Here is my non-official guide to query letter writing! Believe it or not, they are pretty formulaic!
Start with a “when” sentence that describes your characters age, name, and inciting incident.
“When seventeen-year-old Sophie discovers BLANK, she must BLANK.”
In the next paragraph, describe major plot points in the story that explains what is driving your character. Why are they making those choices? And what are the stakes? Be as specific as possible. We don’t want vague sentences here.
However, you also don’t want to give away the ending because this is not a synopsis. But, you do want to end with something dire and moody that will hook the literary agent or publishing house.
So you’ll want to say something like:
If Sophie can’t BLANK, then all is lost.
In the next paragraph, you’ll include your books title (in all caps), the genre, the word count, and any comp titles.
For example: KNITTED TO PIECES is a YA Fantasy, complete at 80k words, as a cross between LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and PECULIAR CHILDREN.
In the same paragraph, include your bio which should state any publishing credits. BUT, if you don’t have any publishing credits, do not worry! Just make sure to explain why you are the writer to write this story.
You might say something like:
As someone who has competed in several knitting competitions, I am well-equipped to write about a character whose weapon of choice is knitting needles.
Finally, explain why you are reaching out to this specific agent or editor. What was it about them that made you want to query them? You want to be professionally personal here, so talk about other books they represent, not things you found out about them while stalking their personal social media profiles.
I saw on your manuscript wishlist that you are looking for a YA fantasy with a character who has grandma hobbies, so this is why I am submitting my novel KNITTED TO PIECES to you.
(Just to be clear, the pitch above is not a real novel!)
Check before you hit send:
Lastly, make sure you read the query guidelines to see if they want any sample pages and follow their instructions to a T so you don’t get auto-rejected. Good luck!