A query letter is basically the initial contact between a writer and an agent or editor. This letter is meant to spark interest in the writerís project. It should be thought of as a writerís handy sales tool. Basically a one-page letter, it sells an agent on taking a chance on your novel, or an editor on giving you a shot at an article publication. The key to gaining an agentís interest in a novel is to keep your query letter short, sweet, interesting, and to the point.
Paragraph 1: What Kind of Book?
Give the setting, genre, final title, as well as the approximate word count of your story. If any kind of personal connection with the agent exists, mention that relationship in this paragraph.
Paragraph 2: What is the Book About?
Basically summarize the aim, intro, and goal of your story in this one paragraph. It is good to spice up your idea in order to bring excitement and interest to your story.
Paragraph 3: What is so unique about the Author in connection to the story?
For Example, if the story takes place in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, mention if you had in fact grown up there. If it is a police mystery and by chance you studied crime investigations with your father (who is a detective by chance), mention this experience.
Paragraph 4: Impressive Facts
Specify writing experience, goals, achievements, awards received, etc. Basically, what makes you stick out from other authors, as well as what makes you a successful writer. If previously published, this should definitely be listed within this paragraph.
Paragraph 5: How can the Author be reached?
Specify that you have attached a SASE (Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope) for the agentís convenience and mention where and when you can be contacted via phone. Always be courteous, letting the agent or editor know that you are indeed looking forward to their response.
Sound easy? It is. Remember, this one page query letter can sometimes be more important that the actual novel or story you are trying to sell itself. A query letter is your connection, gateway, and foot in the door. Itís not worth rushing, nor pushing aside. A query letter deserves as much as time as any other piece of writing, and can easily be thought of as a 'commercial/ advertisement on paper'. Once you have finally sold yourself, you have freed yourself as well as your talent and skill.