Monday, August 03, 2009


Again the query letter should be no more than two pages. Trying to distill all the plot and characters of a complex novel down to a few paragraphs can be agony. But again, everyone is in the same boat. So don’t worry if your first draft doesn’t read quite right.

The fiction query is tricky because you want to show the creativity of your fiction writing—and make a sales presentation to the editor at the same time.

You need to get the reader’s attention right away. Perhaps pose a question: “Have you ever wondered what a near-death experience really feels like?”

Then, summarize the characters, plot, and theme.

Þ Emphasize the challenges the main characters face, and how they overcome them.

Þ The protagonist/antagonist conflict. Drama is conflict.

Þ “Put the characters up a tree, throw rocks at them, bring them back down.”

Remember that memorable books have memorable characters.

“Character drives plot, not the reverse.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald

You also need to describe the genre the book fits in (romance, chic lit, mystery, mainstream, literary). Tell who the audience is for the book. And of course include the word count.

Describe your writing background, publishing credits, or educational level. Along with any specific reasons you are the best person to be writing this particular book.


Dee Power with Brian Hill are the authors of The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors, and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them, Attracting Capital From Angels, Inside Secrets To Venture Capital and the novel, Over Time. You can reach her through her website,