How to write a KILLER query letter people actually want to read!

What is a Query Letter?

A query letter is a formal letter sent to magazine editors, literary agents and publishing houses. Writers write query letters to propose writing ideas.

A standard requested format for a manuscript query letter to a literary agent could be approximately 200 - 400 words, expressing the following information:

·       The topic of the work
·       A short description of the plot
·       A short bio of the author
·       The target audience

The literary agent would then decide whether to contact the author and request to see the manuscript, based on the contents of the query letter. In this sense, the query letter is an author's first step towards getting his/her manuscript published.

This is a sample query letter for my novel Cover Girl, which was released in October 2011 published by Urban Books. It is italicized only to separate it from the text of this book. DO NOT italicize your text when submitting to an agent or publisher and keep it to one page if at all possible but never more than two.

Dear Ms. _________________________

Brooklyn Johnson, a beautiful twenty-nine year old woman who once had it all is now struggling to keep up the facade that she’d handled with ease her entire life. At one point in time, she had it all, money, jewels, designer clothes, men falling at her feet and a successful modeling career. No one would have ever guessed this one time brick house and high fashion model would have turned into a crack addict, been shot and found as a Jane Doe, attempt suicide and spend time in a mental institution and still manage to stay strong only to have an illness be the kryptonite to slow her down.

Glancing outside of the window at an abandoned house full of fiends and drug dealers, Brooklyn stood defeated for once in her life. It was Thanksgiving and as she stared at the snow covering the small street and cars all she could think about was how her mother lived only three short blocks away but she was too embarrassed to spend the holiday with her family. It wasn’t the fact that she displayed the normal look of an addict but she had just found out that she had cancer and couldn’t bring herself to reveal it to anyone. She didn’t want her family to feel sorry for her; sympathy was an emotion that she had never been eager to receive. So, instead of walking the short distance to have Thanksgiving dinner she stayed and continued to get high.
Cover Girl is the riveting tale of a young woman who once had it all trying to regain the self-respect that she lost in the process of running the streets. Not all drug addicts start off on the wrong side of the track and even losing everything that she loved wasn’t enough to bring her back.

I would like to submit my novel, Cover Girl, to you for representation. I have read many novels that deal with drug addiction but none have touched it in this manner. This story is inspired by a very close relative of mine and it’s not only an interesting tale but it will come across with such detail since some of the situations I’ve witnessed first hand. This is a fictional story but some of the situations are real life. This is a story that can help many people including teens, drug addicts and others that are on the wrong path. It can also help steer some people away who are tempted to make some of the same mistakes of the main character, Brooklyn Johnson.

I am a published author, with Daddy’s Little Girl my first novel being a best seller. I am the author of Sugar Walls (Black Expressions Best Seller), Black Diamond, and Black Diamond 2: Nicety and the co-author of The Cathouse (Black Expressions Bestseller). I have also participated in two anthology projects, Fantasy and Flexin’ & Sexin’.  Cover Girl, as with all of my other projects, is a mix of urban and erotic fiction. I have managed to balance the two genres throughout my career as an author. I am currently in production for the stage play adaptation of Black Diamond. I have a full synopsis of this novel and I work at an extremely fast pace to complete any project. I believe once read it will appeal to my current readers as well as the readers of novels written by Noire, Anna J and K’wan. I can be reached by telephone at 215-___-___ or by email at ___________________@gmail.com anytime. Hope to hear from you soon. 

Brittani Williams

After you have written out your query letter, I’d suggest getting an editor to look over it or someone who is familiar with what it takes to make a successful query letter. Once this is complete your next step is research!

Think about the content of your novel and your target market. You would never want to submit your novel to an agent or publisher that doesn’t deal with your genre.