Lesson: Writing a Fiction Query Letter
The Dreaded Query. Let’s Break It Down.
Times New Roman Font 12
Keep it under 500 words
There are different formats for query letters. Here is one example with suggestions about how to switch paragraphs around and add info.
Greeting: Spell agent’s name correctly. Add the date. Optional if sending email.
Dear Jessica Thompson, 3/25/21
Introduce your novel, genre, and target audience.
Name of novel all caps and bold.
If you’ve met the agent, refresh their memory. If not, say how you found them.
Explain why the agent is a good fit.
This paragraph can be at the beginning or end
I’m seeking representation for my YA fantasy novel, MAGIC JUNK. We met at the SCBWI conference in January. Given your interest in the YA Fantasy Genre, I thought it might be a good fit for your list.
Introduce main character and age. Name of character in all caps and bold.
The Hook – Draw the agent in: The geeky teen rummages through an old desk and grabs a broken pocket watch that sends him whizzing to another realm.
The hook can also be the first line of the query and even rewritten: Thirteen-year-old Damian Clark rummages through an old desk at his grandparents’ estate and grabs a broken pocket watch that sends him whizzing to another realm.
On his thirteenth birthday, with no prospect of enjoying a real party with friends, since he had none, DAMIAN CLARK retreats to the off-limits third floor of his grandparents’ estate, to sulk. The geeky teen rummages through an old desk and grabs a broken pocket watch that sends him whizzing to another realm. Damian begins to question everything he thought he knew about his family. He soon learns that every piece of junk holds its own magical property, and a secret. Damian is no ordinary earthly teen. At the age of two, his grandparents fled their home planet with him in tow, to avoid capture by the Boree. The alien race had imprisoned his parents along with other citizens of Gonia. Before they escaped, his grandparents confiscated ten powerful Gonian objects that they hoped would one day save their world.
How does your main character grow?
With his grandfather’s help, Damian learns to master and wield the power of each magical object, giving both his family and Gonia hope. Through his training, he develops confidence and courage he never knew he had. When September rolls around, he starts high school with a new outlook, standing up to the bullies who once made his life miserable.
Give the agent a feel for what’s at stake and what might happen.
He’s soon ready to face his greatest challenge. A showdown with the Boree could put his future in jeopardy and ignite another war, but he must free his parents and save Gonia.
Include a short bio, length of book, organizations, social media, and a thank you.
I received a Master’s in English from the University of Colorado and currently write copy for News 10, a local CO station. I’m a member of SCBWI, and Vice President of Boulder Authors and Writers. MAGIC JUNK is complete at 85,000 words, and available upon request. Follow me on Twitter @lauwood, Facebook Lauren Wood, IG LoveBooks111. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Close. Your name and contact info.
Alternative query letter option and additional information to consider:
If using the hook as your first paragraph then include in your last paragraph whether you’ve met the agent, the name of your book, genre, target audience, & why the agent is a good fit.
You can also add a comparison of your book to a recent novel or your main
character to one from a recent novel.
Example using novel comparison:
Magic Junk is a fantasy YA novel. Think Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, meets Margaret Rogerson's Sorcery of Thorns.
Example using character comparison:
Damian Clark is a cross between geeky Miles Halter from John Green’s Looking for Alaska, and fearless Percy Jackson from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.