Can You Say It In Three Minutes?

Are you able to pare your story down to three to five sentences?

Can you say it smoothly within three minutes?

The sole purpose of a pitch (the in-person conversation with an editor or publisher) is to convince them to give your story a look.

Be sure your pitch includes:

Hook: Why they should read your book. 

Synopsis: What the story is about. (Be sure to include the title, length, and genre of your novel). Your

target audience; and where it fits in the market (Titles of books similar to yours—and why yours will be different); and your bio.(including why you are qualified to write the story and what you are willing to do to promote your book after it is published.)

Remember to take your business card with you. You don’t want to be writing down your information on a gum wrapper while going out the door!

The Query Letter

As promised, I read about query letters in several sources this week. Here’s what I learned. All in one place.

Note: you can send a query letter in an email -OR- standard letter. Put QUERY in the subject line, if using an email.

Use a professional font. Nothing quirky. No color. No cartoons or pictures. Your writing—and only your writing—should be used to make your query stand out amongst others. 

Include your personal contact information in a header (if using a standard letter) or at the end (if submitting by email).

Create a strong hook and place it in the first sentence of the first paragraph. Its purpose is to get the reader’s attention and inspire them to keep reading. 

This should be followed by a synopsis, or overview of the storyline or main points and key elements of your book. This may include setting, characters, style, and genre.

The synopsis should be followed by the addition of your credentials: List your published works, including publications, websites, short stories, and so on. If you have educational achievements, add those, also—especially if your book and your achievements are related. 

Close your letter with a statement of gratitude for the person taking the time to read your letter. 

A physical letter should have a place for your signature.

Suggestions: Address to a specific agent and use the agent’s name throughout (not: Dear Agent). Use block formatting. Double-space between paragraphs; single space within. Left-justify. 12 point.

Use your real name, even if you publish under a pen name.

Hope this is enough to get you started, but not so much as to be overwhelming! 

Join Me

I know very little about writing query letters.

Mostly because my books have all been self-published.

However, now that these are “under my belt” as my father would say, I am considering traditional publishing. 

So, for the next few weeks, I will be doing a bit of research—and sharing what I discover about query letters on this blog.

Starting with the basic definition, a query letter is a written or printed communication addressed to a person or organization, asking a question about their potential interest in your book or book idea. 

A successful query letter should intrigue literary agents who will then want to see more: book synopsis, book proposal, sample chapters, and/or your complete manuscript.

A query letter must contain certain information, and of a specific length, and so on.

So, I invite you to learn about query letters along with me. I’ll do the research and present it as simply as possible.

Until next week.

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…”