My query letters follow a standard formula that I’ve found useful. First of all, the tone--I approach publishing as a business; therefore, my letters are formal and business-like. Since none of my friends are agents or publishers, I don’t get to friendly. I’d rather err on the side of being too formal, than on too familiar.
My greeting is always, “Dear X” and “X” is always personalized. I don’t send a letter “Dear Agent,” “Dear Publisher,” or “To Whom It May Concern.” I put a lot of time and research into who I’m querying. There are so many ways of finding out who works at what agency or publishing house, and what submissions they’re looking for, that unless the website specifically says to address it generically, I won’t do it.
My first paragraph or opening sentences announce what I’ve written—word count, genre and title. I also tell them why I think it will interest them.
Then I give a short description of my book, no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs. Think of a “back-of-the-book blurb.” There is just enough information to hook them, without boring them with a ton of details. If it can be compared to something well-known, like a fairy tale, or a movie, I say so. But be careful with this; sometimes that can backfire!
My next paragraph details my credentials—previous writing experience, what’s been published, awards, association memberships, etc. I list my blogs (but again, be careful; if you list it, they will check it out) here with links.
My closing refers back to their submission guidelines, and I say what I’m including with the query letter, as per their guidelines. I thank them for their time and then close my letter with “Sincerely, Jennifer Wilck.” I often list a link or two with my name (not every single link, but the most important ones) to help them check me out a bit more.
And that’s it. I don’t weigh down my letters with too much detail, but I’m specific enough, I hope, to catch their eye. So far, it seems to be working for me. But I’m curious about what others do—what’s in YOUR query letter?