How to Write a Query Letter
Many of you out there want to write, or have already written, a book. Now let’s assume your book has already been through the whole WhiteSmoke process and everything is perfect. You are sure your book is ready to go! What now?
Once you have a manuscript you’re going to want to sell it to a publishing company or a literary agency and to do that – you’re going to have to write a query letter.
A query letter is an outline of sorts. It is usually the first thing the agent or publisher will read, and it will determine whether or not they want to continue reading your material. Your query letter is how you’re going to sell your manuscript, so you have to be sure it’s appealing!
First of all, your personal details should be at the top: Your full name, your address and any contact details you may have (phone, email…etc). Below that you can add the name of the agency you address and finally – the query letter.
Never begin with “Dear madam, sir, agent, editor…etc”, always write the person’s name. You want to show that you are not sending this letter to several people – this is a personal letter sent to a specific person.
The content itself will be several paragraphs long. Let’s go through one paragraph at a time:
Paragraph one: Describe the manuscript itself (not the story). What is the name of the manuscript, how long is it, what genre, and who is this manuscript aimed at? For example: “Echo is a completed 60,000 word thriller set in Chicago. “ It’s important to state that your manuscript is completed; many agencies don’t want unfinished manuscripts. Word count is just as important! They need to know how long your story is because there are some that are very specific as to what lengths of manuscripts they accept.
Paragraph two: This is the most important paragraph. When you’re at a book store looking for a good read, how do you choose? You turn the book over and read the back! Here is where you write what you would have on the back of your book, the part that’s supposed to make the agent want to read more. Remember: this is a teaser!
Paragraph three: Here is where you basically sugarcoat everything about yourself and brag brag brag! Who are you? What are your credentials? Have you published anything in the past? Anything that you think will put you in a positive light as an author goes here.
Paragraph four: Say your goodbyes. For example: “Thank you for your time. If you’re interested, I will gladly send you my manuscript via snail mail or email…….”etc – you get the idea, just be polite! You can use WhiteSmoke Writer to get different suggestions for your sentences. Finish it off with “Sincerely,” and then your name and, if you like, you can add your email and phone number.
You’re done! Go over your query letter and make sure it’s organized. Usually agencies prefer to read double spaced letters and manuscripts. All in all, your letter shouldn’t be longer than one page. Most importantly – make sure you have no spelling or grammar errors! Use the WhiteSmoke Writer to go over your query letter and manuscript before you send it to make sure you don’t miss out on a great opportunity for no reason! Just go to www.whitesmoke.com – there you’ll find everything you need to make sure your letter looks its best.
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