Query Letters (Fantastic Friday Writers)

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: , ,


For this round of Fantastic Friday Writers, we're talking about query letters. It was my original intention to share my recent query letter, but since I did that for the A to Z challenge in April, I'll just talk about how to write one.

Now, I'm no expert at this by any means. I'll be honest and say I totally suck at it. But, I do know how it's SUPPOSED to go.

Query letters give the agent/publisher/editor a look at your book in a very short amount of time. It needs to draw them in and make them interested enough to read your whole book. Obviously right?

Well just how do you do that? You just wrote a 75,000 word story (or more!) and now you have to talk about all the wonderful things in just a few paragraphs!?

Where to start? Well what I do is write the synopsis first. After all the synopsis is longer than a query but shorter than your novel. But, how to write a synopsis is for another post. Also, I write the synopsis and query soon after I'm done with 'final' edits. Why? Because the story is still fresh in my head.

Some say that you should describe your story in only three paragraphs, others say five is okay. The one thing all my research agrees on is the entire query letter shouldn't be longer than one page - including your signature at the bottom.

To get your huge novel down to three to five paragraphs, start with writing down the major plot poitns in your story. The MAJOR ones mind you. This is the hard part for me. Figureing out the plot points that are the most important. Also, during the preplanning phase here, list a few side plot points or character plot points (used to fill in the gaps).

Also, try to stick to mentioning only one or two characters, three at the most. (Three would cover the hero, heroine/sidekick and the villian.)

So here is what the process looked like when I wrote the query letter for Cleanse Fire

Major Plot Points:

1. The teams Commander tried to kill them
2. The team discovers the Commander is only the beginning.
3. The wizard is trying to kill them all for revenge.

Character Plot Points:

1. Dearc's wife died in a terrible fire and it haunts him
2. The wizard's wife was murdered in front of him
3. Derac is falling in love with Kie.

Character's to Mention

1. Derac
2. Kie
3. The wizard
4. The commander (possible)

So you have your three or four major plot points, two or three character plot points, and two or three characters. Now comes the time to write the information out in complete sentences. You can read my finished query letter here if you like.

Of course, after you write it, I highly recommend getting someone else to read it over for you. It is a good idea to have suggestions come back from both people who have and haven't read the full story yet as they both will have vaulable insite for you.

There are many other things to think about when writing a query letter, like word usage and such, but I think I'll save that for another post on another day! I hope this post at least helps you get started and headed in the right direction!

Hop to the other members of Fantastic Friday Writers and see what they say about Query Letters!

6 Responses to "Query Letters (Fantastic Friday Writers)"

Jeffrey Beesler Says :
May 20, 2011 at 8:46 AM

I pretty much told people to keep fighting the good fight when it comes to query letters, and that they should listen to my favorite Transformers song if they ever feel like giving up. You have great pointers for writing queries!

Alex J. Cavanaugh Says :
May 20, 2011 at 11:13 AM

My synopsis was one paragraph!
And I sent people over to Matthew's blog for excellent query critiquing.

J. D. Brown Says :
May 20, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Ana, that's a great method for thinking about what points should be in a query letter and a great way to help get started. It can be really overwhelming trying to condense a novel into one page or less - and remember, you also need to include your bio, credits, and marketing plans in that one page!

M Pax Says :
May 20, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Great tips. It seems so simple when someone says these things, then I sit down to do and it's like I've become a tanlge of yarn.

Ann Best Says :
May 20, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Like a resume, we need to keep a query short/simple. I'd do a page for a synopsis but one paragraph for a query. In the latter I'd focus on the main plot.

I came over to meet you from Alex Cavanaugh's blog.
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
May 20, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Jeffrey: Transformers rocks! And that is good advice for sure! Sometimes we all just need some encouragement to make all the difference.

Alex: That's great Alex! Matthew does have some good stuff on his blog.

J.D.: You should recognize the method! LOL It's from Frankie's Synopsis workshop! LOL

MPax: It does seem to simple but it's far from it!

Ann: Thanks so much for commenting and following! Main plot is important to focus on in a query for sure. I love the analogy to a resume - that's true in so many ways!

Post a Comment