A query letter is designed to help you sell your book to agents so they will become interested. Since they aren’t getting paid until the book gets sold, it’s very important that they like what they are selling. It’s important in your query letter to sound professional while selling, so you don’t want the letter to have all these “sale” tactics and never get to a point. You must give them a reason to sell your book. Below are some key points that will help you make an effective query letter:
1. Introduction: Find a connection with the agent and let them know you’ve researched their kind of work. This helps them know you have a purpose for contacting them, and you aren’t just flinging query letters in every direction. It would be smart to put this in the first sentence, introducing your work and their work, to show a relation. Then, if there are any, you can mention any achievements this novel has won.
2. 2-3 Sentence Synopsis of Your Story: Do not make this too long of a summary. I know it’s important to get every minute detail in there, but it won’t be read by most agents if it’s too long. It’s like a resume: grab their attention with professionalism on one page of information. And – please, please, please – don’t leave the agent with questions of how the story will end or what the main plot actually is. Agents despise this! Tell them a summary of the whole thing, including the main character and his/her/its mission or conflict. A story should speak for itself, so don’t add too much explanation to the story’s synopsis.
3. Some Statistics of the Work: Although agents need to understand your story, they do need some background information about your novel to gather what they would be looking at if they decided to take on your book. In this part, tell how many words your novel is, so they will know what size book they are selling. This is also where your good research comes in. Relate your book to others that have been published by them before. Let them know you’ve done your research.
The query letter is your selling point between the agent and the book (Writer’s Workshop). Make sure your letter is no more than one page. The worst thing to do is bore your agent with unnecessary details. Follow the agent’s instructions if they prefer a letter to be a certain way. If there are no rules, I’d recommend basic academic style – Times New Romans at 12-pt font size. I’v provided an example of a query letter describing the points mentioned (Disclaimer: Everything in this query letter example is made up):
[Agent’s Workplace Name]
[Agent’s Work Address]
[The Day’s Date]
Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [Agent’s Name (use full name if unsure of the gender)],
I recently came across your interview with [insert name of blogger/writer/whoever the interview was with], revealing that you were interested in publishing fairy tale fantasy. I wanted to share my novel with you called The Three Little Pigs. It has received two awards in the Fairy Tale World’s Organization and won the Neighbors to Neighbors Writers Guild Contest, which granted me a scholarship to Emory University.
The Three Little Pigs tells the story of three pig brothers that move out of their mother’s home to start their lives through building their own houses. The first two pigs’ houses built of straw and sticks were blown down by a hungry wolf looking for his next meal. They ran to the third brother’s house made of brick for protection. The wolf found the last brother’s house, but couldn’t blow it down, so the three brothers were saved by the third brother’s hard work on his house.
This fairy tale is intended for kindergarten-aged children, so I’ve provided illustrations to help them when reading. Much like [author’s name]’s story, The Little Red Riding Hood, which you helped publish, The Three Little Pigs helps children learn the basics elements found in a story.
This 4,200-word story, set in the wilderness, will appeal to children, not only because of the pictures, but because of the lesson learned behind the entertainment: hard work pays off.
As a graduate of Emory University in 2005, I have since won a Novella Prize on a written piece in the Hot Stake Magazine and authored two previous successful novels through Harbor Now Publishing in New Jersey.
Thank you for your time and effort in looking at the first five pages with illustrations I’ve supplied for your review. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you regarding your interest in my manuscript.
This is just one sample of a query letter. There are plenty to find on the internet, so take a look around and see what kinds of examples you discover. It’s important to further research literary agents in your list and see what their particular quirks are. Keep your query personal to the agent, but professional. Keep them interested in your character and main plot. Make sure you know your audience. And branch out! Your novel should be cherished by the right people, so make sure your agent is the right person for the job.
Kole, Mary. "How to Write the Perfect Query Letter - Query Letter Example." WritersDigest.com. Writer's Digest, 23 Feb. 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.
Harry. "How Do You Find a Literary Agent?" The Writer's Workshop. 13 June 2011. Web. 19 May 2017.
Sambuchino, Chuck. "38 Query Letter Tips from Literary Agents." WritersDigest.com. Writer's Digest, 07 Feb. 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.
FROM THE WRITER
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