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HERE IS WHAT I DON'T GET


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#1 cdpiper

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 06:04 PM

According to this website, a query letter must conform to very strict criteria, otherwise agents will toss it in the trash unread.  You know....first paragraph must pique the agent's interest, give the book title, the genre, how many pages, etc. The second/thirdparagraph(s) must provide a riveting condensation of the plot. The final paragraph must describe the writer's background and previous writing successes. 

 

All of this should be written in 11 point Times Roman with indented paragraphs.

 

 However, most of the successful queries that members have posted have broken just about every rule.  So, what gives? I don't get it.

 

Curtis



#2 Quillaby

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 09:51 PM

One of the many reasons why query letters drive us bonkers is because there's really no one best way. Some agents like the metadata in paragraph one, some like it in the final paragraph. Some agents want comp titles and a personal bio, some honestly don't give a fig. Good news: Many agents will state this preference on their agency website, their Publishers Marketplace profile, or their Manuscript Wish List. This is one of the reasons you never query an agent without researching them first. Honestly though, it's unlikely an agent will truly care if you put your metadata first or last. The most important part of your query is your story.

 
What your query letter must do is succinctly communicate the plot and stakes of your book, and with enough voice that the agent wants to read more. Yes, there is the occasional exception to this rule, some writer who doesn't clearly communicate their plot or stakes but has managed to entice the right agent with their voice or originality. But, again, this is the exception. Plot, stakes, voice -- these are the ingredients of most successful queries.
 
If you haven't checked it out already, Query Shark is an invaluable resource for querying writers. Good luck!


#3 Tanja

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Posted 02 July 2018 - 05:48 AM

Quillaby has already given plenty of good advice. In addition, I don't know where you read that a query letter should be indented as this is entirely wrong. A query letter is like a business letter and should be in Times New Roman 12 (gmail serif) and like the synopsis should not be indented.

 

Query Shark, as already mentioned by Quillaby is given lots of good information.

 

Good luck


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#4 Nessa

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Posted 06 July 2018 - 06:24 PM

11 point Times New Roman with indented paragraphs is an exaggeration. That said, there is a "standard" format to queries. Certain information is a must. Metadata and plot information.

 

Everything else is to play it safe. Sure, exceptions get picked. But for every exception, there are many "safe" queries.

 

Plus, those successful queries...most of them have the bones of a "standard" format. The more time you spend with queries, the easier it'll be to recognize the bones.

 

The human skeleton has a standard layout, but every human body is different. 


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