The author blog of C. J. Ivory

Tinkerer with words. Dresser-Upper. Adorer of Steampunk and VictoriaNoir fiction. Occasional Lawgineer.

April 10, 2011

The Dreaded Query Letter - Part Two

Gentle Reader,

Recently, I talked about the process between starting your manuscript, and bringing it to the stage where it’s ready for sending off to agents. On Friday I introduced the query letter, that dimpled darling of the publishing world. If you’re not sure what a query letter is, check out Friday’s post here.

My next blog post will go into more details about writing the query letter, but there are a few things to do before you start writing your query letter:

1. First, find possible agents. There are several websites (such as QueryTracker and AgentQuery) which will help you with this. Some charge for their services, some don’t.

2. Second, decide which agents you are going to query. Your target agent should:
3. Make a list of your favourite agents, starting with the ones you’d most like to work with. You will query these agents first (so you’ll want to make sure your query is as perfect as it can be right from the word "go").

4. Check the agent’s guidelines. These might specify that you need to include sample pages, a synopsis, or just the query letter itself. Send exactly what the agent wants. If you ignore these guidelines, the agent may simply not even read your query.

Doing this will prepare you for the final step, which is:

5. Send a personalised and brilliant query letter.

So, how do you write a personalised and brilliant query letter? I’ll be dissecting The Ideal Query Letter (and other myths) in my next post... Stay tuned xxx


Carolyn Arnold said...

Great post. Also important to stress that your book, and your query, is in the tightest possible shape. After all, if you’re targeting your favorite agents from the start, you wouldn’t want to use them as part of the “learning process”. (I know that's happened to me.)

Charlotte Jane Ivory said...

Yup, it happened to me too. Luckily (?) that particular novel was as un-ready as its query letter, and has since been trunked :)

Trisha said...

One thing I also recommend is...actually understanding your own story before trying to write the query letter. LOL. It's something I myself need to work on ;)

Charlotte Jane Ivory said...

Having said that, Trisha, did you find that perfecting your query letter actually helped to understand the elements of your story? I definitely found that when writing the query for Unseemly Conduct.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your information. I thought getting through my book was going to be the hard part. Nope, definitely not. Now I'm left with fantasies of seeing my book on my very own shelf beside the novels of my favorite authors, and find out I only have a 2% chance of finding an agent. Researching how to write the best Query letter has me feeling like I've been turned away a hundred times, in reality I haven't sent one out yet. ;)