These 26 Query Letter Rules Will Change Your Life

Giorgi - Shocked by japrea, on Flickr

“Giorgi – Shocked” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by japrea

When writing your query letter, always remember:

1) Tell the agent the ending, but don’t tell them how it ends.

2) Follow all the rules, but be original.

3) There are no rules, but still look formulaic.

4) Follow the formula. Look at some examples.

5) Don’t follow those examples. They don’t follow the formula.

6) Always start off with a catchy tagline so the agent knows it’s also good movie material.

7) Wait. No. Don’t do that.

8) Never mind, totally do it.

9) Wait, no.

10) Hold up. What?

11) Forget that. Always start off your first sentence this other way because it’s the best way. (Unless you have something better. Then use that.)

12) Make sure the first sentence includes your title, word count, protagonist name, pitch, favorite Backstreet Boy, and a succinct, personalized reason as to why you’re querying this agent in particular without it looking top-heavy or suck-uppy.

13) Read every book that agent ever represented and name-drop them thoroughly without looking like you’re a desperate, creepy-assed stalker.

14) Do this 400 times because Lord knows you’ll be at it for a while.

15) Remember you have only one page, including the agent’s address and your own signature line.

16) Stop sleeping.

17) Quit your job.

18) Send your kids off to some far-away boarding school so they can never again ask you where the towels are.

19) Receive rejections.

20) Immediately conclude it’s because your book is shit, and therefore you are shit, and everything you’ve ever touched is shit, and you should just stop now.

21) Send out more queries.

22) Make sure your comp titles give the agent an exact idea of what your book’s about, but aren’t like your book at all.

23) Make sure your comp titles were successful, but not too successful, within the last 5 years, but preferably within the last 2 years, and preferably even more not published yet because you’re that ahead of the trends. Also, they should be polka-dotted and be about frogs.

24) Make your own book about frogs.

25) Scratch that. Frogs aren’t cool anymore.

26) Cry.

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. Susan Bernhard

    I would add the following: Hope. Hope some more. Give up hope. Never, ever give up hope. But do give up hope. Then secretly hope.

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