As promised, I blog today about the Query Letter. I will try to keep it brief and to the point. Why? Because this is how a query should be! So, what is a query letter? It is a one page letter to an agent to gain their interest in your manuscript. It should contain these paragraphs (in this order):
1. The hook.
2. A mini synopsis
3. Brief Bio
First, if you open your hook by telling an agent why you are writing them, don’t be cute. Be professional because this is a business letter! For Pete’s sake, do not tell them it’s because you also have a dog named Sienna who does a front handstand while peeing! (Yes, my dog does this.) Make sure the only reason you are contacting them is because you’ve done your research and believe they will be a good fit for your manuscript. Include the genre of your book, word count, and if it’s fiction or nonfiction. For example: I am writing regarding my fictional young adult novel named Beast complete at 57,000 words because you are currently looking for paranormal romance novels with strong male voices. (Okay, it’s weak, but you get the point.)
What should be your hook? Using your logline (or tagline) is best. This sentence is derived from your plot catalyst and should be in the very first paragraph. You’ve only one chance to hook the agent reading your query so don’t save it for the last paragraph.
Your mini synopsis will be the second paragraph. This is where you sum up your story. The agent needs to feel there is a beginning, middle, and end. No, you don’t reveal the ending. You only do this in a full synopsis if requested. Be specific to the plot and subplots that make your story different. How does your character struggle? What needs to be done to overcome that struggle? If this is a series, be clear on the Arc (a storyline that unfolds over several books).
The mini bio tells the agent what your credentials are. Let them know if you have published books. (Not self published because anyone can do this. It’s irrelevant unless you’ve sold 100,000, or more, copies of a single novel). If you hold a degree relevant to what you are writing about, mention it. (Ex: You are writing a legal thriller and are a lawyer.) Don’t worry if you don’t have anything published or hold any special degrees. Let your writing speak for itself! Don’t apologize for being a newbie! Simply thank the agent for their valuable time and consideration.
On a final note, make sure to include your address, phone number, email, and links to a personal website if you write or blog on one. Remember, keep it simple and professional! Cute is for my front handstand peeing pooch!
Writer of YA