By Aishah Macgill

There are three basic requirements for a query letter to submit to a publisher or literary agent.

  1. Tagline for your book
  2. A short but concise synopsis of your book
  3. A writers biography

This is all that’s required. If you waffle on too much, or deviate from the matter at hand, no matter how clever or witty it is, you risk losing their interest. This is for a specific purpose-to interest whomever is reading the query letter enough so they want to publish your book!

1. A tagline is also known as  the hook. To get an idea of what a hook or tagline is, try to think like a marketing guru. For example:

Book Title: Gone with the Wind

Tagline: American classic in which a manipulative woman and a roguish man carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War.

Book Title: Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Tagline: Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

2. Your book synopsis. This is where you render down your entire book, without spoiling the story, into one paragraph. For example:

Harry PotterHarry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colourful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

3. Your writers biography or bio. This should be easy, but it’s often very difficult and can be quite overwhelming talking about oneself. It’s a good idea to get help with this one. Once you have perfected your author bio, it can be used over and over again.

Keep it short and writer related. You can be a smarty pants if you want here, but be very careful. Make sure any humour is universal, otherwise they might not get the joke. Don’t promo any business, just promo yourself. If you do run a great business or have qualifications or whatever your job is, do include it. But this is personal and about you and why you write. Get trusted friends and or family to look this over and have one professionally edited if you can. It’s worth the extra effort. Here is JK Rowlings author bio as an example:

J K (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in the summer of 1965 at Yate General Hospital in England and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent where she went to Wyedean Comprehensive. Jo left Chepstow for Exeter University, where she earned a French and Classics degree, and where her course included one year in Paris. As a postgraduate she moved to London to work at Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King’s Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book and began writing the first novel. Jo then moved to northern Portugal, where she taught English as a foreign language.

P.S. Don’t forget to start your author bio with the title of your book along with any subtitle and your author name. First thing in your query letter should be this info!

P.S.S. Make sure you do a spell check!

For more publishing tips, click here.