Writing a query letter that gets you noticed
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
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Writing a query letter that gets you noticed

So now that my sister is back at home, I can relax a little mentally. She gets therapy for a few months and hopefully she will have learned something about staying alive, i.e. exercise is not an option it is a necessity. You have to get up and walk a little bit everyday, and she just can't smoke any more. 

Nuff said... now there are several different types of letters or communique's that an author needs to write to introduce their work to a prospective agent or publishing company. There is the cover letter. This is the letter that will accompany a hard copy manuscript or portion of a manuscript it it is sent in the mail. Some companies still require the actual paper manuscript in their hands before they will consider a client. For digital submissions you only send a cover letter and manuscript after you have been invited to do so. Before hand you must get their attention with a query letter. 

A query letter is the letter that you write to ask if a company will be interested in your work. It is almost a pre-cover letter. Many companies, agents or publishing, do business over the internet. They have devised this abbreviated way to screen prospective clients from the chaff. A query letter consists of three parts, a hook line, a synopsis and an author bio. If you don't write a good hook line, the company representative won't even finish reading the letter. 

I have for you today wonderful article written by Emily Harston called How to write a query letter that gets you an agent. 

 How to Write a Query Letter That Gets You An Agent
Written by Emily Harstone.

You have completed your first novel. You have edited it a few times. All the really obvious mistakes are fixed. It is readable. You have already put a considerable amount of work into it, but it is not a book yet, it’s still a manuscript, not to be found in bookstores, but on your hard drive.

You have reached the turning point. Now the bulk of your work will go into getting your novel published. The first step towards being published is writing a query letter to a literary agent.

A query letter is a single page cover letter introducing your book. A literary agent is someone who will act on your behalf, dealing with publishers and promoting the authors work.  You can also submit to publishing houses directly. However this is much more difficult.
Without an agent, your novel can end up in huge slush piles and some publishers will not even look at your manuscript unless you are represented by a literary agent.

How to Write a Query Letter that an Agent will Read

When you write a query letter, always remember that it is similar a cover letter on a job application. Be professional. Write in a formal style, even if that style is at odds with your novel. Make sure you edit it repeatedly for errors. Make sure it is typed and the font is easy to read. A standard font like Times New Romans works best.

Keep it short and sweet, don’t use language that is too flowery. The query letter should consist of three paragraphs. The hook, the mini synopsis, and the author’s bio.

Creating a Hook that Will Get You an Agent

The hook is a one sentence description of the book. It should be intelligent, intriguing, and concise.
Your hook should not be a rhetorical question.

An agent I knew handed me a small pile of query letters from authors that she rejected. Most of the letters she had not even bothered finishing to read. She asked me what they all had in common. By the third letter it was clear that they all started with rhetorical questions.

In one query letter every paragraph was composed entirely of rhetorical questions.

It is best to focus on your hook, be it your main character, the location, or something else entirely. That is the best way to keep the sentence concise and maintain the agent’s interest.

Also make sure that the premise of your book sounds unique.  Agents are unlikely to follow up with an author whose book appears to be generic.

Writing a Mini Synopsis that will Appeal to Agents and Publishers

The mini synopsis is the second paragraph.  It is difficult to describe a novel in a paragraph. The key is to just focus on giving the agent an impression of what your novel is like, without getting bogged down by all the details.

Reading the back flaps of books may really help you figure out the best way to convey the basics of your book to your prospective literary agent.

Writing an Appealing Author’s Biography

The author’s bio is not a necessary part of the query letter. If you have not been published before, or do not hold a degree in creative writing, it is probably best not to include an author’s bio at all, unless your profession influences the subject of your books. For example, the author Kathy Reichs, is a forensic scientist who writes novels about a forensic scientist who writes novels.


In the conclusion to your letter you should do two things.

The first is to thank the agent for their time and consideration.  The second is to inform the agent that the full novel is available upon request.

Do not include any part of your manuscript with the letter, unless what you are submitting is non-fiction. When submitting non-fiction you should include an outline, table of contents, and a few chapters for their consideration.

Once you have written your query letter, edit it repeatedly. Keep refining it, even after you have started to submit it to agents.  Good luck with the submission process.

This is the instruction that I am applying to my own query letter writing. I have trashed all of the other ones that I have done, they clearly did not have the right stuff to get anyone's attention. I know that a lot of you are trying very hard to get into the writing field in one way or another, this is why I share these things. I hope that this information helps you as much as it has helped me. 

Live well and be good to each other.

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