3 Things for Writing Effective Query Letters

Listen to the Writer’s Market Podcast series. Each free episode includes a “Three Things” segment focused on helping writers find success with their writing. This one looks at three things for writing effective query letters.

(Click here to check out the podcast episode that includes these three things.)

THE HOOK

First up, the hook, or opening element of a query. The best hooks—whether fiction or nonfiction—often present a problem, ask a thought-provoking question, or give an enticing snapshot of what project you’re about to pitch.

And, in most cases, accomplish this task in one juicy sentence.

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DETAILS

Then, include details about the project. And accomplish this in one to three concise paragraphs. But remember: The query covers highlights–not every single detail.

In other words, establish a need and share how you plan to answer that need. For fiction, share the most compelling elements of a story to entice the editor or agent to want to read more.

AUTHOR BIO

Third, writers should include some form of author bio in a very concise two to three sentences. If you’ve had a book published or won any relevant awards, include that. If you’re an expert in the field on which you plan to write, include that.

Do not include your lack of experience, even if it’s the truth. Instead, write something to the effect of, “I am a writer living in Suwanee, Georgia.” Believe me, the bio will not make or break your project or be the thing that puts you over the top.

REMEMBER

The query letter is not the finished product—so you don’t need to include everything and the kitchen sink. Rather, touch on the most important pieces of whatever it is that you propose to write and give just enough to make editors and agents want to see more.

If you can master these three things, you’ll find you’ve mastered the art of selling your writing.

Until next time, keep writing and marketing what you write.

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robert-lee-brewer-featuredRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. He edits the Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market books, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, maintains the Poetic Asides blog, co-hosts a podcast for writers with Brian A. Klems, speaks at conferences, leads online webinars and tutorials, and so much more.

Robert is also the author of Solving the World’s Problems, a poetry collection published by Press 53. A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, he’s been a featured poet across the country at poetry events in Austin, Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, and more.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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