Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Dreaded Query Letter

I’m feeling the “G” word because I haven’t updated lately. I am Guilty as charged but with good reason. The dreaded query letter has my head spinning.

A query letter is the first step in proposing a writing project to an agent or editor of a publishing house. It’s usually one page and it contains the following:

1. Title, length and genre of your manuscript.

2. What your story or book is about beginning with an intriguing one sentence blurb meant to hook the reader. Follow this with a paragraph that expands on the plot but doesn’t give away the end. I told you this was not easy.

3. Your biography. This is where you list any writing awards, published works and writing associations you belong to.

4. A sign off thanking the recipient for taking the time to read the letter.

5. Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

Believe me this is harder than writing the book. How do you describe a 75,000 word novel in one sentence? The first thing I did was to go online. There’s lots of help available and I went looking for it.

A search on brought up an Amazon Short by Noah Lukeman - “How to Write a Great Query Letter.”

At only $.49 it was a bargain. I was only a quick download away from a 76 page book by a man who is an agent and a former editor. Who better to look to for advice? It got better. The book was free.

How to Write a Great Query Letter

Mr. Lukeman says “I have written this book, and made it free, as a way of giving back to the writing community.”

It turned out to be great PR as well. I liked it so much I purchased “The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile,” also by Mr. Lukeman.

There are many how-tos online but this was one of the best. It began with ideas for research, went on to formatting and even talked about common mistakes.

Try it. The price is right.


The Dark Phantom said...

Thanks for the tips! For me, the real nightmare is writing the horrific synopsis.


BookWorm said...

Hi - You're right. I just tried my hand at a synopsis and it was way harder than the query. I think writing book reviews makes the queery a little easier.