Friday, February 11, 2011

Writing Hint #7 - Writing the Query Letter

Hey Everyone! 

It's Friday, so here is the next installment of Writing Hints....

Writing Hint #7 (Query Hint #4)

Now that you have a list of agents who represent what you write and you have researched the submission guidelines for each agent, you are ready to go…right?


You are missing one very important detail: the almighty query letter. Before you start growling and booing and hissing you need to realize one thing – the query is not some mysterious document that you can have no hope of mastering. Agents, authors, writers, etc., have written numerous helpful articles and postings about how to write a winning query letter. All you need to do is a bit of research. Obviously you will need to tailor each individual query to reflect an agent’s preferences, but the basic format is really not that difficult.

Do not downplay the importance of a query. The query is your one opportunity to introduce both yourself and your novel (with the focus being on your novel). It is the one opportunity to make a good impression and stand out from the hundreds of other queries filling an agent's inbox. So make it good. 

I like how Nathan Bransford describes it:

“A query letter is part business letter, part creative writing exercise, part introduction, part death defying leap through a flaming hoop.” (link)

The following websites are just a few that will get you going on your query letter:

Agent Query by
Formatting an E-Query by Casey McCormick
What are some email query DOs and DON’Ts? by Kristin Nelson, Literary Agent
How do I write an attention-getting query letter? by Kristin Nelson, Literary Agent
Query Shark by Janet Reid, Literary Agent
Queries: The Hook by Vickie Motter, Literary Agent
Writing A Query Letter by Elana Johnson
Queries by the agents at Books & Such Literary Agency

This is only the very tip of the information out there. There are literally tons of sources for producing a great query letter. Do yourself and your novel the favor of putting some real effort into it.

Do you have any other helpful query sites? If you do, post them in the comments section below.

I hope everyone has a brilliant end of the week! 


  1. I actually LOVE writing query letters. It's one of my favorite parts of the process.

    But I kind of do mine backwards. Before I even write a story, I make sure to write a blurb (that way it isn't bogged down by too many details of what to put in later). That blurb eventually becomes my query letter "hook".

    Loads of fun (LOL).

  2. Rebekah - Yay for queries! There seem to be quite a few people who don't enjoy this part of the process. I am glad you do!

    I actually think it is fun to think up blurbs, hooks, and short summaries. Encapsulating the story in just a few sentences forces you to discover what your novel is really about. Sometimes it can be frustrating but also very rewarding.

    Doing it "backwards" is great! Having a blurb before you begin writing can really provide focus for the story. Great comment! :)