Query letter structure

Query letters are arguably the most important item you will write as a writer.

Structure:

  • Write an awesome hook sentence.

A hook sentence is the most important part of the query. It grabs the agent’s attention to make them keep reading. Usually, it mentions an interesting part of the plot. Hook sentences are difficult to make, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to find the right one.

  • Write 2-3 sentences expanding on the plot.

The next few paragraphs expand on the plot. Normally, this section is 2-3 paragraphs long. If you have smaller paragraphs, it’s alright to have a 4th paragraph. These paragraphs let the agent know:

  1. What’s the main conflict?
  2. What’s standing in the main character’s way?
  3. How does the main character feel about the situation?
  4. What are the consequences?
  • Write about your book (and your writing credentials)

This part has a simple format. “NOVEL’S TITLE is a (genre) novel complete with (number) words.” or “NOVEL’S TITLE, a (genre) novel, is complete with (number) words.” are the best ways to word it.

After that, you can mention any writing experience you have in that same paragraph. If you have no previous writing experience, skip to the closure. If you have writing experience or have a writer’s platform, mention it here. Agents and publishers love to accept writers who already have a name for themselves.

Some writers will say what books their novel compares to. If they write a book similar to J. K. Rowling’s writing style, they’ll mention it. I, however, am not 100% sure how much this works in the writer’s favor.

By this point in the query, the agent already knows if he or she is going to accept you or not. Plus, assigning a successful book to your novel sets a high expectation. Agents will be looking to see if your novel is as good as or better than Harry Potter.

Another thing to consider is that agents are still people with their own opinions of certain novels. Not everyone likes every popular novel. If that agent sees that your novel is associated with a novel he or she doesn’t like, your query may not get picked.

  • Write your conclusion.

This is the simplest part of the whole query. “Thank you for your time and consideration.”

Some writers will also write something along the lines of: “As per requested on your website, I attached the first 10 pages of my manuscript to this email.” There’s a couple of things wrong with a part of this.

  1. “As per requested on your website” should be taken out. Agents already know what they asked for. You don’t have to tell them.
  2. The word “attached” is usually incorrect. Most agents will ask you to not attach anything to the email. If they ask for the first ten pages, agents will request you to paste it into the same email.

Query letters are not something you can write overnight. When sending a query letter, you are going against hundreds of writers. Make the best query you can before you send it off.

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