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Pitching Your Manuscript: A Query Letter Example and Some Tips

A query letter example

Writing your first query letter can be an overwhelming prospect, so we’ve provided a query letter example for you below to give you an idea of what one should look like. Keep in mind that this letter was sent to an agent who requested a synopsis, an outline, and sample pages of the completed manuscript. Each agent or publisher you write to may have a different set of requirements, so do your research beforehand.

Query letter contents

Similar to the query letter example above, your query letter should include a few basic elements: an introduction, an intriguing summary of your manuscript, an overview of the genre and comparable titles, and any relevant information about you, the author. After writing an entire novel, you should find writing this one-page letter a piece of cake.

Introduction: If you’ve met the agent previously or are responding to a request for manuscripts in a particular genre or about a certain theme, be sure to note this in your introduction. Our example letter above was written so the author could add a customized introduction for each agent. Your introduction should be different in each letter you send!

Brief summary: This should not be a detailed outline of your entire novel, but you should include information about your main character, the setting (time and place), and the basic purpose of the novel. Ask yourself, what’s so special about this novel that readers will want to spend their time with it?

Book information: Include the title of your book (in caps or italics) as well as the word count and the genre. You may also wish to note comparable titles that have performed well in your genre within the past few years. Some authors choose to include the title and word count closer to the beginning of the letter.

Author bio: While agents and publishers focus mostly on the book itself and the quality of your writing, you can include a little bit about yourself if the information is relevant. If you’ve been published previously, for example, of if you’ve won any awards for your writing, be sure to include that information in your query letter. In our example query letter above, our author had never been published before, so we opted to focus on the book rather than introduce any biographical details.

Be sure to keep your letter to one page!

Order a query letter package from one of our expert writers—like the one who wrote the query letter example on this page.

What if I don’t get a reply?

What if you’ve written the perfect query letter or ordered a professional query letter package but are still waiting for a response? While you’ve been waiting, perhaps you’ve been editing your manuscript and putting on the finishing touches so you can send it out upon request. But the request still hasn’t come.

Unfortunately, even the best query letter does not guarantee that the agents you write to will take an interest in your work. Agents are inundated with query letters and manuscripts on a regular basis, and it may be that the one you’ve written to isn’t able to take on your manuscript just now.

An agent rejecting or ignoring your query letter does not necessarily mean your manuscript is worthless. However, if you’ve sent your letter and enclosures to 15 to 20 different agents and are still not receiving a positive response, you may want to take a second look at what you’re working with. Perhaps you aren’t selecting the right agents, the ones your manuscript will appeal to, or perhaps your query letter is poorly written or includes too little (or too much) information. Or—and this is the most common reason—your book simply needs a little more work. You might be able to squeak by with a poorly written query letter if your book is exceptional, but without a good book, nobody will represent you.

If eight weeks have gone by with no response, chances are you won’t be getting a response and the agent prefers to ignore you rather than send you a blunt rejection letter.

Once you’ve verified that you’re sending your material to the right agents and are still getting rejected (or ignored), it may be time to take a second look at your book. It’s not unusual for authors to need to revise their work—and revise again. Most great books have gone through several rounds of revision before reaching their potential. The author from the query letter example above revised her manuscript and was rejected several times before she approached us for help with her query letter and landed an agent. After revising, review, and if necessary, rewrite your query letter before reaching out again.

You can also order a professional query letter like the one from the query letter example above, written by our team.



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