I should have done this long since, but I thought I’d post (most of) the successful query letter that I sent to Matt last year. I know that when I was putting together the query for the book that I’ve worked so hard on, finding query letters that were successful (especially recent ones) was like finding a bag of cash lying in the street. A lot of cash.
So, here’s mine (below). I’ve generalized some parts, even though I only ever queried one agent. Keep in mind that I wrote this entire query specifically to target Matt, but if I’d had to move on to the other agents on my “A List”, I likely would have sent out versions of the same letter. I could (and am tempted to) go into detail about each piece of the query, but really I shouldn’t. I’m not the expert on it, I just happened to write one that worked. Visit queryshark and just google how to write a good query. You’ll find many examples and advice from agents. Some of them will contradict each other, but you should get a good feel for what you want to do.
Dear [Favorite Agent],
[Insert paragraph personalized for each specific agent. If you can’t put your reason for querying that individual into words, I wouldn’t bother querying them. For Matt, I mentioned that I met him at a convention and that I had done homework on his work with other authors and appreciated his work on their behalf.] Please consider my fantasy novel IRE, complete at 162,000 words:
Emrael Ire is a young man of many ambitions, despite being so poor that his boots are more hole than leather. He and his genius brother Ban work hard to build themselves a better life at the Citadel, a school that teaches Infusion crafting and military arts. Emrael may lack his brother’s ability with Infusion crafting, but that doesn’t stop him from finding a way to succeed as the most dangerous warrior in the school.
He is well on his way to earning the title of Master of War and the inevitable wealth it commands when the power hungry Lord Governor of a neighboring Province attacks the Citadel. Emrael narrowly escapes, but Ban and other Citadel students are captured and enslaved for their talent as Infusion crafters. A desperate struggle to rescue Ban turns into a conflict that threatens to tear Emrael’s world apart.
IRE is the tale of a man who will stop at nothing to protect his family and achieve his dreams, even when suspiciously coordinated disasters leave Emrael with no choice but to try to save his brother on his own – no matter the price.
IRE will appeal to lovers of fast-paced fantasy series like The Dresden Files and The First Law. It is the first novel for which I am seeking publication, and I am currently working on the next book in the series.
I have attached the first three chapters of my book per your submission guidelines. May I send you the full manuscript?
Thank you for your consideration.
[Other personal info here]