So our last blog ended with a mentioning of length… and I wanted to run with that. Size does matter, after all—and in this case, LESS IS MORE.
But, Frustrated Intern, I have so much to say! you tell me. No, I reply, you don’t. You have so much to introduce. The agent is here to see the show, not listen to the announcer drone on. So, for godssakes, write less. STREAMLINE. If your Query Letter is long-winded, your writing is most likely overly eloquent, cluttered with unnecessary, excitement-killing detail, and ultimately bad.
How long should the Query Letter be? The answer is simple:
ONLY AS LONG AS IT NEEDS TO BE.
The Sales Handle does not need to be more than THREE sentences. You can often get away with two by using clauses. Example: A standalone epic fantasy with overtones of the paranormal, This Book is an example of what might happen if Wizard’s First Rule met Mary Shelley. It is complete at 68,000 words.
The Synopsis does not need to be more than TWELVE sentences (across less than THREE paragraphs). Hit on major characters (and name no more than three), major plot points (struggles, events, or relationships), and the stakes of the journey or what it will ultimately result in. One paragraph is perfectly fine; using more should show escalation or differing points of view. Depending on the complexity of your book, this could be done in as few as SIX sentences.
The About Me does not need to be more than FOUR sentences, and if you have no credentials—e.g. awards, previously published books—and have never met the agent, it doesn’t need to be more than TWO.