Sunday Style: Query Letters and Book Jackets

At the Bob Mayer workshop I attended on Tuesday, he suggested treating a query letter for one’s book as though it were the content for the book jacket. Inside front cover: that’s your one sentence that says it all about your story, and a few more pieces of information to provide a general synopsis. Inside back cover: that’s your author introduction — why are you the one to write this book?

This visual of a book jacket really makes sense to me. Include only the key details, and the ones that will make that agent or editor want to read more. What not to include? The kitchen sink.

A way to review a query letter is to imagine one of your readers in a bookstore. If they read the query letter (aka book jacket) would they purchase the book? Would they flip through to the first pages to read more? Or, would they put the book down and move on? You want that query letter to grab an agent or editor just as the book jacket should grab a reader.

Another important step: write that book to go with the query letter. As my two-year-old son would say, “Oh, dang it!”

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