Few marketing tasks are as universally hated among writers as query letter writing (Although, building an author website is up there too.) After all, you’ve written a 70,000+ word novel and you’re supposed to boil it down to a few paragraphs of sales copy designed to seduce an agent into reading your work? Yep. That about sums it up. Sorry.
While query letters can vary depending on the agent (and his/her specific guidelines) and the genre of your book, there are many elements that are universal to all successful query letters. Those elements include:
That’s great, you say, but this all seems easier said than done. We’re not gonna lie: it’s not easy to entice an agent to read your work. But it’s not impossible, either.
How to start
Unless you are being referred to an agent by one of his/her existing clients, or you met the agent at a conference or event, we recommend starting your query letter with your hook. Some writers have also had success with the less sexy but still effective direct approach (something like: I’m seeking representation for my book, [Title], a 65,000-word paranormal romance novel.)
Writing an effective hook
The hook should include:
What shouldn’t be in a bio
If you decide to include a bio, only include what’s listed above. Don’t include:
What should be in your closing
Other than the polite “thank you for your time and consideration,” here’s what you should and shouldn’t include:
Random other stuff
Other general things to keep in mind:
For examples of successful queries (and some not so successful), check out Writer’s Digest and Query Shark.
How about you? Have a question or query story you’d like to share? Drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!