Writing Query Letters That Sell Your Books

Let me begin by explaining what a query letter is. The first time I heard about query letters was when I took a course on the business of publishing and I had no idea what the instructor was taking about.

Simply stated, a query letter is a well-crafted sales pitch to an editor or agent. A well-written query will sell the idea of your book. The goal is for an editor or agent to request to see the full manuscript after reading the query.

Writers, me included, want to pull their hair out when they sit down to write a query because it’s so different from writing the novel itself. And the thought of condensing their entire novel into a few short paragraphs seems like an impossible task. The good news is that it’s not impossible; authors just need to learn the art of the query.

The Query Letter Structure

1. Just like in your novel, you want to hook the reader with your first line. Begin with the summary of your story. Only the basics of the story should be included here.

· Who is the main character?

· What is the problem?

· What does she want?

· Why can’t she have it? What is the conflict?

· What is at stake?

For my novel That Was Then, my first paragraph my look like this:

Grace Montoya, a cancer survivor, has received a second cancer diagnosis and this time she is not sure she can beat the disease. But as she faces her mortality, it’s not death she fears, Grace’s thoughts are consumed with her daughters. Was she a good enough mother? Did she pass down the roots that will keep her girls grounded so they can continue to grow without her? But she doesn’t have time to contemplate these deep questions because as she’s preparing to fight for her life, her first love and father of her youngest daughter, Daniel Subia returns to their small town and he has questions, namely why didn’t she tell him he had a daughter. Grace could lose it all, her daughter and her life, or she could be healed emotionally and physically by a love she thought had been lost forever.

2. This first paragraph is followed by more details about the novel. You want to state the title of the novel…

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