not offered unless the class is canceled or rescheduled. All registrants receive access to the course materials and receive a query critique even if they are unable to attend live. Have questions? You can contact us here.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.

System requirements to join the live class

We will be using Zoom webinar technology.

You’ll need:

  • An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers: built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth

Recommended bandwidth:

  • 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
  • If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)

Supported operating systems:

Supported tablet and mobile devices:

  • Surface PRO 2 running Win 8.1
  • Surface PRO 3 running Win 10
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported browsers:

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

For a detailed listing of system requirements, check Zoom’s site.

What writers say about Jane’s query critiques

Thank you for helping me with the query that got me Chip MacGregor as an agent. Now the book, Al Shabah, is releasing. Not bad for a debut author from a small town in Lebanon. You are the best coach in the business.

A.E. Sawan

Just wanted to share the good news that my book, Running with Raven, came out today from Kensington Press. Thanks for your guidance in getting me here.

Laura Lee Huttenbach

Jane’s expertise was invaluable. Her knowledge and patience made the process not only a great learning experience, but a pleasurable one also.

Francisco Molina

Jane’s edits were easily explained and understood. It was the best money I’ve spent in a long while and I received my first ever positive response not 90 minutes after hitting send on a query email.

Ken Harris

I now think of Jane as the Ferrari of editors—a true pro. She’s a crisp and succinct coach.

Rich Turgeon

Jane provided clear and concise insights into the world of publishing, offering invaluable knowledge, specifically pertaining to the submissions process. Working with Jane is a no-brainer for any writer looking to get published.

Greg Labe

Thank you so very much for your expertise in revising and finesse in polishing the query. It would not be the same without your input.

Linda Noble

I’ve reviewed the edits and you have done a great job. My wife (and best critic) agrees! You shortened it while preserving the critical parts.

Richard Coico

The query is 100% clearer and right to the point now. I learned a lot about writing a query letter from your lecture from the Great Courses. It prompted me to seek out your help with my query letter. I’m so glad I did, you’re a genius.

Ariana Fae

I can’t thank you enough. Of all the critiques and edits I’ve had in the past—and there have been tons—your methods are the most impressive. Your work is professional and excellent.

Marlene Bell

Thanks so much for your work. Your ability to take what I sent you and turn it in to a quality query letter is simply amazing.

Stephen Terrell

Jane, thank you for everything. You made a meaningful difference in what I’m sending out. Really, your help was invaluable.

Tom King