Query Letter Tips – The Introduction/1st paragraph

Be polite and professional when writing a Query Letter to a Literary Agent.

After your formal greeting (Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. ____,) the first paragraph is a brief explanation of why you are writing to this particular agent. Do not send the same email to a bunch of agents! Personalize each one! If you have a personal connection with the agent—state it in sentence # 1. Be polite and professional. Show that you’ve “done your homework” by mentioning some reason why you think she (not just anyone—but this particular agent) will like your book. Maybe you read something in her blog? Maybe she listed a book that is similar to yours as one of her favorites. Maybe she represents an author whose writing is similar to your own. Whatever. Just tailor it to that specific agent.

Some people like to compare their novel to one or two that the agent represented or liked. Don’t compare your book to bestsellers—it comes across as pompous. Instead, prove that you know your market/genre by comparing your novel to lesser-known gems. It is also fine to compare your book to movies or television shows.

Whether you do the “comparison” intro or not, your first paragraph will need to provide context for your novel, stating what genre it is in (or where it would be found in a book store), the word count (rounded to the nearest thousandth), the title, and be sure to mention that it is complete.

The second paragraph begins describing your novel by providing your hook (see earlier post). This section of your query could be a few paragraphs but should not exceed 250 words (this rule can be bent, but try to stay under 250).

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