Query Queries: 6 Things Your Query Needs To Do

There are a few things your query letter needs.  Below I’ve listed a few things that you might add when crafting your next query.

#1 – Your query letter needs to get the agent’s name and title right. You’re not sending this “To Whom It May Concern.”

#2 – Your query letter needs to present your book idea simply.  Include a simple one-sentence summary.

#3 – Your query letter needs to show evidence your style. Grab the agent with compelling writing by briefly telling the plot of your novel or the purpose of your nonfiction book. Write with the same voice you’d use when telling your best friend about it. Your passion must be obvious.

#4 – Your query letter needs to show that you know who your readers are. An agent needs to believe he can sell your book before he’ll ask for more. Be specific about your target audience, and “everyone” doesn’t count. Agents know the business and cannot be persuaded that “everyone will find this amazing.”

#5 – Your query letter needs to clarify your qualifications for the agent. Briefly summarize why you’re the one to write this book. Answer some questions like: What else have you published? What platform have you built? What education do you have? Link to your website.  Don’t emphasize your lack of experience, but resist the urge to exaggerate or embellish.

#6 – Your query letter needs to exhibit your flexibility and professionalism. Keep it brief and express your ability to provide whatever is requested: proposal, synopsis, sample chapters, whatever. Conclude with a simple “Thanks for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.”

BONUS TIPS – Be sure to:

  • Include your book’s genre, title, and expected word count.
  • Properly format: limit yourself to a single page, single-spaced, and use a 12 pt. serif type. The shorter your letter the better, but say what you need to.
  • Follow the agent’s submission guidelines to a T, including how to send (via email attachment, not as an attachment, by snail mail [rare], etc.).

Query QueriesWriting Life

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