4 Query Letter Essentials

Me writing a query letter.

Query letters.  Ugh.

Once I have a query letter for a project, I can adapt the information for other agents or publishers.  But coming up with that first version is always painful.

Fortunately, one of the agencies I’m researching is BookEnds Literary Agency and they have YouTube channel.  You can check it out here.  Among their videos are several on queries including the “anatomy” of a query letter.  Here are the four things you must include:

Greet the Agent by Name.  Not sure if a woman goes by Miss, Ms or Mrs.?  And what if this person identifies as them?  Their advice is simply to use the agent’s first and last name.  This is something I started doing when I contacted possible experts to interview.  Just be certain to get the name right.

Intro.  Why are you sending this manuscript to this agent?  Perhaps you heard them speak at a conference or you saw on MSWL that they want picture books.  Or you watched them on YouTube.  You really should have a reason for submitting to this agent.  Do you find their books compelling?  Perhaps they mentioned loving a book that you love.  Say so.  Give them the bare bones on your manuscript in this first paragraph as well – word count, title, genre.  Include comp titles if you have them. Easy peasy.

Blurb.  You have one to three paragraphs to reveal what makes your book the one to buy on trout fishing or unicorn grooming.  What are the key elements of your book?  You don’t have to include how it ends.  Did you include a comp title?  Check the flap copy and use it as the inspiration for your blurb.

Bio.  This isn’t a birth to present life summary.  Who are you, what are your credits, and why are you the one and only author to pen this book.  Why were you driven to write it? When I write the bio for my books, I make it specific to the book.  What XBox games do I play?  What was I doing during social distancing?

Keep your letter to one page and you are ready to go.  Really, you can do it.  There are agents and young readers waiting for new stories to read.  Why shouldn’t one of them be yours?

–SueBE