How to Write a Query Letter

It’s come to my attention that there is a glut of advice on how to write a good query letter. It’s also come to my attention that there aren’t really any hold-your-hand examples. I’m not trying to be overly snarky, but here is the plain simple truth in beat-you-over-the-head format. As with any advice, take it with a grain or three of salt. Also, as with any rules, the format is totally breakable. For example, I’ve seen paragraph three moved to paragraph one. I’ve also seen a successful query written in first person. Use common sense. Use your head; think like an agent.

Dear Awesome Agent,

This is my hook and it is the most gripping sentence succinctly describing the crux of my novel that I can possibly think of.

Here I’m going to tell you a little bit about the first half of the book. Mostly I will introduce my main characters (both protagonist and antagonist) and lay out what their beginning goals are. This whole thing is written from third-person limited present tense point of view because I want you to step into the shoes of my main character and take the ride along with them.

Now, I’m going to go into more detail and flesh out my plot. Exactly what is going down and how does it affect my characters? You need to know what they’re going to do about the major conflict, so here I’ll let you in on a few secrets. I don’t want to tell you absolutely everything, though, because I need you to be left wanting more. Still, I won’t end on a question because I’ve read that agents feel they’re being talked down to when that happens.

THE TITLE OF MY BOOK is a specific genre novel, complete at 123,000 words. I sought you out for representation because you represent John Smith and Jane Doe, and I feel that my novel would appeal to a similar readership. Alternatively, I possibly met you at a writers’ conference, stalk you on Twitter, or am an admirer of your agency. Below, if you asked for it in your submission guidelines, you will find the first three chapters of my novel. A full or partial manuscript, as well as a detailed synopsis, is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

Your Name Here