What is a Query letter? To put it simply it’s the resume for your book, what you submit to a literary agent to get their attention. Single spaced and one page.
Everyone has a different opinion on this. There are bunches of websites dedicated to this and even one that maybe-might-possibly review it on their blog and tell you what works and what’s junk. Like the synopsis, there are even books written about how to write a query letter. It’s that important. I took my time and read samples, how to articles and found one format that I liked.
The basic gist is that a query letter is 4-5 paragraphs. You have 8 seconds worth of reading to catch the literary agent’s attention and have them read on. 8 seconds is not much.
The first is the introduction paragraph. The shortest of them. It has to be personal to the literary agent you are querying. Including their name and why they’re a fit for your work or why you like them or think you would work together. It varies as long as it’s personal.
The second is the quick catch paragraph. This part that must be interesting, well. This paragraph is where you set up the book to say “Hey read on, it’s awesome I promise.” It’s a mini synopsis, but only the nitty gritty of the story without the spoiler. This paragraph can be two if need be as long as the whole thing is one page.
The third is to be about the author, me. My accomplishments in literature, prizes, awards, certificates and qualifications or relevant education. I don’t have any of those things per say. So I wrote about my experiences with writing.
The fourth is the how will I promote the book etc. etc. This one was tough too. The more exposure I have the more likely a literary agent will take me seriously. Thus I started this blog, registered domain names for an upcoming website and whatever else I could find that others have done to promote a book. I kept this short and sweet.
After my first few attempts at a query letter, my brain dried up. All my creative ideas evaporated under the hot pressure of the disapproving sun of self-criticism. I could not make it sound interesting. I realized I was being too hard on myself so I took a break, wrote and revised a few chapters. I waited for the rains on inspiration and tried again when they came.
I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’m getting help for this just as I am for the Synopsis. For me its like writing my resume, it’s so hard to sell myself to others looking to hire me. The same goes for this. I know what to say, but I want to make sure it’s perfect. I have a Query that I think is decent ready to submit to the consultant. I wonder if he will agree or not? I’ll let you know.
My advice about Query letters.
Do research. Lots of it. Find the style that appeals to you and go with it. Don’t be afraid to get help or opinions on this, after all it’s part of what you will be using to sell you and your manuscript to a Literary agent or publisher if you are contacting them directly yourself.
If you find your query parched and dull, try a different approach or style. This is the face of your book. The first thing a potential literary agent will see. But hey, no pressure. 😉
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