I know I've covered this topic before, but I've had three people email me asking for advice on writing a query, so I thought I'd touch on it again. The two most important things a writer can do when crafting her query are:
1. Hook the editor with a brief (by this I mean a paragraph or two) summary of the story.
2. Keep the letter professional and to the point.
I know these things sound like no-brainers, but doing them is a lot more difficult than it seems. We want so badly to get it all in - all the details, everything about our writing experience and affiliations, our thankfulness that the edtior has taken the time to read our queries. We're nearly busting with our need to impress in the few precious seconds it will take the editor to read our letter. What we need to remember is that editors see many, many queries a week. Ours will be one of those. Our job, then, is to make our query stand out. Not in garish colors or perky, cutesy phrases, but in professional, concise summaries of our work. Sure, there are editors out there who may smile at our purple paper and poetic prose (I am the author you will love. Please read my work with lots of love), but why take chances? So few people can write a compelling query that when one crosses an editor's desk s/he's bound to pause, to take those few moments to ask, 'could this be the new author I'm looking for?'.
And, of course, we are those new authors.
So, just a brief example of a query that works.
Dear Ms. Endlich,
A family cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the perfect place for Martha Gabler to escape sympathetic friends when she breaks up with her fiancé, but her getaway turns deadly when she encounters a group of gun runners determined to keep her from revealing their identities.
Undercover ATF agent Tristan Sinclair is expecting to close down an illegal weapons ring. Instead, he’s fighting for the life of a woman whose faith and courage inspire him. Determined to keep her safe, Tristan travels to the sleepy town of Lakeview, Virginia, and learns that protecting Martha isn’t nearly as difficult as protecting his heart.
Approximately 60,000 words in length, THE GAURDIAN'S MISSION is a story of romantic suspense that will appeal to readers who enjoy books by Shirlee McCoy and Marta Perry. An avid reader of inspirational romantic suspense, I believe THE GAURDIAN'S MISSION will fit well in your Love Inspired Suspense line.
May I send you the completed manuscript?