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|The following questions came from "The Fiction Writer's Connection." Here's a link: http://www.fictionwriters.com/tips-query-letters.html
My responses are in red. I'll be posting thoughts on tradtional and self publishing options.
Who needs a query letter?
If you are working on a novel and intent to venture into tradtional publishing, you need a query letter to attract an agent. If you are going the self publishing route, you don't really need one.
Who wouldn't use a query letter?
Poets and short story writers generally don't need them. It depends on the requirements of the publisher.
What is the purpose of the query letter?
It is to entice literary agents to represent you to traditional publishers. If a literary agents agrees to represent you, you've got your foot in the door in the tradtional publishing market.
Do I really need an agent?
If you want to approach small press publishing without one, that's fine. Small press publishers are generally more open to writer's without literary representation. There are numerous romance small press publishers who will accept you without representation. You have to research the publisher to find out what they need.
What is a query letter?
A query letter should tell an agent what your project is, interest them, in fact HOOK them, so they will ask to see your project in your entirety.
You want to keep a query letter about one page length, single space. That doesn't leave much more for you to HOOK them.
Keep this mind: Summarize your novel in one-two paragraphs. Hook. Hook. Hook. Focus on the conflict of the novel. Note the theme. Next, if you have credits, liste them. Don't forget to put your word count in the query letter. Words counts are important to agents. Most competitive books have word counts between 75,000-125,000. Don't go over that. Especially if you're a first time author who is unproven.
Be polite. Be humble. Don't sound arrogant. A little humility goes a long way. If you have a brisk attitude in your letter, it will come across. Do a little homework. Google that literary agent to see if they have a blog. Hang out on the blog for a little bit and see what they're like. Is someone you want to pitch your story to? Find out what their requirements are for submitting. A little homework goes a long way.
Any thoughts, comments, suggestions? Do you need a query letter? A literary agent? No, but it helps, especially if you want to be published by the "big" tradtional publishers.