How To Write a Query Letter

A query letter is an appeal to publishers or agents in order to get them interested in something you have written.A proper query letter will provide a synopsis of your book, give a bit of information about the author, and hopefully get the attention of agents or publishers enough that they will want to read more.The basic format of a query letter is to present all the relevant information in a concise and interesting way.

Step 1: At the top of the page, write your and the agent’s addresses.

At the top of the page, write out your first and last name, followed by your address on the next two lines, and finally your email address below that.Write out the agent’s name, the name of the publishing company, and the address below your address when you leave one space.

Step 2: The whole thing should be short.

There is a good chance that your query letter will be thrown out if it is too long and wordy.If the agent skims your letter, you want that person to still get the full story.Use short, succinct sentences and short paragraphs in the query letter.The entire body of the letter should not be more than five paragraphs.

Step 3: You can type your letter in a regular style.

Business letter best practices dictate using basic formatting only, while query letters are professional business letters.A single line of spacing between new elements and paragraphs is included.

Step 4: Follow the formula

A basic formula can be found in query letters.This will increase the chances that your letter will be read.Along with contact information, a query letter will include: Line one: the greeting, the personalization, or introduction, and the hook.

Step 5: The agent should be greeted by his name.

A personalized query letter is the only way to grab the attention of a publisher or agent right away, and it shows that you’ve chosen that agent for a reason.Make sure the agent you’re sending the letter to deals with your genre of work.If you have written a children’s book, seek out agents who represent the authors.The best way to address your letter is attn.Ms./Mr.Dear Sam Smith, do not address a query letter to To Whom It May Concern, as this will more than likely never get read.If you can’t find the name of the agent or publisher online, call and ask to speak to someone.

Step 6: Personalize the letter.

The introduction between you and the agent is where you explain why you chose that person for representation.You could be linked to the agent by something you have in common.Explain your relationship with the agent.This could include a time when you met a mutual friend, a conference you attended together, or a lecture you heard that the agent gave.Mention the name of a similar author the agent has represented if you have never met them.Discuss your book after you’ve made your introductions.Mention the title, the word count, and what genre it falls into.Say so if your manuscript has been professionally edited.This shows that you are serious about your work.

Step 7: You should create your hook.

The job of the hook is to get the agent interested in your work.The hook sums up who the main character is, what he or she is trying to achieve, and what struggles are encountered along the way.Don’t give away the ending.The agent will want to keep reading the summary if the end of the story is a mystery.You would mention that the two protagonists of the book are star-crossed young lovers who must defy the wishes of their respective families and risk everything in order to be together.

Step 8: Provide a synopsis of your book.

The next paragraph should be used to give a more in-depth summary of the story.Writing a compelling synopsis will leave the agent wanting more.Information about the important characters should be included.Tell when, where, and why the story takes place.Don’t just describe the characters, show who they are.

Step 9: Tell the agent what you know about yourself.

Give a brief biography about yourself in the next paragraph.This should include writing credits, awards, writing experience, previously published material, and any personal experiences that make you the perfect author for your story.Your bio should not be more than two sentences.It should only include information that is relevant to your story, that demonstrates your credibility as a writer, and that shows why you’re an authority on that particular topic.

Step 10: Thank the agent for their time.

The agent will be thanked in the closing paragraph of your query.Say something like thank you kindly for your time.In the closing, you should mention any other material you have included with the query.The submission guidelines for the publisher or agency will give you information to include.As long as you have completed the manuscript, the entire work can be read.You should tell the agent that you’re prepared to give more information at his request.

Step 11: Sign off with a farewell bid.

When signing off on a query letter, use appropriate business farewells.After you type out your full name, leave a couple spaces for your written signature.

Step 12: Go ahead and make a change!

Editing your letter is just as important as including all the relevant information and following the query letter formula.Errors in your query can cause an agent or publisher to throw it out.It doesn’t bode well for your book if there are errors in your query.If you want to hear mistakes, slowly read your entire letter.Correct spelling of the agent/publisher’s name and the publication name are things that should be checked and double checked.

Step 13: Follow the guidelines provided by the agent.

Submission guidelines are provided by most publishing companies and agencies.Make sure you follow the guidelines.The method by which you should send your query can be included in the guidelines.

Step 14: A self-addressed, stamped envelope is required.

A SASE is a return envelope with your address and pre-paid postage that the agent will use to reply to your query.It is a courtesy to make the lives of agents and publishers easier, so that they don’t have to waste time pulling up your contact information when responding.

Step 15: Follow it up.

Follow up with the agent or publisher if you don’t hear back from them within a month.Send your follow up to the same address if your original query was sent by regular mail.Use the same address as the original letter to send the follow up email.Don’t call or drop by in person to follow up.