The query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: The query letter is so much of a sales piece that you should be able to write it without having written a single word of the manuscript. For some writers, it represents a completely different way of thinking about your book—it means thinking about your work as a product. This post focuses on query letters for novels, although much the same advice applies for memoirists as well; nonfiction book queries are addressed here.
How to Write a Query Letter Query letters? Do literary agents really read them? Agents take queries very seriously, and yes, they really do read them. Sure, agents make it sound like digging through the slush pile is the last priority of their day.
Some agents even relegate the ambivalent task of reading unsolicited queries to an assistant or intern. But the fact of the matter is that most agents do read queries.
Even more importantly, agents actually respond to ones that spark their interest. Query Letter Basics A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book.
Nothing more, nothing less. And for the love of god, it is NOT more than one-page. Trust us on this. A query letter has three concise paragraphs: A query letter is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to the agent. Stick to three paragraphs.
The goal is to get the agent to read your book, not to blow you off because you screwed up the introduction. A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read the loglines of the titles sold by agents in our free searchable AQ database.
Here are a few examples of hooks for well-known novels: House of Sand and Fog When Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military, sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, he unwittingly puts himself and his family on a trajectory to disaster; the house once belonged to Kathy Nicolo, a self-destructive alcoholic, who engages in legal, then personal confrontation to get it back.
Bridges of Madison County When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson's farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.
The Corrections When family patriarch, Alfred Lambert, enters his final decline, his wife and three adult children must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.
Write your basic hook, then try spicing things up as you get more and more into the groove of "hooking. Be sure to check out these very simple, yet very non-"formulatic" fiction hooks: The Kite Runner An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.
The Da Vinci Code A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.
Everything Is Illuminated With only a yellowing photograph in hand, Jonathan Safran Foer—both author and meta fictional protagonist—sets out to find the woman who might or might not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Here are some non-"formulatic" hooks for a few nonfiction books: Into Thin Air On assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the growing commercialization of the mountain, Krakauer, an accomplished climber, went to the Himalayas as a client of Rob Hall, the most respected high-altitude guide in the world, and barely made it back alive from the deadliest season in the history of Everest.
The Perfect Storm The true story of the meteorological conditions that created the "Storm of the Century" and the impact the Perfect Storm had on many of the people caught in its path; chiefly, among these are the six crew members of the swordfish boat the Andrea Gail, all of whom were lost miles from home beneath rolling seas.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius The memoir of Dave Eggers, who at the age of 22, became both an orphan and a "single mother" when his parents died within five months of one another of unrelated cancers, leaving Eggers the appointed unofficial guardian of his 8-year-old brother, Christopher.
Give era and location: Set in modern-day Jerusalem During the summer of in a rural Texas town Taking place in turn-of-the-century New York City Set up your main character: A chatty cozy mystery starring something college professor Bell Barrett Variations on the "when" formula: Following a botched circumcision While defending a drug-addicted prostitute accused of murderThe Secret to Writing a Successful Query Letter.
by Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Inc. I love receiving queries. There is such a wonderful sense of unlimited potential—perhaps this is the next manuscript I’ll fall in love with! So here is the secret to writing a perfect query letter, one that will make literary agents and editors sit.
The query letter is one of the most important tools freelance writers haves at their disposal. Because freelance writers are not full-time employees of a particular newspaper, they must utilize a query letter to: 1) convince the editor that their idea is a good one. The query letter is one of the most important tools freelance writers haves at their disposal.
Because freelance writers are not full-time employees of a particular newspaper, they must utilize a query letter to: 1) convince the editor that their idea is a good one. If you’ve published a few stories in your local newspaper, or a short story in a few literary magazines, or won any writing awards or contests, now’s the time to list the details.
How to Write the Best Query Letter by Freelance Writing. If you plan on submitting an article for publication, the query letter is your new best friend. Written more frequently than any paying piece, this short letter is your chance to shine to the editor. I have been a member of leslutinsduphoenix.com for the past two years, and a moderator for one. For the latter, it starts with a query letter, also known as a pitch. Often in the form of an email, a pitch allows you to submit an idea to an editor, gain their interest and secure the job. The query letter is one of the most important tools freelance writers haves at their disposal. Because freelance writers are not full-time employees of a particular newspaper, they must utilize a query letter to: 1) convince the editor that their idea is a good one.
gives snarky advice on how to write a query letter to brave newbie participants willing to swim with a query should be a professional business letter, but.
A newspaper freelancer should hold the most professional relationship with the editors, and needless to say, you should work continuously on your writing skills. Your proper relationship with the editor will help you get out of the formality of a query letter every time you submit a story.
Yes, a query should be a professional business letter, but honestly, writing a query in the same manner as a regular cover letter is a recipe for snoozeville.
A great query should not only tell an agent what your book is about, but it should also match your book's tone.