One of my favorite writing forums has a fun thread on “winning” query letters, or query letters that have gotten a positive response from agents/editors. I thought it might be fun to post mine here.
This is the query letter I sent out last year for my novella, The Accidental Countess, which got picked up by Grand Central’s Forever Yours imprint.
Dear [Editor’s name],
The Accidental Countess is a completed 15,000 word Regency romance targeted for Forever Yours.
Miss Daphne Hayward is on the hunt for a safe, honorable husband and she has set her sights on the perfect target. He’s kind, titled, and miraculously single. She plans a full-scale seduction that will bring him to his knees, begging for her hand in marriage. But when she mistakenly climbs into another man’s bed, sparks ignite, threatening to send all her plans up in smoke.
Ashton Fitzgerald, Earl of Claymore, is surprised by the powerful desire that surges through him when he sees Daphne for the first time. So when he unveils her as his mysterious midnight visitor, he is determined to make her his…forever.
I’m a huge fan of Grand Central and enjoy reading many of the authors you publish, including Elizabeth Hoyt and Jennifer Haymore. I was the Executive Vice President for the Los Angeles chapter of RWA and belong to a number of other writers’ associations including the Beau Monde special interest chapter of RWA.
I’ve attached the synopsis and completed manuscript for your consideration.
Thank you for your time.
[Address, email and phone number]
As you can see, I like to keep my query letters pretty short. A quick intro with all the pertinent information (title, length, genre), then straight to the meat of it—the blurb! Editors and agents have hundreds of query letters to sift through ever week, so my goal was to hook them as quickly as possible.
The most important part of the query (and the hardest!) is the blurb—the two paragraphs that explain your story in short, succinct sentences. My only advice there is not to give too much detail. Keep it simple. Motivations, character quirks, secondary characters…save all that for the manuscript. All you want to do at this stage is hook the reader.
The last paragraph is for any pertinent writing info. I’m not sure if this sways an agent/editor in any way, but I wanted them to know that I was a serious, career-driven writer. So again, keep it short. Which RWA chapters do you belong to? Have you won any writing contests? Do you have any other books published? Is there a sequel to the book you’re submitting? This is where you get to toot your own horn a bit.
And that’s it! A quick thank you and summary of which files you’re attaching (partial, full, and/or synopsis) and you’re done!