How to Write a Query Letter – A Brief Guide

If you are preparing to pitch your work to a literary agent, there are several things you might want to know about drafting a query letter and the important components of a query letter.

Here are the crucial steps of writing a query letter. 

Start with Personalization 

The first section of the query letter is personalization, where you want to address the agent with the real name. Suppose the name of your literary agent is Mr. Smith, in which case, you will address them as dear Mr. Smith. Also, make sure to spell the name correctly because if you don’t spell the name correctly, it won’t create a good first impression on the literary agent.

In the next line, you have the option of taking personalization to the next level. Literary agents have different requirements for what they would like to see in their queries, which is why you must ensure that you do your specific research on each individual agent that you submit to. This way, you will know exactly what each agent wants and what you can give to them. 

You can find the much-needed information on their websites, as pretty much every literary agency should have a website. If you reside in Texas, you might want to check out the literary agents in Texas and pitch to the ones whose work falls in the same category as your work. Whoever agents you choose, check their social media profiles as well. Some of the literary agents will post on their social media pages as well about what they have for requirements in submission. 

Additionally, you will want to check whether the literary agent is actually accepting whatever you are submitting because sometimes they might close off. So, make sure to check every single detail that they have posted about what they want to see in their query letter.

Mention the Connection and Reference

When it comes to personalization, you definitely want the personalization to be at the top if you have a personal connection with the agent. When we say personal connection, we essentially mean that you might have met the literary agent at a writer’s conference and they asked you to submit your material. 

There is also a possibility that one of the literary agent’s clients recommended you to this agent, or another editor or another agent recommended you. These sorts of connections are something that you want to put at the very top. The underlying reason why you want them to be at the top is that in real life, literary agents read a query until they get bored, and then they stop. 

So, if you do have a major connection and you place it at the bottom of the query letter, there is a chance that the literary agent got bored with your pitch and didn’t read that far. On the safe side, you will want to put that connection on the top as a way to make the literary agent feel intrigued about your pitch.

In simple words, if you have connections, you will want to let them know straight away. 

Write the Hook 

If you don’t have a strong connection, you can talk about one of the reasons why you chose that particular literary agent and what drew you to ask them to represent your work. For instance, in the beginning, you might want to mention a book that represents something that you absolutely love and that has something to do with your own book. 

Nonetheless, if you don’t have a really strong connection to this literary agent by a personal experience or a recommendation, then you will want to place this kind of detail after your hook. The hook is a sales pitch that is very similar to what you will read on the back of a book.

Now, obviously, at this point, we cannot tell you how to write the hook because this is something that will be different for every single book. However, as a rule of thumb, you will certainly want to mention the protagonist. You will also want to mention who or what the antagonist is in your story, and you want to go into the stakes.

Now, after the hook, you have another place to put personalization. However, as mentioned before, if you don’t have that legitimate connection to the agent, your best interest is in placing the personalization after the hook and not in the beginning. While you are at it, you will be essentially telling them why you chose them specifically to query and what makes them stand out to you. Essentially, you will need something to show them that you have actually done your research on them and that you haven’t merely chosen them haphazardly, testing your luck. 

Include Your Bio 

Another important part of the query is the bio. However, if you are an unpublished author and none of your work has been published yet, you don’t have to put a bio unless you feel like it. If you are including a bio, then you should know the key to what goes in it is to ask yourself with every single detail about the underlying purpose that the detail serves.

If you fail to confidently give an answer to what the details serve, then it might be in your best interest to leave it out. If you are pitching to a literary agent for a non-fiction book, it is essential to include a strong bio, including writing credits, the details of your self-published books, and your profession if it has something to do with writing. Perhaps your profession gives you the credentials to write about a particular subject as every single writer does special research for their books, even fiction writers. 

If you have done any particular research, such as a master’s paper on a subject that is also the subject of your book, then this is something to include in your bio, too. Also, don’t forget to include any major awards and competitions that you won. 

If you have a self-published book that hasn’t sold a million copies, then it might be better to skip the mention of this self-published book. However, if you have traditionally published a book, you will certainly want to mention it in your bio. 

By Richard

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *