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Query Letter POV: Choosing The Right Point Of View In Your Query Letter

Query Letter POV

The point of view (POV) in a query letter would seem to be obvious. The letter is written from the viewpoint of the letter writer: the author. However, the book blurb section (or summary) of a query letter is written in a style similar to the back jacket of a book. The POV in your book blurb is a very subtle but important element, and the best query letter book summary will always take point of view into consideration.

Book Blurb POV In Query Letters For Nonfiction

If you’ve written a memoir, the most common approach for your query letter is to write from a natural and often casual first person point of view.

If you’re writing how-to or self-help, you might also stick with first person: With these kinds of nonfiction, your author platform (who you are as a writer) matters. So write your book summary as if you’re telling a good friend about how you can help improve his or her life.

Book Blurb POV In Query Letters For Novels

Novelists have a trickier time when it comes to point of view. Your query letter book blurb has an implied narrator—just like your story has its own point of view—even if you’re writing in third person.

Most people choose the POV of their main character (or the character who stands to lose or change the most) for their query blurb. If you only have one main character, filter the action through the eyes of your MC. By not “head hopping” in your query, you allow the reader to connect with the POV of one character, thus creating a stronger investment in the character than if you jumped around with several different viewpoints.

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Here’s an example of a query letter blurb with one POV:

Joe Brown’s life is perfect: He’s got a smoking-hot wife, a quarterback son, and a purebred dog that doesn’t even bark at strangers. And yet he’s plagued by nightmares and disconcerting dreams of biological experiments that he can’t quite remember—until one day, he does. And he realizes that everything—his wife, his son, even his dog—are nothing more than decoys hired by his former employer, Thorn Labs. In fact, Joe Brown isn’t even his real name.

Now, the only person who believes him is the annoying thirteen-year-old boy next door who happens to love playing with spy gear. But the more Joe learns about his former self, the less he likes him. And it’s hard to give up the American Dream—even if it’s a false one. He loves his wife. He loves his son. Is he willing to give them up and learn the truth, or should he just go on living the dream?

As you can see, the entire blurb above focuses on Joe. But for some book genres and situations, confining your query blurb to a single POV isn’t the best choice. In certain genres like romance, it’s typical and even expected to have two or more POVs.

Here’s a truncated version of a romance book blurb, with a deliberate POV change demarcated by a paragraph break:

Joe Brown’s life is perfect: He’s got a smoking-hot wife, a quarterback son, and a purebred dog that doesn’t even bark at strangers. And yet he’s plagued by nightmares and disconcerting dreams of biological experiments that he can’t quite remember—until one day, he does. And he realizes that everything—his wife, his son, even his dog—are nothing more than decoys hired by his former employer, Thorn Labs. In fact, Joe Brown isn’t even his real name.

Meanwhile, Joe’s “wife” Ellie Brown has a problem: If her husband discovers the truth about his former identity as a lead scientist in the study of memory manipulation, her own child will be killed. But as the old Joe begins to disappear and the real Joe reemerges, Ellie can’t help her growing feelings for her false husband. With the government becoming suspicious that “the subject” is catching on, Ellie begins to wonder if there’s more to her marriage than she’d ever thought possible—but she won’t find out unless she can keep her husband and child alive.

Here, the POV change is obvious, in part because of the paragraph break that separates one from the other. But sometimes, POV shifts are not so clear. In our next article, we’re going to explore more subtle, advanced level query writing techniques. So don’t miss the next important lesson right here on our blog!

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: Do you notice POV shifts in the back jacket copy of books?

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