I think the scariest part about writing isn’t devising a plot, creating interesting characters, producing believable dialogue or even staying focused till the story is completed…the scariest part is creating the perfect query letter in order to catch the attention of an agent.
While surfing the net yesterday, in hopes of finding the magic solution to query writing, for my completed novel, Deadly Letters, I came across Janet Reid’s blog: http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com. Janet shares a great deal of information on writing the quintessential query. I’m going to borrow part of one of her blogs and share her suggestions with you.
When sending queries via email, the subject line should read: Query for “title of your book” and the salutation should address the agent by his/her name…not Dear Sir/Madam/Agent or To Whom It May Concern. (is anyone really this stupid?)
The first paragraph should name the main character and tell about the choices he/she must make or why things are going to change for him/her soon.
Word count and genre should always be included. (Sidebar: PICK a GENRE…I’m not even an agent, but I hate it when someone says,”well it’s a mystery with a lot of suspense, but could also be considered a thriller.” Make a choice!)
Janet also likes to receive the first 3-5 pages of Chapter 1. She doesn’t want the Prologue…but a few pages of the actual first chapter. This a something Janet requests, but not all agents want any portion of your manuscript sent with your query. Be sure you check their website, under submission guidelines, so you know exactly what their specific desires are. DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS! This is the age of virus’ and no one wants to open attachments, especially from someone they don’t know.
Ms. Reid didn’t mention bio information in this particular query outline, but I’m sure if you have credentials, she’d love to hear about them. I think this part should be kept to “just the facts ma’am”, not too egotistical. Be sure you include your contact information. Full name, address, phone number, email address.
This system of producing a query seems very simple and cut and dry. So why do I still have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I start to write it? Oh well, time to pop a Pepto, pull on my big girl panties and get on with it!