Writing Tips

How to Write a Query Letter (Querying)

In my post titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?,” I discussed the necessity of writing the author’s bio, query letter, and book synopsis. My plan is to share my experiences with each of these items as I walk through this process of publishing my YA Fantasy Fiction WIP. Let’s deal with the second of these items today: the query letter.

What is a query letter?

Such a simple question, with a seemingly simple answer, and yet I have also found that the answer can sometimes change based on who you are querying. For the majority of the time, however, a query letter is your chance to tell the agent a little about you, but mostly about your book. It’s your attempt to sell your agent on your book before they ever even look (or request) at your manuscript). If you don’t sell your book here, it’s over.

With that being said, a query letter is clearly important, but how do you write one?

What elements does a query letter typically include?

  1. Greeting
    • Start with “Dear ____________” and find the specific name to your specific agent. You want them to get to know you? Take the time to get to know them. Do. The. Research.
      • This isn’t the place to be super creative or superfluous. It really is that simple and nothing to get overtly fancy with.
  2. Book Information
    • This is the most important part of your entire query (sorry for the panic attack I just triggered). You need to introduce your story, your main protagonist, and the major conflict of the story. Think of this almost like a back cover blurb but more. This should be around 3 paragraphs long (under 300 words). Paragraph One introduces your world and main character. Paragraph Two introduces the conflict. Paragraph Three introduces the stakes if the protagonist fails. My best advice on how to write this section?
      • READ OTHER QUERIES (look at my link below for Query Shark where you can read other queries and critical responses to said queries)
  3. Author Bio (Short)
    • Your last paragraph should include the title of your book in CAPS, word count, genre, and comparable comps (if applicable, especially if asked for). Finish your last paragraph with a short author bio (many agents will ask for a full author’s bio apart from the general query letter). If you have already provided a full author bio, keep this short with a “While I’m not writing, I am blahblahblahblahblah (try to sell yourself a bit with something interesting) (2-3 sentences).
      • If you haven’t already provided a full author’s bio, go and read my “How to Write an Author’s Bio” post
  4. Closing
    • Again, less is more.
      • “Thank you for your time and consideration.”
      • Sincerely, First and Last Name
      • Email
      • Phone Number
      • Social Media Handles (if applicable)
    • That’s it. You don’t need to tell them you’re willing to send the rest of your manuscript (they know).

One last thing, keep it brief. As in, you must absolutely remain under 500 words brief.

Here are a few querying articles that I found particularily helpful during my own research that I highly recommend!

I’m thinking about accepting queries through my blog and reviewing them for fellow authors. Would you be interested in sending me a query so that I could review it?

Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

How to Write an Author’s Bio (Querying)

In my post titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?,” I discussed the necessity of writing the author’s bio, query letter, and book synopsis. There are many amazing articles out there about the author’s bio and I encourage you to read those that I’ve linked at the bottom of my post! Today’s post is meant to give you a practical way to start writing your bio right now, let’s begin!

What is the Author’s Bio?

When you are querying, an author’s bio is different than the blurb about the author you might find on the inside book jacket of your published work or the one you post on your social media sites. The purpose of the Author’s Bio during querying is to give the agents a sense of who you are, your credentials, your personality, your voice, etc. In a way, you are selling yourself, rather than your book.

Although some agents may request an author’s bio, some may never read it, but it’s always a good thing to have one at the ready!

Writing the Author’s Bio:

First, start by introducing yourself in first person instead of third. Yup, it’s weird, but it is the preferred point of view. Instead of saying, “Kayla Ann is the author of Agency in the Hunger Games,” I would write, “My name is Kayla Ann, and I am the author of Agency in the Hunger Games.”

Second, share your current job, educational background, writing credentials, etc. that are relevant to your writing. For instance, as a teacher of English, I am ideally situated to converse with my target audience (YA) daily! My Master’s degree in English Literature and my Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing demonstrate my familiarity with story-telling and hard work ethic. I also recommend including one line of personal information that makes you stand out or gives your bio more personality.

Third, if you have ever published before, let them know! If you have a strong social media following, share it! Writing awards or even minor publications, add them in!

Here’s the catch though: your author’s bio should be between 100-200 words. That’s it. So if you have a lot to share, narrow it down to the most impressive (and truthful) information.

Keep it straight forward, snappy, formal, and yet flavored with your own personality. Simple, right?

