Query Letter: Writing Guideline (with Sample Letter)

A query letter is a way of introducing your writing to editors or literary agents and publishers. Writers use these letters to pitch their ideas to editors and publishers. In a single page, the writer aims to make the editor/publisher get interested in reading or publishing the entire story˗ that’s how important the letter is to a writer.

The letter introduces the writer and their work to editors and publishing agents and draws their attention to the work. Besides, it promises the work will make them money. If your query interests them, they’ll ask you to send the entire copy.

Since the letter is critical to writers, you can’t write a substandard letter. If you’re not used to writing these letters, try to use a template or a sample to know what you should include in your letter.

Elements of every query letter

  • Your work: what’s your genre/category, the title, and subtitles of the work and the word count?
  • Your bio
  • The hook of the writing summarized in 100-200 words.
  • Salutation. It’s advisable to use the real name of the recipient instead of using the popular titles of Mr. /Mrs. or Sir/madam.
  • A polite close

How to write a query letter

Since a query letter is an opportunity to market and sell your ideas and work, you must craft a winning letter. Some important considerations when writing the letter are;

Personalize the letter if possible

When writing a query letter, it’s essential to do background research and know who to address the letter to. Personalizing the letter is an excellent way to show the recipient you know the publishing company/editor. Besides using the agents/ editors name in the address, make sure you get the spelling correct.

Adhere to submission guidelines

As you research on the right person to contact, search for information on the submission guidelines of the particular publisher/ editor.

Include a catchy introduction

Remember, your letter will make or break your work. In the letter’s body, choose the words to use carefully. The first line of the letter should enable the reader to know what your book covers.

It should make the reader want to know more about your work. If by any chance the recipient knows you, or you have ever met let them know, if not get straight into action.

Important aspects of your writing, including your genre, title of the book and word count should feature in the first paragraph.

In the second paragraph, talk about your story˗ who are the main characters in the story? Don’t highlight the entire plot. Your reader should desire to know more from the hint.

The third paragraph should feature your bio. The bio should be related to your writing.

Mirror the tone in the letter to your narrative

The tone of the query letter should be similar to the tone of your writing. Use a few words to explain your story. Consider the query letter as a summary of your book/novel.

Use short sentences and paragraph

Make sure you organize your letter in the right manner, and it’s easy to skim through. Remember your recipient receives many query letters each day. Let your piece stand out among your competitors.

Things to avoid when writing a query letter

  • Avoid bragging: It doesn’t hurt to be polite and humble. Even if you believe your work is superb, avoiding words that could portray you as proud or demeaning others. An example would be “you will be lucky to work with Amazon’s best seller.”
  • Don’t be wordy: Your query letter should not extend beyond one page. Remember, these editors and agents have lots of query letters to go through each day. If you wrote a long letter, chances of dismissal are high.
  • Avoid doubts: You must believe in your work. As you write the query letter, you should be confident that they will publish your work. Self–doubt will only lead to rejection of your work.

Sample query letter/email

Dear Matthew Otins,

I’m writing this letter to introduce my latest novel for publication, THE MYSTERIES OF THE DEAD, an investigative piece on death, of 120,000 words.

The novel starts with the murder of a single mother (Annabel) and her only son (Andrew) in the state of Bellshill. A local tourist discovered their bodies in a thicket in Bellshill forest. The death comes as a surprise to the residents since the woman was known to be a humble and harmless lady. The police embark on an investigation to uncover the mysterious death of the lady and her son. It’s strange as the truth unfolds to realize that it links the senior state official to the murder a key suspect.

The county official is behind a series of other similar cases and is believed to be a member of a secret society that’s associated with human sacrifice in Bellshill. Crucial evidence on this murder case unveils the reason behind mysterious deaths in Bellshill. The state official tries to interfere with the investigation by bribing the lead investigator Detective Constable Rick Watson but the attempt fails, and he’s arraigned in court and charged with the murders.

The mystery surrounding the death of Annabel is puzzled by a dream in which Annabel appears to the constable Watson and reveals her killer. Constable Watsow, the lead investigator, follows leads from the dream to locate critical evidence vital for the case.

THE MYSTERIES OF THE DEAD my second novel on DEATH. My first novel was STANDING ON THE EDGE OF SHEOL. I’m a psychologist living and working in Liverpool.

Thank you for your consideration. I’m looking forward to a positive response.

Sincerely,

Jack Martins