9 Dos and Don’ts on How to Craft the Perfect Query Letter

If you’ve finished your book, the next step is representation or a small press. You’ve done your research and found the perfect agent who is simply gonna LOVE your work. But you have to make it from your email “Sent” box to her email “Read box” and this is not always easy.This means, of course, the dreaded query letter. Don’t know how to get started? Here are some quick tips.
1. Do find out who to send it to, specifically. Go on the agent’s website and find the name of the agent who is simply ON FIRE about your genre.
2. Don’t begin your letter with: “Dear Editor.” Nothing says “I’m a lazy writer who can’t be bothered with details” like a lack of research here.
3. Do follow the guidelines set forth on the website for submissions. If you go to all the trouble to write a query letter without checking the website first, you may miss the part where they decided to be “closed to unsolicited submissions.” Which, in this case, is yours.
4. Do pay attention to details. If the website says, “Send the first three chapters” or “wait for our response” follow their directions. Even if your query letter is awesome, if they don’t tell you to send it and you attach your manuscript, guess whose email is probably going to be ignored? Yours.
5.Don’t send out a spammish query directed towards many agents at once. You really have to make the agent believe that he or she is the perfect fit for your book–and this is the opposite of that.
6. Do be brief and value the agent’s time. Get to the point. Many agents quit reading after the first few sentences if it’s laborious to do so.
7. Don’t brag as if you’ve written the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. It’s ok to mention that your book is targeted at the readers of a specific book, though.
8. Do mention previous publications, if it’s relevant. If you’ve won a writing contest or published a short story somewhere, mention it briefly. This automatically gives you a tiny bit of an edge over someone who hasn’t.
9. After hitting the “send” button, DO relax. Most agent’s websites give you a turn-around estimate of time you will probably have to wait to hear back from them. Don’t annoy them beforehand. This, dear writer, is the hardest part. Waiting.

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