Query Letter Example #1

A 5-Part Series

  1. Querying Agents
  2. Finding Agents
  3. Query Letter Example #1
  4. Contacting Agents

As I said in my Querying Agents post, I used this query as the basis for my letter. It’s concise and polite, which I think will go a long way for most agents. These folks get a ton of representation requests – so it’ll go a long way if short and sweet defines your submission.

I wrote my first letter in about five minutes, pushing through all doubt. It was terrible, but what did that matter? I had a beginning. From there, I probably rewrote the letter between 25-30 times over the course of two days. After each “finish” I read the letter out loud and noted what worked and what didn’t.

It wasn’t perfect and after sending off the first round of queries, I’m getting ready to redo the letter for a second round of queries. When I get done with the second go-around, I’ll be sure to post it.

In the meantime, here’s the first letter. Have some fun and good luck!

Dear Ms./Mr. [for Pete’s sake spell their last name correctly]:

What if Stonehenge was a prison? Who would’ve been imprisoned there? Why? The answers begin in CHARLOTTE GNOLL, my first novel. A Young Adult fantasy set in both modern-day Wales and an old Celtic world, the manuscript is complete at 85,000 words. {There’s some debate as to where the genre and word count of your book appears in the query list. I will likely move this technical information later in the letter when I send it to more agents. However, always include it along with the statement that your manuscript is complete. For fiction, it’s a must.}

{Describe your book. Honestly, this could be another post on its own. Write, rewrite, and rewrite about 50 times more. Let it percolate…this is your best chance to sell your book with a clear and efficient description.} Charlotte Addo’s life turned upside down the day her dad disappeared. Before she was fearless, yet now she’d rather bury her head in the last book they read together. But when she stumbles into a world where reality bests her imagination, will Charlotte remember her courage? Her new friends are counting on it. So is her dad.

{As you can see, my description is broken into two pieces, which makes sense with my particular book because there’s Charlotte and then there’s the other world.} A witch, bent on destroying the world, was defeated 5,000 years ago and locked away. Yet no prison lasts forever, not even Stonehenge. Charlotte, a last hope, must learn to control a magic she never knew existed and stop the witch. It’s a lot to ask of an eight-year old.

{Why did you choose this agent? If you’ve done the work recommended in the Finding Agents, you should know exactly why. Let them know; connect with them.} I am submitting this novel to you after I read that you represented [a book I have found similar to my own that liked]. [Compare your book to that book]: e.g., I see Charlotte as strong and vulnerable as Katsa, though we meet Charlotte long before she masters or even understands her power.

{A little about yourself} I quit my job as an Economic advisor in Baltimore last October and ran away to Germany with my fiancé so we could explore Europe and I could finish CHARLOTTE (plus other stories). You can read some of those other stories on my website, www.pswgear.com. {Do you have a website or any presence on the net? You should, if only to show that you are willing and able to engage peoples with some rudimentary knowledge of how. Increasingly, publishers are relying on their authors to get the good word out. This is a start.}

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. {Professionalism and politeness! But don’t be afraid to make your sign-off a little more casual. Just never forget to thank them for reading.}

Sincerely,

p.s.w. gear

[phone number]

[email address]

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