- Before anything else, for the love of god, do NOT send out the same query letter to a bunch of different agents. It may save you some time, but the time you do spend will be wasted. If you don’t follow the agent’s directions your query will almost definitely go straight into the trash. Agents will have a site, a profile through their agency, or via a place like querytracker.com where you can find their instructions.
- You’re not writing another book. As one of my favorite college professors once said: K.I.S.S. aka Keep It Simple Stupid. Granted, he was a 20 year veteran of the Michigan Corrections field where he worked as a prison warden, but the advice is still valid. A query letter is a very important elevator pitch, except there are more floors and the elevator is much slower than normal.
- Structure. A kickass query letter is made up of three things; an introduction, a summary, and a conclusion. An introduction where you show them you’ve done your research about what they want and how you’re the one who can provide it to them. If their bio says something like ‘i’m looking for a twist on the traditional [insert genre here]’ then tell them you know that’s what they’re looking for and here’s why your story meets that criteria. Summary: Your book. The reason for all this hullabaloo. Write it as if it were adapted into a movie and you had to explain the key plot points of that movie. Keep only the important things in your summary, things that really tell you the tone and theme of the story. Conclusion: I like to round out my query letters by telling you my goal as far as the feelings I want the reader to walk away with as well as a comp title. And by comp (comparative) title I mean something like what I did with my book (A Beautiful Mind meets The Chronicles of Narnia).
- Don’t be timid, putting things like ‘I just thought’ or ‘i’m hoping that maybe’, but also don’t be too cocky, acting like you’ve got the contract before it has even been offered.
- The most important thing is to be yourself and try to reflect who you are as a writer through your words!
Bye for now!