Quite simply, a query letter is a single page summary of you and your book. Since you only have one page to tell the agent, editor, or publisher everything you want to tell them about your book, it is important that the query letter is well written and concise. After all, your query letter ultimately serves as the gateway to getting your manuscript read.
Your query letter should be composed of three basic paragraphs:
Aside from the basic parts of any letter, such as the salutation, you first want to grab the reader’s attention with a strong tagline. The tagline should be one or two sentences which both describes and draws the reader to your story. For example, you could write, “The Last Light is an eccentric love tale in which two lost souls find each other.” Or, you could write, “Set on a backdrop of extortion, greed, and blackmail — The Last Light is not your average love story.” The second sentence features a more intriguing tagline which will more likely prompt an agent to read further.
The synopsis builds upon the tagline. Introduce the reader to your story just enough to pique their interest, but not so much that you spoil the entire plot. After spending countless hours building a lengthy manuscript, it might be hard to condense your entire story into one paragraph. Therefore, it is usually helpful to write a couple versions of your synopsis and then go back, reread, and tweak to find which synopsis is best.
Lastly, tell the reader about yourself. There’s an author behind every story and agents, editors, and publishers want to know who you are, especially if you have credibility to back up your work. If you have won literary awards or have had your writing featured somewhere, now is the time to brag about it. Your biography should briefly encapsulate who you are as a writer and why you wrote this work.
As with any piece of writing make sure to edit, edit, edit! The query letter is essentially your foot in the door if it is written well, so be sure to take some time to craft your query letter.