Today I want to talk about query letters. My manuscript is completed and I’ve been researching on the internet how to do a query letter because I want to use a literary agent.
Many agents will ask you to send them:
- a query letter (maximum 300 words);
- your first three chapters; and
- a one page synopsis of your manuscript.
Which Agent should I use?
The first thing I did was have a look at different literary agent’s websites and read what each individual agent within a literary agency was looking for. For example: fantasy, historical fiction, LGBTQ, Romance or YA.
I wrote my letter like a business letter, but used the agent’s name to personalize my letter. For example, instead of saying ‘Dear Sir or Dear Madam’ I used their first name.
Keep the body of the letter concise. I wrote mine in less than 300 words and no longer than a page in length. That includes the date, the agent’s address the body of the letter etc.
The most important part
Immediately draw them in with the hook of your manuscript to get their attention. Summarize your book in a couple of paragraphs. If you’ve been published before tell them how many times.
Why did you choose them? For example: I noticed on your website that you are actively seeking historical fiction…
Author Platforms and Blogs
Do you have an author platform or blog? If so, mention them briefly and how many followers on Twitter you have and/or how many page visits you have daily on your blog.
Have you won any awards for your writing. I came second in a local council writing competition, so I mentioned it briefly in my letter.
How many words is your novel?
Other things to include
Have you been published before? Make sure you mention how many times you’ve been published.
What made you write your novel? Were you inspired by another book or something that happened to you or someone else?
Make sure you include a short biography about you.
Closing the letter
Thank the agent for their time in looking at your first three chapters/the whole manuscript and tell them you look forward to hearing from them.
Sign off your letter with either “Yours faithfully” or “Yours sincerely”.
Sit back and wait. Read and write or contemplate what your next novel with be about.
I was shocked because I got a response in less than 24 hours. The agent wanted to see my whole manuscript. The next day I received a reply via email saying they’d read it and loved it and wanted me to sign a contract. I thought the sun and the stars had aligned for me. I couldn’t believe it. Then the bad news came. I chose a a UK agent and I live in Australia. Due to treaty laws they couldn’t go ahead with my manuscript. They were very apologetic and said they were sure someone would ‘snap it up’.
Now I am looking at Australian Literary Agents. Next time, before I send a letter out I’m going to make sure that the agent deals with Australian citizens. That was a big lesson to learn.
The main thing to take away out of all of this is: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. (Sorry for the cliche), but I find it true.