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Trey Dowell

The Art of the Query

1:00-3:30 PM
El Cabrillo

A brilliant 300-page novel is meaningless unless the writer can entice someone into reading page one. Whether pursing an agent or submitting directly to a publisher, your chances of success depend heavily on one thing: the query letter.

This session will focus on the art of querying—sparking curiosity, building anticipation, and channeling a reader’s energy into page one of your book. We’ll discuss proven query strategies and methods, along with some of the mistakes writers often make. We’ll also dissect real-world queries that worked, and talk about the elements that made them succeed. This will be an interactive hands-on class, so feel free to bring your own work-in-progress query—we’ll read them aloud and workshop.


Trey Dowell brought the first twenty pages of a sci-fi thriller called Aphrodite Way to the SBWC in 2011. A year later he brought the completed manuscript and won a prize in the fiction category at SBWC. That softened the blow of an agent saying,“I just don’t get it,” during his first ever pitch session. Luckily another agent did get it, and the following year Simon and Schuster bought that manuscript. Dowell’s debut novel, retitled The Protectors, was published in October 2014.

Trey Dowell is proud graduate of the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference and he resides in Saint Louis Missouri, working feverishly on more novels.