Once you have finally finished your masterpiece, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and begin writing query letters to potential agents and publishers.
In essence, a query letter is similar to a cover letter that you would send out on the front of a resume for a potential job. However, a query can be so much more. This is your opportunity to make a valuable first impression on potential agents and publishers to entice them to contact you and find out more about your work.
Do Your Homework
Before sending out a generic, mass query letter to multiple agents and publishers, it is critical to do your homework. Take the time to find out which agents or publishing houses would be best to represent your work. You will only be wasting time if you send out query letters to agents that do not represent your genre or already represent books similar to your work.
Next, it is important to figure out the individual submission guidelines for each agent or publisher. Some agents are very, very specific about their submission guidelines in order to weed out the good from the bad in potential authors. You will be doing yourself a serious disservice if you do not follow an agent’s or publisher’s submission guidelines to the letter. In many cases, if you don’t follow the submission guidelines set in place, then your query will be automatically rejected.
Include a Personal Touch
It’s important that your query is personalized to show that you are reaching out to an agent for a reason. Many agents will be turned off by a generic query letter that does not speak to them sincerely. Mention specific books that an agent represents that you identify with or qualities about an agency that would best match your project.
From there, your query letter should consist of five basic components:
- Hook: The hook is the first line that will grab an agent’s attention and make them want to read more.
- Pitch: After grabbing the attention of the agent, your second paragraph will contain your pitch. This is the purpose or summary of your work.
- Body: The body of your query is used to sell your work, offering details of the plot, characters, and audience of the manuscript. This body is often likened to the summary that you would read on the jacket cover of a book.
- Credentials: In one paragraph, summarize your credentials as to why you are qualified to publish your work in a specific market. This can include education, writing accomplishments, and/or literary awards.
- Closing: In the last paragraph, thank the agent sincerely for taking the time to review your work and offer to send them the full manuscript if they are interested.