How (Not) to Write the Perfect Query Letter (Part 2)

Photo credit: Meredith Harris on Flickr
Nearly a year ago I shared some golden advice on how to write the best query letter in the history of awesome query letters. Luckily for all of you reading this post, the query letter gods have imbued me with query masterpiece mana and I’m a generous person.


How to Write the Perfect Query Letter (Part 2)*:

  1. Drown them in rhetorical questions. Agents love rhetorical questions—they live for them. Ask them questions that will make them want to jump out of their seat and scream, YES, GOD YES.

    Here’s one guaranteed to work: Don’t you want to represent a fiction novel that will make you bajillions? (I mean, you just can’t say no to that. It’s impossible). 

  2. Bribery. The only thing agents love more than rhetorical questions is chocolate. Just sayin.

  3. Don’t take no for an answer. Got a form rejection letter? Don’t let that get you down—send your query again! Send it enough times and they’ll have to represent you if only to shut you up.

  4. Pretty fonts are pretty. Pretty colors are pretty too and the best way to distract the agent from your query is with beautiful, hypnotic colors that make them stare at the shiny. (Agents love shiny). 

  5. No shorter than ten pages. Let’s face it—you’re a writer and writing is what you do. Writing a query letter any shorter than ten pages is completely selling yourself short. You have a lot to say! How else can you expect to sell your novel? 

  6. Let them know it’s a temporary offer. Nothing makes agents want to represent you faster than knowing they’re on a clock. 

  7. Stamp your copyright everywhere. And it doesn’t hurt to slip your lawyer’s name in there. 

  8. Talk about how wonderful you are. I mean, you have ten pages, so you might as well use them to talk yourself up. And what better way to let them know how wonderful you are to work with than to go on and on about your awesomeness? 

  9. Query before you’ve finished writing. That way by the time you’ve finished your book, you’ll be all set for publishing. 

  10. Make sure they know how stupid they’d be not to take your project. Just in case they missed the part about becoming a bajillionaire from your rhetorical question. 

*This post is sarcastic! As in not meant to be taken seriously. As in don’t do these things PLEASE.

I obviously haven’t covered all of the secrets to query letter gold, so now it’s your turn: what "tips" would you add to the list? 


John Chapman said...

You missed one very important point - make sure you repeat yourself. I know you know how important that is because you've repeated the 'Query before you've finished writing' which was mentioned in the last post also, So remember - make sure you repeat yourself to insure that they don't miss that very important factor of make sure you repeat....3

Ava Jae said...

Reading between the lines--very clever. You totally caught on to my diabolical scheme of repeating myself to talk about repeating yourself without actually saying it. Great addition! :D

Linda Strawn said...

Just as you would want to get a prospective employer's attention and maybe get that resume to stand out, make sure you print your query letter on neon paper. Fushia, lime green, and orange are the best choices. The worse thing you want is for your precious letter to get lost among all the others.

Linda Strawn said...

I left the above very important element to producing fine query letters, but connected with Discus instead of Google+. Let's try again, shall we?

Linda Strawn said...

It seems Discus trumps Google+...I give up!

Stephanie Scott said...

This is great! Query before you've finished writing seems so obvious, but I had to reign myself in from all the query talk last year given i still hadn't written an ending to my story. Drafting a query was actually helpful to streamlining my plot but focusing too much was reeeally distracting.

Ava Jae said...

Neon paper, of course! Even better--PATTERNED neon paper, and if you send it in an e-mail, you can color the background of the e-mail so it blinds them when they open it.

Ava Jae said...

Log-in problems? :/

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Stephanie! I could see how drafting a query pre-draft completion would be helpful. The key is just not giving in to the ever-present temptation of sending it out early. :)

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