A good friend of mine recently asked me to help him write a query letter for his novel. I did a lot of research and wanted to share my findings with you.
First of all, a query letter must be one page.
I repeat, ONE PAGE. Not two. Not three.
Basically, there should be 3 paragraphs:
1) The hook
2) A mini synopsis
3) A short biography of the author
You must end your query letter by thanking the reader (agent, publisher, etc.) for taking time out of his or her busy day. Then, alert the reader that your manuscript is available upon request. This is important: Don’t query agents or publishers if your novel is unfinished! You absolutely MUST be able to send the entire manuscript the moment you are asked.
But my most important piece of advice to you is to spend a good deal of time researching how to write a query letter. Read books about it. Look at websites. Visit agentquery.com where you can search a database and read actual query letters that resulted in book deals!
Sure, you want to be different than everyone else and catch the reader’s attention, right? But you need to remain in the ballpark, so to speak. Ok, I’ll leave my sports references alone for a minute. How about movie stars? It reminds me of an actress who is about to walk the red carpet to the Academy Awards and wants to wear something really special. Well, let’s all remember it’s a fine line between landing on the Best Dressed and Worst Dressed lists.
My advice? Basically, be Angelina Jolie and wear a slit up to your navel.
Don’t be Björk and wear an entire swan.
(And look for my next blog post where I explain what makes a great ‘hook.’)