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Three Things Your Query Letter Needs to Stand Out

As Lucinda discusses with our new friend, blogger, and author Anne R. Allen, writers put so much love and labor into their stories, and literary agents recognize that. The same effort and attention is often required when a writer submits their query letter for an agent’s consideration. But all too often, the content in that query letter just doesn’t address what agents necessarily want or need to know, and therefore eludes response.

As someone who has worked in publishing for fifteen years, it’s become Lucinda’s mission to share insider tips with writers that will help them to capture an agent’s attention now (and a reader’s attention later).

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1. Who are You?

The first thing agents as well as publishers want to know is: who are you? We often see query letters burble with effusive personal passion but leave no sense of a person’s credentials.

Whether fiction or nonfiction, publishers need to know right away if you’ve established any sort of audience for the idea you’re proposing.

  • For a fiction writer, this could be winning a particular award or writing for a well-regarded literary journal.
  • For nonfiction, can you demonstrate a robust online audience clamoring for more of your expertise? Or do you have an active speaking schedule?

In the workshops Lucinda gives, she’s always surprised to learn how many writers have been told not to say anything about themselves and to focus only on the work at hand. The truth is just the opposite: the author of a given book can be almost, and sometimes more important than the book itself.

Read the full interview here to find out what else you should be including in your query letter in order to make it “sing”.