Key Steps You Have To Take Before You Write A Query Letter

A query letter is something you have to write to get the attention of potential literary agents and publishers. But before you decide to write a query letter, you need to make sure that you read and edit your manuscript beforehand. This can increase your chances of having your book accepted by an agent or publisher.

After revising your manuscript and it’s ready for publication, you can now write a query letter. There are some things that you need to prepare when it comes to writing query letters. This page discusses the key steps you have to take before you write a query letter. 

A query letter

You need to have a good idea of what your manuscript is all about. This is because you need to provide a more concise explanation about your book in the query letter. It’s a good idea to try distilling some major themes and plot points down to simple sentences that should be brief and clear. Doing this can help you to focus on your work and it can also assist you with the briefness required to write a good query letter.  

It’s quite rare that the first or even the third draft of your new manuscript can be ready to be sent out to a publisher. Therefore, you need enough time to revise and edit the manuscript so that it can be in the best shape before you decide to pitch it to potential literary agents and publishers.

After you revise your manuscript, it’s a good idea to ask another person you know to read it before you query an agent or a publisher. Doing this offers reader responses that indicate any shortcomings that were not identified during the revision process.

You also need to know an individual or company that you intend to query. Regardless whether it’s an independent press or a reputable organization, research the literary agents and publishers you want to query. You should pay attention to all the genres they specialize in, and target specific outlets that match the book’s criteria. For instance, a publisher that focuses on nonfiction may not be interested in dealing with romance.

Also, you should understand everything about query letters. In most cases, a query letter needs to be a one-page pitch that allows the reader to have a short summary of your manuscript. It should also have a brief author bio and your knowledge of the market that you intend to reach.

Remember that Google search can give you a lot of results showing you how you can write a good query letter. Even better, you can also find some examples of pitches that got book deals. 

You should note that a query letter can be hard to write and its content needs to be exciting to the potential reader through the concision of what you present in the pitch. Therefore, you have to understand your manuscript, revise it, have someone read it, know who to query, and familiarize yourself with query letters before you decide to send your pitch.  

Writing a query letter

Query letters are simply appeals to literary agents or publishers to get them interested in your work that you have written. A good query letter can offer a synopsis of your book, provide a bit of information about you, and can attract the interest of a publisher or literary agent so that they can desire to read more. The crucial thing with query letters is that you have to follow the basic format. You should also present the relevant information interestingly and succinctly. 

Writing a query letter can be the first step you can take to have your manuscript published. Editors and agents usually read query letters so that they can find new material that they desire to publish or sell. Many editors and agents avoid reading unsolicited manuscripts, though they can sometimes read an unsolicited query letter. Therefore, if you write a query letter that ignites their interest, then they can ask for a sample of your manuscript. 

You should note that writing a query letter can seem an overwhelming task. After all, you need to sum up your whole book in just one page. The good thing to do is to think of your query letter like magazine advertisements.

Remember that an advert doesn’t include a lot of information about the service or product. Instead, they are catchy, brief, and intriguing. They tend to encourage the reader to want to learn more. Likewise, this should be the goal of the query letter. You need to leave the editor or literary agent wanting more.  

You should also format the query letter just like a formal letter, utilizing single space paragraphs, a traditional 11- or 12- point font, and double space between paragraphs. Besides, you should also include your name, address, the date, phone number, and email.

You need to formally address the pitch letter to a particular editor or agent you have found through research. But, you should avoid sending the query letter on weird stationary or utilize a non-traditional greeting or font. These can be red flags that you are an amateur, so the potential reader may not read your pitch.

You should remember to construct the query letter’s body as three distinct paragraphs. The first paragraph is usually known as the hook. The second paragraph provides a short synopsis of the manuscript while the last paragraph has your biography.

It’s worth mentioning that editors and literary agents are always busy, though they are always on the lookout for new materials. Because you often have a couple of seconds to get their attention, it’s necessary to open your query letter with a catchy and strong paragraph.

When writing your pitch letter’s synopsis, you need to focus on the main points or highlights of your manuscript. The synopsis should not include details. Attempting to condense a work that has a lot of pages into a single paragraph can be hard and may need a great deal of revising and editing.

Ideally, you just want to attract the interest for your manuscript. Hence, if an agent or editor wants to get more details about your book, they can request to read the manuscript.


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