Query letter structure

  • Write an awesome hook sentence.

The hook sentence is the most important part of your query. It grabs the agent’s attention and keeps his/her/they reading. Usually, it mentions an interesting part of the plot as well. Hook sentences are difficult to make, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a long time to find the right one.

  • Write 2-3 paragraphs that expand on the plot.

The next few paragraphs explain the plot. Normally, this section is 2-3 paragraphs long. If you have small 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 write 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 also say what books their novel compares to. If they write a book similar to J. K. Rowling’s writing style, they’ll mention it. But I 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/she/they is going to accept you or not. Plus, assigning a successful book to your novel sets a super 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 about certain novels. Not everyone likes every popular novel. If that agent sees that your novel is associated with a novel he/she/they 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 may request you to paste it into that same email.

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

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