Saturday, 25 April 2009

How to write a fiction query letter

When submitting a novel to a publisher or agent the Submission Package should consist of three parts: a query letter, a synopsis and an extract (normally fifty, double spaced, pages). This article is about the query letter. You can find out more about the synopsis here.

The goal of a query letter is to get the publisher/agent to read your synopsis. It is your synopsis and (hopefully) your extract that will seal the deal. This means your query letter should be concise and to the point. No waffle, no exaggerated claims, just a focussed and honest summary of your book.

I would suggest a three paragraph approach:

Paragraph 1: This is your elevator pitch - you need just a few lines to sell your book. It is essential that these are concise and to the point. You just need to give the publisher/agent a feel for your narrative; this will give them an indication as to whether your title is something that will fit into their current list.

Paragraph 2: This is a more details about the book. Remembering to be concise and to the point you need to include the following:
  1. The book’s genre,
  2. The word count,
  3. An indication of the market with one or two representative titles,
  4. An Indication of if the book is written and if not when it will be finished,
Paragraph 3: This is about you as a writer. Include a brief biography, containing any relevant information such as previous published titles.

The key to remember is that this is just a taste of your book. You are going to expand on some of the points you make in your synopsis. At this stage it is all about the agent/publisher making sure that your book fits their list. If the agent/publisher has no experience of selling the genre in which your book falls then any potential partnership is doomed to failure.

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