As a writer, you will write many queries and send them out to many different agents and/or editors. It is highly important for new writers to understand how to set up a query letter and what should go in one.
1. Use Times New Roman or Arial at a 12-point font.
2. Keep the margins at 1 inch and do not indent.
3. Single space with one space between paragraphs.
4. In the top left hand corner include the agent’s name, the agency’s name, and the address. In the top right hand corner include the date. Ex: February 2014
5. Always address a specific agent and make sure their name is spelled correctly!
6. Generally, the first paragraph is supposed to give all the information about your manuscript: the title, which I like to type all in CAPS, the genre (sub-genre), and the rounded word count. Ex: 95,000 words.
7. In the first paragraph you can hint at what they can expect to find in your book. In my query for my supernatural-thriller series I mentioned they will “meet dangerous criminals as well as ghosts, angels, and even gods.”
8. With the query for my series, I included a sentence before the first paragraph to hook the agent. You can also add a couple of sentences to hook the agent into your story. I did the same at the end, above the bio, to close the story line and hopefully entice agents.
9. The second paragraph is dedicated to the story. Introduce the main character and what his/her main conflict is during the story. You can stretch this into another (shorter) paragraph to summarize the main points of the plot, if you have to. You don’t have to tell everything though!
10. The next paragraph can indicate who the intended audience is for your novel. I did this in the first paragraph of my query letter.
11. The last paragraph is your bio. If you don’t have publishing credentials, do not stress about it! Talk about your book. Will it be part of a series? Are you working on or have the sequel finished? Mention any writing awards or contests you’ve won, classes you’ve taken, if you have your degree in English Literature, and any writing groups or associations you belong to. If you have publishing credentials list a few places that have published your work. This is also where you can mention your pen name if you use one.
12. Finally, close the letter by thanking the agent for considering your novel.
13. At the very bottom, always include “Sincerely” with your name, address, email, and phone number; all the possible ways they can get in contact with you.
14. Keep the query letter to one page.
15. Spell check and read your query several times, even out loud to make sure it sounds good. Or let others read it and offer their opinion.
16. Include an SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) so the agent can send you a reply.
17. Then mail that sucker out!
18. If you are emailing a query everything above still applies, but you will have to copy and paste the query into the body of your email.
19. For an e-query, make sure the subject line says, “Submission: The Title of Your Story”.
20. Always read the submission guidelines on an agent’s website for specifics of how they like queries sent to them. They may only accept e-queries or snail mail. Or they may tell you something specific to put in the subject line. Always follow their rules! And make sure the agent you are sending to accepts your genre.
TIP: Create a professional email address. Ex: YourAuthorName@whatever.com. You don’t want to send a business letter from SexyMama4eva@BadIdea.com
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