A query letter is a writer’s first step to becoming a published author. The query letter is used to catch the attention of agents and editors and get them to start reading your manuscript. It needs to be captivating, well written, and articulate the atmosphere, world, and main conflict of your story, as well as highlight any relevant information about you.
That being said, before you ever begin submitting queries, remember that your manuscript NEEDS to be fully completed and polished. Writing is fun. Developing new ideas for novels is exciting. Even though you might be very excited about your work and want to start sharing it with people, you CANNOT query agents or editors unless your manuscript is finished. It’s hugely unprofessional and will get you nowhere.
If you are finished, congratulations! It’s time to query!
Here are some tips for writing a query letter:
• This is a business form. So address it as such. Use a colon not a comma.
Dear (agent name):
• Make certain to do research on agents and editors. Find reputable agencies and publishing companies to send your work to. If they ask for money beforehand, it’s a scam. Agents don’t get paid till you do. Once you’ve found a list of agencies and companies to query, make sure to research the agents there to find the ones that are interested in your kind of writing.
• There are three main paragraphs in a query letter and they should comprise the following:
Paragraph 1: This is your introduction. In this paragraph you’ll list the genre, page count, any comps (books comparable to yours in genre, story, atmosphere, etc.) and your elevator pitch (a one sentence pitch of your book).
Paragraph 2: This is where you give a quick overview of your story. Characters, conflict, etc. Think the back cover of a book.
Paragraph 3: This is your bio. It’s a chance to let the agent/editor get to know you. List any publications and any relevant information to your manuscript. If you’re a historian and your book involves history, mention it. If you also happen to like long walks on the beach, that’s probably not so necessary to mention.
• Once you’ve got your draft: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Find beta readers, think over their advice, and edit again.
• Make sure to check each agent’s/editor’s submission requirements. Everyone’s will be different. Some want just a query letter, some want a synopsis as well, and others want a writing sample. DO NOT send any more or less than they ask for. Be respectful of their time. If they want to see more, they will ask you.
• Don’t worry about rejections. It’s part of the process. We learn from them and grow.
Good luck authors!
Till next time,