> The query letter. The one writers dream about, have nightmares over, agonize, debate, shed tears and even sweat over. You spend hours, days, weeks and even months trying to create the perfect query letter. If you’re like me, you’ve searched for help, gone to different forums, blogs and friends who know what they are talking about. You have multiple versions of your query letter (you should) because you never know when you’ll need a word, phrase or sentence that you wrote in one version, took out in another and realized that nope, you do need it.
Recently Janet Reid recently posted about the query letter. This is a must have, gotta keep, do not ignore – type of post. Here’s her summary (but you can go to her site to see it in person).
1. A query letter is a business letter
2. A query letter requires “show don’t tell” just exactly like your novel does
3. A query letter MUST tell an agent what the book is about.
3a. Who is the main character?
3b. What happens to her?
3c. What choice does s/he face?
3d. What terrible thing will happen because of that choice?
4. A query letter should include the word count, the title and any publishing credits you have? Don’t have pub credits? Don’t worry. Don’t reach either.
(the novel has to be finished. You don’t have to say it is, but just know it)
5. A query letter must avoid several instant-rejection phrases:
sure best seller
“dear agent”/”dear sir or madam”
6. Things to avoid in query letters:
Don’t demean yourself.
Don’t quote rejection letters
Don’t quote critique groups, friends, paid editors or conference contacts.
Don’t ask rhetorical questions.
Great advice don’t you think?