Writing a Query Letter

The first thing I learned in my extensive research (thankyouverymuch Google) is that publishing a book is nearly impossible without an agent.

The second thing I learned is that finding an agent willing to represent you is nearly impossible if you’ve never published a book before.

It’s a catch-22.

I got discouraged for a bit, but, then started researching how to find an agent.

The first step is writing a query letter. Most agents get hundreds and hundreds of submissions every month, so they simply don’t have time to read everyone’s manuscript or book proposal. Instead, they read a few snippets from the email to decide if they’re interested in knowing more. So, if you write an enticing query letter, that’s your best chance at getting an agent to take notice.

Want more details on what a good query letter looks like? My agent Rachelle wrote a post on how to write a good query letter here.

But, of course, I didn’t do that. I was naïve and clueless and I wrote a pretty horrible query letter. In fact, I just pulled out the query letter that I wrote to Rachelle and I’m surprised it didn’t go straight into the trash file. This is it, copied verbatum from the email I sent Rachelle in February 2009.

Dear Ms. Gardner,

I’m looking for a literary agent to market my book “The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby”, a non-fiction book focused on helping Christian moms-to-be to survive their pregnancies. I have attached a table of contents, the preface and a sample chapter for your perusal. Please let me know if you would like any additional information or have any questions. Thank you.

But, obviously, it didn’t go straight to the trash. Rachelle was nice enough to coach me through the process and help me write a formal book proposal.

Next week: How to write a formal book proposal

1 Comment

  1. Hi Erin,

    I think this just shows if the topic perks interest or the writing is solid (for fiction especially) then agents can overlook our bumbling amateur mistakes. You're blog is looking great, by the way! I really like how it's shaping up!