Wednesday, February 9, 2011


For all of you with books to pitch, now is the time to get your query ready and sent out. February seems to be a very busy month for agents and publishers looking to line up their book projects for the year.

It seems most of us writer's have no problem writing a 65,000 word novel, but struggle over a one page query letter. Why is that?

Because that one page is the most important piece of paper we will ever write. Why? Because we need it to sell the book and sell ourselves.

If an agent or editor reads our manuscript and likes it, we know they'll be more than happy to help us hone it into a saleable book. But there are no second chances with our one page query letter. Get it right the first time or rejection is a definite outcome.

Our query is for one reason only, to introduce ourserselves and our book. Keep it to one page.

There are three elements to a good query letter.

The first element is the hook, and the first paragraph. A tag line that is designed to catch the attention of the reader and leave them wanting to read more. Do this in one or two sentences.

Here is a sample of the one I used for my book, Losing Cinderella.

"A pregnant, urban woman escapes kidnappers in the wilderness. Facing a harsh, cold winter and fears of childbirth lost and alone, she must find inner strength to survive—or perish."

The second element and second paragraph is a short description of the entire book. I suggest writing and rewriting this paragraph until you feel you have caught the essence of the story and all the important points, such as plot, characters, what the MC needs to do, the struggle, but leave it with an element of surprise. Don't tell all.

The third element and final paragraph is about you. It should be the easiest, but is it? Most of us don't like to talk about ourselves. The important thing here is keep it brief. State your education, or what qualifies you to write this story, and what inspired you to write it. Include any publishing credits. Write something personal, like where you live.

Sell yourself, but do it briefly. 

Once again, the internet is a great source for finding samples of query letters and templates. Get your writing friends to crit for you. Here's a link that is very resourceful:  A great resource of writing tips, samples, and links to agents, and publishers.

So get query writing and sell your project and sell yourself.

Keep on keeping on writing.