John Agent
Some literary agency
Some address

Dear Mr. Agent:

Margold poured himself a big glass of scotch and dropped into his chair. He would sit and listen to what this nut had to say, then escort him to the door. And from now on, the book club would be banned from the house. He can’t have these kooks waltzing in begging for scotch and scaring the hell out of him.

I am seeking representation for my upmarket novel, SELF PORTRAIT OF A DYING MAN, complete at 75,000 words. I’ve queried you because . . .

Margold James needs to free himself from the Angel of Death.

Convinced by a visit from Death that he has six months to live, Margold makes the radical (and domestically unpopular) decision to quit his twenty-five-year law practice and paint self portraits, believing they will ease his family’s grief.

But when his painting instructor suggests he visit a Native American shaman to rid himself of Death, Margold begins an odyssey of purification. Perhaps Death is a malady of mind and spirit that can be purged. He endures the heat of the sweat lodge, has visions brought on by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms and peyote, and suffers the pain of being suspended by the flesh. 

Still, Death is not driven away. Then Margold undergoes the greatest test of all when a psychic in New Orleans tells him there is indeed a way to cast off Death: a life for a life. Murder.

My writing has been influenced by the spartan work of Cormac McCarthy, the beautiful prose of Donna Tartt, and the rich language of Nick Cave and Anthony Burgess. That is, work that is literary, while containing dark and violent elements. Readers of these authors should enjoy this story.

My novel, A Beast in Venice, is being published early next year by Gemelli Press, which specializes in books relating to Italy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Michael E. Henderson



Ms. Rachael Dillon Fried
Sanford J. Greenburger Associates

I queried you because you are (with enthusiasm) looking to expand your list with unique literary voices.

Ms. Shira Hoffman
McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

I queried you because I read in your interview on Writer's Digest you were interested in novels that pushed genre, or that mixed genres. I consider my novel to be literary, but it contains paranormal elements.

Alternate Query (synopsis only):

Attorney Margold James is having a rough day; his client goes to jail, he has to borrow money from the prosecutor to get his car out of the garage, and his secretary informs him that the now incarcerated client still owes him ten grand.

As icing on the bloody cake, a man appears while he and his dog are watching football, claims to be the Angel of Death, and announces that Margold will die in six months.

He is caught in a struggle between his desire to be remembered through self portraits, his family’s disbelief and lack of understanding, and his attempts to rid himself of Death through torture and drugs. The real test comes when he learns he can rid himself of Death by trading a life for a life. Murder.