A query letter is a brief letter that you send to a literary agent to introduce yourself and your book. It’s an important part of the traditional publishing process and your first opportunity to make a good impression on an agent. Here’s how to write a compelling query letter:
- Research literary agents: Before you start writing your query letter, research literary agents to find those that represent authors in your genre. Study their submission guidelines and their client list to make sure they’re a good fit for your book.
- Start with a strong opening: Your query letter should have an engaging opening that captures the reader’s attention. Consider starting with a hook or a surprising fact related to your book. For example: “Did you know that every year, millions of people try to escape the mundanity of their daily lives by daydreaming about time travel? That’s the premise of my debut novel, ‘The Time Traveler’s Almanac.'”
- Provide a brief summary of your book: In the next few paragraphs, provide a brief summary of your book. This should be a high-level overview that gives the reader a sense of what your book is about, without giving away too much. Focus on the main character, the conflict, and the story’s unique elements. Keep it concise and make sure it’s engaging and well-written.
- Share a little about yourself: In this section, share a little about yourself and why you’re the best person to write this book. Highlight your writing background, any relevant experience you have, and what sets you apart from other writers. For example: “I have a PhD in neuroscience, which gives me a unique perspective on the inner workings of the human mind. I’ve also been writing fiction for 10 years and have won several short story contests.”
- End with a call to action: In the final paragraph, ask the literary agent if they’d be interested in receiving a full manuscript or a partial manuscript for further consideration. Be polite and professional, and thank the agent for their time.
- Make sure your letter is well-written and professional: Your query letter should be well-written and free of typos or grammatical errors. Use a clear and professional tone, and make sure the letter is easy to read and engaging.
Here’s an example of a query letter:
Dear [Agent Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to introduce my debut novel, “The Time Traveler’s Almanac,” a fast-paced, time-travel adventure that explores the consequences of going back in time and changing the course of history.
Every year, millions of people try to escape the mundanity of their daily lives by daydreaming about time travel. In “The Time Traveler’s Almanac,” the protagonist, a young scientist named Alex, discovers a way to travel through time and embarks on a journey that takes him from ancient Greece to the future. But as he jumps from one era to the next, he realizes that every action has unintended consequences and that his journey may have far-reaching effects on the world.
I have a PhD in neuroscience, which gives me a unique perspective on the inner workings of the human mind. I’ve also been writing fiction for 10 years and have won several short story contests. I’m confident that I’m the best person to bring “The Time Traveler’s Almanac” to life and I believe it will be a great fit for your literary agency.
I would be honored if you would consider “The Time Traveler’s Almanac” for representation. I’ve attached a brief synopsis and the first three chapters for your review. If you’re interested in receiving a full manuscript, I would be happy to send it over.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email and for considering “The Time Traveler’s Almanac.” I look forward to hearing from you soon.
In conclusion, writing a compelling query letter to a literary agent is an important step in getting your book traditionally published. It requires research, creativity, and attention to detail. By following these steps, you can craft a letter that makes a great first impression and helps you stand out from the crowd. Good luck!