Prepping a Query Letter

Yeah so it isn’t too insane at all that I’m already prepping a query letter for a literary agent I plan to send to, right? I suppose I just enjoy being extra prepared, and since (from what I’ve learned about) query letters are expected to be written in poise and yet intriguing enough to land you a deal with a literary agent, I figured, “Why not?” I MEAN, RIGHT?
Honestly, I can say with slight disappointment that even after looking over many query letter examples, and being told what to do and what not to do according to the Writer’s Market Guide to Literary Agents 2015, I still hardly understand what is expected.
First of all: I’ve learned that some literary agents want different things. You know, not everyone wants some query that immediately plunges them into the story’s plot; they prefer to be introduced to it beforehand. And secondly, there’s just far too many examples formatted differently. So in the most simplest terms, folks, what you need to do if and when preparing a query letter for that special agent is:

  • Research them–quite a lot–to find out what books they’ve represented before, and find some interviews/personal experience telling what they prefer in a query letter specifically
  • Look through a couple of example letters for a basic concept of how it should be formatted (what to mention, explain, etc.) and just make your own dang query letter format (I think fiction and nonfiction vary?)
  • Don’t sprinkle them with compliments. Not even subtle ones. From what I’ve heard, unless those little “Oh, your previous works have been amazing” is convincing enough to seem genuine, it pretty much just turns off the charm.

So yes, I am currently preparing one of my own for my not-even-completed-yet-but-more-than-halfway-there novel, and hoping to really knock the literary agent-socks off of that . . . literary agent. If you’re planning to take the traditional publishing route, a thousand 4-leaf clovers to you. 🍀