To Query or Not to Query

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What is a Query Letter and why should you send one to an agent?

We’ve all done queries when we type a request for information into the search bar at the top of our computer screen.

A Query Letter is a little bit different, however. Put simply, a query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book.

It is NOT A RESUME.

It is three concise paragraphs, which include the hook, the mini synopsis, and the writer’s biography.

The Hook, or paragraph one:  A concise, one-sentence tagline for your book meant to snag your reader’s interest and reel them in.

The Mini-synopsis, or paragraph two: This is your novel, reduced to one paragraph. (Yikes! Are you kidding me?)

Writer’s biography, or paragraph three: Keep it short and related only to your writing.

Close your letter by thanking the agent for his/her time and consideration. If your book is nonfiction, include the outline and table of contents.

If your book is fiction, ask the agent to request the full contents, if interested.

The internet has many examples of query letters—both bad and good—available. It will be well worth your time to read some so that you get a good feel for what agents expect.

As my father always said, “It never hurts to ask…”

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Stir Their Hearts. Make Their Skin Crawl.

 

Fiction entertains. It mystifies. It sometimes makes us cringe. It oftentimes invites readers to experience different worlds…odd creatures…unusual circumstances. It makes us laugh. It makes us cry. It stirs our hearts…

Non-fiction informs. It often tells of heroes, the downtrodden. It recounts historical events and the people who lived through them. It takes us to different countries, cultures, and peoples. It entices us to travel and experience all that our world has to offer…

As writers, we hold within our pens the power to spark many different emotions in the hearts of our readers: fear, surprise, empathy, anger, love—the list is endless. We take them on a wild ride, of sorts. And, they love it.

Their hearts pound. Their skin crawls. Their tears flow.

They crave it. We deliver it.

But, by the end of the book we need to wrap it all up. Sometimes neatly…sometimes not so much.

For myself, I choose endings that encourage, uplift, offer hope.

In this fast-paced world full of hurting people, in this climate of unrest and uncertainty, my goal is to give readers something to hold onto.

When they read that last page and turn out the light, I want them to rest a little easier, feel a little safer. I want them to have experienced relatable characters that have triumphed over insurmountable odds…who have claimed victory over negativity or self-doubt…who have learned a life lesson and emerged the better for it.

I want my books to change them in some way.

Maybe they’ll experience release from a false belief about their own self-worth. Perhaps they’ll be energized by an idea they find within its pages. Perhaps they’ll be inspired to reunite with a family member or old friend.

I want to give them the same thing I want from a good book: to emerge from the reading experience a little wiser, more sensitive to the needs of others, more open to change, happier—just different somehow.

 

 

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