I work on query letters for a variety of fiction and nonfiction book authors. Every query has to have the following:
1. A great tagline. This is a single sentence that sums up the conflict and the protagonist’s journey. It’s one of the toughest things to get right…but it’s the grabber that keeps agents and publishers reading your query.
2. A short description of the book. This is 2 or 3 paragraphs long. Although it contains some plot highlights, it’s really about the character’s journey. The conflict and any antagonist come into play enough to enhance the protagonist’s journey…and you have to give an idea of how it ends.
3. A paragraph about you. This of course includes your credentials like other publication credits (even if unpaid) and editorial work at a newspaper or magazine. It should also include any awards your work has won. Also tell them why you wrote the book. The human connection is important!
4. Information on the current market trends that support your book, the manuscript’s length, it’s category and/or genre, and the fact that it’s finished. If you have a sequel or are already working on the next unrelated novel, they need to know that, too. They want to sign career authors, not flashes in the pan!
Let me know if I can help with your query letter.
I will be seeking representation on my current book and this will be my first time writing a query letter. Can you give a few examples of good tag lines?
Keep in mind that the tagline you use in your query might be different from the tagline you use in your book proposal (and yes, book proposals should be written by fiction authors, too).
For the query’s tagline, start by considering the basics: plot, who the protagonist and antagonist are, and conflict.
Now ask, what is the change the protagonist undergoes? How is the conflict resolved?
Write a phrase about each of those elements. The phrases do not have to be complete sentences.
Blend all these phrases together, trimming words as you go, until you have a single sentence (or maximum two sentences) that encapsulates all these elements.
If you want samples of very simple taglines, which are more likely to appear within the body of a book proposal, check out the New York Times bestseller list or look at any movie ad. Those simple one- or two-sentence descriptions are all taglines.