Once we finish writing our book (though a book is never really finished), the next step for those wishing to land a traditional publishing deal is to find an agent. This requires a really great query letter.
There’s a lot of information online about writing a query letter. Unfortunately, it seems to be as much art as it is science. Despite differing opinions on the specific content and order, here are the pointers I’ve picked up and use:
- Address it to a specific agent, following the agent’s guidelines and making sure he or she is accepting queries in your genre.
- Open with a concise connection to the agent (sincere and non-embellished), followed by a great hook, sell your idea, and then sell yourself (including your platform).
- Keep it to one normal page (even though you will generally email it as text).
- Don’t ask them to click a link or download an attachment. (I understand most will skip your link and few will download an attachment unless they know you or requested you to attach a document.)
- Keep it professional; avoid being cute, clever, or gimmicky.
- Spell check and proofread carefully.
For more insight here are some helpful links about writing a book query:
- Juggling Agent Interest
- Anatomy of a Winning Query
- Query Paranoia
- Queries: Really Not That Complicated
- What Makes a Good Nonfiction Query?
- What Makes a Good Fiction Query?
- The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter
- How To Write A Query Lette
- Hints for a Great Cover Letter
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.