A Query Letter: Why You Need To Write It

query letter

The goal of every writer is to see their writing published. Regardless of whether you are a nonfiction or fiction writer, it’s crucial to know how to write an excellent query letter. Keep in mind that a query letter is the best way you can connect with an editor, traditional publisher, or literary agent. You need to attract the interest of these people so that they can request for your manuscript. You need to make your query letter concise so that they can easily read and understand it.

There are several reasons why you should consider writing query letters. This article discusses a query letter. 

A query letter

A writer uses a query letter to pitch book ideas to a literary agent or publisher. You can also use it to pitch article ideas to a magazine editor. It’s usually a one-page document that you can utilize to get a literary agent or an editor interested in your work that you desire to send them.

In most cases, a writer can submit a query letter relating to their piece of work that they have already completed, such as manuscripts for fiction novels. But sometimes, you can send a query letter to find out if the literary agent or editor can allow you to write the piece like a nonfiction book.

Simply put, a query letter can be one of the ways you can introduce yourself and your work to an editor or literary agent. It’s a letter that you can send to convince an editor or agent that you have work that may interest them and help them make money.

If they love your query, they can request to see your work. But depending on the agent or editor, this involves seeing your manuscript for your nonfiction book. On the other hand, if you have a fiction book, then you may have to send them an entire manuscript or even a couple of chapters of your book.  

If you want to have the best chance for your book to get published, it’s a good idea to write an effective query letter. Remember that your query letter gives you an opportunity to impress a literary agent or editor by pitching your idea.

After all, you are attempting to sell your work to an editor or literary agent before they have read the book proposal or manuscript. It can help to determine whether or not your story or idea is worth their time and effort. Therefore, it’s important to catch a literary agent or editor’s attention by crafting a compelling and concise query letter. 

Before you decide to send your query letter, you need to do your homework. You must know the person you are querying and the reason for doing it. Targeting the right literary agent or editor is an important component of writing a great query letter. And, if you do good research, there is a chance that you can avoid most of the common mistakes first time authors usually make.  

For instance, if you want to pitch a fiction novel, you should not send a query letter to a literary agent who deals with nonfiction books. The best way to find a literary agent or publisher who is currently dealing with the type of book you have written or want to write is to research on the internet. You can find detailed and specific listings of publishers and literary agents with their contact details, submission guidelines, and many more.

Writing a successful query letter

You should note that a query letter gives you the chance to connect with a potential literary agent or editor, who can be someone interested in publishing your book. The first element you need to consider to write a good query letter is the referral. You should avoid generalizing a query letter with a Dear Sir. Instead, you need to address the editor or literary agent specifically. 

You need to make sure that you find out about them, so you can search online and check whether or not they have said what they want. You can then reference the details you learned about them in the query letter. For instance, if you and the literary agent attended the same event, you should mention how you met. 

You also have to include basic information about your proposed idea or story in your query letter. If your manuscript relates to a fiction, then you need to write the genre and title your manuscript fits best in. On the other hand, if it’s a nonfiction piece, then mention your proposed category or title for your book.

Also, you need to write a one-page sentence summary of the story and your final word count of the manuscript or proposed word count for the nonfiction book. 

Another element is the hook which usually makes up a large part of your query letter. Now, this is where you must mention the subject matter or the plot, characters, and conflict. This section can be between 100 and 200 words long. 

If you are a fiction writer, you should focus on your protagonist, the conflict the protagonist is facing, and the setting. You can also talk about when and where it takes place. You should note that you can mention a few major story highlights, but you must never reveal the ending.

For both fiction and nonfiction writers, it’s crucial to write how your specific idea or story differs from other books of the same genre. Remember, you are trying to sell your idea or work to a potential traditional publisher. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have a unique selling proposition that is compelling. 

This means that you need to avoid addressing minor characters or plots in a fiction query letter. With a nonfiction query letter, you can mention the subject matter, your targeted audience, and your unique approach. 

You should also include the bio. This lets you share with the potential literary agent or agent who you are. They can also learn about your expertise. A nonfiction writer can also mention their academic background, most recent published articles, and many more.

Gretchen Walker
Gretchen is a homemaker by day and writer by night. She takes a keen interest in life as it unfolds around her and spends her free time observing people go about their everyday affairs.