By Britney Pieta
Oh the joys of the dreaded query letter….This is a defining moment for a writer. The process of writing your book and having it edited is done. It’s a lot of hard work to be done with the manuscript but the journey isn’t over quite yet. Now you must face your next biggest challenge. You have to get your foot in the door at a publishing house which is typically through a literary agent. Here are some steps to writing a query letter.
1. Write a cover letter
- · Include the name of the literary agent, a paragraph description of your book, thank them, and sign with your name.
2. Write a clear concise description of your book
According to ehow.com every query needs a hook. “Grab the editor’s attention with a solid hook. A hook is a succinct sentence about the article or book queried.”
- ·Is if fiction or non-fiction?
- ·What section of the bookstore will my book be displayed on?
- ·What is my book’s word count?
- ·What is my book about? (ex. title of book, summary)
3. Purpose of the book
- ·Why did I write this book in the first place-what is my vision for this book? Why was I the best person to write this? What do I uniquely have to offer?
- ·Who will specifically benefit=my target market?
4. Motivation and qualification
- ·What inspired you? List your personal (how young you were when you first discovered your talent, any small achievements) and professional experience (any experience that relates to the book industry or writing)
- ·Why will readers want to read? (ex. morals/lessons, encouraging reading skills, is unique and unusual)
5. List the names, authors, and publishers of similar books
- ·How does my proposed book differ from competitive titles? (*You have to be aware of what has been published on the same topic.) If your book is too similar to another book you may want to change your book’s plot or angle to reflect something different!
6. Where you would like to have your book sold?
- ·. This can be bookstores or online
7. Skills and resources to market book
- ·What is my plan to work with the literary agent to reach my goals of marketing my book? How will I further develop the necessary skills I need to become a successful author?
8. Table of contents and outline
- ·This is important for novels and longer books, the agent can skim to get a better idea of some of the things covered in your book.
9. Send two or three sample chapters
- · Ehow.com states: “Close the letter by thanking the editor or agent for reviewing the proposal and for his time and consideration. State that an outline, table of contents, bibliography and sample chapters are included for review.” If your book is very short (such as a children’s book), look at the agent’s website for specific directions related to what they require for a shorter book.
10. Self-addressed stamped envelope
- ·A lot of agents prefer to have your manuscript mailed, rather than by email, but this varies with different literary agents. If you do mail it, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can return it back to you.
- It is important to have your query letter in the right format-to add a professional look to it. Ehow.com states: “Query letters maintain a universal format with writer’s name, address, phone and fax number and email address placed in the upper right corner of the letter. Writers must address a specific editor or agent. Type single space using 12-point font with everything aligned along the left margin. Review the query letter for spelling and grammar.”