Writing a Query Letter

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in General, Publication

Writing query letters can be daunting. Whether approaching an agent or going directly to a publisher with your work, delivering your baby up for critique can be heart-wrenching. What’s worse is that query letters demand that we stay on message, get to the point, and make our case all in one, short page. We have some advice, tips and tricks for making a snappy query letter sure to impress.

  1. Keep it to one page. Publishers and agents are busy folk, so respect their time and keep it to one page. Think of it like a resume for your book.
  2. Offer a paragraph with a short bio about yourself. Why are you the person to write this book? What credentials do you have? What kind of online following and platform?
  3. Give a short summary of your book. The nitty-gritty, the themes and the main characters are important here. This is tricky to do in about half a page, so make sure this is finely crafted and uses the same tone and language of your entire manuscript.
  4. Offer ideas as to other books that are similar in theme, style or subject matter. This isn’t meant to make it seem as though your book has too much competition stacked up against it, but rather, will offer the agent or publisher an idea of what kind of book they are dealing with before they even read the summary. But be careful not to line yourself up next to serious greats. “I’m the next Charles Dickens” might not be the way to go. You’re setting that bar awfully high.
  5. Address your letter directly to the agent or person who will read your manuscript at the publishing house. Why do you feel your book is well-suited to that agency or publisher? How does your work fit into the greater scope of their mandate?
  6. Why is your book important? Why does it matter right now? Is it a current topic? Is it something that hasn’t been addressed before? Essentially, tell the agent or publisher what makes your book special.
  7. For heaven’s sake, do a serious copyedit before handing it in. Send it to friends and family. Offer red pens. Be ruthless. There’s nothing less professional than a bunch of typos.

For more ideas, visit Writer’s Digest. 

by Kelly S. Thompson, Co-Pres

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