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Things to Include In a Query Letter
In order to draft a great query letter, you must know what to include in order to have a better chance of success. You have only about two seconds to impress an agent with a query letter so it is important that you make it count. Unless your query letter has all the right information, there is little chance that your letter will get a second look.
Getting ready to write a query letter
Many authors are in a hurry to get the query letter done because they think the manuscript is more important. However, agents usually don’t have enough time to evaluate the manuscript. Therefore, you have to make sure that a query letter has enough information to make your case even before an agent reads your manuscript.
Your query letter has to be convincing without the manuscript. Both the ideas it contains and the quality of writing should be top-notch. There are many mistakes you can make when writing a query letter and any mistake could get the letter pushed aside. It sounds unfair if agents judge you based on a single page letter, but that is how things work in the industry.
There is no formula for writing the best query letter; however, you must be well-versed with the industry guidelines for writing one. One of the best ways to improve your query letter writing skills is to read successful query letters and heed the advice of agents and editors. Any query letter has four mandatory parts as you shall see below.
The opening lines
Some authors start their query letters with attempts at humor, but most of these letters are quickly tossed aside. An agent will want to read more about a query letter if the book genre and marketable word count take their fancy. An author should make the query letter clear and identify the genre his work belongs to. Also mention the word count.
Here you are supposed to describe your book’s plot. The synopsis should be one or two paragraphs at most and it should give enough information for the agent to know your characters, general plot, main conflict, and the resolution. You should be specific and should also give the setting, location, and time frame of your novel.
After the plot is done with, you can now talk about yourself. Write your professional bio as best as you can. This is an easy task for published authors, but it can be a daunting one for new authors. Be confident in yourself, regardless of how long or short your bio is. Highlight your education, writing experience, publishing credentials, etc.
In the conclusion you should thank the agent for their time and patience reading the letter. Offer to send some chapters of your book or the complete manuscript and enclose a stamped envelope with your address on it. Then wait for the agent’s response.