Write a Killer Query

One of the tough things authors have to do is to write a query letter for an agent or editor.

Your query letter, according to Jane Friedman, should contain five things (in no particular order):

  • Personalization – the part of the letter where you customize for each individual agent or editor. Be sure you spell their name correctly!
  • What You’re Selling – the genre and subgenre, title and word count
  • The Hook – this is the meat of your query. One to two hundred words is enough for most fiction queries
  • Bio – this is optional. If you don’t really have anything of note to report, just skip this part and go straight to the …
  • Closing and Thank You – always thank the agent or editor for taking the time to look over your manuscript

Here are some “Red Flags” for your hook:

  • Is it longer than 200 words? That’s too much wordage – cut it back.
  • Does it reveal the ending of your book? Save that for your synopsis.
  • Does it mention more than two or three characters? Just mention your protagonist, antagonist and maybe a sidekick or romantic interest.
  • Does it go into the minor plot points? If it has nothing to do with the main plot line, skip it.


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