The query letter does three things. It introduces you, the writer. It introduces your manuscript. And third, it makes them want to read your synopsis.
- One A4 page – basic white or off-white paper.
- Fully typed (no handwriting)
- Laser printed (not inkjet) black ink in plain font (Times New Roman 12)
- One inch margins all around. Single spaced.
- Flawless grammar and spelling
Your phone number & E-mail address
Dear (recipient name)
* ‘To who it may concern’ or ‘Dear agent/editor’ are NOT options!
First Paragraph – Answer: Are you worthy my time?
Manuscript title (in caps), word count and one sentence hook/summary (log line). The editor/agent will use this hook to convince the rest of the company to sign you up, so make it a good one. Inform them of the sample/synopsis included in the package. Published authors – add what you expect to be paid.
Consider using your sales pitch (5 sentence summary of the story) for a more elaborate description for the agent.
1 Introduce the main characters (use descriptions rather than names) and the story world.
2 Summarize the beginning, present the first disaster that forces a decision that frames the story question.
3 Summarize the the first half of the middle, leading up to the second disaster.
4 Summarize the second half of the middle, leading up to pursue the final confrontation.
5 Explain how the story ends, including the final confrontation, plot twists revealed and any wrap-up you feel is necessary for proper understanding.
Enclosed you will find… – They already found it.
I’ve written my first novel. – Safe bet when he didn’t know your name
I feel confident that you’ll love it once you read it. – Your hook should be selling the story.
Second paragraph – Answer: Who are you?
Introduce yourself, what you hope to achieve by writing him, what sort of writer you are. If you won contests or have been published before, tell them – this establishes your credibility. Quote any relevant contacts you might have. Do you have any special background or personal experiences that give you a unique insight into the topics handled in your story?
Don’t lie about being unpublished. They’ll know it’s a lie. Just be honest, it’s okay. Most editors/agents get a thrill out of discovering the next big author.
Third Paragraph – Answer: How do we get in touch?
Thank him for his time and attention. Ask for the editor’s feedback and inform him of the self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) he can use to communicate back to you.