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How to Format an Email Query Letter

How to format an email query letter to an agent or publisher.

The query process has changed significantly in the last decade, and most agents now prefer email queries over "snail mail".

The emailed query letter has a completely different set of formatting rules than the old standard printed and mailed query.

Here are the basics:

1. The subject line for your email query should be "Query for TITLE OF YOUR BOOK". Check the agents guidelines to see if they have any other specific format for the subject line, just to be sure you don't get filtered into the spam folder.

2. Black text, white background. Don't get fancy and change font colors or add a picturesque background image. Keep it strictly professional.

3. Don't start your email query with the recipient's address, your address, the date, or a "RE: My Manuscript Submission" line at the beginning. It is completely unneccessary for an email query.

4. Use a simple but personalized salutation. "Dear AgentName", not a generic "Dear Agent".

5. Don't indent paragraphs in the body of your query. Use single spaced block paragraphs, with a double space between each. ( If you copy and paste your query from a Word document, with all the standard formatting and indenting you would typically use in a printed query, your email will not necessarily look the same when it's received by the agent. )

6. Using block paragraphs, leave a double space between each paragraph. These form the paragraph breaks that would normally be indicated by indenting the first line of each paragraph.

7. Close with your preferred phrase and contact information:

Best Regards,
Your Name
Address
Phone Number
Email Address

8. If the agent guidelines specify that you include sample pages, include them in the same format. Block paragraphs, double spaced between paragraphs, however many pages the agent requests.

If the agent specifies sending an attachment, they will typically tell you what format to use ( .DOCX, PDF, etc ) in which case standard manuscript formatting is usually the rule. Again, read their guidelines for the specifics.

9. ALWAYS send yourself a copy of the email query before sending it to the agent. Review it to be sure the text formatting is consistent throughout - same font, same size.

Many agents report that the vast majority of email queries they receive are not formatted properly.

Once you have your formatting down, focus on the content and the strength of your query.

 

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