The Five Parts of an E-Query

Some Writers Deserve to Starve! by Elaura Niles

Before you type a single letter of the alphabet, let’s discuss craft and what goes into the perfect e-query.

1. Subject line.
No threats, no cliches.  Use your book title, a clever phrase that relates to the body of your e-mail, or, if a third party is involved, drop a name.

2. Introductions.
Address the agent in a professional manner.  Show respect.  Knowing their name—and spelling it correctly—show you are paying attention.

3. Story.
Don’t be a windbag.  This is tricky territory, so come armed with a killer logline.  You get only one sentence to describe your book or screenplay.  If you are interesting, and I mean damn interesting, you may be able to get away with a couple sentences.

4. Qualifications.
This is no place to tell them that you are “the next John Grisham.”  Your writing credits go here.  Books, articles, poems published or e-published.  Context wins and honorable mentions.  Don’t have any?  Go with your strong suit like professional connections or meeting them at a conference.

5. Graceful Exit.
This is the big finish.  If you haven’t deleted your e-mail by now, you are in good shape.  Thank them and sign off.

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