If you’ve written a query letter (or two, or three), then this has probably happened to you: You’ve put the final touches on your query and you think it’s done—but you still feel something’s not quite right. Since you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, you send your query letters to literary agents anyway. Then after months of waiting, you realize your query didn’t get the results you’d hoped for. So you’re left wondering: Did you dot every “I” and cross every “T”? Is there anything else you could have tried?
It’s vital that your query letter holds up against the legions of other letters that have been critiqued, honed, and prepared by query-writing professionals. To give yourself a professional advantage, try these steps:
How To Make Your Query Letter More Professional And Effective
Ask other writers to read it. Friends in your local or online critique group can provide this important first step to polishing your query letter so that it meets professional standards. Even readers who don’t have much knowledge about the publishing industry will be able to tell you whether or not your query letter makes a big emotional impact on them. Listen carefully, then weigh your writing critique group opinions against your own feelings and intentions.
Get a professional evaluation. A professional query letter writer can offer perspective and guidance that your friends cannot. The difference between an amateur critique and a professional critique might shock you if you’ve never had a professional review before. Find a query letter writer with a proven track record for best results. (Hint: You’re already on our website! We can collaborate with you to write a fabulous query, and we can identify the 25+ best literary agents you should send it to!)
Use a proofreader. If the professional evaluation of your query letter does not include proofreading (or, if you’ve decided to skip getting a pro’s perspective), we strongly recommend that you have a professional proofreader look over your text. Since your query letter is only one page long, hiring a professional proofreader should be within your budget. Find affordable query-letter proofreading.
Check your email formatting. If you’ll be submitting your query letters to literary agents via email, preview your formatting. You can do this by sending the query to yourself to see how it looks. Then, send your query to friends who use email services that are different than the one you use, and ask readers to tell you if they spot any errors (or, better yet, ask for screenshots!). You may find that the formatting changes when the letter moves from one email address to another. When in doubt, consider stripping out all of the formatting by pasting your text into Notepad or a similar program prior to pasting it into the body of your email. Learn more about strategies for online submissions.
Include all your contact information—website URL and social media URLs too! While everyone knows that a query letter should include your street address, email address, and phone number, some people don’t include their author website domain name (URL address). Fewer still include their social media contact info, which is the fan-building engine of their careers. If possible, include ALL your relevant contact information—for physical communications or for connecting online.
If You Wish You Could Have A Query Letter Do-Over…
Sometimes, an overly eager writer will send a query letter to literary agents without having perfected and polished the text to a high-gloss shine. But the good news is, there IS a way you can resubmit a rewritten query letter to a literary agent who saw the original version; you just have to know the etiquette for query letter resubmission.
And remember: If you need help with your query letter (or with finding the best literary agents to read it), the team here at Writer’s Relief is standing by with 22+ years of expertise to put to work for you.