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Writing a query letter is quite common for many authors. A well-written query can usually grab a publisher’s or literary agent’s attention and interest. This gives you a better chance because they can sometimes ask you to provide more information about your manuscript. It’s important to know what to include in query letters as it can assist you in creating a compelling letter that accurately reflects your manuscript. There are various things you have to know about a query letter. This article discusses what you should know about a query letter.
A query letter
A query letter refers to a one-page document that you need to send to an editor, agent, or traditional publisher. In a query letter, you can pitch your work or idea to attract the interest of editors or agents. The work can be a magazine article, novel, or nonfiction book. If an editor or agent thinks they can publish your book, they can request a few chapters or manuscripts to determine if it’s worth publishing. This letter is a crucial first step toward publishing a written work.
Remember that you need to take a few steps to write a good query letter. Firstly, you have to use professional formats. If you intend to use postal mail and not email, then you should invest in a high-quality white paper. The query letter must be single-spaced and should have one-inch margins. You should choose a readable font, such as Times New Roman size 12 or Arial. But you need to avoid other fonts that have serifs. Sometimes, Word processing programs can have templates suitable for formal business letters. And, if you want to utilize these templates, it can be easier to follow some of these basic formatting guidelines.
A query letter should also have a heading. The header should have your contact details, the recipient’s information, and the date, just like you are writing any standard business letter. You should make sure that you address the editor or literary agent by name. , But you need to avoid utilizing generic terms, such as Dear Editor or Dear Agent. Utilizing the name of the recipient can show that you have researched and want to work with them.
Create a strong hook
It’s also important to create a strong hook. The opening of a query letter is the first paragraph, and you should place the hook in the first sentence of this paragraph. A hook aims to persuade the agent or editor to continue reading your query letter. Therefore, you should make sure that the opening stands out with a creative hook. This can get the attention of the recipient reading your query letter and may inspire them to continue reading. You can choose to utilize an interesting detail about your story or even a section of your story so that the opening can be compelling.
The body of a query letter needs to have a synopsis. A synopsis refers to a brief summary that gives your reader a certain sense of what your manuscript is about. Simply put, it’s an overview of the main elements, key points, or a storyline. Such main elements and key points can include characters, setting, style, and genre. The synopsis must be in the second paragraph of a query letter. Note that you want to sell your manuscript, so make sure that you create a synopsis that intrigues the recipient.
After you complete the synopsis, you should add information about some relevant credentials that you may have. Let the editor or agent know if you have any published work with reputable publications. Also, you can include any educational achievements associated with writing or the manuscript topic.
For example, if you have written a science fiction book and the character is a scientist and you are a scientist, you should highlight this credential because it will demonstrate your strengths. It can also show your reader that you are passionate about learning and writing.
You can start the closing of the query letter with a gratitude statement like thank you for your time. You can then add a closing, such as best regards or sincerely. If you intend to send physical letters, you need to leave some space just below the closing for your signature. Also, you should print your name and add your contact details below so that the editor or agent can easily contact you.
It’s also crucial to proofread your query letter before sending it to ensure that you have put the correct information. Ensure that you send the query letter to the proper recipient. Alternatively, you can contact the traditional publisher, literary agent, or editor to be sure that you are addressing the query letter to the right person.
Tips for writing an effective query letter
In most cases, shorter query letters that have less than 400 words usually get better results. Therefore, your query letter should be brief. Editors and agents want concise query letters that have important information that is easier for them to read and understand.
You should also appear confident in your writing so that you can successfully market the transcript. A good marketing tactic is to sell the pitch by writing a polite and professional query letter that has a great synopsis. You just have to attract your reader’s interest by telling an amazing story.
No doubt, the publishing industry is highly competitive, and you can be rejected after sending several query letters. Therefore, you need to experiment with pitches, angles, and synopsis to find the right approach for you. You should also have another person read your query letter when you make some changes. They can give you a different perspective of what works well for your query letter.
There are many traditional publishers out there where you can choose to send your query letters. You can try to send your query letters to different mediums. Also, you can choose online formats, especially if you are just focused on sending query letters to traditional publishers.
Thank you for reading!