When approaching publishers or agents, you need a compelling pitch for your book in a one-page query letter. With single-spaced lines, you will have 250-300 words to make your case. The challenge is to stand out from the crowd without being too cute with fancy typography or overblown claims to imminent fame. Keep it simple and to the point, and get right to the heart of what your book offers.
The Hook: Crafting Your Pitch
Voice, texture. Use the language and voice of the book itself. It won’t do much justice to your zombie vampire book if your pitch is neutral-academic.
Action, conflict. A stock way to begin is with the phrase, “When x happens…” You don’t have to follow that formula to the letter, but use the intent: establish the clear conflict at the core of the action in your plot. The conflict can be external, internal, or better yet, both.
Character ambition. Introduce your Main Character and show what they want. Reduce the central conflict in your story to its essence. MC must do y, or else…
Suspense. The tension of your book drives the reader’s interest. Your first reader is the person you are querying, so make it count by spelling out what’s at stake. What will happen if MC doesn’t do y?
Completing the Query
The hook can be one sentence or a whole paragraph. If well done it will show, rather than merely tell, what is unique and exciting about your book. If your hook is only one sentence long, you can expand the summary of your book’s theme and plot with another paragraph, up to 150 words.
To this mini-synopsis you can add mention of some comparable best-sellers, or highlight your unique angle or style. Be sure to state the total word count, genre, and intended audience for your book.
Finally, include some brief biographical information about yourself, your career and credentials. If your query is a book proposal, the outline will need to be more extensive and you’ll need to show why you’re the best person to be writing this book. Include highlights from your writing background, which might include previous publications, stories sold, writing programs, mentors, or awards.
Good luck including all of the above in one page of tight, lively prose! If you need help pruning, rewriting, editing or simply getting feedback on your query, HyperEdits is here to help.