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1) All paragraphs should be to the left and your letter should begin with, Dear Ms. or Mr. Agent. As often as is humanly possible, use the actual name of the agent/editor you would like to work with. Queries made out to “dear agent” are frequently thrown out without a second glance unless the agency specifies that they accept these sorts of queries.
2) The first line should draw in the attention of the reader as well as give the title and genre of the book (some agents and editors prefer the title and genre appear at the end of the query rather than the beginning).
3) The next paragraph should succinctly describe the book, plot, characters, and any other intriguing twists which would interest the reader in reading more. That is the goal of your description of the book, to get them to want more. However, you must be very careful to be clear. There is a thin line between intriguing and vague and your query letter is not an appropriate place to flirt with it.
4) The next paragraph should describe the marketing potential and target audience for the book. If you have done your research, here is where you share your secrets.
5) The next paragraph should give any credentials, awards, or previous publishing experience you have (limit publishing experience to traditional publishing companies…self publishing does not interest them unless you sold more than 5,000 copies).
6) The final line should thank the reader and invite them to read more upon their request. You may also mention how you heard about that particular agent/editor/agency and if you were referred.
7) Make sure you give all of your contact information at the end of the letter. Also, if you are mailing your letter, place the agent/editor’s address and company above the salutation and include the date on the right side of the page.
8] The most important thing in querying an agent/editor is to do your research. Make sure they accept your genre. Make sure they are accepting queries. Check their website for submission guidelines and see if they have a blog available to tell you a little more about their preferences. Researching your audience is crucial for the sale of any book and that goes for selling it to agents/editors as well.
Please feel free to visit my website for more advice on preparing manuscripts, query letters, and general tips on getting a book published. Visit mesthersherman.com