Query Letters

What is a Query Letter?

A query letter is a ONE PAGE professional letter describing your book and yourself to a literary agent. If the literary agent is interested in your book, the agent will typically write back and request that you send a portion of your manuscript, or the entire manuscript for evaluation. If the agent likes the manuscript and thinks it has potential to sell, you may receive an offer from the agent to represent your book. Some literary agents may request that you include the first few pages of your manuscript or a separate synopsis with your query, but that is strictly up to the individual agents.

Query Letter Length

A query letter should be one page or less, which is about 300 to 400 words.

Of course it's impossible to describe your entire book in 400 words, but that's not what a query letter is. It's a quick introduction to give the agent a general idea about you and your writing.

What goes into a query letter?

What does NOT go into a query letter?

The Perfect Query Letter

There's no such thing as the perfect query letter. Every literary agent has their own idea of what makes a perfect query letter. Some like quirky and clever, some like professional and reserved (most lean towards professional and reserved, so use quirky sparingly.) But even the literary agents who have very specific ideas of what they do or do not like will often highlight and praise a query that breaks the rules they themselves set down. So, what does this mean for you? It means there is no easy answer. Your best bet is to read as many sample query letters as you can find, pick the style you like best and give it a try.

The most important part of your query letter is the opening. You want to hook the reader right away. The hook is the one unique aspect of you or your book that stands out the most. It might be the concept of the book itself, or a unique character or character trait. It might be a particular writing award you received. What's the one thing that makes your book or writing unique? Start with that.

Query by Example

The best way to learn how to write a successful query letter is to read other successful query letters.

QueryTracker maintains a list of successful query letters that you can study.

More Query Help

There are plenty of resources online that teach about writing query letters, so it would be redundant to repeat it all here. Instead, here are a few links to some helpful resources.

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