Okay. I read a lot of queries, and some are good, some are absolutely terrible. In an effort to save my eyeballs I’m sharing a successful query letter that *I* wrote (and one I’d be thrilled to get in my query inbox) In fact it’s the one that attracted the attention of my editor at Ninestar Press.
Without further ado: The letter and in RED my commentary on why it works.
Dear Editor, << IF YOU KNOW THE EDITOR’S NAME USE IT. (A little research will tell you how they prefer to be addressed, formally or informally and for gods’ sake get their pronouns right!)
I’m querying with an #ownvoices, paranormal, erotic, romance. It’s #OWN for pansexuality, paganism, demisexuality, polyamory, and kink. << I TOLD THEM WHAT I’M QUERYING RIGHT AWAY.
I THEN LAUNCH RIGHT INTO THE STORY PREMISE >> Demisexual shapeshifter Rhian spent 300 years bound to the Welsh Dark God Arawn… as his assassin. When Arawn honors her with a promotion, she knows going into the job it’ll end up costing her much. More than surviving on the 18th-century streets of Cardiff did.
Kai, a Spanish/Moorish thief, whore, and singer married Rhian out of love. She’d loved him too, once. Back when they both thought she was human. Before. << I USED DIFFERENT PARAGRAPHS FOR THE DIFFERENT MCs. I also used italics to introduce a sense of voice and pacing.
Now, Arawn sends her back to Earth from the otherside in the 21st-century. It means seeing Kai again. She fights her stubborn attraction to her estranged husband, the only person she’s never regretted sex with.
She’s got a murder to solve, the illusion that otherkin don’t exist to defend, and she’s standing as Ambassador for Arawn. The last thing she can afford is to let Kai beguile her. Besides, he has a sexy boyfriend and his own territory to run. << I TELL THE PERSON READING MY QUERY A BIT ABOUT THE STORY. Not a lot, just enough to get the reader interested in reading the sample pages. MANY industry professionals judge ONLY on the query, so make it likely they’ll want to read more!
Even if she could forgive him for how he chose to become immortal, she’d have to break her vow of loyalty to Arawn to rekindle a relationship with Kai. Only the God knows what price he’ll make her pay, but pay she will. << ENDED THE STORY PORTION ON A SOLID NOTE ON THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM FOR THE BOOK.
TITLE IS ALWAYS IN CAPS >> BLOODBOUND is an upmarket, << KNOW YOUR MARKET erotic, paranormal. romance <<KNOW YOUR GENRE of 91k <<KNOW THE GENRE SWEET SPOT FOR WORD COUNT with extended series potential. << TELL ME IF IT’S A SERIES A dark story exploring how a monster still needs love. Well-researched Welsh folklore intertwines with second-chance romance and page-turning pacing. << ANY SPECIFICS THAT MAKE MY BOOK SPECIAL
Readers of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series or fans of Underworld may enjoy this story. ^^GOOD COMPS ARE WORTH YOUR WEIGHT IN GOLD Bad comps are worthless, if you truly can’t find good, recent comps within your genre, go without them.
I’ve several well-reviewed erotic vignettes, YAHUI’S SUSPENSION, ANNA’S CHOICE, SERVING THE DRAKON and NERA’S NEED. As well as a PNR novella MOTHMEN that recently hit #36 on Amazon’s kindle sales rankings. <<PUBLISHING CREDITS IF YOU HAVE THEM GO IN THE BIO SECTION.
I’m a queer, disabled, neurodiverse, author. Thank you for your time and consideration. ^^WHAT MAKES ME SPECIAL AS AN AUTHOR, CLOSING SHOULD BE POLITE.
Mx. Kaelan Rhywiol
Now. I’m not a querying expert by any stretch, but I’ve written hundreds and read hundreds more, so this is what works *for me*.
And by all that’s holy never, ever comment on the editor/agents looks, voice, dress, behavior et cetera.
This is a business relationship, keep it as such.
*ORIGINAL LETTER had a word count of 381 words, which is in many romance queries sweet spot. My sweet spot for reading queries is between 350 to 400 words for romance, 350 words or less for other genres.