Sunday, October 3, 2010

Conquering the Query Letter Beast

So, I introduced the concept of the Query Letter in my last post, and since then I have been attempting to research and create my own. Let me tell you though, writing this one-page letter was harder than writing the entire book.

The purpose of the Query Letter is to persuade an agent that taking you (and your book) on as a client is a FANTASTIC decision, and I'm not sure why, but this just seemed to put a lot of pressure on what amounted to four 4-5 sentence paragraphs. So, was it intimidating? Absolutely. Is it impossible? Absolutely NOT.

Everything seemed to come together after I told myself I could do it. A few positive affirmations and a little bit of visualizing myself as a published author was all I really needed--because: I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me :).

Ok, maybe that's not all you need. It definitely helped me to have a little more confidence, but here are a few other things you need to know:

1. Start off by writing the kicker paragraph. Sit down, and in 4-5 sentences, write the core of your book. Convince me that I want to read it. Make the last sentence your hook. Something that makes them want to know more. It definitely helps if you think of this paragraph as your "movie trailor" and the words are the script for that amazing voice-over guy that makes audiences want to see every single movie.

2. Now, write the paragraph that gives us the essence of your novel. What is your novel about? And I don't mean generic summaries. What questions does it pose? What questions does it answer? What about your novel will make readers think? Hooks like this make your work stand out will make agents want to know more.

3. Here's an easy one: The product tag. Let the agent know what you need and what you have to offer. Are you seeking representation? How long is your book? What is its title? What genre do you think it fits? What audience do you think it speaks to?

4. The Credentials. This can either be really tricky, or ridiculously simple. If you've got them, flaunt them. BUT only if they're pertinent! Mention degrees if relevant, previous published pieces if existant, and industry experience, if any. If you don't have them, keep it short. Let the focus be on your book and the effort you've put into it. You don't need to state this, because it should be evident by the obvious care and effort you've put into writing your query letter.

Now get out there and find those agents! Good Luck!

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