15 Attributes Of An Effective Query Letter

query letter

From avoiding typos to communicating what makes your book unique and compelling, here are 15 things to focus on when crafting a query letter for your book.

Author Mike Wells wrote a blog article listing common mistakes writers make in their query letters to agents and (conversely) showing what a good query letter looks like.

It’s worth reading the whole piece for details, but I thought I’d summarize his points below — just in case you’re the skimming type.

1. An effective query letter does NOT have any typos, spelling errors, or grammatical/punctuation goofs.

2. An effective query letter contains all the basic information (book summary, quick author intro, why you’re writing to this agent, etc.)

3. An effective query letter does NOT contain information that is irrelevant to your book or the purpose of your querying.

4. An effective query letter clearly states the genre of your book.

5. An effective query letter communicates why your book is different from other books about the same topic, in the same genre, etc.

6. An effective query letter communicates how your book is similar to other books in the marketplace.

7.  An effective query letter identifies the main  goals & conflicts your characters face.

8.  An effective query letter should NOT be written in too flat a tone, or in a tone that differs too drastically from the tone of the book itself.

9.  An effective query letter is creative, excites the agent, and shows that you’re an imaginative writer.

10. An effective query letter does NOT read like an advertisement.

11. An effective query letter does NOT comment upon the book’s market potential. You’re the writer. Leave the market assessment to the experts.

12. An effective query letter should NOT be longer than one page.

13. An effective query letter does NOT have too detailed a plot synopsis. You just need to hook them with a short pitch.

14.  An effective query letter should NOT mention your previous attempts at acquiring an agent or publishing deal.

15. An effective query letter should NOT sound too informal or chummy.

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