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Writing the ALL IMPORTANT query letter

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SO, you’ve fallen in love with an agent. Nothing creepy. You just check their twitter, facebook, instagram, tumblr and website a thousand times an hour and have their profile pic as your desktop wallpaper. Now you just need them to fall in love with your manuscript.

Tuesday Tips_Writing a Query LetterHeeere’s my manuscript!

If you’ve followed my tips for finding an agent, then you won’t be trying to submit a story about cowboys in space to an agent who represents contemporary romance. In your query letter you should tell them this up front—not that you have a space cowboys story in your bottom drawer, but that you have done your research, e.g. I understand from your website that you’re actively seeking contemporary romance novels for young adults and I believe you could be interested in my debut novel—Live With Or Without You.

This is where you should tell them a little bit about your book.

FIRSTLY: Your logline. This is a couple of sentences about the main characters and conflict.

SECONDLY: A short synopsis. And when I say short, I mean just three or four paragraphs MAXIMUM. Think of it as the blurb on the back of your book, but with a bit more information. You need to give the agent a good overview

THIRDLY: Tell the agent a bit about yourself. Make sure you keep it relevant, for example, include any relevant higher education like a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing, but leave out the award you were given in year two for writing a poem based on the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe. Also include any previously published works. If you have no formal education or previously published works that is A-OKAY.

Tuesday Tips_Writing a Query Letter2I was kinda a big deal in year two.

FINALLY: Lastly, you should let the agent know you have attached the first three chapters (if that is what they’ve asked for in their submission guidelines), e.g. As per the submission guidelines, I have attached the first three chapters of my manuscript, which is currently complete at 82,000 words.

There are a few websites that are EXTREMELY helpful when it comes to examples of good query letters. The two that I swear by are:

  • Query Shark
  • Miss Snark (no longer being updated)

Ernest Hemmingway famously (and arguably) said that writing was like cutting open a vein and bleeding onto a page. Sheesh. I shudder to think what he would have said about getting published! Every Tuesday, I dust off my creative writing degree (yes, from an actual, real-life university) and share my learnings about the process of writing and getting published (yes, I know learnings is technically not a word, but I worked in public relations for a number of years and we like to make words up. Helifordite?). You can check out all of my Tuesday Tips here.

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