Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How To Write A Query Letter

How To Write A Query Letter
First of all . . . What is a query letter?

It's a letter sent to agents letting them know about your manuscript, and asking them for representation. Nowadays almost no publisher will take a manuscript directly from a writer -- they want the writer to have an agent. It's sort of a filtering out process for the publisher.

The problem is agents are inundated with query letters . . . so make sure yours stands out from the pack. Below are some tips for writing query letters:

1. DO NOT send a letter asking if you can send a query letter. It's a waste of your time and the agents! Just send the darn letter!

2. Remember the best query letters are NEVER more than two pages long. Try to stick to one page.

3. Letter should be single-spaced, and you should try to hook the agent from the very beginning.

4. Remember to focus on your manuscript, what it's about, why it's unique, and what makes it worth publishing.

5. You should also compare to other books on the market so the agent can quickly get a feel for what kind of book you've written so as to decide if they want to read it.

6. Also, let them know how long the manuscript is -- not how many pages but how many words. That's how manuscripts are measured.

7. And finally, tell them something about you, and why you're qualified to write this book. Yes, this even counts for fiction. For instance, I set most of my books in Harlem, although I live in Philadelphia. Well, it would behoove me then to mention that I was born and raised in Harlem. Get it?

8. If you've never written anything before, don't bother mentioning that . . . just say that you love to write and completing your novel has been an enjoyable endeavor or something to that effect.

9. And please, please, please . . . no typos! And use proper grammar and punctuation. Remember, this is the first time the agent sees you in writing, and first impressions are lasting. If you DON'T make a good impression, you'll probably not get an opportunity to try again.

Okay, I'm often asked if its alright to send more than one query letter out at a time.

The answer is YES!

Listen, it can take up to 6 weeks for an agent get back to you (they really are that backed up!), and what if, after all that time, they turn you down? Well, then you've got to send to another agent and start the waiting process all over again. And you might get turned down again. You can actually waste 6 months and have only approached like 4 agents!

Cast your net wide, is what I say!

And good luck to you all!

(If you've found this post helpful, please let your friends know. Let's share the info, why don't we? )

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