As I finish up the editing and revision part of my process, I have had the opportunity to write a query letter for my memoir and get it critiqued by my professors, professional agents and editors.
After going through so many critiques, my query letter has reached a decent place and has been submitted to one agent so far. Unfortunately, I am still not the most confident in this arena and am nervously awaiting the response.
I have learned a lot of things about writing strong query letters and I am sharing those with you all in this blog:
Research the agent and agency you are querying to. The better you know them, the stronger your query will be.
Learn what books that agent or agency has represented that fit the genre or topic of your book. This will help you list comp titles (comparative titles) in your letter.
Address it to a person. Address the letter to the agent you are querying and not the agency.
Make it personal (without getting creepy). Use the research you do on your agent and include it in your query letter. This includes things you admire about them professionally (that are relevant to your book) or works they have represented that would make them a good fit for you. If you met them at a conference or event, mention that in the letter. Again, don’t get creepy or talk about things that aren’t relevant.
Elevator pitch. Begin your query letter with your elevator pitch which contains a few lines about your book including the hook. Sometimes this elevator pitch is what will get printed on the back of your book cover so spend some time thinking about it.
Comp Titles. After you have the agent hooked, list some of the comp titles you researched. This will help you become more confident about the exact genre/subgenre your book falls in if you aren’t already sure. This will help the agent place your book on a bookstore shelf and know that there is a market out there for it and how they can sell it.
In the last part of your query letter, include your relevant credentials. List past published books (if you have them), list your relevant degrees (if you have them), list anything else that shows you are qualified to talk about the subject in your book (especially if it is nonfiction). Also, mention your platform (if you already have one) that will be interested in buying your book.
Finally, thank the agent for taking the time to read your query letter.
Read good and bad query letters online. The best way to research is to see what other writers have done. This is a great source for bad query letters: SlushPileHell. This is a great source for good query letters: WritersDigest.
I hope you found this list useful. As I said, I’m still in the learning phase when it comes to query letters so please share with me any words of advice or suggestions to add to this list.
If you have any advice or personal experiences to share about the information in this blog, please comment below or contact me personally through the contact form on “contact” page.
As always, thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read my blogs and shared your advice and experiences with me. I’m in this writer’s journey like all of you and I hope to continue learning from you all.
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Next Wednesday’s blog will be about my process of learning how to write a synopsis.
Happy Writing! :)
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