Whats in a query letter and how to do it right?
Query letters should never be more than one page, single-spaced with a double space between paragraphs.
They should be short and sweet. Concise and clear.
List your name, address, and phone number at the top of your letter.
In the first paragraph
you should include the following:
- State the title of your book and what type of book (genre) youve written (category/genre/historical/etc.)
- Explain the concept
of your book, focusing on the conflict issues between your characters (in about 100 words think of this as the selling paragraph
that you find on the back of published books).
- Identify who your target audience is for this book.
- Give a summary of your ideas if you plan to write a sequel to your book.
- If you feel that your book is similar to another book theyve already published,
list it here and why.
- Also include the length of your manuscript (rounded to the nearest thousand).
In the second paragraph you should include the following:
- Give a brief biographical note about yourself.
- List your qualifications for writing on your
- You may also list any writing credits you
may have, such as other books that youve written and published, and awards youve received for your writings.
In the third paragraph you should include the following:
- Ask the editor if you may send him your complete manuscript.
- Inform him that
youve included you SASE. (self addressed stamped envelope - do not staple this to your letter).
- Thank the editor for his time and consideration. This is a service that they are doing for you.
How to increase your chances of your query letter being read...
- Follow all the
publishers guidelines to the T. Dont waste their time and do it your way. They use guidelines for a reason.
- Neatness, clarity
of thought, and evidence of your writing skills is important for a good query letter. The editor needs to know that you can
-Making your letter
funny or charming can sometime catch an editors eye, but be careful not to get silly. This is a fine line to walk and usually
backfires more often than offers success.
- Grammar and spelling
errors can ruin your chances with an editor. If there are a few mistakes you will probably slip through. If theres more than
a few, youre chances are bad. Get someone to both proofread the letter, and then have him or her read the letter out loud
to you so you can hear how it sounds.
- A beautifully typed letter with proper margins can mean the difference between Yes and No for you and your manuscript.
What you should never do in a query letter...
- Never brag about your work or of what a great writer you are. Avoid sentences like; all my friends love my writing!.
The editor will decide for himself if your work is worth reading.
- Dont tell them
how long and how hard youve worked on this book. Frankly, they dont care.
-Dont tell them
that your book was written through divine intervention. If your work is really that divine, then it will speak for itself.
-Do not use script
or italics in your letter. Use standard typeface (Times New Roman or Arial).