Agent Elena Mechlin, from Pippin Properties, gave a talk at the Rocky Mountain SCBWI fall conference on writing a winning query letter. Of all the advice she gave, the one point that struck me the most was her statement, “You have 30 seconds to get my attention.” That may seem harsh, but it’s probably the reality everywhere. With that as a backdrop, she made these key points:
- Open with an intriguing line.
- Don’t be boring. Start with the hook of the book.
- Don’t use the full synopsis for a hook. Give teaser/hook to create suspense.
- Keep it short, and get to the point.
- Talk about the book first, then about yourself (best to give bio at the end of the query).
- Make sure your research shows. Address the letter to a specific person and say why you think your book is a good fit for him/her. By all means, mention if you met her at a conference or some other event.
- Keep marketing ideas out of the query letter; it’s premature.
- Try to avoid sending attachments if possible. A picture book manuscript can be sent in its entirety in the body of an email. Likewise with a three-page sample. Don’t attach more unless the material is requested.
- Focus on only one project in the query (your best manuscript), but it’s okay to mention that you have multiple projects underway.
- Have fun with the query! Don’t take it all so seriously. (If anyone has any ideas on how to execute on that suggestion, please let me know :-))
Elena also said if she rejects one project, it is okay to query again with a different manuscript. She described reading queries as “a treasure hunt.” Hopefully if you query her, you will strike gold.Categories: Children's Books, Picture Books, Queries, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: Agents, Children's Books, Elena Mechlin, Literary Agents, Pippin Properties, Publishing, Queries, Query Letters, Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI, SCBWI, Writing, Writing Tips