Author Topic: Sample Query Letter to Literary Agents #1  (Read 5953 times)

Stacey Cochran

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Sample Query Letter to Literary Agents #1
« on: October 22, 2013, 03:47:49 pm »
Sample Query Letter to Literary Agents #1
Below you'll see a copy and pasted version of a query letter to literary agents. When I sent this letter out to 20 agents in 2008, I received 18 positive responses asking to see either a partial or the full manuscript of the novel.

You'll also see an attachment at the bottom of the page, which contains a Word version of this letter with annotations explaining what each paragraph does.



June 12, 2008

John Q. Agent
Six-Figure Agency, Inc.
1001 Broadway
New York, New York 10001
   
Dear Agent:

When forensic psychologist Dr. Roman Phoenix and his wife Gabby move to North Carolina, they are ready to rebuild their lives. Six months earlier, Roman and Gabby lost their six-year-old daughter, and Roman has accepted his first teaching position since graduating from Nebraska’s forensic psychology and law program. But fate has other plans for Roman and Gabby.

Soon after arriving in North Carolina, two FBI agents deliver news that they may be involved in a serial killer’s twisted plans. The killer—known as the Highwayman—begins contacting Roman because of his research area (road rage), and Roman’s criminal-profiling skill is put to the ultimate test when, in a shocking turn of events, the Highwayman abducts Gabby. Roman’s largely untested expertise must advance from textbook knowledge to practical wisdom that can guide him in a cat-and-mouse battle of wits with the Highwayman. Crime and romance come together with emotional depth in my crime-suspense thriller The Profiler’s Wife, for which I am seeking representation.

In July 2008, I signed contracts with Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press to publish a textbook. I currently teach at NC State, and I host and produce an author-interview TV show on Time/Warner that reaches 90,000 viewers and has connected me with many New York Times bestselling authors and publicists at Harper-Collins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and other major publishers. In 2008, I worked with Borders Books Senior Management on a series of workshops they asked me to lead around the country, and this fall I’ll be working as an independent contractor for Bedford/St. Martin’s.

I would like to work with an agent who shares my passion and focus. I believe The Profiler’s Wife has the potential to break out commercially from the Crime and Mystery Community. I am currently serving as chair of Bouchercon 2015, the World Mystery Writers’ Convention. The emphasis is on suspense and crime, but the story develops an emotional depth that will have readers invested in Roman and Gabby at the end. Furthermore, the concept underlying the novel (i.e., road rage) is one of the most universally experienced forms of aggression in the world. Motorists in Tokyo, Tel Aviv, London, and New York City have all been affected by aggressive drivers and so can further relate to the novel.

Would you like to read the manuscript?

Sincerely,


Jane Writer
« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 03:51:28 pm by Stacey Cochran »

jkknauss

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Re: Sample Query Letter to Literary Agents #1
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2013, 12:46:34 pm »
Very compelling letter!

Can you help with my query? I've had it vetted many times, but of fifty submissions, I've only had one partial request. Something's obviously still not right. Thank you for any pointers you can provide.

Dear Agent:

Please consider working with me to secure publication for my historical novel, THE SEVEN NOBLE KNIGHTS OF LARA. It combines the readable style of an author like Tracy Chevalier with the action and excitement only medieval Spain can provide.

When courageous but hotheaded young knight Gonzalo accidentally kills Lambra

Stacey Cochran

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Re: Sample Query Letter to Literary Agents #1
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013, 04:55:59 pm »
Hey, JK, thanks for posting. I think the opening paragraph of your letter is okay, but it's not really a hook for the reader.
  • Start with a question. Asking your readers to think about the topic is a great way to get them ready to hear more. It can be a simple question like, "Could it be?" Or it can be a more complex question like, "Why is it that cats always land on their feet?"
  • Use descriptive words. Creating a picture in the reader's mind can make him or her feel connected to your writing. Use words that describe the scene you're trying to create. For example, if you’re writing about things you like to do in the winter, you can start with, "Jumping in big, slushy, icy puddles is certainly on my list of favorite things to do in the winter, but nothing tops a snowball fight on a cold, blustery day."
  • Leave it a mystery. Give your readers just enough to make them curious. Include a few details and leave the rest to their imaginations. Try something like, "It was so noisy in our classroom that the walls began to shake. We couldn’t have known what would happen next."

Also, it looks like your letter might be cutting off after the word "Lambra." This happens if there's any unusual font (or even a curly apostrophe) on these forums.

Feel free to post the whole letter as an attachment, and I'll give you feedback on the whole thing. There's an "attachment and other options" under the text box window when typing on the forums.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2013, 01:54:38 am by Stacey Cochran »