What is a query letter, you ask? A query is essentially something you put together which describes your manuscript, your platform, your credentials, your writing history, etc. It is an advertisement of sorts about why your book is madly interesting and well-written and why everyone on the planet is going to want to buy a copy first thing tomorrow morning!
A very well-known Christian literary agent named Rachelle Gardner wrote an article entitled, How To Write A Query Letter. Rachelle writes about what the query should contain, how it should be submitted to agents, etc. But in another of her articles she gave a simple definition of the query, from an agent’s perspective, and it is this:
A reasonably intelligent letter, addressed to us personally, that pitches the book in a way that makes it sound interesting and makes us want to read it.
Your query letter gets submitted to agents and/or publishing companies via mail or email. But keep in mind that agents and publishing companies receive thousands of query letters every year and so weeding through them is a daunting task, to say the least. Yet it is essential that you do it, and do it well.
In fact, it is highly unlikely that you will ever get published unless you have an earth-rattling query that knocks the socks off an agent’s feet. And so taking special care with a query letter is critical to your writing success.
There are many aspects to a quality query letter, and some can be rather lengthy works of art, but each query begins with a few brief paragraphs about the book, the content of the book, the hooks to draw in readers, etc. These few brief paragraphs may be the most important paragraphs you will ever write as far as your manuscript is concerned because if your book never gets published then no one will ever read it.
Ultimately, these few paragraphs are all that stand between you and that coveted, nearly deserted island called, published author. Well, almost.
Below are the opening paragraphs of the query letter to the manuscript I’ve written entitled, Revealed: God’s Will. It is a work in progress (still looking for an agent/publisher) but, then again, isn’t almost everything in life like that?
Living a blessed and highly satisfied life is by no means beyond reach, particularly for God’s children. God desires for us to know, understand and achieve the plan He has arranged for our life. GOD’S WILL: REVEALED is a finished, 52,100-word, nonfiction book that empowers people to stop stumbling, guessing and wondering about what God would have them do with their life, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Written in the genre of Christian Living, and primarily for the 18-35 year old reader, GOD’S WILL: REVEALED seeks to redirect the misapplied goals, dreams and plans that far too many contemporary Christians are struggling with today. Where GOD’S WILL: REVEALED will encourage its readers is in helping them understand the critical difference between God’s “unrevealed” will and that of His “revealed” will. Most people today are trying to figure out God’s “unrevealed” will while neglecting what He has already “revealed” in the Bible. That is an unfortunate blunder. GOD’S WILL: REVEALED will enable the discerning reader to see the error of his ways and get back on the right track of living a victorious life that both honors the Lord and changes the world for good.
GOD’S WILL: REVEALED zeros in on intentional Christianity, highlighting the many facets of godly living and how they address both deliberate discipleship (growing in Christ) and biblical evangelism (confronting sinners with the gospel). It seeks to encourage faithful Christians while—at the same time—disturbing the unconverted churchgoers scattered across our pews. Why would anyone want to make waves in the church, one might ask? We’re commanded to, for Jesus commissioned us to “make disciples of all the nations,” not pamper the tares. GOD’S WILL: REVEALED, then, is a book that forces American Christianity to refocus its mission in both the local church and the world at large; a focus that requires uncompromising loyalty to Christ by “teaching others all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).
ACTION TO TAKE: Please comment below on what suggestions you have for the opening paragraphs of my query. I’m always looking for quality advice that will help me make it better. Thanks in advance!
Image credit: ThomasLife (Creative Commons)