A query letter is pasted into the body of an email. It is the first thing an agent or publisher is going to see. You are going to send then a pitch that grips the reader and makes them want to read your book. This is also the answer you are going to give when someone says... what is your book ABOUT?
In the 'old days' this used to be posted. But now we tend to email these query letters so when the agent or publisher opens the email they see the main ideas of your book in a few lines. This should closely resemble the back cover blurb, with a few tweaks.
This applies to both a fiction and non-fiction book. I tend to send a proposal along with a query letter for a non-fiction submission. The below model works for a novel - of any genre.
Part One – Get it to the right person
You need to direct the query to the relevant publisher who handles the genre you are submitting. Get their name and direct it to them personally via their own email address. You just need to research this. Then the subject of the email should read: Query Letter: Your Title
Part Two – About your Book
Again state the title and genre in the body of the email. Then go straight in and give them your best blurb. The is around 2 - 3 short paragraphs. If you can't get it down... work on it. Work it out over a couple days. Take your time. Write a couple versions, pick the perfect one. This is basically your back cover copy. The will decide if they want more based on this basic query, so please make sure you send your very best version.
Part Three – About You
This is a short background that clues them into who you are. Only put details relevant to your writing career, or something that pertains to your novel. I would keep it to a one liner. If this is a professional or non-fiction book you do need to include your job / what you do. eg life coach / surgeon / pro athlete / property broker. This would apply to both non-fiction or memoir.
Part Four – Close it Up
Whew! Almost done!
And that’s all there is to it.
EXAMPLE OF A NOVEL QUERY
Dear Ms. Makevel
Sentinel Break is a YA romance novel with an adventure. It is the story of Trace Miller, a 16-year-old surfer from Port Elizabeth whose friend enters her into the World Surf Championships without her knowing. Trace is selected and she has to travel to Hawaii to compete for the R1-million prize and lucrative sponsorship. Her coach is furious that an unknown has been chosen and wants his protégé to win. Trace has to survive far from home and with a coach who wants her to fail in the most important competition of her life. Trace is not just competing for fun, the money could change her brother’s life and buy him an operation he needs to make his 18th birthday.
Completed, the manuscript is just over 88,000 words long. I am a surfer and know the details of the profession.
Please let me know if you’d like to have, via email or post, the first fifty pages and a summary of the manuscript for your consideration.
Thanks so much for your consideration, and very best regards,
Regards, Amanda Lane
EXAMPLE OF A MEMOIR QUERY
Dr. Veerle Van Tricht is a highly specialized eye surgeon who has spent most of her professional life working to restore vision. However she has a vision of a different kind. Born into a cold Flemish family, Veerle knew at an early age that she had a connection with Angels and the spirit world. As a young child she naturally astral travelled to other dimensions with her Angels, never knowing this was special or unique.
In this book Veerle shares her secrets of how she connects to the divine realm and how she has used this to heal and operate. She tells the story of her remarkable journey navigating the medical world as an intuitive and natural healer. She shows how the science of medicine was often at odds with her own spiritual diagnoses and how she had to move beyond the veil of science as a surgeon.
This book comes at a time when many people are searching for a way to regain their power in their own wellbeing and healthcare. This book shows you that you hold the power to your own healing and that the solution is not always in scientific medicine.
She shares her own practical techniques for daily support and help. She also shares distinct methods to help you prepare for surgery in order to get the best possible outcome.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Veerle Van Tricht is a much-loved specialist surgeon. She works with medical, the magical and the mystical and has practiced in Belgium, South Africa, Australia, France and the UK.
In her 20-year career as a specialist surgeon, Veerle has been guided by her angelic helpers to heal an estimated 20,000 patients across the globe.
Your next step is to send them your query letter along with a full book synopsis. Find out how to do that in this article How to Write a Synopsis
Are you writing a non-fiction? Then you are going to want to send a proposal along with your query letter. Read how to do that here
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, agent and book editor. She is a structure fanatic and coaches writers on how to write and get published.