Writer’s Relief has a great detailed article all about an author’s bio if you are wanting more information: How to Write the Perfect Author Bio for Your Book’s Query Letter.

Here’s another great blog post that I found helpful: Writing a Compelling Author Bio

Now it’s your turn to try! Drop your Author’s Bio in the comments below and I’ll let you know what I think!

If you drop your bio, please make sure to comment on someone else’s also!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?

After months, maybe years, of dedicated hard work, you are finally able to type “The End.” It’s the feeling that you always dreamed it would be. THIS is your masterpiece, THIS is your legacy, THIS is everything you hoped it would be!

Now what?

Let me outline a few general steps that you still need to take before you hold that beautiful hard copy of your book in your hands.

1. Congratulations! Finishing your book, whether its your first or fifty-first, is an amazing accomplishment. Take a moment to revel in your achievement, but don’t get too carried away. Your hard work is far from over.

2. If this is the first draft of your book, keep in mind that you are probably nowhere near publishing it (yet). You need to give your book some distance. Right now, you are in the “infatuation” stage where your book can do no wrong. It might be beautiful, but everybody has their “quirks” and that includes your book. Give yourself at least a week (if not more) to let your giddiness die down (just a smidge). After you have allowed yourself this distance, read through your novel.

  • What can you do during this time of distance? Keep your eyes open for my upcoming post about ways to spend your “Distance.”

3. As you are reading, take on the role of your target audience, someone with no background knowledge of what it took for you to write this book or where you are going. Read without looking at the grammar or spelling, read without allowing yourself to edit. Read ONLY for the sake of answering the BIG questions: Does my book have a completed story arc? Is the journey for my main protagonist clear? Are there any plot holes in my story? Are there any consistency issues? Once, you’ve done this, let’s move on to the next step: Revision.

4. Some call this revision, for me, it’s almost always a REWRITE, especially if I have only ever written the first draft. My stories usually go through five or more drafts before I start “editing.” Anyhow, in this revise/rewrite section, it’s time to address those big questions and make sure that your story flows naturally, has realistic conflicts (minor) that all lead to the major climax with plausible consequences that all lead into a resolution that has an impact on your characters and readers. Simple, right? (That was sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.)

5. NOW you’ve truly got something to work with! Still, I recommend you don’t send your book out quite yet. Instead, send your finished manuscript to some trusted BETA-readers first. This allows you another set(s) of eyes to view your book for big picture questions before you bare your soul to that agent or publishing house. (Keep a look out for that upcoming post as well: Questions to Ask Your Beta Reader).

6. Once you are satisfied that your book is TRULY ready to send out, you need to ask yourself which route you are going to go. Traditional publishing (typically through an agent) or self-publishing. This article is going to follow the traditional publishing route.

7. Unfortunately, the days when you could query your book directly to major publishing houses is pretty much long gone, you’ll need an agent now to speak on your behalf. Although agents get a bad rap, they really are there to help the author. So, you’ll need to find an agent and here are few suggested places you can look:

  • Publisher’s Marketplace & Query Tracker typically appear in most articles about finding an agent (although it does cost to get all of the benefits of these sites). Of the two, I have found Publisher’s Marketplace to be more user-friendly and filled with great information!
  • Literary Rambles has some excellent interviews with agents, what they’re looking for, and how to submit! I love that I can “hear” from so many agents about what they are personally looking for.

8. Finding an agent that meshes well with your vision will take some time, but it will increase your chances at getting an acceptance instead of a rejection. Once you have found the agents you like (yes, agents, multiple), you will need to write the author bio, query letter, and synopsis for you and your book (multiple future blog posts coming up!)

9. When you send out your queries, PLEASE make sure to pay special attention to the particular directions each of your agents might have. If they are asking for something in particular and you ignore their request, why should they not ignore you? Respect goes both ways, so pay attention to what they are looking for!

10. Accept rejection. I’ll be honest. It’s going to happen. Not maybe, not possibly, but most definitely, and it doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with you or your book. It might mean that you need to adjust your query itself. Or it could be the wrong agent. I know it is unbelievably hard to get a “no,” or even worse that dreaded silence in which you don’t even feel worthy of a rejection, but hang in there. Go back to steps 7 & 8. Find new agents, review your query itself, and try again.

11. Don’t give up hope. It probably won’t happen on the first try, or the second, or the third, but it will never happen at all if you give up. Hang in there, I look forward to seeing YOUR book on my shelf!

Do you have any questions about this process post-manuscript completion? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.