Query Queries: Should you begin your query with a paragraph from the book?

Some of my clients have sent me their query letter for review before sending it off to agents, and they begin the letter with the first paragraph of their book.

In no way is this a good idea.

Nor should you write the letter in the “voice” of one your characters — those are gimmicks.  If you choose, you can just jump right into the pitch — there’s nothing wrong with that.

What I generally recommend is laying out the details of your book in one easy sentence: “I have a completed 78,000-word thriller titled Dead Cat Bounce.”

Jumping into a pitch can be jarring and confusing to the reader of your letter. If you started reading an email and the first sentence was simply “Billy has a problem,” you don’t know if Billy is an adult or a child, or if he is being held captive by terrorists vs. being nervous because his turtle is missing.

In other words, the agent doesn’t know whether to laugh or be worried. They’re confused. And when an agent gets confused, they just stop reading.

If you need help crafting your query letter, or would simply like a review of the letter you’ve already drafted, contact me and I’ll be happy to help you out!

Query QueriesWriting Life

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