Writing Books/Query letter


Is there a basic, acceptable format for a query letter?

Yes, Anne, there is a format for a query letter.  (I couldn't resist!)  I'll assume you're writing a novel.  (If it turns out you're not writing a novel, ask me for the format for a nonfiction book query.)

The novel query letter starts with one sentence, in its own paragraph:

I am seeking representation (if you are querying an agent), or, I propose (if you are querying an editor) an (insert genre here) amateur detective mystery novel of 60,000 words titled (insert your title here) Tracking Down the Killer Tomato.

That's it.  That's all that goes into your first paragraph.

Your second paragraph must introduce and describe (briefly!) the protagonist:

Suave, debonnaire, wealthy daylily judge Kool Marlborough just wants to be left alone with his hybrids at his happy home in the Hamptons.  But when the love of his life is kidnapped and the only clues are some tomato paste and oregano leaves left in the driveway, Kool knows he must rescue his lady love or his happy hybrid days are over.

The third paragraph does the same for the anotagonist:

Mean, nasty, ugly senior accountant Benson Hedges lives next door to Kool.  Jealousy of his neigbor's perfect daylillies and Kool's increasing wealth from the exclusive patents on the flowers drives Benson slowly mad.  He loses his cool when Kool brings home the lovely Dahlia.  Benson must possess her, too, dead or alive.

And the fourth paragraph provides the conflict of the story, the reason the reader keeps reading:

The common seed is tomato.  Benson, crazed with jealousy, leaves a path of paste clues leading to where Dahlia is imprisoned.  But will Kool rescue her before Benson ravages and or kills her?  Tomato sauce strainer in hand, Kool follows the trail terrified that he'll be too late!

The final paragraph is:

The book is complete and I have a synopsis and sample chapters to send you.  I am a certified daylily judge myself and have several patents for my hybrids.

Thank you for your time,

Your name.

All this is done on your letterhead, of course, Anne, and takes only one page.  No, you can't go over to two pages.  It really must be just one page!

I hope my light hearted answer helps you sell your novel, Anne.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact AllExperts again!

Liz Aleshire
Private Lives of Ministers' Wives

Writing Books

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Liz Aleshire


What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?


I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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