Long ago and far away I taught a class on “The Business of Writing” at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. One of the segments was how to write a query letter, and included a sample query letter I wrote to give my students an idea of how to get their toe in the door.
From my syllabus:
3] QUERY LETTERS [handout — sample query letter]
Three, maximum four paragraphs. Keep it to one page.
First paragraph, introduce yourself.
Second paragraph, introduce your work.
Third (optional) paragraph, identify potential markets.
Fourth paragraph, say thanks, goodbye and get out.
Oh, and did I mention? Keep it to one page.
SAMPLE QUERY LETTER
Pierre, South Dakota
October 16, 2003
Huge, Gigantic Publishers
666 Madison Avenue
New York, New York
My name is Wendy Writer, and I am the author of the “Little House on the Prairie” murder mysteries, set in DeSmet, South Dakota in the late 1880’s and featuring crime-fighting schoolteacher Laura Ingalls.
This series will be an adult take on the well-known children’s series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As my series opens, Laura has just received her second-class teacher’s certificate and is taking leave of her family to take up a teaching position in a faraway town. The first day she arrives in her one-room schoolhouse, she finds the body of a student on the floor. Suspects include the drunken father, the crazed mother, a jealous classmate, a blackmailed minister, and a corrupt school superintendent.
The Little House on the Prairie murder mysteries will find an immediate market not only with fans of crime fiction but also of the Wilder books. Ma and Pa Ingalls will make appearances, as will Almanzo Wilder, Laura’s determined beau, and Laura’s enemy Eliza Jane Wilder.
I have completed the first novel in the series, Little Body in the Big Woods, and I’m looking for a publisher. Please let me know if you’d like to take a look at the manuscript.
Why, yes, since you ask. I did thoroughly enjoy myself writing that letter. I might even have laughed out loud when I thought up the publisher’s address.
Update on 7/25/21–And here’s a mockup up of the cover art for this imaginary magnum opus by the funny and fabulous Kelsey Gere. No, you can’t click through to buy it. Geeze.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.