query letters

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Your query letter IS your cover letter


Would you spend hours working on a resume only to throw together a quick generic cover letter and hope you get an interview? Probably not. In fact, in today’s tough economic times, your cover letter is probably the most important piece of your “package” in any job search.

A good query letter is much the same. This is your calling card. This is your first introduction. This is the one page you have to make you, and your book, stand out from the hundred if not thousands of proposals that publishers and literary agents receive every year.
Writing a good query letter can be daunting. It can be scary. It can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
  1. Address your letter to a specific agent or editor at a specific agency or publisher. Don’t send out something generic.
  2. Make sure that you’re sending your letter to an agent or publisher that works in your genre. One of the biggest mistakes that authors make is not doing their research. Agents and publishers list their interests and previously sold titles on their websites. Check them out and make sure your project is a good fit.
  3. Show that you’ve done your research. Mention a book or an author than an agent has represented in your first paragraph. Identify why you picked this particular agent or publisher to query.
  4. Sell yourself. Give you and your platform a full paragraph. Explain why you are the best author for your book and how you can sell yourself and generate book sales.
  5. Be courteous. Let people know if your project is on multiple submission.
  6. Identify a market for your book. Really. A real market. Add a statistic or two.
  7. Be respectful. Use appropriate business etiquette.
  8. If you’re just sending a query letter, let the agent or publisher know what else you have available – i.e. A full proposal and two sample chapters are available upon request.
  9. Have someone else read your letter before you send it. Even the best of writers needs an editor. Typos have no place in a good query letter.
  10. Be succinct. Keep your query to one page. Identify why you’ve chosen a particular agent or publisher, pitch your book, identify your market, sell yourself, thank them for their time.
Good Luck!