4 Must-Haves when Writing a Query Letter

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I don’t know about you, but I’d almost rather write a second manuscript than write my query letter. You’d think I’d never seen one before! Fortunately, I found a wonderful security blanket in this video by two BookEnds literary agents.

Don’t forget to include these four things:

Dear Correct Name

Honestly, this makes a lot of sense. I hate it when people call me Susan. Or Mr. But it doesn’t have to be tricky. Just address the letter to the agent by name. Dear Jessica Faust. Dear James McGowan. Easy enough.

Introduction

This one doesn’t seem too bad. This is what I am sending you. Fans of X and Y will be drawn to the humor . . . what? That’s right. Comp titles.

What should I compare Baby Browz to? A book with a toddler or baby main character? I could, but the humor in my book is different from those. Instead, I found a title with irreverant humor and another that breaks the fourth wall. Phew.

Query Blurb

This section is from one to three paragraphs long. Think of it as the back cover copy for your book. What makes your story stand out? What are the key components? Faust even recommended mimicing the back cover copy of one of your comp titles.

Nope. I tried it but it didn’t work.

Instead, I reread my manuscript and pulled out a couple of key lines. I rearranged things, added a bit here and there so that it all made sense. Phew. Finally I had something that summarized my story and was also in the voice of my manuscript.

Bio

This is not the time to write a birth to death, comprehensive biography. What do you include? Sales if you have them, professional memberships, and anything from your life experience that makes you the ideal author for this book.

For whatever reason, this is the paragraph my students have the hardest time developing. They want to tell the agent that their students/grandkids/gerbils loved the book. Don’t do it.

It all sounds easy enough. And yet each and every time I have to do it, I panic. I have to look up how to do it. Only then does it start coming together.

Maybe next time it will be easy peasy?

Yeah, I don’t think so either.

–SueBE

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