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Query Letters: The Things You Need To Know

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Query Letters The Things You Need To Know

When you want your book or literary piece published for public reading, you should follow a process and all the formalities. For instance, sending query letters to publishers and agents is a necessary part of the process. 

Writing a letter is a sales tool in the literary industry. You can send a query letter to editors, agents, and publishers. 

Early Newspaper

Agents and publishers often receive query letters from many writers who want to ask them for support. Thus, it has been a custom that query letters are as good as the book you want to sell. Your query letter will determine if you can induce the agent or publisher to help you sell the book. 

Query letters are pretty common in the literary industry. In case you are unsure of it, here are the things you need to know about query letters:

What is a query letter?

A query letter is a letter sent to book agents and publishers in an attempt to seduce them to read your book. Typically, the query letter contains 200 to 450 words. A query letter summarizes the story in substance for agents and publishers to read. 

In short, a query letter attempts to let agents and publishers know about the book you are selling. Most agents and book publishers receive a lot of queries from different writers every day. As a writer, you should make your query letter stands out among others. 

What are the essential elements of a query letter?

A query letter, like any other literary form, has essential elements. These elements are recommendable to be in your query letter. By doing this, the editors, agents, and publishers will possibly read your query letter. The query letter has the following:

The greetings

Your query letter should always start with greeting your receiver. These agents, publishers, and editors receive tons of query letters from different authors. Your query letter should stand out by making your greeting more personal. 

The housekeeping details

This part of your query will mention details relevant to your book. The housekeeping details will include the following:

  • book title and subtitle
  • book genre or category
  • word count

The hook 

The hook is the most necessary part of your query letter. The hook part is the framework of your query. It can either make or shatter the whole thing or pitch. Your hook must be able to make your receiver excited to read your book or manuscript. In this part, you can let the agent, publisher, or editor know the characters, plots, and theme of your book or story. 

Bio note

The bio will include everything about you as the author of the book. There are things you need to add to the bio note, including:

  • your work and writing career
  • special research done
  • previously published works and literary
  • writing credentials and certificates
  • writing awards and recognitions
  • platforms

Closing sentence

Your closing sentence should be consistent with the idea you want to convey in the latter parts of your query letter. In the closing sentence, you must avoid over-thanking your receiver. There is also no need to gratify your book too much. 

You can end by thanking your receiver. You can also provide additional information to help editors, agents, and publishers reach you better.

How important is a query letter?

A query letter is a sales tool that enables you to communicate with agents and publishers. These people can potentially help you with your book publication. As a sales tool, a query letter should aim to persuade book editors, agents, and publishers. 

A query letter is a necessary process to show agents and publishers that your book is worth reading. If you want your story read and published by the publisher you sent the query to, your letter should stand out. Your query letter is a chance for you to impress publishers and agents before reading your manuscript or your book proposal. 

Tips for making the best query letter

There are several styles of how you can make a query letter that can induce agents and writers to read your work. Here are the different tips you can do when making a query letter:

Tip 1: Keep things concise

Most of the time, book agents, editors, and publishers are busy. It is necessary that reading your query letter will not take too much of their time. You can limit your query letter to 400 words, briefly discussing all the essential points you want them to read. 

Tip 2: Appeal your piece with confidence

The query letter will be the reflection of the author and the story. In marketing your book, your query letter must exude confidence. However, overconfidence tends to get in the way. Make sure that when you give your pitch, it will still be polite and professional, which can attract your agents, publishers, and editors. 

Tip 3: Personalize your query letters

Robotic query letters are a no-no. You should be able to make your editors, agents, and publishers feel that you know them and have a connection. Sending them a not personal query letter is a huge turn-off. 

Make sure that you address your query letter’s receiver properly. You should also observe the proper usage of courtesy titles, like Mr., Ms., Mrs., Ma’am, and Sir.

Tip 4: The query letter’s format matters

Format your query letter to industry standards. Formatting means having a professional font like Times New Roman. It should also be in a font size that readers can properly read. For instance, a font size of 12 to 14 can work. Finally, you should print it on white paper with black ink to make the query letter look formal and professional. 

Tip 5: You should include necessary details about the receiver

The key to a successful query letter is showing your connection to the receiver. For instance, you should indicate the name of the agent, publisher, or editor in your query letter. Aside from that, you will also need to add the agency name and address. 

Be accurate with the spelling, salutations, and titles. When you are in doubt, you can always call the publisher, agent, or editor before sending the letter.