When it comes to querying, some writers dread the process. Unlike a manuscript, query letters are business. Similar to writing a cover letter for a job interview, this is a first impression to an agent or editor.
Below are my notes from a recent RealmMakers webinar and some past research. Thanks to Alice Fugat for the amazing information! 🙂
Include any contact information before your first paragraph near the top of the page, right-justified. This helps the recipient contact you if they need further information. It also breaks the ice—so to speak—and shows that you offer a professional medium of trust.
Personal websites are a big plus; these give the recipient an idea of your capabilities. Below your personal info include the agent’s information, left-justified.
Give a proper business greeting to the recipient. Use his or her last name with the suffix Mr. or Ms. If you don’t know the name, use sir or madam instead—this is not recommended though as it creates a less formal feel.
After the greeting, mention the nature of the query letter, and any good author credentials or endorsements. Word count, genre, and target audience go here. E.g. “this is for fans of…” among other details. Comparison titles work; stick to two or three written within the last three to five years.
The premise of the story goes here, along with a small synopsis. Hook the recipient, and mention any strong messages in the book.
Put the author bio, unmentioned credentials, day job, writing routines, and other interesting facts. Mention location of residence, and personal beliefs that tie into the story. Writing platforms/podcasts/newsletters are great here. Discuss “why I’m querying you”.
Conclude the letter by thanking the recipient for their time. Describe a few more positive features of the book. Offer to send the first chapter if they’re interested. Sign off short and sweet.
Don’t “reach”, meaning avoid exaggeration of credentials or details of the book. Keep it simple and straightforward. The format should read like a business letter. Follow whatever requirements the recipients have on their webpage.
I hope that provides insight into the art of querying. It was a nice refresher for me, and I look forward to the RealmMakers online conference next month. 🙂 Cheers.
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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White