How To Write a Query Letter
A query letter is the letter you write to an agent, editor, or publisher, asking if he or she might be interested in reading more of your material. Sending all of your material without being requested to do so is frowned upon in the publishing industry.
Above All Else, Proofread Everything.
Keep in mind that Folio’s agents only accept electronic submissions.
Your Letter should:
- Be no longer than one page, if double-spaced and printed out.
- Have a catchy but professional introduction (how you heard of agent, great plot idea, etc.).
- Detail your experience (credentials for writing the book – can be professional and/or personal experience). Your credentials are crucial for nonfiction, and may be less important for fiction, but sell yourself. Nobody thinks it’s bragging.
- Include details about the project in a short paragraph. If fiction, one- or two-line “log line,” plus word count and genre, if appropriate; if nonfiction, a brief description of the project, plus finish this sentence: “My book is the first book that…”
Also include, if relevant:
- Links to press clippings about you or other books you’ve written (don’t assume that we’ll click on the link, but it doesn’t hurt to have it there).
- Anything else the specific agent, in his or her bio page, may request.
- Include attachments or force the agent to link to your Website to read sample materials – make it as easy for him (or her) as possible.
- Make the cover letter longer than one (1) page, if printed out.
- Mention other manuscripts sitting in your drawer, asking the agent to choose which one to see. Discuss only the best, strongest, most salable manuscript you have.
- Send it until it’s the best-written, tightest prose you can possibly write.
Sample Query Letter
30 January 20XX
Mr. Ian Successful
43 Literary Lane
Novelsville, OH 44022 [Include all your contact information, so we can reach you]
123 456 7890
Mr. (or Ms.) Wonderful Folioagent
Folio Literary Management
Re: My Dog Eliot
Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Folioagent:
[The Hook] You may remember that we met yesterday at the water cooler. [or, next best] I recently completed a novel that is similar to The Art of Racing in the Rain, which I know your agency represents, and I thought you might want to take a look at it. [or, next best] I read your listing in Publishers Marketplace, and thought that you might be interested in taking a look at a novel I just completed.
[Professional, or interesting personal, background of the author that make it clear why the author is the best person to tell this tale] I have been writing for the past twenty-seven years. My short stories have appeared in Playboy, GQ, and Martha Stewart Living. [or] I am an avid dog-owner, and have owned the same dog for the past twelve years.
[Information about the novel] My Dog Eliot, a novel of 97,000 words, tells of these experiences. [possible comparison to another novel] It is similar to The Great Gatsby only in that both novels are written in English.
Since I know you are an avid dog fan, I am writing to ask if you would be interested in representing me. I am attaching/enclosing [note: only attach documents when the agent explicitly asks for attachments]: an outline; synopsis; sample chapter(s); press clippings about my other published works; endorsements by (1) bestselling authors, (2) celebrities, (3) experts, (4) other people who really would be useful for endorsements.
[submission information] This is on a multiple submission. If you are interested in reading the entire manuscript, however, I will be happy to give you exclusivity for six weeks.