Great! You’ve completed your novel! It took several months to hammer out the plot and continuous problems for your protagonist while streaming in scenery and ingenious dialogue. The first part of the book is explosive, the middle is sag-free and the ending triumphs! Now for the pitch: the query letter.
While the query letter may be one of the most toiled phases of writing, it is necessary. Both agents and publishers view query letters to determine if your book is right for their clients. They also want to get a sense of your novel’s marketability, and, let’s face it, whether it can deliver high-end dividends. (See Fiction Writer’s Connection on: Query Letters, http://www.fictionwriters.com/tips-query-letters.html.)
The first paragraph of your query letter should grab ‘em right off the bat:
This paragraph is imperative because it represents the “first impression” of your book. It should be no more than 50 words. Usually query letters have three paragraphs, and are limited to one page. You are not telling the reader how wonderful your book is, but rather, giving an overview as to what your book is about, roughly, in a sentence. It should be “well-thought-out,” suggests Moira Allen, from the article: How to Write a Successful Query, http://www.writing-world.com/basics/query.shtml.
What your second paragraph should include:
This paragraph will have a broader view of your novel, which specifies the word count; the genre, whether it is mainstream, science fiction, erotica or historical; the main character’s name and the essence of their dilemma, (the purpose for telling the story), and lastly, give details pertaining to the make-up of your novel. The words in this paragraph will run approximately 120-155 words.
Talk about you:
The last paragraph of your query letter should wow them as well. This is your time to list your important writing accomplishments. If you have not been published, don’t mention it. Play up your completed projects. List your affiliations with writing organizations, and any conferences/seminars you’ve attended. Bring up your connections with other well-known writers. (LinkedIn and Facebook are excellent social Medias for this). This is important because you want to show you can assist in marketing your book, that you know how to get your name out there. If you have your bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field, mention that. If you’ve done radio or television work, state that as well.
Other important tips on composing your query letter:
Ø Make sure the spelling is correct.
Ø Keep a copy of your query letter.
Ø For traditional mailings, include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), only if you want a response back.
Ø Keep track of your submitted query letters.
Here are sample query letters:
Lesson: Summarize your latest book or article in one sentence.
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