How to Write a Query Letter to Catch an Agent

How to Write a Query Letter to Catch an Agent
August 4, 2017 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice Melinda Harmon

Writing a good query letter could be the difference between finding an agent or not. It is recommended that novelists complete the manuscript first before starting to write query letters. This way you know that you are prepared in the event that an agent accepts your proposal. There is always a possibility that the agent requests a full manuscript and you do not want to start off on a bad foot. You are also going to save yourself a lot of trouble having to explain why you do not have your manuscript ready. This can be awkward and embarrassing.

A query letter is basically a one page letter you are going to write to a literary agent in an attempt to get them to love your book idea. There is no need to over explain in your letter, but rather get straight to the point. Agents receive a lot of query letters every day and you need to grab their attention quickly. Having to summarize an entire novel into one page is definitely a challenge for anyone, but you are going to have to get it done. You can always apply a paragraph rewriter tool to help when you’re stuck. Some writers say that the query letter is even more important than the manuscript. Now, let’s get into the tips on how to write a good query letter.

Stick to the standard

There is a specific standard and format to a query letter and this is definitely not the time to become creative. Stick to what is already in place. You can find many examples online. Yes you can obviously write as you please, but do not mess around with the structure of a query letter, because this is what the agents are going to expect to see. This can also show that you have done your homework before writing the letter.

Submission guidelines

If you want to show the agent that you are good with planning and organizing your work and time, you better take a minute to read through the submission guidelines. You want to come across as professional and it will quickly be clear to the agent if you are the person to work with. Do not leave any stone unturned and do your best to comply with every guideline. If not, you might have your letter thrown out before they even take a look at it. Protect yourself from this angle and get it all done properly.

Begin strong

Your opening paragraph is going to make you or break you, so spend as much time thinking about this one. The idea is to excite and engage the agent from the get go. Mention that you have researched the agents and know what their preferences are. Then you meet those preferences in your next line. A good rewriter generator is always handy in these situations, because you want to get it just right.

Keep them interested

After you got their attention in your opening paragraph, you have to keep that attention and handle it like a fragile egg. Start with your story summary and make it as exciting and true to the real story as you possibly can. Of course, you only have so much space, so use it wisely. Introduce your characters, the surrounding circumstances, your plot and the atmosphere. You want to give as much information as you can, while withholding some. The agent needs to want to read more and see how the story ends.

Short and sweet

When writing a letter to someone who is reading letters a lot, you do not want to bore them at all. One way to keep their attention is to write short paragraphs. This breaks up your work effectively and does not look like one block of text. Even if the agent just skimps through your letter, they would probably read the beginning of each paragraph. By keeping your paragraphs short, they may read your entire letter without meaning to.

Add your bio

You may be so excited about your query letter that you forget to add your bio, but this is very important. Add any accomplishments that might impress the agent or any literary event that you have attended. Try and impress the agent with a few interesting facts about you. You want to keep this to about two sentences and might need to use a rewrite tool online because this is quite challenging.


One of my biggest tips is to stick to the basics and to not step too far out of the box. There is an expectation and you need to meet it. The agent already knows what to look for and you need to show that you are exactly what is needed. Be yourself and you will get that acceptance letter.

Melinda Harmon Melinda Harmon is a content manager and an amateur writer. She specializes on writing useful posts about writing, writing tools, and how to improve writing skills. Melinda dreams of publishing her own book and helping people know more about writing.

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