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I have found a company called Writer’s Relief. Their service is to write compelling submission and query letters to genre appropriate agents and publishers.

They ask for a synopsis, fifteen pages of manuscript and, assuming it is a work they can get behind, they find and query twenty five agents. This service costs about $300. A less expensive service is they will send you a list of agents to query and you write and send the letters.

They tell me that, since inception, they have had over 19 thousand successes. They define success as a request for more pages, a contract with an agent or a publishing deal. They do not break down these as percentages, so further pages could be 85% of it.

Do these services actually work? Are they worth it or should I just google agents and send out fifty queries myself?

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Trying it yourself is free. Don't send out fifty queries!

Typically, the advice from agents is to find the agents that match your story (MSWL = www.manuscriptwishlist.com; another collection is agentquery.com). You may well find 50, but if you've never written or sent a query letter, send it to SIX to start, and see if you get any feedback on your query.

Once you've queried an agent for a book and been rejected, their assistants may screen further queries from you and the agent will never see the additional queries. See if you get feedback or complaints and keep your powder dry, so you can revise and try again with another six. If you get no complaints and no hits, send out a dozen.

You can also Google for writing a query letter. There is a lot of advice out there. Here is a List of 23 book query letters that worked in different genres.

There are also several claimed "ideal formats", if you are a first-time novelist you should look for one that doesn't demand you give your "credentials" and past writing successes. Every published author had a first successful book query. So it is possible to do without it; just leave it off, or say "This is my first novel;" to start a single line bio. Use any extra space to flesh out your story and intrigue the agent.

Query letters usually only describe the first act, in about 1/3 of a single-spaced page. (The first act presents the "normal world" and the main problem the MC is confronted with).

Some of these services may be good, I don't know. The problem is the contracts for this kind of stuff is money up front, and quality can be uncertain, especially if you have no idea what a good query letter even looks like, or if the agents they choose really are right for YOUR story. So you might get ripped off, and simultaneously poison the well with bad query letters to agents on your behalf.

You DO need a synopsis anyway, an agent might request it; and you do need a completed work, they may request that. (Only query a completed work!)

But I feel, as a writer, that only I can truly write about and describe the story I wrote; nobody is going to do a better job by reading a synopsis I wrote. If my first act has to be summarized, I will decide what is most important to convey and what is less necessary and can be left out, or fudged for brevity (a common practice in query letters, which agents know may be necessary for a complicated story).

All the research can be done online, I strongly suggest devoting a week or two to learning the art of the query letter for yourself. Even if you eventually decide to use a service, you will at least know something about what you are buying!

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The Writer's Market books will give you the lists of agents (with what they're looking for, contact info, etc) and articles (also in their Writer's Digest magazines and websites) on how to write the letters for $30 (or for free if you get the book/zine from the library).

There are other sources for this information as well. Agents who are looking for clients don't exactly hide behind paywalls.

You should write your own query letters. Why? Because they're part of how you tell an agent or publisher who you are. You're a writer so writing them may seem daunting but you've totally got it. No one knows your work better than you.

If you do get an agent, s/he'll talk to publishers for you and negotiate contracts, which is something that being a good writer won't prepare you for. But for querying agents, and publishers that don't require agents, write the letters (one or two main ones, with variations) and then get feedback on them from your critique group or other sources.

Will these services do a better job? I doubt it. It would be like hiring a service to apply for jobs for you. It's really a process you need to have control over. Even headhunters don't write your resume. And they're more like agents than submitting services.

Honestly, what you describe sounds boilerplate. I wouldn't trust it at all.

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