Thursday, October 3, 2013

Query Letter Writing...the Dreaded Hook

I'll be honest. I like writing the hook for my books and my query letters as much as I enjoy removing the eye crusties out of my poor Shiz Tsu's eyes. *bleck*

But it has to be done.

Today's Writers Paying it Forward Friday is the first of a two-part series to cover ways to write the dreaded query letter hook. Follow enough editor and agent blogs and you'll discover just how many times they hit the 'delete' key in their query letter queue. It's depressing, but unless you have something that's fresh, original and that'll tempt them out of their Starbucks-induced buzz, your baby will end up in the cyber-junkyard.

So let's put on our big girl panties and get to it.

Your first, your first LINE should be a grabber. There are a bunch of ways to do this, but here are the most common hooks for query letters, and their definition.

The "You Met Me" hook--For Pete's sake, if you've met the agent/editor, LEAD with this information! Time is money, and you need to grab that agent's attention quickly (as they're scrolling through their in-box on their smart phone during their commute, or while waiting in line for lunch). If you pitched to this agent at a conference, or had a rejection letter in which the agent nicely rejected you, yet offered to read something in the future, THIS IS YOUR GOLDEN WONKA TICKET!

Example: Dear Ms. Agent, I really enjoyed meeting with you at the Desperate Writer's Convention in Tampa last month, and per your request, I am sending you the first three chapter of NOVEL TITLE here. 

The One-Liner Hook--Is exactly what it sounds like. Do a one-liner that summarizes your novel and make it fun. Check out the Actual Query Letter that Got Results hook from YA paranormal author, Heather Brewer, from the first book of her Vladimir Tod series, "Eighth Grade Bites: The Chronicles of Vladmir Tod" (Heather Brewer's actual query is HERE,and it rocks, so check it out!).

"If you thought eighth grade was tough, try it with fangs and a fear of garlic."
With one line, Ms. Brewer has conveyed three things: her novel is  YA, paranormal and has an undercurrent of humor. (And it does. I'm a big fan of Heather Brewer's work--great example of YA).

Stay tuned next week, when I will give you two other popular hook types to try and snag that agent with your very first sentence. Click on "FOLLOW (my) HAPPILY EVER AFTER" link to the right to follow my blog so you don't miss a thing!

Happily My Ever After,

P.S. Just joining the query letter party? Don't worry; you can catch up. Check out my Anatomy of a Query Letter post for the basics, and be sure to read the Top 10 Do's and Don'ts for Query Letters as well.

P.P.S. Want another example of a query letter that resulted in a contract? Read mine for my first paranormal romance, DESPITE THE GHOSTS, on my post here.


  1. The Desperate Writer's Convention. Love it! :-) Thanks for another great post, Dylan.

    1. ;) Thanks for reading, C.T. Can't wait until our NEXT Desperate Writer's Convention...