A query letter, huh? Sounds easy, but it must be precise. For all you authors trying to hook an agent, let me help you.
First, let’s get the basics out of the way:
- Single space your letter
- Use Times New Romans ALWAYS
- Always begin with “Dear” no matter the name of the agent
- Always end with “Sincerely, Your Name”
- In the name of all that is holy, do not make your letter longer than one single page
Before I go on, I urge you to review other query letters for preference as styles do vary for each and every literary agent.
For example of what a query letter should look like, check out the formatting below!
Upper left corner
John Smith 1 January 2020
100 Apple St.
Town, SC 12345
Here, do not forget to address the agent with “Dear”
In this paragraph, you want to give the agent the title of your book, the genre, and the word count. It would be best to make this paragraph about three sentences at most. Explain why you feel this agent is a good fit for your novel.
This paragraph will take up a large chunk of the letter, because here is where you share your brief “back-of-the-book” summary about your amazing novel. Most of the time, your summary is about 150 words or more, so in a case as such, it is not uncommon for an author to split the chunky summary paragraph in two. Pro tip: if you have a lot of white space by the end of the letter, make your summary three paragraphs of about 3-4 sentences each. But be quick with your summary, and DO NOT give away the ending. End your summary with a hook, a one liner that will intrigue the agent. Check out next Saturday’s article on How To Write A Synopsis Vs. A Summary.
Now that you’ve written your one/three paragraph summary, you want to proceed IN ONE SENTENCE to give the title and author of at least two novels that are comparable to your own and that share the same genre as your novel, such as, “Similar books to My Novel Title are Springtime Flowers, by Jane Doe, and Autumn Leaves, by Mark Marx.”
In this last sentence of your query letter, in just a couple of sentences, give a brief bio. Share where you live, any awards you may have won that are related to literature/writing, and your credentials that basically prove you know what you’re doing by writing this book (college degree; your job; and if your book is about parenting, your credentials are going to simply be being a mother of three children for fifteen years).
Reader of Hit Hollywood Magazine
See? Not so difficult. If you follow this formula, you’ve written your query well, though it never hurts to have an editor/professor/other writer to look over it. Proofreading is necessary for any form of writing, so if you’ve never been a fan of that, suck it up, buttercup! It might mean getting published.
A rookie mistake that some writers do in their query letters is brag about how much their friends loved this book, or how inspired you were while writing it, or how long/short of amount of time it took to complete. No. Do this and rejection is inevitable. Instead, follow this formula, and you should be ready to send!