You have completed writing your book and are ready to submit it to literary agents to polish and publish it. But before you do it, you’ll first have to land a deal with a literary agent and tell them about your book. For this purpose, you will have to write a query letter that will introduce your book to them.
It’s a one-page compact form book proposal that is your chance to ‘sell’ your book in a short amount of space. Writing a query letter is a crucial step in the publication process, so you’ll have to write it carefully.
In this article, we are going to share the top 7 things that will help you write an effective query to land a qualified literary agent for your book.
- Keep it Short and Sweet
That’s what differentiates a query letter from a book proposal. A query letter is not the place to include your entire book proposal or synopsis. You want to give the editor or agent a taste of your book without overwhelming them with information. Be sure to include the title and genre of your book, as well as a brief synopsis.
If you have any previous publication credits, be sure to mention them. And finally, be sure to thank the editor or agent for their time. The best way is to start with a brief introduction to your book and then hook the agent with an intriguing plot summary and your book’s unique selling points.
- Don’t be Afraid to Blow Your Own Trumpet
This may seem like a counterintuitive approach, but that’s what a query letter is all about. It’s about selling yourself in the best way you can and making the literary agent accept your book offer. Talk about your successes and what makes you unique. This is your chance to shine, so don’t be shy and modest.
You need to convince the agent that you and your book are worth their time and attention. So, tell them why you’re the best person to write this book and why your book is going to be a huge success. Also, be sure to include how your book is better than others of the same subject matter.
And most importantly, don’t forget to include your contact information so they can get in touch with you.
- Focus on the Story and Know Your Audience
Before you start writing your query letter, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your story and your audience. Your story is the most important part of your letter, so make sure you have a strong and clear focus and are able to explain it to the agent.
Once you know your story, you can start tailoring your letter to your audience. Remember that your audience is made up of busy people bombarded with requests every day. So, it’s important to be clear, concise, and to the point and just explain how your story stands out from the competition.
Also, mention your writing experience and any relevant credentials that make you authoritative in the field. By doing this, you will likely grab agents’ attention and get your book published.
- Show, Don’t Tell
There’s a lot that goes into writing a query letter, but the best thing you can do is to focus on showing, not telling. You don’t only have to mention your credibility but state what makes you credible. This means that you need to be able to convey your story and characters in a way that will interest the reader.
One of the best ways to do this is to focus on your characters. What makes them unique? What are their motivations? What conflict are they facing? By bringing your characters to life, you’ll be able to grab the agent’s attention, and they will be unlikely to resist the urge to reject your proposal.
- Follow the Submission Guidelines
There are specific submission guidelines for every literary agent that include specific instructions on what to include in your letter. Make sure you follow these instructions to the letter, as this will increase your chances of getting your letter read by an editor or agent.
Literary agents receive several hundred requests per day, and if you do not follow their submission guidelines, you don’t stand a chance of getting noticed. You can either find these guidelines on the literary agent’s website or from online directories.
Also, don’t forget to include your contact information, so the recipient can get in touch with you.
- Research the Agent or Editor You’re Querying
Before you start writing the query letter, it is best to research the literary agent you’re writing it to. Research which types of projects they love to undertake and how they work with authors. Also, research what type of writing style they are interested in and try to write in the same style to grab their attention.
Moreover, most literary agents only work with a specific genre, so make sure you research this too, before submitting your query letter. This will help you customize your query letter and improve your chances of getting a positive response.
- Don’t Give Away the Ending
You want to make sure your query letter is intriguing, engaging, and really sells your story. But you also don’t want to give away too much. After all, you want the literary agent to be so intrigued by your story that they just HAVE to request your full manuscript. So how do you strike the perfect balance?
Here are a few tips on how to write a query letter that will entice agents to request your manuscript. First of all, start with a strong hook that grabs the agent’s attention and makes them want to keep reading.
Second, state your story plot, briefly explain what the story is about and the protagonist’s role without giving away the main concept. By following this approach, you will be sure to write a query letter that will help you get your book published.