1. Nikita88
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    Nikita88 Member

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    Stupid question on the general format for a query letter

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Nikita88, Aug 19, 2009.

    Hey everyone! I've done some searching around on this website and the rest of the world, and I just want some specific opinions about query letters. From what I've found, it seems like the standard format is three short paragraphs (no more than a page MAXIMUM):

    1. Hook

    2. Summary

    3. About me


    So, my questions... The hook - is this where you basically give the "front flap" version of the story? A quick rundown? Tagline? How short?

    The summary - So this should be a rundown of the characters, the entire plot, and the final outcome? So if there are "surprises" at the end, you give it away (if it's worth mentioning)? Do I repeat things said in the hook if they're important to the plot?

    About me - this is pretty self explanatory. I've seen that it's a bad idea to turn it into a resume, which is good since I don't have one. So do I want to tell my life story and what I do, or do I want to talk about writing?

    Thanks for any input! Most appreciated as always
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are a few ways to write a query, but this is certainly a good one. You don't hide surprizes from the publisher/agents in your summary. They need to know as much about the book as can be told in a short letter so they can decide if they want to keep reading and if they can sell it. I've seen examples of the summary with more than one paragraph, though sticking to one is best if possible. The shorter you can make it without missing essential info, the better.

    As for the hook, here's one that was successful for me, if you want an example:

     
  3. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Also, to add to what Rei said, don't forget to thoroughly check the for what the publisher wants. I've noticed that many publishers want different things, specific things. Also make sure you are addressing the query to the right editor. Otherwise it is likely to not even been seen if you address it to the general editing department.
     
  4. Nikita88
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    Nikita88 Member

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    Great, thank you both! Rei - with a hook that short, it doesn't even count as a paragraph! I know this sounds silly, but in terms of formatting the page doesn't it look odd to have

    one sentence

    paragraph

    paragraph
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope, it's perfectly acceptable.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it may be accepable for some, nowadays, but i believe many agents still prefer the old standard business-like approach of the three paragraphs being:

    1. why you are quering this agent in particular, plus title, word count and intended market of the book...

    2. plot summary that lays out the beginning, the middle, and the ending...

    3. paid writing credits, if you have any [nothing about you, if you don't]; offer to send sample chapters or full ms upon request; a 'thank you' for considering the work...

    in any case, be sure to check submission guidelines for each one you query, to make sure you're providing what they want...
     
  7. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    If you do not have any previous writing experience with society...what do you write in the third paragraph?
    Just thanks for reading and hope to hear from you ?
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pretty much, yeah.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't know what you mean by 'with society, but if you have no relevant paid credits, all that goes in closing para is an offer to send sample chapters or full ms on request, and a 'thank you' for considering your work...
     
  10. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    thanks
    I meant like no one's read my work, but teachers of course. A lack of experience in the business, basically...
     
  11. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    Here's an example of a query letter format: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/pubquery.htm

    Google search 'query letter sample' (plus genre, if you like) to find more. Seeing hooks, summaries, and author bios in action can be more useful than just reading about them.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can email me, if you want some tips on how to write effective ones and/or any help with it...

    love and hugs, maia
     

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