How to Write a Query Letter: 10 Dos and Don'tsGood guess, though. That query letter stands between you and your traditional publishing dreams. A query letter is a one-page letter sent to literary agents in an effort to get them excited about your book. You have one page and words or less to woo a literary agent into falling in love with your story and then requesting your manuscript. Talk about mission impossible! Aside from the near constant rejection we writers face, crafting the perfect query letter is the hardest part of authorship. In essence, a query letter is a marketing page that talks up your book, without overselling it.
How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps
In order to have a book published by a traditional publisher , you will likely need to know how to write a query letter to find a literary agent. A query letter is part business letter, part creative writing exercise, part introduction, part death defying leap through a flaming hoop. In essence: it is a brief letter describing your book that will hopefully make an agent want to represent you. There are as many opinions out on the internet about query letters as there are, well, opinions on the internet. The important thing to remember about this is that everyone is wrong except for me.
I originally posted this example of a good query letter back when I was a literary agent, and the lessons still apply today. Let us all learn from Emily Conrad, who was both gracious enough to send me a good query letter and generous enough to let me use her as a guinea pig. A really good query letter writing guinea pig. Please note that this query is on the short side , and has just about the bare minimum amount of plot to still work. For overall tips on writing a query letter, check out How to Write a Query Letter and this query letter template. And if you need personalized help: reach out to me!
You want to know what a great query letter to literary agents should look like? Just before we look at it, I should say that I am a real author describing a real book — this letter pretends that this book is a first novel and I have no track record in the industry. You need to check what each agent requires. You can get that here. Nor is it a full guide to getting an agent — more info here , and literary agent FAQs here. The book opens with news of a murder: a young woman and her daughter have been found dead in a rough area of Cardiff. A millionaire who died in a plane crash some nine months previously.
Send me the full manuscript. Good luck! Address the agent by name.
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What is a Query Letter?
A starving writer stands in front of a mailbox, clutching a hefty brown envelope addressed to a publishing company. They say a prayer, push their manuscript in, and begin the long wait for a reply that could make or break their career. It's a romantic image, but most major publishers don't actually accept "unsolicited manuscripts" these days. And for that, they'd need a query letter. Ready to get an agent? Here's how to write a query letter in 7 steps Click To Tweet.
Your next step is one of the most important. Writing a query letter can determine whether a literary agent asks to see more or sends you a cordial form letter intended to let you down easy. It was once customary for a bachelor to request permission to call on a woman by having his calling card delivered to her. This one-page letter must masterfully sell. Write it poorly and an agent will assume your book is also poorly written. Include a one-sentence summary.