Top Agent Talks Queries

A bookstore’s worth of thanks to top agent Marilyn Allen for hosting our query letter master class at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio on Jan. 30, 2016.

In this hands-on workshop, Marilyn, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Book Proposals and Query Letters,” and the co-founder of Allen O’Shea Literary Agency, showed participants how to craft a successful query letter for their fiction and non-fiction books.

Check out these words of wisdom from Marilyn on how to get an agent to beg (yes, she said beg!) to read more:

First impressions matter. Make sure you start off with a strong opening sentence. (Hint, it’s not “My name is…”)

Be sure to cover the big three: the hook, the book and the cook!

  • The hook: What makes your book unique. Why would we want to read it? What would make someone run to buy it? (Yes, she said run.)
  • The book: Provide a couple of sentences about your book. Show your passion and energy. With fiction, share the set-up, conflict and resolution. With non-fiction provide the keynote (aka your elevator pitch) and arc of your book. Don’t write a long synopsis; write just enough to get the agent interested.
  • The cook: Share why you are the perfect person to write this book. What are your qualifications and, if relevant, what you do for a living. List a few key things about your author platform.

Check for mistakes. Email the query to yourself and read it out loud. Be sure your voice and writing style are coming through in your query letter.

Marilyn hosts our first ever Pitch It! Contest this Saturday.