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The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Your Query Letter to a Literary Agent

If you have a manuscript that you would like to get published, you will have to approach a literary agent to make it happen. For that, you will have to write a query letter to show the agent that your manuscript is worth taking a risk. Think of the query letter as a cover letter for a job that you would like to have. There is a certain etiquette in writing a query letter that you need to be aware of before you jump into it.

Here is everything you need to know about writing your query letter that leaves an impact on the agent.

• When you are writing your query letter, make sure you personalize the letter. Address the letter to the agent by their name because a generic letter will not be as impactful. By addressing the agent by their name, they will get the idea that you are serious about it and have done your research. Also, make sure that you spell the name of the agent correctly.

• Start the letter by getting to the point and not introducing yourself. You will have a precious few seconds to grab the attention of the agent and you need to get that by introducing the novel, the story, and the characters. Hook the agent in and don’t waste the opportunity.

• After that, you should start selling your manuscript. Start with the summary of the book and make it concise. You can always use the blurb or the synopsis of your novel in this part since these are written in the hopes of attracting the right audience. Make sure that it is perfect with no mistakes as this is what will make or break this chance for you.

• Mention why you think this particular literary agent is best for you. Show that you did your research and understand the potential that the agent has. Your research will come in handy in selecting the right agent because if your chosen agent does not have novels from a similar genre in their repertoire then they are not the one for you.

• If you have a platform where people recognize you then mention that. That means if you have a strong social media presence or if you have a blog that does exceptionally well, you need to mention that as well. As long as you have recognition and a platform where you will have bigger chances of selling more books, the agent will consider you more seriously.

• Try not to sound arrogant or conceited in your query letter. Be as confident as you can but chose your words very carefully. Remember that the focus of your letter is your novel and not you, so stay humble.

• You should never include your age in the query because it doesn’t hold any sway with the agent.

• Be appreciative of the agent and their time, show them that you value their consideration and be as polite as possible.

Lastly, make sure that you stay on track and keep the letter meaningful. Mention the name of the novel, its genre and its length in words before you end the novel. These might be little things, but these little things matter a lot in the literary world.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Rabia Tanveer