If you decide to self-publish your book, one of the advantages is that you won’t have to submit your work to any publishing houses for consideration. You need to perform a great deal of additional work, such as formatting your book, commissioning a cover artist or creating your own, distributing and selling your book, and so on. When you self-publish, you are exempt from the requirement that you compose and send a query letter to agencies or publishers to secure representation for your work.
Most authors despise writing them, but query letters are required for submitting fiction to the vast majority of agencies and editors. A poorly written synopsis can be fatal to a book’s prospects of getting published, even before an agent reads the sample chapters. Regardless of how you cut it, this is a high-stakes document that needs to accomplish much in a relatively constrained amount of space. A strong one will help you stand out from the crowd, even for the most cynical slush readers.
How to Write the Best Query Letter?
When you go through examples of query letters, you will realize that there’s no one perfect query formula that will always win over the hearts of publishers and agents alike. However, most agents and editors want to see certain formulaic features in winning requests, such as the ones described in this article.
Check out the formula below to get a publisher’s or agent’s attention.
You have different options available in terms of the salutation that you might use. You can either research their biographies to ensure that you receive the appropriate gendered title, such as Mr. or Mrs., or simply use the person’s complete name. A standard greeting is “Dear Firstname Lastname,” which you can copy and paste throughout so that you don’t make any spelling errors.
This short paragraph in your novel consists of a single sentence that presents your main character (MC) and the conflict that drives the plot. This should be concise yet detailed (a lot of the time, the age, career, and description of the MC are included) and intriguing, with the goal being to “hook” the agent into wanting to read either a partial or entire manuscript.
You should employ its mood when you talk about your story, but you shouldn’t narrate it in the first person. Remember that this is all about the stakes, and you must make the characters sound engaging. This is not a summary of the content. You should introduce the fewest possible characters and settings in one paragraph.
Comp titles, to say the least, may be tough. Comparative titles are also referred to as comp stands, and their purpose is to indicate to a literary agent where your book will fall within the current market landscape. A literary agent will not give representation if they cannot determine the audience interested in reading your book.
Comparables help to narrow down further how to promote your book and whether or not it is the ideal novel for a certain agency or publisher. Comparables may also be used to determine whether or not your book is worthy of publication. Analyze how well your story stacks up against other works in the same genre that have seen commercial success but aren’t considered standout examples.
Short but Impactful Bio
Many writers get nervous when it comes time to write their author biography for their query letter since they have never had a book published and don’t believe they have any writing accomplishments to boast about. It is not about what you have done in the past but how you write about it.
Again, remember to keep the bio brief. Now would be an excellent moment to show off a little bit of your unique personality and voice or to discuss an aspect of who you are that sets you apart from the competition.
You have to classify your book into a specific category. If you are having trouble selecting one, consider a book with a vibe comparable to the others and consider where it would be on the shelf. You may mention a second genre only if it is an absolute necessity; any further genres are unacceptable. If you don’t do this, your book will give the impression that you have no idea how to promote it. If you combine too many elements, you will end up disappointing fans of all the represented genres, resulting in reviews with one star and bad sales.
Always use a formal closing, such as “thank you for your time and consideration,” when signing your name at the bottom of a query letter. It’s important not to botch this question section wrong because it’s the easiest of the whole thing.
When you send the identical question to either other agents at separate agencies or other agents working for the same agency, this is known as a simultaneous submission.
Many agencies prefer that you do not send the same inquiry to multiple agents working for the same agency simultaneously. Be sure to examine the requirements for submitting your work to the agent to determine whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions. You may come across phrases like “a no from one is a no from all” or “if the agent you query passes, they may send you to another agent within their agency but at their discretion.” Both of these phrases are common.
Keep in mind that a query’s objective is to pique a literary agency’s interest enough for them to want to read your whole manuscript or open your proposal. It is an essential component that will assist you in getting to the “I want to represent you” step of the process.
These are just some general pointers to follow. Read each agency’s and publisher’s criteria for submitting a query letter because they are all unique. Some literary agencies want your pitch in the opening paragraph, while others want the genre of your work and the number of words it contains.
The first ten pages are what some literary agencies like to read, while others want the first three chapters. Always make sure you are following their instructions to the letter. Every single year, tens of thousands of query letters are mailed out. If you don’t follow the guidelines, you’re making it very easy for them to reject yours.