5 Elements of a Great Query Letter

When it comes to querying, there isn’t one perfect query formula that will always capture the hearts of agents and publishers alike. However, most agents and editors will want to see certain formulaic elements that appear in winning queries, like the ones listed in this article.

Since many queries are geared towards agents, we’ll use that term throughout the post, but these tips can be used for editors, as well.

Check out the formula below on how to capture an agent or publisher’s attention without creeping them out.

1. The Greeting

First impressions matter.

Include the name of the agent and spell their name correctly.

2. Comps

If there are any comparable titles in the market published within the last few years, use the THIS X THIS formula. For instance:

My Book Title is Pride & Prejudice meets Moby Dick, the perfect combo of history and whaling.

3. Manuscript Details

Include the genre, word count, and completion status.

Example #1: My Book Title is a picture book complete at 560 words.

Example #2: My Book Title is a completed Young Adult urban fantasy of 92,000 words.

Example #3: My Book Title is a 56,000-word narrative nonfiction book with three chapters complete. Full manuscript can be completed within 3-4 months.

4. Your Credentials

Under the pitch, include why YOU are the perfect person to write this story. Tell them about previous publications, social media numbers, and anything else that you would deem relevant for this particular story.

5. Simultaneous Submission

A simultaneous submission is when you send the same query to 1) other agents in different agencies and/or 2) agents within the same agency.

Be sure to check the agent’s submission guidelines to see if they accept simultaneous submissions. Many agencies do not want you to send the same query to more than one agent within their agency. You may see language like, “a no from one, is a no from all,” or “If the agent you query passes, they may refer you to another agent within their agency but at their discretion.”

Remember, the purpose of a query is to have an agent want to read your full manuscript or open your proposal. It’s a key element to help you reach the “I want to represent you,” phase.

Did you have a winning query? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Resources

39 Queries that Worked | Writer’s Digest

Kids Lit | Writers Chat

Writing Queries like a Professional Resume Writer | Serious Writer Academy

Query with Confidence | Almost an Author

Query Letter to Submit a Novel to a Publisher | Almost an Author

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Written by Bethany

April 14, 2020

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