So much rides on the wording and presentation of a query letter that writing one can seem overwhelming. But once you know how, it’s not that difficult. Writing a book is a much harder task. In this post I offer tips on query letter writing. To download the template, below, right click and select the “save as” option. Select the location on your computer where you would live to story the template, change the name of the file if desired, and save.
- Letterhead: I recommend you design your own letterhead stationery in Word. You’ll want to steer clear of fancy backgrounds and create something simple. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring. If you have an author tagline or logo, include them in your letterhead. You might want to create a design, like the one below, that easily transfers to create a matching business card. You can receive my sample template, pictured below, when you sign up for Live Write Breathe posts, videos, and advance notice of training materials in the box to your left. Everything is customizable. Change the picture by right clicking on it and selecting “Change Picture.”
- Fonts: Remember that editors are used to reading in Times New Roman. While your letterhead may boast decorative fonts, as my example does, in the body of your letter your fonts should be invisible. With this in mind, choose black ink or, if you want to be daring, perhaps navy blue. Make your font 12-point.
- Margins: Bear in mind that editors and agents read all day. Either use the preset margins in Word or move them inward to provide even more white space. Here’s more than you probably want to know on how to set margins in Word. Whatever you do, don’t decrease white space by moving the margins outward.
- Inside Address: Even if you will email your query letter, taking the trouble to look up your recipient’s actual job title and address and include it as an inside address (normal business letter rules apply.)
Below I’ve pasted a query letter template that I actually use. It’s meant to help you create your own template rather than to be advice. You’ll need to use your own best judgment on how to word your queries.
Query Letter Template
Month, day, year
City, State, Zip Code
Dear (Recipient): (Note: I use Mr. or Ms. and last name unless I know the person well. It’s better to err on the side of formality.)
BOOK TITLE, a (Genre), which is complete at (XXXXX words), tells the story of (Pitch Sentence). (Give a compelling summary in two or three more sentences. Less is more.)
Readers of (Three comparable titles) will also enjoy BOOK TITLE. (Briefly state statistics and facts about your target audience. Tell why you are the best person to reach them. Give several selling points on how you will market your book.)
Include a short author bio noting your publication history, any training within the field of writing you’ve received and any memberships you hold.
Thanks for considering BOOK TITLE. I look forward to your response.
(sign letter here)
Attachment: One Sheet for BOOK TITLE
©2013 by Janalyn Voigt
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