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Writing A Query: part one

October 8, 2011

What is a query, besides a word that’s hard for me to spell? A query, which my troubled brain believes should be spelled with two r’s, is a letter. It’s that simple, and yet, it’s anything but.

To be effective a query must grab an agent’s attention immediately. If it doesn’t, no one will read your manuscript. Writing a query is so not simple, that I’m splitting this post into three different blogs. Today, I’ll only explain, and hopefully, get you started. Next, I’ll post both a do and don’t list that you can follow when writing your query.

In the industry, an author begins the publishing process by finding an agent. This is done by following the submission guidelines on the agent’s website. Exactly. There are guidelines that ask for synopsis, sample chapters, or a singular page of work. However, I have yet to find a set of submission guidelines that doesn’t involve a query.

Is there one right way to write a query? Yes and no. I’ll focus on writing a query for publishing manuscripts, but a query for magazine writing, on-line pitches, or for any editor, follows a very similar method.

First, get started. Research agents before you query so that your letter can be written specifically to them. They will know if you are mass mailing, so don’t. Create an outline using three components: a reason to pitch, a summary of your book, and your credentials. All of this must be done on one page. You can do it, but it will take some work. Get started!

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