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A Query Letter Model That Works

query letter

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 08:53 PM

Algonkian Author Salon recommends the following query model below adapted from Jeff Kleinman's original query letter model. Note that this does not include a long story pitch or short synopsis to start off with (which will sink you if you don't know how to artfully write a longer pitch), but rather a few lines designed to place the communication in context before attempting to hook the reader. Note that comparables (at least two) are vital to your novel.

______________________________________________________

Dear Mr. (or Ms.) (name of agent):

[The Hook] You may remember that we met at the XYZ conference [or] I recently completed a novel that is similar to The Art of Racing in the Rain, which I know your agency represents, and I thought you might want to take a look [or the next one is better because it shows you are doing your homework] I read in Publishers Marketplace that you represented XYZ to ABC, and thought you might be interested in taking a look at a novel I just completed.

( NOTE: the credential paragraph below can be moved to second to last paragraph if writer believes it more sensible - and if no creds then skip it and rely on the story hook )

[Professional credentials, platform, or personal background of the author that makes it clear why the author is the best person to tell this tale] I have been writing for the past twenty-seven years. My short stories have appeared in Playboy, GQ, and Martha Stewart Living. [and/or] I am an avid dog-owner, and have owned the same dog for the past twelve years.

[Information about the novel] My Dog Eliot, a novel of 92,000 words, tells of these experiences. [comparisons to other novels] It is similar to Air Bud and Lassie Goes Solo because ... or my novel might be best thought of as Air Bud meets Lassie Goes Solo.

[HOOK OR LOG LINE INSERTED HERE--MUST BE EXCELLENT. MORE THAN ONE LINE IS PERMISSIBLE BUT KEEP IT VERY TIGHT. IF POSSIBLE, HAVE A PROFESSIONAL EDITOR REVIEW IT BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD TO WRITE. READ THIS FIRST BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT IT: SAMPLE LOG LINES, GOOD AND BAD.]

I am attaching/enclosing [note: only attach documents when the agent explicitly asks for attachments]: an outline; synopsis; sample chapter(s); press clippings about my other published works; endorsements by (1) bestselling authors, (2) celebrities, (3) experts, (4) other people who really would be useful for endorsements.

[submission information] This is on a multiple submission. If you are interested in reading the entire manuscript, however, I will be happy to give you exclusivity.

Best,

Merilee Author
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