Writing a Query Letter for Literary Agents

A query letter is typically written by an author to prospective publishers and agents in order to pitch his story and manuscript. The letter generally includes the main theme of the story, a summary of the plot, information on the writer and the intended target audience for the book.

If found compelling, the agent or publishing house would then respond to the query letter and request to see the manuscript or at least a few chapters from it. While you might think you can put together a query letter in any format, agents actually expect to see three paragraphs in total – the hook – the plot summary and your personal bio.

Tips for Writing a Query Letter

  • Strictly follow the format provided in this guide – 3 paragraphs
  • Do not try too hard to impress the agent
  • Present your story in as compelling a manner as you can
  • Do not send a query letter before having finished your manuscript
  • Do not go overboard with your bio – list related achievements and works

Instructions

  • 1

    Sample of a Query Letter #1


    From,

    Allan Thomas,
    47 Drig Road,
    London - 6719.
    August 7, 2010.

    To,

    Peter Parker,
    Read Publications,
    174 Fountain Avenue,
    London - 76193.

    Dear Mr. Parker,

    I am writing this letter to introduce my new manuscript:

    The lost Son

    Set in post war Afghanistan, where Ahmed, part of the new generation, discovers his country in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion and struggles to deal with the challenges that lie ahead…

    Ahmed is the son of a local in the city of Kabul, and is displaced during the Soviet invasion, after which he works his way through the challenges and tough days that lie ahead. Eventually, Ahmed is transformed as he ages and yearns to see his mother and father once again.  The story revolves around his growing up and struggle to find his birth parents, which culminates in a sad revelation that will once again change Ahmed forever.

    I have regularly published short stories in local newspapers like the Daily News, Mirror Daily and The Sunshine. I will be pleased to share details and snippets with you if required.

    I hope you will find my story interesting and spare some time for a one-on-one meeting. We will discuss the script in detail and make changes if required.

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Sincerely,
    Allan Thomas

  • 2

    Query Letter Sample #2


    From,

    Douglas Adams,
    97 Stitch Road,
    London - 6909.
    May 4, 2014.

    To,

    Clark Kent,
    Mirror Publications,
    194 Frenton Avenue,
    London - 7093.

    Dear Mr. Clark

    I am writing this query letter to present my latest manuscript:

    The Queen’s Gambit

    Sailing on a luxury liner, Jason wakes up to find the cruise deserted in an unknown location. With no person on board, he struggles to find answers to questions that go much deeper than he thought…

    The Queen’s Gambit is a thriller about survival and Jason, who is the son of a wealthy businessman, finds himself alone on a luxury cruise that was supposed to go around the Pacific in what Jason planned to be the trip of a lifetime with his fiancée Elizabeth. Waking up to find the cruise deserted, Jason’s quest for answers begins, and leads him from the Pacific to Islands most men don’t even know about.

    This is my third manuscript, with two other books published online. My short stories have also been regularly featured on renowned newspapers like the Daily Mirror, the Sun Daily and Rise and Shine.

    I hope to get a positive response from you soon.

    Sincerely,
    Douglas Adams

  • 3

    Template of a Query Letter #1


    From,

    (Your name),
    (Your address)
    (Date)

    To,

    (Agent’s name)
    (Publication house)
    (Address)

    Dear (Agent’s name)

    I am writing this query letter to present my latest manuscript:

    (Title of manuscript)

    (Interesting tagline/teaser to hook the agent)

    (Plot summary – description with some details about the main character and the story)

    (Personal bio – achievements, qualifications and publications)

    I hope to get a positive response from you soon.

    Sincerely,

    (Your name)

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