do and don't · how to get a request for pages · query problems

How to write a query letter

A query letter’s main function is conveying the pitch for a book. But it has more moving parts than that. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown, with links to more detailed how-to posts on that section. Salutation: “Dear Firstname,” or “Dear Ms. Lastname,” PARAGRAPH 1 Optional intro: A sentence about how you found them: “I read your… Continue reading How to write a query letter

do and don't · how to get a request for pages

The one-line pitch

Editors love one-line pitches. Well-written queries usually have one among the genre and comps: TITLE is a fantasy adventure that chases a mischievous, world-ending ghul across industrial Mumbai. TITLE is steampunk fantasy where Evangeline Denmark’s CURIO meets Steven Harper’s THE DOOMSDAY VAULT. Editors appreciate one-liners because it helps them pitch their bosses. When an acquiring… Continue reading The one-line pitch

do and don't · how to get a request for pages · query problems

Queries: summarize the first 50 pages

When writing your query letter, summarize the first 50 pages of the book. This is enough to hook agents without giving too much away. (That’s what the synopsis is for.) A stellar query will help you after representation, too. After you sign, your agent pitches your book to acquiring editors. Many agents use the original… Continue reading Queries: summarize the first 50 pages

query problems

A protagonist and her problems

The first sentences of your query must introduce the protagonist and what’s wrong. (The “what’s wrong” may not be the overall conflict, but needs to create tension.) Consider these pitches for Gail Carriger’s SOULLESS: Alexia Tarabotti, an avowed spinster, has no soul. That might be appalling, but Alexia doesn’t give a fig about anyone’s opinion.… Continue reading A protagonist and her problems