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Some Query Letter Tips: Part 1

Unless you're meeting an agent in person at a writers' conference, a query is your first method of contact with an agent - so it better be good. A query letter, simply put, is a one-page letter that you send to an agent (or editor) that details: 1) What are the details of the work? 2) What is the story? 3) Who are you?

Unless you're meeting an agent in person at a writers' conference, a query is your first method of contact with an agent - so it better be good. A query letter, simply put, is a one-page letter that you send to an agent (or editor) that details: 1) What are the details of the work? 2) What is the story? 3) Who are you?

Writing a good query is a crucial step to snagging an agent. With that in mind, here are some Tuesday morning query writing tips for everyone:

  • Queries are single-spaced. The paragraphs are pushed left and separated by a blank line.
  • Keep the font simple, such as Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Always personalize your query. No "Dear Agent" stuff.
  • Stick to the basics. You don't need to throw in personal information about yourself, such as your age, the writers you admire, or your history as a dirt bike racer.
  • Always include your contact information. Typically, you can put everything at the top of the page, centered.
  • Be professional and humble.
  • Don't promise anything outside your capability. If you write a nonfiction query and throw in tidbits concerning how you will publicize the book, don't mention you can get on MSNBC if you have no means to do so.
  • Avoid saying "My novel is..."
  • Don't mention how long it took you to write the novel, or how many other agents you've queried, or that the story takes place in your hometown of Pleasesignme, Ohio.
  • Always include the basic info early. Here's a sample line: "I think you would be a great literary representative for my completed 90,000-word thriller, Dead Cat Bounce." Notice that, in one simple sentence, I told the agent the title, the word count, the genre, and the fact that it's completed.
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