SO, you’ve fallen in love with an agent. Nothing creepy. You just check their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and website A THOUSAND TIMES an hour and have their profile pic as your desktop wallpaper. Now you just need them to fall in love with YOUR manuscript.
If you’ve followed my tips for finding an agent, you HOPEFULLY won’t be trying to submit a story about cowboys in space to an agent who represents contemporary romance (how do I recall an email? I hear you ask). In your query letter, you should tell them this up front—not that you have a space cowboys story in your bottom drawer, but that you’ve done your research, e.g. I understand from your website that you’re actively seeking contemporary romance novels for young adults and I believe you could be interested in my debut novel <INSERT AMAZEBALLS TITLE HERE>.
This is where you should tell them a little bit about your book.
FIRSTLY: Your logline. This is a couple of sentences about the main characters and conflict. It should be structured as follows: <SOMEONE> must <DO SOMETHING> to <ACHIEVE SOMETHING>.
SECONDLY: A short synopsis. And when I say short, I mean just three or four paragraphs MAXIMUM. Think of it as the blurb on the back of your book, but with a bit more information. This means SPOILING THE ENDING.
THIRDLY: Tell the agent a bit about yourself. Make sure you keep it relevant. For example, include any relevant higher education like a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing, but leave out the award you were given in year two for writing a poem based on the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe (seriously, Ingrid. NO ONE cares except your mum). Also, include any previously published works. If you have no formal education or previously published works that is A-OKAY.
FINALLY: Lastly, you should let the agent know you have attached the first three chapters (IF that’s what they’ve asked for in their submission guidelines), e.g. As per the submission guidelines, I’ve attached the first three chapters of my manuscript, which is currently complete at 82,000 words.
There are a few websites that are EXTREMELY helpful when it comes to examples of good query letters. The two that I swear by are: