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When & How to Write a Query Letter and How to Submit it

If you want to be a published author, you might be wondering when the right time is to send out a query letter and how to go about it. That’s exactly what this article is going to be about, so kick up that coffee maker and let’s get started.

The first thing you want to do is format your query letter correctly. That means putting your name, address and contact information on the top of the page justified to the right. But the agent’s name, address and contact information to the left. You may have to use text boxes in Microsoft Word to accomplish this.

Start your query letter off with ‘Dear [Agent or Publisher’s Name]. You should always know the name of the person that you are attempting to send your query letter to. That way you know that they handle the type of books that you are writing.

First Paragraph

The first paragraph is all about getting the agent’s attention. If you have bad and interaction with them before, then you can often use this to get their attention. If you have had no contact with them before, then you want to hook them right away with something that intrigues them about your book. Here are two examples.

Example One:

Dear Mrs. Jones,

In March of last year, you read one of my short stories as part of a writing conference and invited me to send you a query my novel once I had finished it. The premise was that a thirteen-year-old girl suddenly wakes up with the ability to learn new things instantly, sort of like in the movie Phenomenon. However, there is a much darker side to this story.

Example Two:

Dear Mrs. Jones,

Imagine that you woke up tomorrow morning and realized that you had forgotten to study for a test. One quick glance at your textbook over an English muffin is all you can manage, but suddenly, the entire chapter makes perfect sense and you understand it completely. That’s what happens to Lizzie Yates, the 7th-grader who stars in my middle-grade novel. But things get extremely complicated, and a little dark, from there.

Second Paragraph

The second paragraph should be a little more information about your novel including how long it is and who it is targeted towards. You can also add more to your hook if you need to.

Third Paragraph

The third paragraph should be a bio about yourself. This will include any relevant writing credits that you have had in the past such as being published in a well-known magazine or winning a prestigious writing contest. It should also include any book deals with traditional publishers you have in the past. You don’t have to add your age or anything about your background unless you are writing something that your background could contribute to. For example, if you’re writing a nonfiction book on mathematics, then including the fact that you are a mathematics professor is definitely highly recommended to be able to show that you have the skills to write the book.

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