I could fill pages and pages with the things that writers do wrong when writing query letters. Instead, today I’m going to share nine things you can do to make your query letter shine.
#1. Connect with the agent by mentioning their clients’ books. This only works if you’re actually familiar with a book or two. If you can find a way to bring up how much you loved a title they represented, then you will definitely be on their good side (we love our clients’ books).
#2. Keep the query letter short. You want to pitch your project to the best of your ability, and I promise you that writing eight paragraphs about your character is not the way to do this. Short query letters are always more effective.
#3. Write an incredible hook. I think too many people overlook the effect of a great hook in a query letter. One excellent sentence can immediately pull the reader in and make the agent decide to request material.
#4. Leave them asking for more. Don’t let your query letter give everything away. It should be exciting and engaging, but also a little bit mysterious – no matter what genre you may be writing. Agents should feel like they need to read your book after reading your query letter.
#5. Include links to your website and social media accounts. You don’t need to go make a website or social media account just to do this, but providing links to your active online channels will save agents an extra step (because literary agents will Google your name anyway).
#6. Follow the submission guidelines. I know, I know, you’re tired of hearing this… but agents wouldn’t talk about this so much if the majority of queries didn’t ignore a guideline (or three).
#7. Use comparison titles that you know the agent adores. This requires a little bit of stalking (on social media or websites; please not in real life). If you can use a book, tv show, or movie that the agent considers a favourite as a comp title in your query letter, that will definitely catch their attention.
#8. Demonstrate how you’re part of the literary community. Agents like to work with writers who take their work seriously, so including information in your query letter about how you’re involved in the literary community is a great way to show that you want to be part of the industry. Whether you’re part of a writing group, active on an online Twitter chat about books, or a frequent attendee at local book readings, share some of your love for books and writing in your query letter.
#9. Write an incredible book. This one is obvious, right? A great premise, pitched to the right agent, will always stand out in the slush pile.