It seems unfair, I know, to have to learn yet another writing skill after you’ve already spent years perfecting your ability to tell a good story or write an accessible self-help book. But mastering the art of the query letter is essential if you hope to obtain an agent or publisher. And, frankly, the same marketing and copywriting skills that go into a good query will serve you when writing any number of promo pieces for your self-published book as well.
Writing a great query letter involves a combination of your abilities to identify important details, be succinct, and create snappy turns of phrase, all while conveying a sense of your characters and the motivations that propel them through your plot.
I could give you the formulaic outline for what goes into a successful query letter (and I may do so in a future post), but I really believe the best way to get a feel for what makes a query work is to read other good ones. So here are some example query letters, plus other resources I’ve found really useful in teaching clients how to improve their querying powers.
http://misssnark.blogspot.com/search/label/query%20letters (read the whole string if you can, or skim the headlines for what’s most pertinent to you)
Still think you need some help shaping your query letter to get agents and publishers asking for your sample chapters or book proposal? Consider The Writer’s Ally query letter review service. Here’s what a previous client had to say:
Ally’s edited version of my query letter produced results that were swift and remarkable. Within an hour of sending the new version out, I had my first response asking to read my manuscript! Ally culled the best points of my query and highlighted what elements would catch the eye of agents—and they responded!—Tara Ellison, novelist
Founder of The Writer’s Ally, Ally E. Machate is a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge and experience with the publishing industry to lead serious authors toward success. She and her team live to help make great books happen, whether that means showing a writer how to improve a manuscript, get an agent, or self-publish; or coaching an author on growing her platform to sell more books. Since 1999, she has supported hundreds of authors on their publishing journey and takes pride in serving as their books’ best ally.