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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

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Creating a Query Letter to Land an Agent  by Jim McMullen

Hey, as an aspiring hardworking writer, you've written your first book!

For real, you pulled it off!

You wrote a book.

You think it is a good book. In fact, deep in your heart it is so good you just know it should be published. Not only that, but it has the potential to be a best seller. You believe in your book.

But how are you going to get it published? How are you going to get your manuscript gently placed on the desk of a weathered editor in one of those leading New York publishing houses?

The very thought staggers you.

Are you going to blindly run around, print out several copies of your book, rush to the post office, and send them off to publishers you found in Writer's Market? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty? You sent them all out out with the expense of return postage. Heck, all you need is one to say yes.

Good luck. Perhaps you may even beat the odds and, in fact, a publisher will pick up your book. It has happened before and it may happen to you.

However, if you want to save a lot of time and energy and put the odds clearly in your favor, there is a unique levelheaded process you can use. The fact is in todays publishing world you need a good literary agent to take you under his/her wing, find the right publisher for your book, negotiate a legal binding contract, and represent you on next book.

Publishers seldom accept unsolicited manuscripts in todays literary genres. Literary agents are more important now then ever before.

Now the next two big questions stare in your face like owl eyes in the night. How do you find an agent? Just as important how do you make contact with an agent? If you find an agent do you go blasting through the agents office door like an NFL fulllback with manuscript in hand, drop to your knees, and plead with him/her to read it? "You gotta read my book. You just have to read my book. It's the best book you will ever read. Please read my book." Can you imagine how silly that scene appears?

Wouldn't it be better if you took a mature professional approach?

The query letter.

The fact is without a detailed query letter no agent is ever going to evaluate your book. But with this writer's tool, the odds are much better. It will be the tipping point in attracting an agent's attention to your manuscript.

Though you will be writing your query letter in a business format, it should be no more then two typewritten pages. Make sure your name, address, phone number, and e-mail are at the top. Address it specifically to the agent who is going to read it. That information is easy to find out.

The first paragraph should be a total "grabber." It must be so compelling the agent will either call or e-mail you immediately to send your whole book. At the least, you will get a cordial letter from him to send your book on to him. Consider using your lead paragraph from your manuscript if it meets this condition. Possibly a quote would be better. The point is to take the agent by the hand and leads him/her into the theme of your book. Make this paragraph brief, crisp, yet strong and commanding.

In the second paragraph, write a book synopsis in about five to seven sentences. Don't be afraid to try for that one sentence synopsis, but don't bind yourself to it. If you do not know how to write a synopsis, take a crash course. It is not that difficult to learn. It will be worth the time. Write, revise, let it season, write it again until you feel it is an award winning summary of exactly what the subject matter of your book truly represents. You could also put the table of contents, and a sample chapter below your synopsis.

Include an accruate word count. Besides your intriguing subject this is very important for the agent. It will give him/her a feel for a particular editor at a given publisher who specializes in short or long books. With editors it is that precise in todays's market.

The third paragraph is vital. You have to answer a crucial question. What are your qualifications for writing your book? If you have a long-range resume that specifically is in reference your subject, then include it separately. Also include any media clips that are relevant to your book.

Your conclusion paragraph should simply ask the agent if you could send your entire book to him for consideration. Be sure to thank the agent for his time. They are human too. Be sure to mention you are eager to hear from him. Enclose a self-addressed envelope.

Here comes the fun part. Once you have mailed your query letter package out to your hand picked agent, then research your material for another agent, and another. . .and another. You have a complete detailed outline for your query letter for all agents to contact now. Send out those query letters until one says yes. . .yes! With luck it could be the first one!

Keep in mind the literary world of authors, agents, publishers and readers are as intertwinned as as a spider web. All support each other in a very rewarding way. Your query letter started the process in motion. It led to a lasting realtionship with all elements combined. Be positive. No. Be super positive. You as a writer persevered. You were successful in your quest to be published because of one basic element.

You believed in your book.


About the Author

Discover the "7 Power Secrets to turn your words into Wealth" free for a limited time only. New York Times best selling author, Jim McMullen shares the 7 secrets you can use right now to improve your writing, bring life to your plot, and create characters that leap out at you. Get your free copy right now by visiting the link below.