Writing a Query Letter: Part 4

To find the first part of this series, Click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE. Part 3, click HERE. To listen to the full discussion on the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast, click HERE.

Query Writing Tips

Now that you have the basics down, how do you actually write a GOOD query letter?

The blurb/summary is going to be a HUGE part of your pitch and often requires the most attention and revisions.

The next section will go over tips and tricks for writing a query letter that will grab an agent’s or publisher’s attention.

Open Blue BookWhen to write the Blurb?

Before or After?
Depends on the author

Before
Why would you do this?
Not as emotionally invested yet.
Not EVERYTHING feels important.
Focus your thoughts on the story highlights.
Which can help with writing.
Saves you from having to do it later.
Allows you to promote early.

After
Have the full concept in place.

Avoid having to rewrite due to plot changes.

Better idea of future plans.

Anatomy of a Blurb

Situation/Character intro

Problem/Conflict

Hope of Resolution

Tone/Mood

Invisible CastSituation/Character Intro

Jump in right away.
Situation and Character intro right away.
No wasting time with description/thought.
Intro the setting as well.

Who is this story about?
What situation makes their story interesting?

First sentence should introduce both.

Make them interesting!
YOU know them well, so present them in the best, most interesting light

Example:

“In 1938, a small crooked-legged racehorse received more press coverage than Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt or any other news figure.”(Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand)

Don’t mislead!
If they start reading and it doesn’t hold up…they’ll put it down

Depressed young homeless womanProblem or Conflict

A hint of the plot…
What challenge is your MC up against?
Simplify as much as possible.There may be multiple conflicts that all seem important.
Focus on the MAIN conflict.

How is this conflict going to hurt/hinder your character?
Again…simplify to the main points. Pick the biggest, most detrimental effect to focus on in the blurb

The blurb is a teaser. Hook the agent/pub…leave them wanting more. This is usually better accomplished in a short blurb.

Some like to end on a question (but not a rule)
“As mouths water in anticipation, can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate éclair?”(Chocolat, Joanne Harris)

“Lisbeth Salander—outcast…enigma…avenger…”(The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson)

End on a cliffhanger!

HopeHope of Resolution

Don’t be too depressing!

How will your character potentially thwart all the trouble the conflict is brewing?

Don’t reveal the end of the story, but DO suggest a possible escape.

Make readers want to solve the problem.

Tone and Mood

The tone or mood of your query should match the book.

Fun, dark, moody, silly, inspirational, etc.

Let readers know what is in store for them so they know what they’re getting into.

Join me next week for the final part of the Query Writing Workshop. Tips & Tricks, tracking queries, and query pacing.

Listen to the full discussion now on my new podcast!

Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast: How to Write a Query Letter Without Going Completely Crazy

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