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Chapter 8: Being a Novelist: Writerly Life Resources

Query Letter

Melissa Ford Lucken

A query letter is a formal letter that novel writers use to introduce themselves and their manuscript to literary agents or publishers. It serves as a sales pitch for your book, enticing the recipient to request a full manuscript or a book proposal for further consideration. Here’s a breakdown of the key components typically included in a query letter:

Salutation: Address the recipient by name, using “Dear [Agent’s Name]” or “Dear [Publisher’s Name].” Ensure that you spell the name correctly and use the appropriate professional title.

Book description: In the first paragraph, present a compelling summary of your novel. Include the genre, word count, and title. Provide a concise and intriguing overview of the main characters, setting, and central conflict. Convey the unique and marketable aspects of your story, highlighting its potential appeal to readers.

Comparable titles: Mention one or two published books that are similar to yours in terms of genre, tone, or target audience. This helps agents or publishers understand where your book might fit in the market and gives them a sense of its potential readership.

Author’s bio: Share a concise paragraph about yourself, focusing on relevant writing experience, education, or personal background that relates to your novel. Highlight any awards, writing workshops, or memberships in writing organizations.

Closing paragraph: Express your appreciation for the agent’s or publisher’s time and consideration. Offer to provide additional materials, such as a full manuscript or a book proposal, upon their request. Include your contact information, including your email address and phone number.

Sign-off: Use a professional and courteous sign-off, such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards.” Type your full name below the sign-off.

Remember, your query letter should be clear, concise, and well-written. Tailor it to each recipient, addressing them by name and personalizing it as much as possible. Research each agent or publisher to ensure they are a good fit for your genre and interests. Proofread your letter thoroughly to ensure it is free of grammatical errors or typos.

It’s important to note that different agents or publishers may have specific submission guidelines, so always check their websites or submission guidelines before sending your query letter.


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Query Letter by Melissa Ford Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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