Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Best Query Letter Tips from Literary Agents
Your first impression and only chance to secure a literary agent is in the way that you write your query letter, so it needs to be attention-getting, professional, and to the point. How do you achieve all of this within one simple letter to get an agent for your unpublished work?
• Don’t do mass mailings. Yes, you can send out several query letters separately, and an agent will appreciate it much more if you query individually and tailor the letter to their profile or website. If an agency sees a query letter sent out to multiple agents, they may delete it right off the bat.
• Make sure that your query letter is one page, single space. However, it is best if your manuscript is double spaced, and remember to only include it if it is requested in the submission guidelines or from the agent directly.
• Start out with the facts. If you don’t have an interesting or catchy opening, it is best to start out describing your work immediately. In this first sentence, the agent can decide whether or not this work is something that they are looking for based on the genre, length, title, and if it is completed.
• Follow all submission guidelines perfectly. Agencies may have variations in their submission guidelines, such as requesting no attachments. If you do send a query with an attachment, it may be deleted if an agent has requested that you do not send attachments.
• Make sure that your work is edited and perfectly polished. It is essential that you continue to review and rewrite your work so that it is in the best shape when an agent is ready to evaluate it. It is also important not to query an agent for an unpublished novel until it has been completed.
• If you do write in several genres, like both thrillers and children’s books, query an agent who may handle multiple genres. That agent may be the perfect fit for you!
As an overview, the purpose of your query letter is to grab the attention of the agent, give a description of your project, tell them a little bit about yourself, and entice them to ask for more from you. If you can achieve all of that within one page, the odds are that you can attract the right agent for you, but it is still important to keep in mind that this industry is full of rejections, so don’t give up after your first query is turned down!
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