Query letters are powerful and often mean the difference between your manuscript becoming a best-seller, or never leaving the documents folder on your laptop.
But what is a query letter?
Quite simply, a query letter is an introduction that lets literary agents familiarize themselves with your work. As an author, you submit these letters to agents that you hope will sign you, and eventually, sell your book to a publisher.
No matter how amazing your novel is, it will never see the light of day (or the shelves at Barnes and Noble) if your query letter can’t grab an agent’s attention. Because of this, you need to spend extra time perfecting your letter with these three tips, before even considering submitting your story to an agent:
Follow a Formula
Unlike your work of fiction, query letters have no need for expansive creativity. Because agents get so many letters each day, it is best to follow a formula that is trusted, and has been proven to work. Keep your paragraphs short and clean, don’t brag about yourself too much, and always give the agent you are submitting to exactly what their guidelines say. When you follow the formula, you will be seen as a professional, and your work will have a better shot at moving forward in the publishing world.
Make it Personal
The quickest way to end up on the reject pile without the first page of your book even being read is to send an uninformed, generic query letter. Do your research before submitting and tailor your letter to each individual agent. Did you two go to the same college? Mention it. Is your work similar to another client of theirs? Write a quick line about that. By making it personal, your letter will convey how much you care and are committed to the publishing process.
Mention Your Accolades
While the bio portion of your query shouldn’t turn into a memoir, always be sure to mention any literary accomplishments you have had, and how you are actively working in the writing world. Even if you haven’t previously been published in a major newspaper or won any prestigious awards, it doesn’t hurt to mention that you run a successful blog, or that you have a Twitter following of 25,000. By mentioning your accolades, you will pique the interest of agents looking for someone serious about establishing themselves as a writer.
What are your best tips on getting query letters noticed?