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How To Write The Perfect Query Letter Part 2
Once you have a well-crafted byline, the next step is creating a professional, eye-catching query letter to send directly to agents, managers and publishers. However, for your letter to be successful you need to send lots of them.
An initial query letter is essential before you send your full manuscript to publishers, of course, but what to include in the letter is key to spark the interest of your chosen publisher. You want the content of your query letter to reflect your personality and the genre of your book. If you have a fun personality, then your query letter should demonstrate this. I will set out a basic query letter that has worked for me, but try to develop your own style too. Just remember, your ultimate goal is to get the publisher or agent to request your manuscript so if something in the letter doesn’t serve this purpose, then cut it out.
The first sentence of my query letter always begins with a clear reason why I have contacted them. Eg. "I would like to submit my fiction comedy novel, Single Mum Slap My Bum, to you for consideration."
In your next sentence, you want to include your byline. I have written an article on this previously if you want to check it out. If you have written more than one novel, it is fine to include two strong bylines in your query letter, even for different genres. The publishers may not like one idea, but they may love the second. This will also save time sending out separate query letters for each completed novel.
After the byline, you need to include a brief paragraph about your writing background. Have you had anything published or won any writing contests? You need to include any writing credits that will set you apart from the crowd. If you have no writing credits to speak of, but you have experience or knowledge related to your manuscript, then make the publisher aware of it. Include any experience you have, no matter how insignificant you think it is; it could spark an interest so do not sell yourself short.
Finally, you want to include a definite call to action. Maybe ‘Please let me know if you would like me to send you the full manuscript or sample chapters.’
Remember to include both your email and telephone number. Publishers prefer different forms of contact so may it easy for them. Most importantly, always send your query to a named person. You can usually find publishers' names on their website. Do not address a query letter/email to ‘To whom it may concern.’ That screams 'blanket query' to every publisher under the sun and is a huge no-no.
What else to avoid?
Do not beg or tell them how talented you are. Let your writing showcase your talent, nothing else.
Do not announce that you have written the next masterpiece that is destined for the Booker Prize. Again let your writing do the talking.
This is a given, but I am mentioning it because I have known writers include this in a query letter. Do not ask how much you are going to receive in royalties before the publisher has even agreed to read the first chapter.
I read an article many years ago where an agent was giving advice to new writers and it went something like this: "If you act like a professional, you will be treated professionally."
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Lesley Jones