Publishing Your Novel Part 4 - Contacting Literary Agents
If you have contacts in the publishing world use them to get your work in front of an agent. If don’t have a contact then make a list of the top 10 agents you want to work with and send each one a customized query letter.
The query letter is a one page attention grabbing letter that provides an agent with enough information about you and your project to spark their interest. Agents shuffle through hundreds of pages of manuscripts and query letters each month. Don’t waste their time by sending them unsolicited boredom. Be concise and entertaining. Your query letter should follow this format:
- Paragraph 1 - The Teaser
Write the most attention grabbing sentence of your life. If you have walked on the moon or graduated at the top of our Ivey League class let them know. If you are like the rests of use, find a nice fit between who you are and what your book is about. For example, “I have been a health inspector for 25 years and I propose to write a book about what you are really paying for when you go out to eat.” The combination of who you are and the topic of you book needs to be a believable and provide a compelling reason to read more. Being able to match who you are with what you intend to write will generally be enough to get the agent to read the second paragraph.
- Paragraph 2 - Enlarge the Idea
Expound about what you intend to write about. Include examples and anecdotes that exemplify your idea. Show off your best material. Writing a good paragraph about your book gives the agent some confidence that you can actually write the book.
- Paragraph 3 – You You You
Now that you have shown you have a good idea for a book show that you are the best person to write it. The two most common ways to show you are the best is by describing relevant facts that show the connection between you and your idea, and by flexing academic credentials.
- Paragraph 4 – Close It
Tell the agent you are only showing your proposal to only one agent at a time, and only show you proposal to one agent at a time. Agents hate worrying that someone else is going to steal their gem. Tell the agent why you decided to send your query letter to them. Give them your phone number, email address, and home or work address.
Remember to make your query letter exciting. Use it to make the agents crave more of your writing. Do not exceed one page or your letter will go into the trash instead of in front of their eyes.
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