How to Draft a Query Letter

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A query letter gives you the opportunity to make a first impression with editors and agents, and can be the best way to convince the people that matter that you've got what it takes to land the book deal or assignment of your dreams. Because of this, it is extremely important to make sure you have every line perfect before you send off your query letter. Luckily, there are several time-tested techniques that can give you the best chance of receiving a follow-up letter.

Things You'll Need

  • A Pen
  • Paper
  • Stamps
  • Envelopes
  • A computer

Write all your contact information at the top of the letter in the proper format so the editor or agent can respond to your query. Include your name, address, telephone number and email address.

If there are any query guidelines, read them thoroughly. Failing to follow posted guidelines is one sure way to get your query thrown in the trash bin.

Spend a good deal of time crafting the first sentence or two of your letter. They can often be the most important, and should include a hook, or an idea that grabs the reader's attention and compels him to read more.

If you can, it is sometimes helpful to include a personalized greeting after the hook. This would show your familiarity with the editor's or agent's work, and help you to grab his or her attention.

In the next couple of body paragraphs, go into further detail about your idea or proposal. Explain what your book or article is about, and include any interesting facts, plot points or interviews you have lined up. Don't go into too much detail here. You only want to give the editor or agent the most essential points.

Give the recipient information about why you are especially qualified to receive this assignment or write this book. Include any relevant experience related to your topic, previous publishing credits or awards you've earned, but don't say that you are qualified because you're a good writer. This turns editors and agents off. Instead, let your writing speak for itself.

Edit your query letter. Make sure all spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct. Mistakes are often the main reason your letter ends up in the trash instead of receiving a follow up. While editing, read your letter aloud to yourself, and another person if possible, to make sure it flows smoothly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep your query brief -- ideally under one page.

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