Oh, the dreaded query letter. Even after slaving away for months or years on a book, writing, editing - you’re still not finished. Now you have to write a query letter to send to an agent or editor. And everyone tells you (‘cause everyone knows) the query has to be perfect. You should spend weeks massaging the words, writing and re-writing until it’s perfect. If it’s not, the agent will trash it after scanning the fist sentence. One mis-spelling, one misplace comma, or, heaven-forbid, stating your credentials before giving the word count (!!!) and zip your letter is shredded, stamps steamed off the SASE and added to the agent’s growing pile of stamp-booty, and your name branded onto the Unacceptable list.
Let’s get down to reality. There’s really no reason in this day and age of computers with spell and grammar check to have mis-spellings and undecipherable grammar. And you should spend some time working on that query letter. You can also make it easier by following a set layout in your query letters. One I teach in my workshop is: Look, Hook, Book, Cook. You can come up with your own way of writing a query. Knowing what you want to include in the letter makes it easier to write the letter.
But let’s not go into hyperventilation at the thought of having to write one. And let’s not spend as long crafting the letter as we did writing the book.
Stephen Barbara has written an article in Publishers Weekly about how’s he’s rather tired of all the perfect query letters crossing his desk. Read it. It might make you feel better.
6 months ago