Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘query letters’

As I near the end of a writing project – in this case a novel – I begin the process of writing the query letter I will send out to agents.  I spend a lot of time on this as it is very important to put forward your work as succinctly and dramatically as possible to snag the interest of an agent who must get 200 queries a day.

I worked a long time to get my latest letter together.  This novel was the most involved work I have done – a lot of characters that had to be juggled and developed over the scope of the work.  I wanted to present the story as fully as I could, and I ended up with a query letter that had to be reduced in font size to get all the elements on one page.

I gave it to a friend to read to make sure it was comprehensible.  She came back with the question – What are you trying to accomplish with this?  I explained I wanted to get the story across as completely as I could.  But her question nagged at me, and I went back to look again at the letter.  It was clear that I was trying to convey way too much information.  Instead of engaging the reader I was overwhelming the reader.   I was trying to get the whole novel into a couple of paragraphs.  And I had doubts that a busy agent would read all that.

So I decided to go back and rework the letter.   I went again to Agentquery.com and reread their advice on creating a successful query letter.  That was a good move on my part, because I realized I had written way too much.  I needed to connect with the reader with no more than 250 to 300 words.  My goal had to be to excite the reader to want to see more.  There was no way I could convey the whole novel in just a few paragraphs.  Much better to entice them to want to see more.

So I went back and completely reworked the middle of the letter and got the heart of the letter into 286 words.  The first part of the letter is the opening with title, a one sentence tag line about the book, and the number of words in the work.  And the last section is a very brief biography.  That’s all.  I cut out every single word that did not add directly to my goal of getting the agent to request to see more of the work.

It was really very constructive for me to realize I was trying to do too much with my first query letter, and it led me to go back and rework my other query letters as well.

I highly recommend anyone working on a query letter take a look at the Agent Query website.  Under the heading for writers there is a link to How to Write a Query.  Take a look at what they have to say, and be sure and check out the sample query letters of successful queries.  It will serve you well.

Read Full Post »