Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! Send me the full manuscript. When sending query letters to an agent, you always want to use his or her name. Cut right to the chase.
The Power of a Query Letter I used to hate publishing houses -- this can fit for an agent too -- that only allowed writers to send in a query letter.
I mean, come on, how can they tell how I write, just from a query letter? At least give me a chance to writing a great query letter I can write, that I can tell a good story!
Picture a skilled editor with a full query letter in hand. She has probably seen thousands of them. Think of how much she can learn about you and your book -- and your writing -- from that one page query letter. It sure must make her job a lot easier.
For starters, did you send a nice clean letter? Is it in proper format?
Are your thoughts clear, your writing tight? Is it addressed to Dear Editor, or to her personally by title and name? Did you add every thing into that query that you should? Is it five pages long when the house's guidelines state one page only?
Is it letter perfect, with no spelling or grammar mistakes? If the writer who sent her the query letter didn't even bother to do this much right, what are the chances that a manuscript from that person will be any better? Most editors don't have time to take chances.
If you write your query the way you should, in the first few sentences that editor will learn the name of your story, the length, the genre, the line you are targeting, and be assured that the manuscript is completed.
So, if it's not completed, and scanning your query shows you have never sold novel-length fiction, she can probably toss your query to the rejection pile.
There are other query letters sitting there from writers with completed manuscripts and perfect query letters. Too, if her house only buys contemporaries that have a word count between 60, and 80, and you list yours aswords, and it's set in on top of that, then first off, you didn't bother to study the market, and secondly it wouldn't fit her house anyhow, so she can toss this query as well.
Just with that first paragraph, the editor has been able to move a lot of those query letters off of her desk, and she never needed to even read the synopsis of the story. Next in the query letter is your pitch about your story. You have to make this short and sweet, and still grab her interest.
Think of this as being the blurb on the back of a novel. How many times have you read a book's back cover and set the book back on the shelve, or placed it into your buggy, making that decision just from those couple of paragraphs? If the editor doesn't like your writing style, or if she has just bought a story with the same plot line, then she can toss this query too.
Reading further won't do her any good, or you. Last in your letter are a few lines to brag about yourself. Come on, you have something positive you can add.
Have you published any thing, been writing for ten years, are you a member of RWA, part of a critique group, placed in a writing contest?
Anything good at all you can add, to give you a little glow is perfect for here, like if your story has a heroine who is a nurse, and guess what, you are a nurse. Some things that will probably get your query tossed on this part is if you add something like I know you will think this is the very best book you have ever read!
My mom and sister both loved this story so much, they said it just has to be published and should sell millions of copies!
How much will I be paid for this, and when will the check get here? So you see, that query letter, only a single page long, that most of us just hate to write, can tell an editor or agent everything she needs to know about you and your manuscript -- at least every thing she needs to know to decide if she should bother with reading chapter one.For more great writing advice, click here.
Learn more about query letter writing in the online course How to Query Letter in 14 Days, from Writer’s Digest University. Brian A.
Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy. A great query letter is your key to unlocking an executive's door.
Take your time and be as thoughtful about your query as you were when writing your screenplay. Industry professionals view query letters as a reflection of the writer's screenplay and writing skills, so the assumption will be if the query letter is poor, then the script will be, too.
So here is the secret to writing a perfect query letter, one that will make literary agents and editors sit up and take notice: Takeaway #1: There are three things you absolutely need to include in your query letter.
A query letter is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to the agent.” 23 Agent Query Letters That Actually Worked 1. The official website for the book HOW TO WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER: INSIDER TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SUCCESS by Noah Lukeman.
Yes, a query should be a professional business letter, but honestly, writing a query in the same manner as a regular cover letter is a recipe for snoozeville. A great query should not only tell an agent what your book is about, but it should also match your book's tone.