Query letters. Sometimes just the word can make us cringe!
Just how important are these letters and do we always have to write one when we submit our work to publishers/agents? Well we all know the simple answer is Yes. Some of us know how to write a query quite well while others struggle. I don't know about you, but I had to practice, study and learn how to write a query letter, and I'm still perfecting that part of the craft. I call it a craft because, like writing a synopsis, it is a learning experience. And of course I'm always still learning.
A few days ago my good friend, Linda Banche posted a very informative blog about writing query letters. Go check out her blog linked to her name for the complete post. She gives an example of her latest submission query to Wild Rose Press for her novella, Mistletoe Everywhere. (The story was contracted and will release next Christmas.)
Linda explains the paragraphs involved and goes on to tell us how she did it. Generally, a query letter goes something like this:
Always address an editor by name unless the guidelines say not to do so. In the first paragraph, introduce the story. Then the title and word count and then tell why your story is right for this line/publisher. The second paragraph and third if needed, tells your story in blurb or pitch form. The last tells a bit about you and your writing credentials, etc.
There are many sites that share query letter examples. I'm going to share a friend's query to an agent:
Dear Ms. (Literary Agent),
I am an author in search of a literary agent. Since I am familiar with several writers whom you represent, I though that you also might be enthusiastic about my contemporary romance novel, Building Bridges. The completed novel is approximately 125,000 words long and is one of five finalists in the Laurie contest sponsored by the Smoky Mountain Romance Writers.
Kate Chilton, a widow raising two boys alone, is happy to live her life by the rules until the day she discovers that her dead husband was unfaithful to her. Randall Johnson, self-made millionaire and committed ladies’ man, seems like the perfect candidate for Kate’s revenge: a one night stand that she can walk away from without a backward glance. But Randall perversely refuses to accept the limits of his assigned role. When he brings his considerable resources to bear on the lady’s defenses, the battle rages from suburban soccer field to the girders of the George Washington Bridge.
I am a member of Romance Writers of America and the New Jersey Romance Writers. I graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English and Creative Writing.
Enclosed please find a brief synopsis and a self-addressed stamped envelope in accordance with your requirements in the Romance Writers’ Report.
I very much appreciate your time and attention, and hope to have the chance to work with you in the near future.
The above query was written a few years ago and the author went on to sign with that agent and later, a two book deal with Berkeley Sensation.
Do you have trouble writing queries? Study how other authors do it. It can't hurt and it can possibly help you get you own books published or agented.