Be sure to read the follow-up post:
Writing your first query letter can be daunting. You have to pitch your book to an agent in 1-2 paragraphs (not including your hook line and bio) and you have to make it memorable.
In the near(ish) future, I'm going to write a post about the anatomy of a successful query letter with an in-depth analysis of my query (which has garnered a few partial and full requests, so yay!)
Without further ado...here we go.
Mistake #1: "MY BOOK IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE....!!!!!"
No, seriously. People have said that in their query letters. Not even joking. I used to fall victim to that, and now I've changed my methods because I learned that saying your book is different is you screaming I'M AN AMATEUR!!!
You need to know what your book is about. If somebody told you a chapter number, you should be able to tell them what happens in that chapter. As the author, it's your job to say, "this happened because this happened because this happened." Show that your story is connected to itself, or else it'll look like you write a bunch of events that don't seem connected.
But when it comes to the query, you have to explain one question: "What is the main character's conflict?" That's it. Nothing else. Hook the agent with the conflict.
Mistake #2: TRYING TO SQUEEZE IN EVERY OUNCE OF DETAIL THAT YOU CAN
Do yourself a favor and don't rewrite your book in the query letter. Save that for the synopsis. Leave stuff out. Lots of stuff. You have around 250-350 words to make the agent/publisher flip to the next page.
Remember, the only question you have to answer is, "What is the main character's conflict?"
In two paragraphs, introduce the character, introduce the situation, and show the agent that there will be a journey. Only include the main character and the character who has the largest influence on him/her throughout the story.
See, instead of stuffing the query full of shallow plot points, now you can expand on one or two points, giving the agent a chance to connect with the story and characters.
(Stupid) Mistake #3: "MY BOOK IS JUST LIKE THIS BEST-SELLING NOVEL OVER HERE!!!!!"
*cough* no it's not *cough*
I understand you spent the time to write a book and that's about as far as you'll get for a long time. Come on. I've been writing for 10 years and I'm not professionally published yet. You wanna know why? Because I wrote three books and, at the time, thought they were the best books in the whole wide world.
Today, I shudder at the thought of them.
When you write a book, I bet ten-to-one you think you have the next Harry Potter in your hands. You are so hopelessly in love with your book that of course everyone will love it! How couldn't they?
Basically, be humble.
|Unlike this cat.|
Mistake #4: "MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY ALL SAID----"
And to the trash it goes.
|For some reason, I can't stop laughing at this.|
Mistake #5: "MY HOBBIES INCLUDE WRITING AND READING."
Really? I wouldn't have guessed!
Yes, I have seen this in query letters....and....sadly I included these in the first query letter I ever wrote. But that was 7 years ago.
Personalize your hobbies and pastimes. Be specific. Make yourself look interesting. What do you do that nobody else does? Heck, what's a quirky thing you do?
As Haymitch Abernathy would say, "Give them something to root for." Show why you are unique. What makes you qualified to write this book? Why should they want you as a client?
As I mentioned above, I'll have a post analyzing my own query letter sometime in the near future. Subscribe and share to keep updated with my posts!
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