1. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Query Letters: Examples Please?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by SilverWolf0101, Jul 2, 2010.

    I've read everything I could on query letters, the do's the don'ts and the "not so much" bit. I've looked at examples so I have some understanding, but here's my problem, all the examples I've found sound... robotic at best.

    So here's my request, would people please give me an example of their query letters? Not the entire thing, just a few lines or even some key points?

    Please and thank you
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    instead of asking people to disclose their own, why don't you use the info you've gained and post a try of your own... then we can show you how to improve it, if it needs any improvement...
     
  3. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    The reason I ask is because I'm not entirely sure how to write one, even though I've read so much. If that make any sense ^^;;;
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    If you do post examples of your own, then they should be posted in the Non-Fiction section of the Review Room.

    But mammamaia has a point, the best thing you can do is have a go, and post it up for critique. It doesn't really matter if you get it wrong, people will point out how to correct those bits.
     
  5. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Half a page of a brief introduction. Just a nice introduction, show off that you can write a plain nice introduction. Answering some normal things about you ("Living in x with my husband and children, working as x, spending my free time hiking and writing") in a few words. And just in as few words mentioning if you been published before or won any awards that is worth mentioning.
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Half a page introduction seems a bit excessive. I'd usually go with a paragraph. My cover letters are usually along the lines of:


    Dear Sir/Madam

    Please find attached my short story "The Sex Life of Rice Crispies", for consideration for publication in "Breakfast Cereal Serials". It is a science-fiction story, of approximately 700 words, about the coming of age, and sexual exploits of a young rice-based cereal, trying to find his place in a porridge-centric world he doesn't understand.

    I am an aspiring author of breakfast fiction, currently living in Kellogsville, and existing on a diet of bacon and egg. My short stories have been previously published in such magazines, anthologies and journals as Bacon and Egg Weekly, Petit Déjeuner, and With Syrup: An Anthology of Pancake Stories.


    Many thanks in advance for your consideration

    A. Writer


    EDIT: It occurs to me that that example was probably a little on the mental side, but I'm eating breakfast at the moment. I don't usually write stories about it, but I'm sort of tempted now...
     
  7. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Might be a cultural thing. A letter like that would be way to formal (+ a bit bacon weird) over here. (Scandinavia)
     
  8. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Really? It seems a bit naive, but I didn't appreciate that it would differ from place to place. Could I ask you for a (less insane, if you like) example of how you'd write a covering? I'm curious now :)
     
  9. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, this doesn't read too formal to me either. What's great about Banzai's query letter is it has all the info agents want...and he puts it up right there in the first paragraph straightaway. Then the 2nd paragraph gives a brief, fun bio. You want anything there that might help sell your book idea to the agent--but keep it pithy.
     
  10. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing that sort of formal phrases would seem 50 years out of place during in any professonal contact at all in sweden.
     
  11. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I'm in the process of querying now for a novel and have sent out a batch of ten at this point. Even within this one batch, I have been mixing it up a little based on research. In some, I have gone with the book title, genre, word count, and why I'm contacting that agent in particular in the first papragraph. Then, the hook--my brief irresistable taste of what the book is about. Then a bio, then done.

    In others, I have just gone straight into the hook and am putting the title, word count and the rest after it.

    As I have only gotten back two rejections, I don't know what it more effective. (They were both, info first then hook) But I think no one can really say what is more effective. I have been reading agent blog after agent blog (Pub Rants, Query Shark, and many, many more) and they do not agree on what an effective query letter. They can only say what was effective for them. Many of the blogs have query letters posted and critiqued. Might be something you can check out.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    There seems to be quite a difference between the UK and the US regarding 'cover letters' and 'query letters'. Banzai's example, short and businesslike (and certainly NOT too formal), is like I was always advised to send in England as a cover letter to an agent, with a synopsis and maybe 3 chapters enclosed.

    It actually wouldn't occur to me to send off a chance 'query letter' in the UK. Query letters, e.g. those on 'query shark' are sent out with nothing else, if I'm not mistaken, in the hope that they will lead to a request to see more, and this seems more common in America. Some of the examples I've seen seem really random and way too informal...

    But maybe things are changing, and of course it's useful to see how things are done in different countries.
     
  13. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    There doesn't seem to be a real pattern with agents here in the US. Some want just the query letter, some want it along with five pages, ten pages, fifty pages, maybe a synopsis. Each one wants something different, and as I said there is no real agreement as to what is an ideal query letter. Opinions vary.
     
  14. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Basically pitch your book (what it's about, much like a back cover blurb) and the type of book in a couple paragraphs, then finish up with any professional qualifications (are you a professor of history writing historical fiction? military person writing a book related to that? put it in!) plus major paid writing qualifications. Don't tell them about your cats, tell them about the book. :) And end it politely, listing anything you've enclosed if you sent along a synopsis and sample pages and of course the SASE. This should take no more than three paragraphs. And don't forget to date it and put your contact information in there :)
     
  15. eiran
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    eiran New Member

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    I was just wondering, in your cover letter should you miss out the bio bit if - haven't been published before? I mean they're not going to care that I write for my uni paper or anything are they? Sorry if this is a bit of a silly questionm
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Banzai:

    That's a cover letter example you've provided. The question was about query letters, which are a different animal.

    To the OP, I suggest a visit to Query Shark (google it)
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    eiran...
    you're right, they won't care... if you haven't any relevant paid credits, don't say anything about yourself... let the ms sell itself...
     
  18. lynca
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    lynca Member

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    Some agents prefer just a paragraph or two for the entire query, which means you have to sum up your novel and make it dynamic in one paragraph, then add a short, very short bio. Be careful though. No one cares what your hobbies are unless they relate to the novel.

    Other agents, such as Query Shark, seem to expect about a three-paragraph description, then a short bio. Again very short and to the point.

    Problem is knowing what a particular agent wants if s/he doesn't tell you on the website's submission guidelines, so it wouldn't hurt to work on both versions and pick which one to send.
     
  19. eiran
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    eiran New Member

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    Thanks, and I'd just like to apologise for my terrible mistakes in my last post. I was using someone's phone and my thumbs are far too big for the little keypad!
     
  20. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    Which of the phrases is particularly formal?
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mich...
    that's all pretty good general advice, whether querying a publisher, or an agent [which should really come first, for most books and definitely, for all but pb romance fiction]...
     

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